Officials from Anti-extortion Cell (AEC) of the Mumbai crime branch on Monday arrested two more suspects, including the one who supplied the firearm on behalf of gangster Ravi Pujari.
The arrested accused were identified as Ganpal Shettiyar, 48, and Dinanath Jaiswal, both allegedly involved in planning and conducting a reccee of Gajalee restaurant in Vile Parle. While Jaiswal was arrested from Powai, Shettiyar was picked up from Kandivli.
Police said Jaiswal supplied a factory-made pistol, used in the firing, which was recovered from him. “We are now trying to find out from where/whom did he purchase it and whether he supplies arms to the Pujari gang,” said a crime branch officer.
The AEC had arrested five suspects on February 6, including three from Mumbai. They were identified as Suresh Muthaiyya Pujari alias Suresh Anna, 54, Ramesh Kitta Pujari, 49, and Mrityunjay Narayan Das, 35, while two others, Suresh Pillai and Mohammed Momin, were taken into custody by the Gujarat police. After committing the crime, Pillai and Momin fled to Gujarat where they allegedly shot a former Gujarat corporator Pragnesh Patel. They were allegedly hired by Patel’s rival, added the officer.
The incident took place on October 21, 2016, when Das and Momin visited in the hotel. While Momin waited outside, Das entered the hotel and handed over a chit to one of the hotel staffers. Das threatened the staffer that he would kill him if he failed to follow his instructions, as he belonged to the Ravi Pujari gang.
An AEC official, who is part of the investigation, said that Pujari had called several times on the restaurant landline and asked the manager to tell his employer to call him. But the owner never called and this infuriated Pujari, who later contacted Suresh Pillai and told him to send a strong message to the owner. Pillai then contacted the other suspects and planned to threaten the owner by firing in the air inside his restaurant, said the official.
A case was registered at the Vile Parle police station under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for attempt to murder, criminal intimidation and common intention, following which The AEC launched a parallel inquiry in the case.
“After scrutinising the footage recorded by the CCTV camera installed outside the hotel, we got few leads and alerted our informants in the city. The accused were arrested mostly on the human intelligence,” said senior inspector Vinayak Vast of AEC.
Another official said though the restaurant owner tried to hide the fact that Pujari was trying extort money from him when he lodged a complaint, the accused divulged it during interrogation.