Kiran Gosavi, an 'independent witness' of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the drugs-on-cruise case who is absconding, on Monday refuted the extortion claims made by his aide and another witness in the case, Prabhakar Sail, and said he will surrender shortly before the Lucknow police.
Sail, also an independent witness in the drugs bust which took place earlier this month, had on Sunday claimed in an affidavit and in subsequent interactions with reporters in Mumbai that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an NCB official and some other people linked to the case to let off Aryan Khan, the son of superstar Shah Rukh Khan, arrested in the case.
Sail, who has been provided police protection by the Maharashtra government after he claimed threat to his life, said he was the bodyguard of Gosavi.
After remaining untraceable for several days, Gosavi, who is facing a cheating case in Pune, spoke to TV news channels from an undisclosed location and dubbed the extortion claims made by Sail as false and baseless.
Gosavi, said to be a 'private investigator' whose photos and videos with Aryan Khan went viral on social media after the NCB's raid on the cruise ship off the Mumbai coast, told the channels he will surrender shortly before the police in Lucknow.
Asked why he was surrendering in Lucknow when the drugs case, in which he is a witness, has been filed in Mumbai and the cheating case, in which he is an accused, in Pune, Gosavi told channels he feels 'threatened' in the financial capital and does not trust the Maharashtra police.
Gosavi was apparently present during the cruise ship raid and was seen at the NCB office, when Aryan Khan was taken there. His selfies and videos with Aryan Khan have appeared on social media.
Gosavi has been called an 'independent witness' by the NCB, which is probing the drugs case in which nearly 20 people have been arrested so far.
Sail has claimed he saw Gosavi meeting Shah Rukh Khan's manager and that he was asked to sign '9-10 blank pages' in the presence of NCB zonal director Sameer Wankhede after the cruise raid.
Sail told media persons that he had overheard Gosavi telling one Sam D'Souza over the phone, after Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office following the October 2 raid on the cruise ship, about a demand of Rs 25 crore and 'to settle at Rs 18 crore as they have to give Rs eight crore to Sameer Wankhede'.
Sail has said he would soon release evidence to support his claim.
The NCB and Wankhede rubbished the extortion-related claims in their affidavits submitted to a special court on Monday.
The special court, however, said it cannot pass a blanket order barring courts from taking cognizance of Sail's affidavit.
Meanwhile, at least two teams of the Pune Police fanned out to trace Gosavi who is wanted in connection with a 2018 cheating case registered against him, an official said on Monday.
The Pune Police have already arrested Gosavi's assistant Sherbano Kureshi in connection with the cheating case filed by one Chinmay Deshmukh who had alleged that Gosavi cheated him of Rs 3.09 lakh under the pretext of providing him with a job in Malaysia in the hotel industry. Kureshi had received the money in her account.
The Pune Police had issued a lookout circular to prevent Gosavi from leaving the country.
Talking about some media reports stating that Gosavi wanted to surrender before the Pune Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police Priyanka Narnavare said he had not yet approached them.