By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, May 28 (IANS): Aryan Khan, 23, the son of Bollywood mega-star Shah Rukh Khan and producer Gauri Khan, admitted to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) that he started smoking Ganja (cannabis) in 2018 while studying for graduation in the US.
The 'voluntary statement' of Aryan, made under NDPS Act, 1985, Sec 67, before Ashish Ranjan, IO, is part of the final complaint lodged before the Special NDPS Court by the NCB on Friday (May 27), and came to light hours after the superstar-son was exonerated from the case.
He claimed that at that time, he was suffering from certain sleep disorders and he had read articles on the Internet informing Ganja (also known as bhaang, pot, grass, etc) could help.
Unaware of what lay in store for him ahead, Aryan revealed that he was friends with another co-accused Arbaaz Merchant since the past seven-eight years and even the latter smoked Ganja and Hashish.
At Arbaaz's coaxing, Aryan admitted he occasionally tried smoking Hashish (Charas) but did not relish it much.
Aryan, along with his friends Pratik, Manav and Arbaaz had gone to the Mumbai International Cruise Terminal (ICT) in his Mercedes car around 15.30 (on Oct 2, 2021) to board the Cordelia Cruise, and Arbaaz had promised to bring Hashish for that party.
While crossing the check-in point at the ICT, Aryan said he was intercepted by NCB's IO Ashish Ranjan Prasad and even introduced to the then Mumbai Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede as a Gazetted Officer, subjected to a personal search after explaining his rights.
During that physical search, no drugs were recovered from Aryan and he gave up his mobile phone when demanded by the NCB.
After checking some messages, the officer asked Aryan whether he knew Arbaaz Merchant, to which he said yes - and with whom he was to share a cabin in the Cordelia Cruise ship.
When the IO asked Aryan whether he deals with narcotic drugs, he replied that he was into consumption of only natural drugs like Ganja or Hashish.
Aryan also revealed that Arbaaz had taken out and handed over a small quantity of Charas to the NCB IO Ashish Ranjan Prasad, and said whatever was recovered (from Arbaaz) was for consumption only and probably procured by him from Bandra, after which the NCB team tested the Charas with some kit and sealed it in a pouch.
Later, the NCB team thoroughly searched all the cabins allotted to Aryan and his friends, and served with a notice to appear immediately before the NCB Mumbai Office to give his voluntary statement.
In the questioning, Aryan confessed to making the 'incriminating WhatsApp drug chats' on his mobile phone and signed on the chats transcript.
The conversation with his friend Archit pertaining to a poker game and procurement of Weed from him in return for a Rs 80,000 loan which he (Archit) was unable to repay, through some supplier he knew in Powai and Bandra.
After all this, the stunned Aryan was arrested by NCB Mumbai Superintendent V.V. Singh on October 3, 2021, at 2 p.m. under NDPS Act, 1985, Sec 8A, 22(b), 27 and 35 - triggering one of the biggest news events of the year after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bewildered Aryan was enlightened on the arrest charges through his Memo of Arrest which he countersigned as a receipt and the information was related to Shah Rukh Khan and his family members.
After completing the medico-legal formalities he was produced before the Sessions Court which remanded him to NCB custody and later in judicial custody, totally spending around 28 nights in the dank cell of Arthur Road Central Jail.
After he was given a 'clean chit' by the NCB's Special Investigation Team on Friday, there is a huge clamour to take action against the ex-NCB Mumbai head Wankhede and his team along with certain Bharatiya Janata Party activists, who allegedly conspired to trap the unsuspecting Aryan and others in the sensational case.