In a spectacular turn of events, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) apprehended 8-10 individuals on Sunday after breaking a rave party onboard a Mumbai-bound cruise heading for Goa.
The names of celebrities and influencers surfaced as the narrative deepened, with the key being the son of Bollywood King Shah Rukh Khan. Those questioned included Arbaaz Merchant, Munmun Dhamecha, Nupur Sarika, Ismeet Singh, Mohak Jaswal, Vikrant Chhoker, and Gomit Chopra.
Why did NCB attack this specific cruise?
Following a tip, the NCB boarded Cordelia as ordinary passengers and waited till they reached midway to perform searches. According to several media accounts, sleuths who stormed the cruise were unaware that celebrities were on board. The officers allegedly waited until individuals on board began taking narcotics before catching them red-handed. The ship was subsequently diverted to Ballard Pier in south Mumbai’s international cruise port.
The NCB claimed to have confiscated 13gm of cocaine, 21gm of charas, 22 tablets of MDMA, and 5gm of mephedrone, as well as Rs 1.3 lakh in cash. The agency stated in the remand application requesting custody of Khan, Merchant, and Dhamecha that the trio was detained for consumption, sale, and acquisition of contraband, all of which are to be punished under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985. According to an official, Khan was only charged with consumption under Section 27 of the NDPS Act, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail or a fine of up to Rs 20,000.
Aside from Aryan Khan, the anti-drug agency apprehended seven other people on board the ship: Munmun Dhamecha, Nupur Sarika, Ismeet Singh, Mohak Jaswal, Vikrant Chhoker, Gomit Chopra, and Arbaaz Merchant.
Apology from Khan
The cruise liner, Cordelia Cruises, with 800-1,000 passengers — primarily from north India — departed from Mumbai after approximately a dozen individuals were arrested by the NCB on Saturday night and over 200 people opted not to travel. It is scheduled to return to the city on Monday morning. Officials from the NCB have stated that further raids are being conducted in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
According to sources, the NCB team boarded the Goa-bound ship on Saturday morning disguised as passengers. According to authorities, the celebration began after the ship left Mumbai and was at sea. The raids began at 10 a.m. and lasted until 2 p.m., according to the report.
Khan, Merchant, and Dhamecha were apprehended late Saturday and questioned at the NCB headquarters at south Mumbai’s Ballard Pier. “When we requested Khan to join us to the NCB headquarters, he was apologetic,” one officer stated.
They were brought to JJ Hospital for a medical evaluation around 4 p.m. on Sunday. Khan was dressed in a black T-shirt, hat, and a face mask. They were returned to the NCB office in 40 minutes and appeared before a holiday court at 7 p.m. The NCB reported that they did not recover any contraband from Khan, although they did uncover a little bit of charas in Merchant’s shoes. According to the NCB, the two were sharing a room on the cruise liner.
According to the remand motion filed in court, the NCB discovered WhatsApp messages “clearly demonstrating the link of those arrested with suppliers and peddlers daily.” Advait Sethna, counsel for the NCB, advocated for their detention, while Satish Maneshinde contended that police remand for a bailable offence would be unjust.
Khan and Merchant were granted free passage on the cruise liner, and the organisers planned to use the former’s famous status to promote their commercial interests, according to an official. The journey was organised by six different companies, with ticket prices ranging from Rs 60,000 to Rs 3 lakh. Later entrants were asked to pay a higher fee.
Officials reported that they raided the Cordelia Cruises after receiving information that narcotics will be consumed. “We’ve been working on it for 15 days.” “We travelled to the international cruise terminal, claimed to be passengers, and when we boarded the ship, we disclosed our true identities to the private security guards,” an official said.
According to the NCB, they discovered items to assist drug usage in the rooms, such as ready-to-roll joints, paper, and the like. “As a result, we need to determine whether the organisers were aware of the drug consumption,” an official stated.
In a statement, Jurgen Bailom, CEO and president of Waterways Leisure Tourism Pvt Ltd, said, “I would want to stress that Cordelia Cruises is in no way, directly or indirectly, involved in this event.” This event is opposed to the ethos that Cordelia Cruises symbolises. Cordelia Cruises condemns all activities like this and will not allow our ship to be used for such events in the future. Nonetheless, Cordelia Cruises is offering its assistance and working with authorities.”
Suniel Shetty in support of Khan
As Bollywood celebrity Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan was being investigated by the NCB following a narcotics raid, Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty came out in favour of him. “I’d like to point you that whenever there is a raid, numerous people are apprehended.” And we think that this youngster must have used drugs or committed a crime. But the processes are still ongoing, so give that youngster a chance to breathe,” he added.
Shetty further stated that Bollywood is frequently subjected to intense scrutiny. “Whenever something happens in Bollywood, the media investigates it thoroughly and jumps to conclusions. Give the youngster a second opportunity. Allow the truth to be known. It is our job to look after the youngster… Let the true stories emerge; until then, he’s a youngster, and taking care of him is our responsibility,” the veteran actor added.
Aryan Khan’s lawyer believes the offences are bailable and asks the court to allow him one day in police detention.
Aryan Khan’s criminal attorney, Satish Maneshinde, stated, “It is common knowledge that offences are bailable. The organiser sent a special invitation to Aryan Khan. He didn’t even have a ticket or a boarding permit. He eventually arrived at the dock’s premises.”
He said that nothing was discovered in Aryan’s luggage during screening. He went on to say that, despite the NCB’s review of his phone conversations, “nothing has been uncovered.”
“They have sought a two-day remand since nothing has been recovered from him. I seek that the judge allows him one day of police detention so that we may appear in normal court”, the lawyer stated.