Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #321 - Aryan Khan and the Dark Web Threat

Al Capone was arrested for tax evasion. Mighty criminals plug the large loopholes but get caught on smaller ones. That is how high crimes are brought down. Aryan Khan is a conduit to a larger crime.

Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #321 - Aryan Khan and the Dark Web Threat
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Photo by Marija Zaric on Unsplash

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.” ― Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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Raktabīja was an asura who had the boon that if a drop of his blood fell on the ground, his clone would be born on the spot.  In Devī Bhāgavata, 5th Skandha (raktabīja-vadh), the story has been shared where Devi Ambika fights the Raktabīja.  When she finds that trying to hurt the asura and spilling his blood creates many other clones of his evil self.

Then Devi Kali joins the battle.

She started devouring the asura’s blood before it fell on the ground.  Once the clones were all killed, the original Raktabīja’s head was chopped off and Maa Kali did not permit any drop of his blood to fall on the ground.

Global criminals and terrorists have scaled up their crimes to a level where killing or closing on one group or syndicate creates another, even more, terrifying clone somewhere else.  The investigating agencies with many officers trying to serve the society to keep the good intact have an almost impossible task.  They are up against not just the vast empires of the syndicates that run narco and terror empires but also back and fund the media and even the main entertainment complexes.

Our minds, our entertainment, our stories, our songs, and our culture are now in the hands of these asuras.  They are all around us and their crimes, needs, and desires are intertwined.

Neutralize one and thousands more emerge.

The need is to finish this army of asuras without letting their proliferation go any further.

All this while our own popular culture and minds are working against us.

The Rave Party raid

On October 3rd at around 2 pm, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan's son Aryan Khan after interrogating him on his involvement in the cruise rave party that was raided on Saturday night aboard the luxurious Cordelia Empress cruise ship.   He was charged under Section 8C, 20B, 27 read with 35 of the NDPS Act.  Seven others were also detained.

Besides Aryan Khan, the others who were arrested are Munmun Dhamecha, Arbaaz Merchant, Ismeet Singh, Mohak Jaswal, Gomit Chopra, Nupur Sarika, and Vikrant Chhokar. Aryan Khan and Arbaaz have been friends for almost 15 years. (Source)

The ship had set sail for Lakshadweep from Mumbai on October 2.  That night, however, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials were on the ship as well disguised as passengers.  Just off the coast of Mumbai, they started a raid that lasted almost eight hours. (Source)

It took a week of elaborate planning for the Narcotics Control Bureau to bust a drug party that unfolded on a cruise mid-sea and arrest actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan on Sunday. The NCB pressed 25 of its officers on the job and six of them got on board the vessel in partywear. Sources said Aryan looked nervous during the security check, raising the NCB’s suspicion. A week ago, the NCB got a tip that some kids from affluent families were looking for drugs that they could carry for a mid-sea party, said sources. As officers dug more, they found out that the drugs were supposed to be used onboard the newly launched Cordelia Cruises that operates between Mumbai and Goa. “Till this time we had no clue about who these kids were,” said an NCB officer requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media. (Source)

During the raid, the NCB found 13 gm cocaine, 21 gm charas, 22 pills of MDMA (Ecstacy), 5 gm MD, and ₹1.33 lakh in cash.  Most of the drugs were being concealed in the undergarments of the models and the users on the ship.

Along with all the detained people, the department also recovered 13 grams of cocaine, 21 grams of charas, and 22 pills of MDMA and 5 grams of MD. on behalf of the reports, Sarika was found with drugs in her clothes, purses, and undergarments. The rest of the people are also hiding drugs in their undergarments. (Source)

One angle that NCB has been investigating are the international drug trafficking connections that the peddlers, users and the system they used had.

The NCB claimed before the city court that "shocking and incriminating" material has been recovered in the WhatsApp chats of Aryan Khan, Merchant and Dhamecha showed international drug trafficking. The NCB also claimed that Aryan Khan discussed modes of payment for procurement of drugs and that several code names were used. “Raids are going on now. Shocking and incriminating material recovered in WhatsApp chats of the accused shows international drug trafficking,” additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for the NCB, argued. “All the accused persons have to be confronted with each other. The international transactions need to be investigated,” he adding that the NCB has arrested a supplier from Juhu and found a commercial quantity of drugs from him. (Source)

Many celebrities came out in support of Aryan Khan, probably out of ignorance of what his arrest meant in the larger scheme of things or out of camaraderie for their own skin may be involved somewhere.  Like for example, Hrithik Roshan penned an open letter to Aryan.

