You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bollywood drugs case: Meet the man who retrieved many deleted chats of celebrities

India Today logo India Today 20-01-2021 Mustafa Shaikh
a man sitting at a desk in front of a computer

Makrand Wagh, 40, was once a Mumbai police officer. But it was his job as a cybercrime expert that let him shoot to fame. He is the man who retrieved many deleted WhatsApp chats of Bollywood celebrities in the drugs case probed by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Wagh was part of the Mumbai Police's technical wing in 2016 when David Headley deposed before a court in the 26/11 case. During his stint with the Mumbai Police, Wagh learnt electronic forensic analysis and digital evidence investigation.

He took voluntary retirement as a police officer in 2017. In February 2020, he started a company called Macans Infotech which faced a lockdown soon after its inauguration.

But an opportunity came when agencies were looking for leads in Sushant Singh Rajput's case. It was Wagh who retrieved Rhea Chakraborty's WhatsApp chats which led the sleuths to the drugs angle. This later opened the film industry's Pandora's Box. Till now, Wagh's firm has extracted and analysed data from 120 devices.

Other Bollywood celebrities investigated by the NCB include Deepika Padukone, Sara Ali Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, and Arjun Rampal. In some cases, deleted chats dating as back as 2005 have been retrieved.

"I realised that there was a gap in traditional policing and forensic investigations. I thought it could be a career option and jumped ship. During the Enforcement Directorate investigations in the SSR case, we retrieved some data which helped the agencies. In today's time, your data can be your enemy. And a criminal doesn't have to confess to the crime. Their devices will speak for themselves," said Wagh.

HOW IT'S DONE

Licensed equipment, software, and algorithms are used to investigate digital data. This method is being used by Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Mumbai Police, and many other agencies. Investigators retrieve significant and relevant data from storage devices and from the cloud which has been either erased or overwritten or hidden. After retrieval, they analyse the data by putting keywords that are relevant to the case. For example, keywords like stash or stuff are analysed during a drugs case investigation.

Electronic data retrieved by a competent and certified agency is admissible in court under section 65 (B) of the Indian Evidence Act. "We make sure that integrity of evidence is not compromised. We make sure that evidence is not tampered till it reaches the court. We have done forensic investigations in many countries outside India, but now Indian agencies and companies are also taking the help of forensic investigations," said Wagh.

NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede said Wagh's firm has helped his team with digital forensic analysis.

READ | NCB records statement of Sushant Singh Rajput's former business manager in drug case

READ | Does WhatsApp to Signal switchover guarantee your privacy?

WATCH |Sushant Singh Rajput's sister and Shruti Modi's WhatsApp chat accessed by India Today

More from India Today

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon