Cops keeping 'hawk-eye' on drug trafficking suspect Ali Punjani
Asian Heart Institute sources said cops spoke to Ali Punjani for a long time, but didn't record a statement
Alleged drug trafficker and business tycoon Ali Punjani, who was admitted to Bandra-based Asian Heart Institute where he underwent angioplasty, was discharged on Thursday. Sources told mid-day that Punjani has now come on the radar of the Mumbai police. A senior doctor from the hospital confirmed to mid-day that Punjani had been discharged. Punjani, along with a woman and two men boarded a chauffeur-driven car and reached a five-star hotel barely a kilometre away from the hospital, the source told mid-day. mid-day visited the hotel, but Punjani and his family members refused to speak. However, another source told mid-day that the hotel room, in which Punjani has been staying, had been booked against the name of a woman who accompanied Punjani, who claimed to be his sister.
Punjani was discharged from the hospital at 4 pm. Sources told mid-day that he had learnt about mid-day photographer waiting outside the hospital premises. "In a bid to dodge the media, Punjani and his relatives boarded the car from inside and rushed to the hotel, where they had made an online booking after learning that they were under the scanner of the Mumbai police. Ahead of discharging him from the hospital, the executives from the administrative department of the hospital, the doctor who conducted Punjani's treatment and the senior officials of the hospital met him, apparently to give tips to stay in good health," the source said. After reaching the hotel premises, Punjani was seen walking to the reception counter, from where he walked to the elevator to reach his pre-booked suite in the hotel along with his companions.
Ali Punjani at Sofitel hotel in BKC on Thursday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Flying back to Kenya
However, his business class air ticket has been booked for Nairobi from Mumbai for August 26 on Kenya Airways. His flight from Mumbai will reach Nairobi at 10.20am on August 26. After three hours, his connecting flight to Mombasa is scheduled from Nairobi at 1.30pm and he is expected to land in Mombasa at 2.30pm on the same day. mid-day has learnt that Punjani has booked the suite for another five days, which may be extended for another few days or cut-short — subject to legal complications if any in Mumbai.
'Hawk-eye on Punjani'
Based on the series of reports published in mid-day, the Mumbai police have taken serious note and have approached the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — the nodal liaisoning agency for INTERPOL, to know if any international administrative request had been made to assist the Kenyan cops in their war on drugs. "But we are yet to receive any reply," a senior IPS officer told mid-day.
A source from the hospital told mid-day that a police team in plainclothes had visited Asian Heart Institute on Wednesday. "But I am yet to get details about why cops visited the hospital to meet Punjani as they did not record his statement but spoke to him for a long time," the source said. Meanwhile, another senior officer told mid-day, "We have kept a hawk-eye on his movements in the city. We are aware where he is at present. We are just waiting for one call from the foreign country."
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