Source: Hrithik Roshan Instagram

Aryan’s mother, on the other hand, was trying to deliver McDonald’s burgers for her son’s “dietary health”.

Worried about her son's dietary health, an anxious Gauri Khan this morning rushed to the NCB office armed with a few packets of McDonalds burgers in her car, fondly hoping that Aryan would relish them.  Expectedly, the NCB sleuths sternly but politely disallowed her pleas and punctured the venture on "security grounds", just as they have refused to permit the other accused the luxury of home-cooked food in the lockup after they were picked up and brought down-to-earth from the luxury ship. (Source)

Must be the first time in McDonald’s history that someone was considering their burgers as a “health diet”!!

Why are Aryan Khan and others’ arrest and custody so important in the larger scheme of things?

Well, for one, these arrests have provided the authorities with links to the Dark Web and the use of Bitcoin in the movement and distribution of narcotics within India.

When asked why the NCB sought further custody, Wankhede said, "We asked for custody of Aryan Khan because there’s still a lot more left to investigate in the case. A lot of new arrests have happened, where we have caught drug peddlers who used to supply illegal substances to parties. During these arrests we’ve found links to the dark web and Bitcoin as well. We have recovered drugs in commercial quantities. The quantum of the case has become more serious, therefore we need to investigate further."  (Source)

The evidence and information from the mobile phones of those arrested, like Aryan, gave enough information to make arrests of peddlers like Shreyas Nair and recovery of drugs in commercial quantities.

Also, Aryan khan's mobile chat had given a lead to NCB officers on the basis of which NCB raided several areas of Mumbai on Sunday night. In these raids, NCB caught drug peddler Shreyas Nair. Based on the interrogation of Shreyas Nair, it has been reported that all the drug transactions took place through cryptocurrency. Shreyas Nair was ordered for drugs through Darknet and paid from Bitcoin. More new revelations have come to light after a search at the Cardelia Cruise Press again on Monday. On which NCB is preparing a big report. Aryan Khan's custody will end on October 7. Thereafter, they have to be produced before the court again. (Source)

On October 8th, a Mumbai court rejected the bail plea of Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant, and Munmun Dhamecha (Source).  They were sent to Arthur Road jail for 14-day judicial custody. (Source)

The seriousness of the charges and the investigation by the NCB ensured that the bail was rejected.

Drugs and Crimes - Narco-terrorism

Last year, with Sushant Singh Rajput’s murder case, Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was looking at the larger picture of how narcotics were linked to big crimes and syndicates on an international scale.  We had discussed in our edition on the structure and quantum of the Indian Drug trade and how it was linked to terrorism Issue #110 - Detailed look at Indian Drug trade.

Then subsequently we discussed the narcotics trade and terror links in more detail in the edition - Issue #136 - What is Narco-terrorism - a Detailed Analysis

An important thing we shared is how the organized crime-narcotics link progresses ultimately to the links that narco syndicates have with global terrorist organizations, the majority of whom are Islamist. Tamara Makarenko, for example, shares a continuum of crime and terror world in her article - “The Crime–Terror Continuum: Tracing the Interplay between Transnational Organised Crime and Terrorism

An interesting study by Rand Corporation also shares how narcotics trade, movie piracy business and weapons trafficking are strongly linked.


Per their study, one of the most prolific syndicates involved in piracy and other major crimes is the “D-Company”.  It is involved the maximum illegal activities that the organizations Rand group studied.

Source - Film Piracy and Its Connection to Organized Crime and Terrorism (Rand Corporation)

D-Company is no longer just a drugs and crime mafia.  It is a terror organization backed by Pakistan.

The world of narcotics is, however, changing.  There has been an emergence of the Dark Web.

What is the Dark Net or Web And its uses?

Unlike the normal websites and protocols that can enable the identification of the site and the one accessing it, the darknet mechanism uses an intricate system of connections.  It uses special software such as TOR (The Onion Router) or the I2P (Invisible Internet Project).

