- Ananya Panday will be questioned by NCB for the third time today
- She was summoned on basis of WhatsApp chats found on Aryan Khan’s phone
- NCB raided Ananya Panday’s home and seized her electronic devices
Actor Ananya Panday will not appear for questioning by the Narcotics Control Bureau today in connection with a drugs case that involves Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan.
Ms Panday, 22, has sought more time to answer the anti-drug agency’s summons citing professional commitments. Had she come in today, it would have been for the third time in less than a week.
She was first summoned reportedly on the basis of two-year-old WhatsApp chats found on Aryan Khan’s phone, details of which had earlier been leaked by the anti-drugs agency.
Agency sources have indicated she was called in again because her answers are unsatisfactory.
The NCB has also raided her home in Mumbai’s Bandra area and seized her electronic devices.
Ms Panday is being questioned by NCB officer Sameer Wankhede – who is leading the investigation but is now also the subject of an internal vigilance probe after payoff allegations of Rs 8 crore – on chats that seem to indicate that in 2018-19 she thrice helped Aryan Khan procure drugs.
The actor has denied supplying drugs in the indicated mobile phone conversations; she told NCB officials she has never consumed or supplied banned narcotics, sources added.
Ms Panday was questioned on two separate occasions last week for a total of six hours.
A NCB official said the agency is not, at this stage, treating the actor as anything other than a “part of the investigation”; “… just because she is summoned doesn’t mean she is a suspect,” the official said.
Aryan Khan and several others were arrested on October 3, a day after they were detained following a drugs raid on a cruise ship anchored off the Mumbai coast.
No drugs were found on him; the case is based entirely on information from his WhatsApp chats.
The agency has claimed these chats indicate he was in touch with an international drugs cartel.
Aryan’s lawyers have rubbished the charges, underlining the fact no drugs were found on him, and that there is no evidence (beyond a statement, allegedly given under duress) of consumption.
His lawyers have also pointed out that casual conversations between young people today may contain slangs, colloquialisms, or idioms that older generations might not quite understand.
Ananya Panday, the daughter of actor Chunky Panday, made her Bollywood debut in 2019 and is among the rising younger generation of stars in the Hindi film industry.
Aryan Khan has been in jail since October 8, and he has been denied bail after heated hearings in lower courts. He has now applied to the Bombay High Court, which will hear his plea tomorrow.