New Delhi: The Narcotics Control Bureau’s Mumbai Zonal Director, Sameer Wankhede, known for once heading the probe in the Rhea Chakraborty and Aryan Khan cases, was sent back to his parent cadre Monday, a notice issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed.
According to sources, Wankhede’s attachment period with the NCB expired on 31 December.
Wankhede, an Indian Revenue Service officer of the 2008 batch, will now report to the Director General of Revenue Intelligence in New Delhi.
“Sameer Wankhede, Joint Director, DRI, Mumbai attached with Narcotics Control Bureau under Ministry of Home Affairs and posted as Zonal Director with NCB headquarters is now hereby detached from NCB with immediate effect,” stated the MHA order, accessed by ThePrint. “He will now report to the Director General, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence in New Delhi.”
According to a source in the NCB, Wankhede was attached with the NCB “on loan” and his tenure expired on 31 December — the reason why he was sent back. This loan period, the source said, is usually for a short span of time, when an officer is attached with an agency as either a “stop gap” or in time of an “emergency”.
“He was given on loan to the NCB. He came on 27 August 2020 and his tenure ended on 31 December 2021 and that is why he was automatically reinstated to DRI, the department that he had come from,” the source said. “In prior instances where officers come on loan, the period has been for six months to one year.”
Wankhede started his career with a posting in the Intelligence Bureau in Andhra Pradesh in 2006, after which he was posted in Delhi.
In the past, while serving in the Customs department, Wankhede had also detained actors Minissha Lamba and Anushka Sharma at the Mumbai airport, for allegedly not declaring that they were carrying gold and diamond-studded jewellery.
Within 10 days of Wankhede joining the NCB, the agency arrested actor Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik in September 2020, in connection with a drugs angle in the Sushant Singh Rajput death case.
The officer was again in the spotlight last year for busting an alleged rave party on a Goa-bound cruise-liner last year, and arresting actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, among others. The star son has since been released on bail.
Wankhede became the subject of controversy after a witness in the NCB’s alleged Aryan Khan drug bust case claimed he was made to sign on a blank paper and said there were talks of a payoff worth crores, with Wankhede as one of the beneficiaries. The officer is also facing an NCB vigilance probe into the allegations made by the witness.
He has also been targeted by Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)