Ananya Panday quizzed by NCB for four hours in drugs case
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Friday questioned actor Ananya Panday for nearly four hours in connection with purported WhatsApp chats between her and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, who is among 20 people arrested after a cruise ship drug raid earlier this month. Panday has been summoned again to the NCB’s South Mumbai office on October 25.
An official speaking on condition of anonymity said Ananya maintained that she has never used any narcotics and the chats with Aryan were in a light vein.
This was the second day in a row that Ananya was summoned to the NCB’s South Mumbai office. On Thursday morning, a five-member NCB team searched her Bandra home and seized her phone and laptop. Later in the evening, Ananya visited the NCB office in Ballard Estate where she recorded her statement.
Ananya reached the NCB office at 2.30pm on Friday accompanied by her actor father Chunky Panday, and left at 6.30pm.
NCB’s zonal director Sameer Wankhede said the seized handset and laptop would be sent for forensic examination.
NCB officials on Thursday evening conducted searches at five more places, including one in south Mumbai, and three in other western suburbs, and apprehended a drug peddler for questioning. Nothing has been found in searches till now, Wankhede said.
Aryan was arrested following a raid on a cruise ship anchored at the International Cruise Terminal in Mumbai on October 2. The cruise was set to go to Goa when NCB searched the guests and arrested Aryan along with his friend Arbaaz Merchant. The agency claimed that 6 grams of charas in a plastic pouch concealed in Merchant’s shoe was seized and the contraband material was purportedly meant for consumption by both of them.
Earlier, on Wednesday, Aryan moved the Bombay high court after a special Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act court denied him bail, saying there was prima facie evidence that the 23-year-old was indulging in “illicit drug activities” on a regular basis. The court also rejected the bail pleas of Merchant, 26, and model Munmum Dhamecha, 28, who were arrested along with Aryan on October 3. His bail plea hearing is scheduled for October 26.
Aryan and Merchant are lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road central prison. On Thursday, Shah Rukh Khan met Aryan at the prison during the family meeting hour.