TOR was originally created by the US Naval Research Laboratory to anonymously communicate online.  It uses a large network of “volunteer computers” which route the online traffic in a way that traffic or action cannot be traced to the original user.  Tor Browser is the main tool to access the dark web.

In fact, the TOR2 mechanism does not require one to even download the Tor Browser.  You can download Tor Browser for greater privacy and anonymity while accessing even the “Surface Web”.  However, given its structure, Tor2web only protects publishers, not readers. As a reader installing Tor Browser will give you much greater anonymity, confidentiality, and authentication than using Tor2web. Using Tor2web trades off security for convenience and usability.

While Tor is a software project that lets you anonymously browse the Internet. Tor2web is a project to let Internet users access Tor Onion Services without using Tor Browser.  Tor2 was developed by Aaron Swartz and Virgil Griffith as an HTTP proxy for Tor-hidden services. The proxy was designed to provide easy access to Tor from a basic web browser.  It is now maintained by Giovanni Pellerano within the GlobaLeaks project.  GlobaLeaks is an open-source, free software intended to enable secure and anonymous whistleblowing initiatives.  It has been built to enable secure investigative journalism.

Source: Try GlobaLeaks

Not only is Dark Web used for anonymous investigative journalism and whistleblowing, but also for many nefarious activities.

Dark Web and Crimes

For example pornography and terrorism.

Earlier this year in May, German authorities arrested four members of a gang that was behind a child abuse image websites with over 400,000 members worldwide.  These people were operating Boystown, a platform for distributing indecent images and videos of children.

The pan-European police agency Europol assisted in the months-long investigation alongside authorities in the United States, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia and Canada. The site was on the dark web, an encrypted series of web pages inaccessible through normal web browsers or search engines. Police said the site had existed since at least June 2019 and "served the worldwide exchange of child pornography by platform members, whereby mainly recordings of abuse of boys were exchanged." (Source)

Child pornography has the backing of very powerful elites who also happen to be its clients.  In a scary crime that largely went unnoticed in the Global and specifically the US media, there were deep ties of Department of Defense operatives and child pornography.

In what is known as Project Operation Flicker, several powerful individuals were charged with pornography.


And now let us check the Terror world.

How Jihadi Terrorists use the Dark Web

A Jihadi cell was brought down across Europe in 2015.  This cell was using the dark web for its operations.

Thursday's raids saw suspected leaders and members of Rawti Shax arrested in Italy, Norway and the UK, and premises searched in Germany, Finland and Switzerland. Gen Giuseppe Governale of the Italian Carabinieri's Special Operations Group, which launched the investigation, told journalists in Rome that the operation constituted "the most important police operation in Europe in the last 20 years". It had "dismantled an integrated cell" that had developed "on the 'dark web', little-known [internet] platforms that we have managed to penetrate", he said. (Source: BBC)

The use of the Dark Net has been growing in the activities of the Jihadi groups.

Funding, money transfers, the purchase of weapons, and explosives are some of the activities that the terrorists are using the Dark Web for.

Source: Terrorist Migration to the Dark Web

With so much going on in the Dark Web, how do the investigating and law enforcement agencies even begin to handle the threat that is facing society?

Well, for starters, Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) has come up with a new search engine called Memex.  It was unveiled in September 2015 at the “Wait What?” Conference in St. Louis.

Launched earlier this year, Memex brings together 17 different contract teams that have been working with DARPA to create new forms of discovery, organization and presentation of domain-specific content. Memex is searching for content hosted on sites with a .onion domain (which can only be accessed with a TOR browser) or other Web pages that are ignored by commercial search engines. The tool goes beyond what is catalogued by commercial search engines like Google or Yahoo, which only index around 5 percent of the Internet. Wade Shen, DARPA’s program manager for Memex, said the engine was built to get the answers law enforcement agencies need when searching the dark Web for illegal activities. (Source)

Also, MIT Lincoln Laboratory's Artificial Intelligence Technology and Systems Group is working on many other tools using Artificial Intelligence to counter the threat from the Dark Web. (Source)

Dark Web and India - Crimes and terrorism

So, the question is - why are the investigative and intelligence agencies in India so worried about the Dark Web?  Why has it become such a big issue with the investigation related to Aryan Khan?

Because India is the largest user of the Dark Web!

