Drama has been playing out on a daily basis ever since Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, was arrested along with seven others from a cruise ship in Mumbai. The eight were arrested during a “drug raid” by the Narcotics Control Bureau on October 2.
The latest is a press conference on October 6 by NCP leader Nawab Malik, who demanded to know why two people unaffiliated with the Narcotics Control Bureau had been present on the ship during the raid.
The two people in question are Manish Bhanushali, a BJP worker in Dombivli, and KP Gosavi, who claims to be a “private detective” and had multiple cases of fraud and robbery registered against him in Pune and Thane. Gosavi also got flak on social media for with Aryan after the raid.
Some members of Maharashtra’s political circles attributed Malik’s line of questioning to his personal malice against the bureau, which had arrested his son-in-law in a drug haul case in January. But who are Gosavi and Bhanushali, and what was their involvement in the raid?
Bhanushali he’s the one who “tipped off” the Narcotics Control Bureau about the “drugs” on the ship and that Gosavi was present as a witness. However,someone else has now come forward and told Newslaundry he’s the “main tipper” in the case.
This man is Neeraj Yadav, a BJP worker based in Bhopal. Yadav claimed he told Bhanushali about a list of 27 people involved in a potential “drugs party” during the cruise. Amazingly, Aryan Khan’s name does not figure on this list. In fact, of the eight people arrested from the ship, only one person – Munmun Dhamecha – figures on the list. In total, 17 people have been arrested, including alleged peddlers and dealers.
Manish Bhanshali also confirmed to Newslaundry that it was Yadav who sent him the “tip-off”.
Here’s what Yadav had to say.
A list of 27 names, but no Aryan Khan
“I came to know about this whole drug thing on the cruise from a friend who was also going on the cruise for a party,” he said.”A day before the ship set sail, my friend went to Mumbai. All the guests [for the party] were staying at hotels.” Yadav’s friend was at one of these hotels.
Yadav’s friend apparently learned that a “drugs party” was scheduled to take place on board the ship. “He sent me the list of 27 people who were supposed to be involved in that party,” Yadav said. “However, Aryan Khan’s name was never on the list. Everybody was shocked when he was found on the cruise.”
But how did Yadav’s friend zero in on these 27 people? Yadav claimed he did not “question his friend in detail”. But when his friend told him to “do something to stop the drug party”, Yadav leapt into the fray.
Yadav was acquainted with Manish Bhanushali and knew the cruise would set off from Mumbai. So, he decided to tell him about this forthcoming “drugs party”. Accordingly, he called Bhanushali on October 1 and passed on the list of 27 people. At the time, Bhanushali was with Gosavi in Ahmedabad but they immediately passed on Yadav’s “information” to “some officer” at the Narcotics Control Bureau and departed for Mumbai.
“On the morning of October 2, I again spoke to him and asked whether he had reached or not to stop the party,” Yadav said. “At around 10.54 am, he video called me a little distance away from the cruise ship. He told me all arrangements have been made to conduct the raid and that the NCB guys have also reached.”
Yadav then had “multiple chats and WhatsApp calls” with Bhanushali, he said. Yadav also reassured Bhanushali that his tip-off was “solid” since his friend was still giving him “updates” from the hotel where other passengers were staying.
Boarding was scheduled to start at noon on October 2. However, it only began at 2.30 pm, Yadav said, at which point Bhanushali was sending him “continuous messages” worrying whether the tip-off was accurate.
“But once boarding began, the NCB initiated their operation,” Yadav said. “At around 7 pm, I was told by Bhanushali about the name of Aryan Khan. But in the list of 27 people, only Munmun Dhamecha was there. The rest were not detained.”
‘Gave tip-off in good faith’: Bhanushali
These conversations between Bhanushali and Yadav allegedly began on October 1. Yadav first called him at 4.32 pm on that day. Three more conversations took place on October 1, the last being Bhanushali calling Yadav at 9.50 pm with the news that he had informed the Narcotics Control Bureau about the “drugs party”.
On October 2, Yadav and Bhanushali had over 20 communications through WhatsApp chats as well as voice calls and video calls on the app, as well as direct calls. They also spoke on October 3.
In photographs uploaded on social media, Yadav has posed with various leaders of the BJP, including Kailash Vijayvargiya, Purshottam Rupala, Akash Vijayvagiya, and others. Bhanushali’s social media is replete with photos of him meeting prime minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, though most of the photos are from five or six years ago.
When Newslaundry contacted Bhanushali, he said, “My friend Neeraj gave me the input that a drugs party was going to happen on the cruise. After receiving the information, I gave the tip-off to the NCB.”
The next day, on October 2, Bhanushali was summoned to the bureau’s office, he said.
“We gave the tip-off in good faith as responsible citizens, nothing else,” he said. “We reached the port in the morning itself. NCB started its operation and arrested the people. We were made witnesses in the case and that’s why we came back to the NCB office.”
But did he receive any specific input about Aryan Khan?
“No,” said Bhanushali. “We did not receive the name of Aryan Khan. The tip-off was received on the basis of the overheard conversation regarding a drug party on the cruise. Our intention was to save our youngsters from drugs and nothing else.”