Even though you and your teams at the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) are fighting the good fight, there’s a certain section that alleges that you are targeting Bollywood. How do you react to these allegations?
There have been multiple instances where it has been said that we target Bollywood, but let’s not talk about opinions, let’s talk about facts and more importantly, statistics. In the last year, we have booked a total of 105 cases in 10 months. That’s an average of 10-12 cases every month. Now you tell me, out of those 105 cases, how many are celebrities? I’ll tell, a handful of them at best.
This year alone, we’ve made more than 310 arrests. How many of those are celebrities? Everyone would know, because that’s the only thing that is talked about. We’ve seized illegal substances worth Rs 150 crores this year. Has anyone spoken about that?
Today, the media is playing up Aryan Khan’s story. Just two days ago we seized Rs 5 crores worth of drugs and no media house in country wrote about it. Last week, we seized drugs worth Rs 6 crores connected to the underworld.
Nobody chose to comment on these cases. One of my staff members got seriously injured when he had to fight off Nigerian drug cartels. Nobody from Bollywood spoke about that and no media house reported that incident.
There’s a valid reason though. When we arrest someone, the media will play it up only when the arrested person is a known face. But instead of appreciating our efforts, we get blamed for targeting that popular celeb.
That’s why it’s important to talk about the statistics and that’s why I have brought it up in our conversation. The media only writes about the NCB when a big name is involved in our case. So everyone who looks at us, feels that we only go after big names and it looks like we’re targeting them. When that’s not the case, at all. The big names are just a very small fraction of the people we end up apprehending.
End of the day, we are just doing our job. We are enforcing rules and those rules are the same for everyone. They are equal for everybody, so why should we let celebrities, who don’t follow those rules walk away scot free? Just because they are famous? Does that give them the right to violate the rules? If we see a famous person breaking the law, we shouldn’t do anything about it? Should I only run after the drug peddlers and conduct my operations and raids in slums alone? It can’t be like that.
When I get a valuable tip off, and I see a violation in progress, I will act on it. Do you want me to succumb to the pressure of the high and mighty? Should I succumb to the power of the rich folks? Will the people of the country be happy if I do that?
But the flipside to that reality is, today, as in Aryan Khan’s case, it ended up becoming a spectacle. The same thing had happened during Sushant Singh Rajput’s case, too.
I completely agree with your assessment. This case has become a huge spectacle. But, after case number 16, (the official assigned case number for the Sushant Singh Rajput drugs case), today was crime number 105. Do you realise the sheer magnitude of the volume of violations? Why are people not talking about the other cases that we crack down on to eradicate the drugs menace. Nobody is interested in reporting the ‘unglamorous’ cases or even discussing the regular cases. Why? At the NCB we can’t stay quiet. We have been booking cases nonstop. We are cracking down on and apprehending hard-core criminals. We’ve bust 12 gangs operating major drugs networks. Did anyone report about those missions?
The media is only interested in carrying celebrity cases, because they’re famous people and everyone will talk about that. The case has face value. And when such a case comes to the fore, people get the impression that it’s only celebrities who are on our target. But I will question that fact, too. Since case number 16, it has been 90 cases and then you’ve seen one celebrity being arrested. And that too, it’s a celebrity who broke the rules. And was caught after months of hard work and a fortuitous tip-off that actually paid off. Should I not book such an individual? Why? Because they’re big and famous? That’s not how things work.
Had the Mumbai Zonal Unit of the NCB cracked five cases and out of those five, four had been celebrities, then I would have accepted the argument that we’re only targeting glamour and trying to hog the limelight. But the fact is, there have been only two cases related to the film industry. Then, how are these allegations fair? How are these allegations relevant? (Smiles) They’re not.