In a new twist to the Bollywood drug probe, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has been accused of coercing a former Dharma Production employee to implicate Karan Johar. Former Dharma executive producer Kshitij Prasad's lawyer Satish Maneshinde said that Prasad was officially pressurised to name Karan Johar during the interrogation. Prasad was produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate court through video conference. He has been remanded into police custody till October 3.
The lawyer said that Prasad was harassed and blackmailed to make a statement apart from third degree treatment. In the statement before the court, Prasad said that one NCB official Sameer Wankhede told him in the presence of other officials that "since he was associated with Dharma Productions, they would let him off if he implicated either Karan Johar, Somel Mishra, Rakhi, Apoorva, Neeraj or Rahil falsely alleging that they consumed drugs". Prasad said he refused to do so.
According to Maneshinde, Prasad received a call on September 24 from an NCB officer informing him that they wanted to search his house. They then proceeded to seal his house and wanted to record his statement. When Prasad returned to Mumbai from Delhi the next day, he entered the house in the presence of the NCB team. They found nothing but old cigarette butts in the balcony, which the NCB insisted on being ganja joint. "The NCB team began insisting it was a ganja joint even though there was nothing to suggest that and even drew up a panchnama to that effect despite his protests. Upon his wife's insistence, the word 'believed' to be a ganja joint was inserted in the panchnama," said the statement.
Kshitij Prasad was then taken to the NCB office along with two of his friends Isha and Anubhav. While he was made to sit from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm with no information, his friends were told that if they gave statements against him, they would be let go, according to the statement. They were subsequently let go.
Prasad's interrogation began at 6:45 pm and he was faced with one Sanket. The statement said that Sanket appeared very friendly and comfortable with the NCB officials. Sanket was asked if he knew Prasad but he said no. "Kshitij was immediately asked by Sameer Wankhede (Zonal Director of NCB) to leave the room and when he was called back 5 minutes later, Sanket suddenly proclaimed that he knew Kshitij and could recognise him from his WhatsApp picture. Kshitij has never met Sanket and did not recognise him," added the statement.
NCB officer Wankhede began recording Prasad's statements and various false claims were inserted despite his protests, according to the allegations. Prasad continuously inquired if he was placed under arrest and asked to speak to his lawyer and family. No clarity was provided to him, said the statement.
Prasad was informed at 11pm that he would have to spend the night at the NCB office. They told him that he was not under arrest but was made to stay there as his statement was not complete.
"The next morning when his statement recording resumed, Kshitij was categorically informed by Sameer Wankhede in the presence of several other officers, that since he was associated with Dharma Productions, they would let him off if he implicated either Karan Johar, Somel Mishra, Rakhi, Apoorva, Neeraj or Rahil falsely alleging that they consumed drugs. Kshitij refused to comply with this despite the pressure being mounted on him as he did not know any of these people personally and did not wish to falsely implicate anyone," added the statement.
Upon the refusal, Wankhede sought to "teach him a lesson" and made Prasad sit on the floor next to the chair. He put this show next to Prasad's face and said that was his true 'aukad', as per the allegations. Sanket and other officials laughed at the scene.
"The incident severely traumatised Kshitij, who had never been in this kind of situation before. After over 48 hours in such custody, he was extremely fatigued and shaken," said Satish Maneshinde.
Wankhede then told Prasad that if he wanted to place a call he could sign a statement that's already prepared and can then retract later. If he did not sign, Prasad would not get any access to his lawyer or family, stated the allegations. "At the end of nearly 50 hours of interrogation, humiliation and torment, Kshitij is his desperation to speak to his lawyer or family, unwillingly and under threat signed the statement," added Maneshinde.
The lawyer argued that NCB is bent upon falsely implicating Karan Johar and some officials of Dharma Productions.
Johar denied the allegations and said that Prasad worked in a contract basis and that he can't be held responsible for what people do in their personal life.