Rhea Chakraborty's lawyer Satish Maneshinde has claimed that Kshitij Prasad, a former employee of Dharmatic Entertainment, had been forced by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) to implicate Karan Johar and other executives of the film production company in a case of alleged consumption of drugs. Prasad had been arrested by the NCB in connection to a drugs probe that surfaced after the death of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Maneshinde said in a statement that before Kshitij Prasad was produced before the Ld Addl Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for remand on Sunday (27 September), he had informed the magistrate that Prasad "was harassed and blackmailed to make a statement apart from third degree and ill treatment".
The lawyer claimed that the NCB had found nothing after conducting a search in Prasad's house except a cigarette butt. However, the probe agency insisted that it was a 'ganja joint' and drew up a panchnama despite Prasad's protests, Maneshinde said.
Maneshinde added that Prasad had told the court that his statement had been recorded by Sameer Wankhede, in-charge of the Mumbai unit of the NCB, 'wherein various patently false claims were inserted despite his (Prasad’s) protests', and the statement was not recorded as per his narration.
Maneshinde claimed that Prasad was not told whether he was being placed under arrest, nor was he permitted to speak to his lawyer. He was, however, told that he would have to stay the night at the NCB office on Friday (25 September) as his statement was yet to be completed.
“The NCB officers apart from Sameer Wankhede were courteous to Kshitij and provided him with a comfortable sleeping arrangement. 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 Karan Johar and some others, 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,” Maneshinde said.
The lawyer also claimed that after nearly 50 hours of interrogation Prasad, 'desperate to speak to his family and lawyer', signed the statement 'unwillingly and under threats'.
The NCB, however, has denied all these allegations. Speaking to The Indian Express, the agency's Deputy DG (South West), Mutha Ashok Jain said that the investigation is being carried out in a 'professional manner' and there is no 'intended target'.
Backing Jain, Wankhede also told the publication that it is common for the accused to make such allegations.
Prasad has been remanded in NCB custody till 3 October.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)
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