India is currently among the top 10 countries logging on to the dark web, according to metrics released by the TOR Project, an open-source software for enabling anonymous communication (50,000 Indians logged on daily as of January 2020). Figures can fluctuate depending on how people access the network, and how they cover their tracks. In 2014, the figure was over 200,000 a day for India. (Source)

No other country is even close.


Back in June, the NCB nabbed a drug dealer who was known as the “crypto king”.  Makarand Advirkar.

He would use Bitcoin and help get the drugs from the Dark Web for his clients.

A drug dealer by the name of Makarand Pardeep Adivirkar who used cryptocurrency to deal with illegal drugs and substances has been arrested by the police, earlier this week, according to a report by ANI.  Adivirkar was known as the ‘crypto king’ due to his choice of payment method to source drugs from key dealers. A Mumbai based IT graduate by profession, he would receive money from the drug dealers in cash and would allegedly use Bitcoin to score drugs from the dark web for them, while charging them a commission for his troubles. (Source)

At that time Sameer Wankhede, the zonal director of the NCB’s Mumbai Unit, had said that “It’s just the beginning. The network is much bigger.”

The problem with dealing with crimes committed using Dark Web, specifically in India is that Indian law is not in line with the changing times.  Per the amended Evidence Act, the identity is established via the Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses, where an independent expert has to confirm the IP address of the side sending communication and the one receiving it.

This becomes difficult when the dark web is used to do the communications.

Urban Naxals and Dark Web

In fact, in the case of Varavara Rao, the Urban Naxal who was involved in naxal terror activities, he and his associates were communicating using Dark Web.  Rao’s lawyer used the loophole in Evidence Act just because of the anonymity that Dark Web provides!

Source: Indian Express

Using the anonymity that should be used for social good, Urban Naxals are trying to create violence and anarchy in society.  The lawyers use arguments to downplay the crimes used to arrest these criminals and bring in the legal loopholes to get out.

Small crime arrest for hitting at the bigger game

Satish Maneshinde is using some similar tactics for Aryan Khan, as he argued that the accused did not have any substance on him.

ASG Anil Singh, appearing for NCB, during the hearing, stated that the chats of Aryan Khan show connection with the drug dealers. "Chats show the discussions of cash transactions of Aryan Khan. It is necessary to confront all in the custodial remand," he said. Representing Aryan Khan, advocate Satish Maneshinde argued that no substance was seized from Aryan Khan. "If any substance is seized from any other persons (co-accused) that doesn't make any grounds to take my client into custody," the lawyer said. On recovery of drugs from other accused, Maneshinde said, "Maybe in the same case but unconnected (to Aryan Khan)." When NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede was called to the box and asked if there is a need to grant custody of the accused to NCB, he said 'yes'. He also revealed that Aryan Khan has been arrested for the consumption of drugs. (Source)

Using a smaller well-established crime to arrest an accused long enough to use investigations to get to the root of a larger crime and dismantle a monstrous syndicate or group is a well-perfected technique.

In the US, the FBI has used tax evasion crimes as a way to arrest the mafia bosses to get enough teeth to dismantle their groups.  From Al Capone to Salvatore "Sallie" Demeo, the crimes may not have been that devastating, but the impact of their arrests was. (Source)

Several Bollywood “celebs” who have their own agenda to peddle in terms of politics and criminal links have backed Aryan Khan and Shahrukh in their own way - Vishal Dadlani, Salman Khan, Karan Johar, Raj Babbar, Suniel Shetty, Hrithik Roshan, Sussanne Khan, Pooja Bhatt, and Suchitra Krishnamoorthy (Source1, Source2, Source3)

Their arguments are very familiar -

  • the crime was not big enough
  • he is a kid (at 23 years!)
  • it is a cover-up

The fact is that getting evidence and creating precedence in cases where Dark Web is the tool is one of the toughest things for any investigative agency to pull off.  Anywhere in the world!

Sameer Wankhede has been working on this link between Dark Web and Narco-terrorism for a long time as have several others in the NCB.  If they fail, a lot in India is at stake.  Not just the McDonalds diets and cute “cover-up” innuendos of these silly celebs!

The next generation terror attacks potentially using chemicals or Nukes may be in the process of being planned on the Dark Net.


With Shahrukh Khan’s deep links with ISI agents who have backed his endeavors related to movies and other investments [Rehan Siddique and Tony Ashai] (Source), it is not surprising that Aryan Khan may have been a magnet for some of those nefarious elements due to his drug habits and use of the Dark Web.

