Another panchnama witness in the Mumbai cruise drug case of October 2 has alleged that he was forced to sign blank papers and empty unsealed envelopes by officials of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

The panch witness, Sonu Mhaske, filed an affidavit before the special court under the Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, stating that he was forced to sign four papers in Hindi and a few blank papers under the threat of false implication and arrest if he did not “cooperate”.

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Mhaske is one of the witnesses in the panchnama for the purported drug seizure at suspect Aachit Kumar’s flat. Aachit was named by two others — actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan and actor Arbaaz Merchantt. Khan and Merchant had been placed under arrest on October 3 after being detained on October 2 at the international cruise terminal in South Mumbai. After getting the lead from them, NCB officials reached Aachit’s residence on October 5.

After Aachit’s arrest, advocate Ashwin Thool, who had argued for his bail at the NDPS court, alleged irregularities during the panchnama procedures and illegal detention of Aachit by NCB officials.

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Mhaske (37) works as a facility manager at Aachit’s building. His affidavit filed through advocate Ajay Bhise stated that on October 5, he received a call from a person who introduced himself as an NCB officer and called him to the flat to sign papers. The caller threatened him with ‘dire consequences’ if he failed to do so. He said the ‘officer’ threatened him, “We are police officers. We shall take you to the lock-up and you will be gone for a long time.” The officer asked him to bring one more person from the security office to sign papers, the affidavit stated.

Initially, he was reluctant to go. But after repeated calls from the NCB, Mhaske and Assistant Manager Umesh Ambre went to Aachit’s flat where the NCB officers were present.

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The affidavit stated: “After writing down our personal details they [NCB officers] asked us to sign the papers. They did not allow us to read what was written in the papers and shouted at me ‘We can’t wait for you to read this as we are already getting very late’.” After making them sign four papers in Hindi, the sleuths asked them to sign a few blank papers. Mhaske said they objected but they were threatened that they would have to come to the NCB office. Mhaske further said they made him sign two brown unsealed empty envelopes.

Mhaske’s affidavit was accompanied by a two-page application, which seeks for the affidavit to be taken on record. Mhaske said he received a summons from the NCB on November 10 to be present at its office to record his statement.

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However, Mhaske is scared that the NCB may record his statement against his wishes. He also said that he was under constant threat of false implications in the criminal case by the NCB, Mumbai. Therefore, he does not want to go to the NCB office.

Earlier, a few other panch witnesses had levelled the same allegations against NCB officials in this case.

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