Mumbai police woke up to a rude shock in April when police officers from Mangalore raided a popular night club and arrested a key underworld point man. He worked under the cover of a bouncer and his arrest led to the recovery of a huge cache of arms and ammunition.
Dattatreya Tukaram Wagre ran an inter-state extortion ring at the behest of his mentor, fugitive underworld kingpin Ravi Pujari aka Ravi Prakash Surya Pujari, right under their nose.
Wagre told the police about his cronies who too worked in various popular night joints under a similar profile —bouncers. Subsequent raids by the Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) not only resulted in the arrest of several of Pujari’s men, but recovery of many lethal weapons, including a Carbine which is usually used by commandos and armed forces personnel. The danger was present and clear.
The police thought they had wrapped up the Pujari gang by killing a dozen of his foot soldiers and arresting another dozen a couple of years ago.
However, Pujari was regrouping in the years hence and subsequently, over half a dozen film personalities, hoteliers and developers were rattled by his ransom demands. Few came forward and approached the police, while many bartered peace with the mobster.
Orchestrating last week’s firing at Bollywood personality Ali Morani’s bungalow and issuing a threat to actor Shah Rukh Khan were just a continuation of his modus operandi — gaining maximum publicity.
“He carefully chooses his targets — from top rung realtors to Bollywood personalities that give him maximum airtime and print space,” said a veteran underworld watcher.
Meanwhile, Mumbai police have extended protection to seven people, including Shah Rukh Khan, other Bollywood personalities and builders, who had received threats from Pujari in the last three years.