Mumbai: Ali Punjani got his bypass done in BKC hospital

Updated: Aug 14, 2019, 09:10 IST | Diwakar Sharma, Suraj Ojha

While Kenyan cops have declared him a wanted man, Ali Punjani is in Asian Heart; his sister says it is a witch hunt and that he will clear his name

Mumbai: Ali Punjani got his bypass done in BKC hospital
Ali Punjani

It turns out drug-trafficking suspect and tycoon Ali Punjani has been at Bandra's Asian Heart Institute since August 6, recuperating from heart surgery, even as the Kenyan police look for him in Mombasa in their crackdown on drugs. On Tuesday, Mombasa cops arrested a Nepalese woman, Karki Sushmija, and four others from Punjani's bungalow.

Sources said Sushmija claimed to be Punjani's wife. The source added that Punjani had been warned by the Mombasa police to surrender at the nearest police station but he had reached Mumbai before the Kenyan police accelerated their crackdown on drugs.

According to the Kenyan police, "We entered the house and found people inside, despite being told there wasn't anyone there. We were told that the caretaker had locked the house and gone. Our police officers camped at the house and it would not have been possible for anyone to enter during that time. After finding three people inside, we have agreed with the lawyer that the two people, a man and woman, found outside and whom we have arrested, will be charged for lying about there being no one inside the house. Those found inside the house will be charged with preventing the police from conducting investigations. A Nepalese man was found with a roll of bhang and has told us he bought it for personal use. Inside the house, we found Kenyan shillings (Ksh)57,000 with the Nepalese."

karki sushmijaKarki Sushmija, who was arrested from Ali Punjani's Mombasa bungalow, claims to be his wife

An officer from the Mombasa police said, "We want to investigate his lavish lifestyle, wealth and how they interconnect. This is just the beginning of the investigations and we will ransack all his belongings, premises and thereafter issue a statement on whether he will be charged or not. This will be done within a month."

Punjani's heart trouble

Before getting admitted to the Mumbai hospital, Punjani underwent treatment at the Mombasa-based Heart and Lung Diagnostic Centre following a heart attack and acute coronary syndrome on July 29.

mid-day tracked down Punjani at Asian Heart Institute but his sister told reporters that his health did not permit him to speak to anyone. "We keep coming to India, either to Delhi or Mumbai, for his cardiac treatment. A couple of days ago, he underwent a bypass," Punjani's sister said.

Punjani Mombasa house Mombasa cops outside Punjani's bungalow

She did not divulge any details about the police crackdown on Punjani in Mombasa and said, "It [the raid at Punjani's bungalow] is very normal but there is no proof. You [Kenyan cops] have conducted a raid at his bungalow but have you found anything? There have to be facts and figures. It is not a new thing as the Kenyan police have been investigating the matter since 2010."

Akasha brothers connection

Punjani's name had cropped up during the interrogation of Kenyan brothers Baktash and Ibrahim Akasha who are awaiting their sentencing in a drug trafficking case in New York. A family member of the brothers told mid-day that Punjani has only been supporting the Akashas' family as the cops have frozen their bank accounts.

"Punjani is a good man who has been helping the Akashas' family. He is a real estate mogul. The government of Kenya in conjunction with US federal police think the Akasha brothers are East African druglords, so they froze their bank accounts," said a family member of the Akasha brothers.

Also Read: Mumbai police serve notice to Kim Sharma, ex-husband Ali Punjani

Punjani house checkingThe Mombasa police conducting a raid inside Ali Punjani's sprawling bungalow in the city

Responding to mid-day's query about whether Punjani had been helping the Akashas financially, his sister said, "I do not know anything about the matter as I live in Nairobi and my brother lives in Mombasa. All I know is that he is a simple person who lives a simple life. Today, the cops are conducting raids, tomorrow he [Punjani] will come out clean as they are not going to get anything against him," she said.

About Punjani's family, she said, "He lives alone in Mombasa and his two children are studying in the US. That's why they have not yet come to Mumbai to see their ailing father." The hospital said, "The information related to patients is confidential."

Punjani's lawyer Jeff Asige said, "We are ready and prepared to help the police carry out a search. We promise to fully cooperate. My client Punjani instructed us to allow police to conduct any search. As far as we are aware they have not found any narcotics in Punjani's house. I am glad the exercise has gone on smoothly ."

Also Read: Kim Sharma's ex escapes Kenya's war on drugs, Is he hiding in India?

Punjani House search
The Mombasa police conducting a raid inside Ali Punjani's sprawling bungalow in the city

Mumbai police say

A top IPS officer said, "We have not received any request from the Kenyan government to assist them in the investigation. Above all, no case has been registered against the person [Punjani], who is undergoing treatment at a Bandra hospital, in Maharashtra and precisely in Mumbai. So, here, we cannot take any legal action against him."

06 Aug
Day Ali Punjani was admitted to Mumbai hospital

Also Read: Kim Sharma's ex Ali Punjani undergoing treatment in Asian Heart Institute

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