New Delhi: At the height of social media outbursts and strong media reactions to the arrest of celebrity son Aryan Khan, the most sensible remark on Sunday (October 3) perhaps came from a former DGP of Uttar Pradesh, Vikram Singh.
"Investigation into drugs cases is a very complicated affair. I compliment NCB for a very skillful seizure and arrest in this case," he said.
This sums up the multi-pronged challenges. But it is only the tip of the iceberg. No sooner the news came about detention and questioning of actor Shah Rukh Khan's son and seven others; the ecosystem started making noise.
Bollywood actor Sunil Shetty jumped in. "Give the child a chance. Let the truth come out. It is our responsibility to take care of the child," he said.
This is not the first time such heightened reaction has been staged vis-à-vis drug-related cases involving celebrities, especially Bollywood. In 2020, no less than the influential Jaya Bachchan, a Samajwadi MP, told Rajya Sabha: "Just because there are few people (allegedly involved in drugs), you cannot tarnish the entire (Bollywood) industry".
The real challenge in handling drug cases is precisely this. The business is too high profile and involves huge money, and thanks to operatives, it has a strong terror element.
The Case per se
On Sunday, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested three persons—Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha — after they were questioned in the wake of a raid on a cruise ship off the Mumbai coast.
Son of megastar Shah Rukh Aryan is 23. The Twitteratis have, however, not missing the point. Many point out Aryan is not a young boy or a teenager who might have committed some mistakes. He is 23- means it is five years since he has crossed the 18-year age boundary. Moreover, the nation is still fresh with the proud achievements of Neeraj Chopra, who brought Gold from the Tokyo Olympics. He is also 23.
Hence, the people of India expect the law to take its course. Some of it has been traversed certainly.
Under Narcotics laws, any 'confession' before an NCB official is admissible, unlike a normal police case. So, it could be a very strong case. The manner the offence took place shows things were organised under some planning.
A New Delhi-based event management house was to organise the so-called 'rave party' on the ship, Cordelia.
The NCB officials claimed that they had received inputs about the rave party being organised in the passenger cruise ship a few days back, which was to leave for Goa on Saturday (October 2) evening. As many as 20 NCB officials booked tickets and boarded the cruise disguised as passengers. As per NCB, they have found cocaine, mephedrone, MDMA and ecstasy from the ship.
According to the arrest memo, Aryan Khan has been arrested under sections 8 (c), 20 (b), 27, and 35 of the NDPS Act.
What is the punishment under NDPS Act?
Section 27 – Prison time for 1 year or fine of 20,000 or both Section 20B – 10-20 years + 1 -2 Lakhs rupee fine.
Now over to the legal process, and how strongly NCB finally decides to fight the case.
Making things worse and more complicated, Director-General of Shipping, Amitabh Kumar, has been quoted in media saying that Cordelia did not have a licence.
"This cruise ship Cordelia is not licensed under the Merchant Shipping Act."
As it is, the government knows pretty well the gravity of the Narco challenge. Only recently, a Kerala Bishop triggered a row by talking about Narco Jihad.
The Narco money is already being used in India to foment various anti-government and anti-national protests and agitation, sources say.