A Bharatiya Janata Party leader Manish Bhanushali, who is facing a forgery case, is now at the centre of the Mumbai cruise party drug burst case in which Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan was arrested. The twist in the tale is Bhanushali’s Gujarat’s connection – he hails from Kutch – and was reportedly instrumental in leading the anti-drug agency to the cruise ship where the rave party was allegedly being held.
Bhanushali, who is settled in Dombivali, Mumbai, is a businessman and a BJP activist. Until 2012, he was the party’s Kalyan district vice president. However, he has not held any office since then.
Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik had on Wednesday shared two videos that showed Bhanushali and another man now identified as KP Gosavi entering and exiting the NCB offices as they accompanied Aryan Khan and another accused Arbaaz Merchant, also arrested in the case.
The NCP leader raised questions on the presence of these two men who were ‘acting as NCB officials’ when they were civilians.
“If these two men are not officials of the NCB, then why were they escorting two high-profile people (Aryan Khan and Merchant),” he asked.
Bhanushali recently shared pictures with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on his social media account.
Malik also alleged that the purported photos of the seized drugs released by the NCB were actually from Delhi NCB and not from the Zonal Director’s Office. “The entire NCB is being used by the BJP to malign the Maharashtra government and Bollywood,” he said, alleging that the anti-drug agency was targeting those who are against the saffron party.
The Mundra drug haul
On September 21, Bhanushali was at the home of some ministers in Delhi. Then on 22nd, he came to Gandhinagar. A large number of drugs were found at Mundra port in Gujarat on September 21 and 22. He was in Gujarat till September 28. Who met him there? Why did he come to Mumbai? What is the connection between NCB and Bhanushali? What is the relationship between Bhanushali and BJP?
Nawab also levelled allegations against Gosavi, who is a private detective who owns a company called KPG Dreams with offices in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Gosavi too has connections to several senior officers in Maharashtra. He has been charged with fraud earlier.
Bhanushali has since clarified that the BJP has nothing to do with the case.
“NCP leader Nawab Malik has levelled wrong allegations against me. BJP has nothing to do with the arrests. I received information on October 1 that a drugs party was to be held. The NCB had little information and we added to it. On October 2, the raid was planned and we were at the spot as witnesses,” said Bhanushali.
“I am not a vice president but just a humble worker of the party. I have not spoken to any BJP leader regarding this. But I will seek police protection for myself and my family in Mumbai,” he added. On Thursday, social media was flooded with photos of him posing with BJP leaders, with many echoing Malik’s charges of BJP’s involvement in the raids.
Asked about a video cited by Malik showing him escorting Merchant to the NCB office in Mumbai after the raid, Bhanushali said, “I accept that I was with NCB officers. However, it only seems like I am holding a person like an NCB officer because it was a narrow lane.”
Bhanushali’s Facebook profile, in which he had referred to himself as a BJP vice-president and contains pictures of him with several senior leaders, including Modi, has now been locked.
Malik’s allegations were scotched by the NCB which said that all the proceedings were carried out as per rules. “The raid was carried out with the help of 10 private investigators, including Gosavi and Bhanushali. They were witnesses to these raids. The NCB has the right to involve private investigators in the raid,” the agency said in a press conference.