Karnataka minister Abhaychandra Jain, who has been targeted by Hindu extremists since the murder of Bajrang Dal leader Prashanth Poojary, said on Tuesday that he had been threatened by dreaded gangster Ravi Poojary.
Poojary made an internet phone to Jain last Saturday and allegedly threatened to kill him and state environment minister B Ramanath Rai for failing to prevent the murder of the Bajrang Dal leader.
The gangster made the call after a photograph emerged purportedly showing Jain sharing a stage with an activist of the Popular Front of India (PFI), a hardline Islamic group blamed for Prashanth Poojary’s murder. The PFI activist, Sharief Todar, is currently in prison on charges of killing Prashanth Poojary.
Jain, the minister for youth and fisheries, told Hindustan Times: “He (Ravi Poojary) spoke to me in Hindi and accused me of being hand-in-glove with the killers of Prashanth Poojary. I asked him what gave him such an idea and he pointed to the photograph of me sharing the stage with one of the killers.
“I tried to explain that I share the stage with a lot of people and I don’t know them personally. He was in no mood to listen and said that he will kill Ramanath (Rai) also. That’s when I lost my cool and asked him to do his worst.”
The Bajrang Dal leader was killed on October 9 in Moodabidri, Jain’s constituency, by alleged activists of the PFI.
Ravi Poojary – who purportedly enjoys the support of mob boss Chhota Rajan, and like Rajan, claims to be “patriotic”, is believed to be hiding in Australia. Like several who made it big in Mumbai’s criminal gangs, Ravi Poojary hails from Mangalore. He identifies himself as an enemy of Pakistan-based mob boss Dawood Ibrahim.
Chhota Rajan has been arrested in the popular resort of Bali and is expected to be deported to India this week.
Jain, who is often seen travelling in buses and auto-rickshaws in his constituency, was provided a massive security detail following the threat.
“I am a simple man and I don’t like travelling in cars with gunmen. But I don’t want to make the life of the police more difficult, so I agreed to the armed guards,” he said.
Police sources in Mangalore pointed to the murder of human rights lawyer Naushad Kashimji and told Hindustan Times that Ravi Poojary could not to be trifled with.
Kashimji was shot outside his home in Mangalore in 2009. Ravi Poojary claimed responsibility for the murder and told reporters in Mangalore that Kashimji had to be killed because he was defending Rasheed Malbari, an aide of Dawood Ibrahim who was arrested in March 2009.
Malbari jumped bail in Bengaluru in August last year and has been untraceable since then. He allegedly made an attempt on Chhota Rajan’s life in Bangkok in 2000. Malbari also allegedly killed Rajan’s aide Bala Dokre at Kuala Lumpur in 2005.
There were several reports, some quoting police sources, that said Rajan had helped the police nab Malbari.
On April 9, 2009, the day he was shot dead, Kashimji had argued during a court hearing that Malbari should not be placed in police custody as there was a threat to his life from Ravi Poojary and Chota Rajan. Kashimji also accused the police of being hand-in-glove with the two mob bosses.
After his murder, Kashimji’s senior colleague Purshottam Poojary filed a private complaint that accused four police officers of helping the killers. The case fell through after Purshottam Poojary died in 2014 at the age of 89.