What is at stake is something much larger.  The poor rich celeb kid is simply the conduit.

market corner: 10 quick bytes

  1. India looking to conclude several Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) - including United Arab Emirates, Australia, the United Kingdom - in the coming months: Piyush Goyal (Source)
  2. MSMEs filed nearly 1 lakh delayed payment applications in 4 years (Source)
  3. Maruti Suzuki sees 51% decline in Sept production due to semiconductor shortage (Source)
  4. Xiaomi sells over 2 million smartphones in 5 days since sale season started (Source)
  5. Crypto startup CoinSwitch Kuber is 30th Indian unicorn with $260 mn funding (Source)
  6. Govt approves Rs 4,445 cr PM MITRA Yojana (Source)
  7. India's wheat exports could quadruple (Source)
  8. Cabinet approves bonus equal to 78 days' wage for 1.1 mn railway employees (Source)
  9. E-commerce companies log $2.7 billion in sales in first 4 days of festive sale (Source)
  10. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala earns ₹1125 crore from Titan Company and Tata Motors in one day (Source)

nota bene

8,300 Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras Opened: In a positive development, the government has stated that it has achieved the target of opening 8,300 Jan Aushadhi Kendras for the financial year 2021-22 before the end of the deadline. "Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices Bureau of India (PMBI), the implementing agency of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP) has completed the target of opening of 8,300 Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras (PMBJKs) for the FY 2021-22 before end of September, 2021. All the districts of the country have been covered under Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)," said the ministry statement. An effective IT-enabled logistics and supply-chain systems for ensuring real-time distribution of medicines at all outlets have also been introduced. These stores will ensure easy access of affordable medicine to the people in every part of the country. The centre has set a target to increase the number of Jan Aushadhi Kendras to 10,000 to provide quality medicines at an affordable rate to the common man by March 2024. (Source)

Global Coal Crisis: China, the world’s top coal consumer, is in dire need of more supply and is willing to pay any price -- a move that threatens to leave less fuel for energy-starved rivals. With winter on the way for much of the world and natural gas prices at record levels, economies across the globe are competing for a finite supply of coal. At the center of the scramble is China, where stockpiles are low and demand is at an all-time high. To make matters worse, global coal supplies have fallen as major producers Colombia and Indonesia have struggled with heavy rain, while some mines elsewhere have closed because of the pandemic. Investment in new mining projects has almost come to a halt in recent years, with banks cutting lending to coal companies as the world seeks to avert the worst effects of climate change. (Source)

Dedicated Freight Corridor: The DFC Project involves two freight corridors- 1506 Route km long Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) and 1875 Route km long Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC).  the national transporter is conducting trial runs of trains with trucks between New Rewari station in the state of Haryana and the DFC New Palanpur station in Gujarat. (Source)

Is China ready to attack Taiwan?: Amid the threat of Chinese warplanes repeatedly entering Taiwan's airspace, the country's defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng declared that China can mount a "full scale" invasion by 2025. "By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration," Taiwan's defense minister said. (Source)

SpaceX over $100 bn: SpaceX is now worth more than $100 billion, surpassing competitors like Lockheed Martin, after a secondary sale transaction vaulted the Elon Musk-led company into rarified air. SpaceX investors - both new and existing - sold up to $755 million worth of stock at $560 a share in the Musk-led space exploration company, giving it a $100.3 billion valuation, surpassing the value of other space contractors, including Lockheed Martin, which has a market cap of $97 billion. The publicly-traded Boeing, which competes with SpaceX for space contracts, has a market cap of just over $130 billion.  (Source)

Diaper Shortage: Many American families are having a hard time finding diapers for their infants and toddlers as the National Diaper Bank Network said 1 in 3 American families are in need of the baby item. The network suggested to the New York Times the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the global supply chain is likely the reason the country is seeing a diaper shortage. (Source)

video corner: The Troika of Global Capital

Who will control the dominant power centers of the 21st century?   Balaji is an angel investor and entrepreneur (former CTO of Coinbase) shares his views.  We follow his words and statements closely.

Balaji predicts it will revolve around communist capital, woke capital, and crypto capital -- a triangle represented by the CCP, NYT, and Bitcoin.

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