Mumbai: A magistrate's court has remanded Kshitij Prasad, a former employee of Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, in the custody of the Narcotics Control Bureau till October 3, even as it recorded his statement that he had been coerced and blackmailed during questioning.
In Prasad’s statement to magistrate VJ Dongre that was recorded after his advocate Satish Maneshinde requested the court to do so, Prasad is said to have stated that an NCB officer, Sameer Wankhede, in the presence of several other officers, told him 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 and falsely alleged that they consumed drugs.
Led by Johar, most of those named hold senior positions in the production company. He informed the court that he had refused to do so. He is further said to have stated that Wankhede told him that if he did not want to cooperate, he would teach him a lesson and made him sit on the floor next to his chair. Wankhede then put his shoe near Prasad’s face and proclaimed that this was his true 'aukat' (standard). All present in the room laughed at his plight. He said he was left “severely traumatised” and “shaken”.
When Prasad asked to be allowed to speak with his lawyer, he was asked to sign a statement they had prepared and was told he could retract it later, he told the magistrate. “At the end of nearly 50 hours of interrogation, humiliation and torment, Kshitij, in his desperation to speak to his lawyer or family, unwillingly, and under threats, signed the statement,” said Maneshinde, who also represents Rhea Chakraborty and her brother Showik.
The advocate added that it could be seen from Prasad's statement that the NCB was bent on implicating Karan Johar or some top officials of Dharma Productions. Prasad also told the court that a person named 'Sanket', who had earlier denied that he knew Prasad at the agency office, had said later that he recognised Prasad from his WhatsApp picture. However, Prasad said he had never met Sanket and did not recognise him.
The agency was represented by Special Public Prosecutor Atul Sarpande. Its remand plea said that an accused, Ankush Arneja, had stated that he had supplied hashish to Prasad through Sanket Patel on various occasions and that Sanket had revealed that he had supplied ganja to Prasad outside his residential building on the instructions of Karamjeet Singh, an accused from whom the agency claims to have recovered a commercial quantity of drugs.
The NCB said Sanket had further revealed in his statement that he had delivered ganja around 12 times to Prasad, between May and July. The agency said it needed his custody to interrogate in “deep”, to learn about those in Bollywood he had been delivering contraband to. The NCB did not respond to calls for comments.