Union minister and Republican Party of India-Athawale president Ramdas Athawale on Sunday extended his support to Narcotics Control Bureau’s (NCB) Mumbai zonal director Sameer Wankhede, who he said is a Hindu Dalit and a follower of B R Ambedkar.
IMAGE: NCB Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede at NCB office in New Delhi. Photograph: Ravi Choudhary/PTI Photo
Athawale also asked Nationalist Congress Party leader and Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik to refrain from ‘conspiring’ to defame the NCB officer and his family members.
Wankhede is facing the vigilance probe by NCB after an independent witness in the drugs-on-cruise case, in which Aryan Khan is one of the accused, claimed of overhearing a discussion of a Rs 25 crore pay-off, including Rs 8 crore for Sameer Wankhede.
Malik, who has launched a sustained diatribe against Wankhede, had accused the latter of forging his caste certificate and other documents to secure a job from the SC quota after clearing the Union Public Service Commission examination as an Indian Revenue Service officer.
Malik has been claiming that Wankhede is a Muslim by birth.
Athawale’s remarks came after Wankhede’s wife Kranti Redkar and her father-in-law Dnyandev Wankhede called on him on Sunday.
“I have gone through the documents. Sameer Wankhede is a Hindu Dalit. He is a follower of Babasaheb Ambedkar. He is not Muslim,” the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment told reporters.
He said Nawab Malik should stop ‘conspiring’ to defame the NCB officer and his family members.
“If he (Malik) says that Sameer is a Muslim, then why he, who is also a Muslim, is levelling these allegations? My party stands with Sameer’s family. Sameer won’t be harmed,” Athawale said.
After meeting Athawale, Kranti Redkar iterated that Malik’s allegations against her family are ‘baseless’ and asked what the NCP leader has got to do with someone’s husband being a Hindu, Muslim or Christian.
When reporters asked questions about her husband’s caste, Redkar lost her cool and said her family was fed up with the ‘harassment’.
“What has Nawab Malik got to do if someone’s husband is a Hindu, Muslim or Christian?” asked Redkar.
Malik had claimed that Wankhede got married to his first wife Dr Shabana Qureshi in 2006 as per Muslim rituals.
Redkar, who married Wankhede in 2017 after he had divorced Qureshi, claimed that Malik was ‘fooling’ media persons.
“My family is fed up with all these things. What you all people have got to do with the private life of Sameer Wankhede?” asked Redkar, an actress.
“Why is such a big politician harassing an officer, just because that officer is not corrupt? We have shown all documents of Sameer Wankhede to Athawale which proves that he was born as a Hindu.
“He had married a Muslim woman (Qureshi) by following rituals of that community for the sake of his mother’s happiness,” she said.
Redkar also said whatever allegations Malik was making against Wankhede’s family members, including their alleged visit to the Maldives and Dubai, are ‘fake and baseless’.
“Why you people are not asking how much drugs were recovered from Sameer Khan (the son-in-law of Malik)? The case is in court and I have nothing nothing to say on it or Aryan Khan,” Redkar said to queries from reporters.
Malik’s son-in-law was arrested by the NCB in January this year in an alleged drugs case. He was granted bail last month.
On the occasion, Dnyandev Wankhede reiterated that his son was born as a Hindu and he never converted his religion.
“We have shown all his educational certificates as well as birth-related documents to Athawale, and we are here to take help from him,” he said.
Sameer Wankhede had already denied the allegations raised by Malik.