Updated: October 22, 2021 7:27:59 am
THE Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Thursday summoned actor Ananya Pandey to record her statement in connection with the arrest of Aryan Khan, the son of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan. Aryan, whose bail hearing was put off by the Bombay High Court on Thursday till October 26, earlier in the day got his first visit from family as Khan came to the Arthur Road jail to meet the 23-year-old.
The NCB also visited Khan’s residence Mannat on Thursday, and said it was to collect some documents.
Khan spent around 15-20 minutes at the jail with Aryan, who has now been in custody since October 3. The Arthur Road jail, which had stopped family visits due to Covid protocols, restarted the same Thursday morning. Officials said that two persons from a family are allowed at a time.
The judicial custody of Aryan and seven others has been extended till October 30.
The NCB said Ananya was questioned over WhatsApp chats she had with Aryan. She arrived at the NCB office around 4 pm, with her father, actor Chunky Pandey, and spent around three hours there. Sources said the NCB had seized her laptop and mobile phone. She has been summoned again on Friday morning.
Sources said Ananya was asked to interpret and give context to some of the chats with Aryan. An official said the future course of action will be decided on the basis of her statement.
Regarding the visit of NCB officials to Mannat, NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede said it was in connection with some documents concerning the case against Aryan.
Aryan had approached the Bombay High Court for bail after his application was rejected by a special NDPS court on Wednesday. His advocate Satish Maneshinde mentioned the plea before a single Bench of Justice N W Sambre, seeking an urgent hearing on Friday.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, the senior most law officer of the Union government in the state who appeared for the NCB, however, argued that the bureau had not been served a copy of the plea. Maneshinde contended that they had served it electronically. The High Court then refused a request for videoconference hearing made by Khan’s lawyers and posted the matter for next hearing in physical mode on October 26.
On that day, the court is also likely to hear the bail plea filed by Munmun Dhamecha, who was detained on October 2 along with Aryan and his friend Arbaaz Merchant, ahead of boarding a cruise ship which was to allegedly host a rave party. No drugs were recovered from Aryan, though 6 gm of charas were found on Merchant. With Aryan allegedly aware of this, the NDPS court held on Wednesday that this showed “conscious possession” on his part.
An NCB official said Ananya’s name cropped up in the WhatsApp chats of Aryan, which have been used by the bureau to build its case.
A team from the NCB went to Ananya’s residence on Thursday morning to issue her the summons to appear at its office later in the day.
As part of its probe in the case, the NCB has arrested 20 people in all, including alleged peddlers who supplied narcotics to users onboard the cruise ship.
On Thursday, NCB minister Nawab Malik launched a fresh attack on Wankhede, referring to his “visits to Dubai and Maldives”. “Attempts were made to implicate certain people in false cases. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire film industry was in the Maldives. What were the officer and his family doing in Maldives and Dubai?” Malik said, adding that actors were called to these locations and money extorted from them.
Asked about Malik’s charges, Wankhede said he was being targeted. “I have never gone to Dubai. On the day the minister is saying I visited Dubai, I was on duty in Mumbai. I did visit Maldives with my family with my own salary. Is that a crime?”
The NCB leader said he and his family members, “including my dead mother, father and sister”, are facing allegations like extortion “for cleaning the state of drugs”. “Just because I acted against the minister’s son-in-law, personal allegations have been made,” Wankhede told the media, adding in response to a query that he was considering taking legal recourse.
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