A case of mistaken identity and blunders by the police turned into a 30-hour ordeal for the Borivli-based Pujari family.
Sridevi Pujari and her 16-year-old son were detained and questioned by the Mumbai and Mangalore police at the international airport in the city on suspicion of being related to gangster Ravi Pujari. The family was on its way to Dubai for a vacation.
Sources said the blunder was the result of a threat call made in 2012. A woman named Sridevi had called up a Mangalore-based businessman on behalf of gangster Pujari. The call was recorded by the Mangalore police. The police then took the help of the passport department, and pulled out the passport of Borivli-based Sridevi.
Coincidentally, the 16-year-old boy has the same name as Ravi Pujari’s son. The gangster’s wife had fled the country using a bogus passport. Assuming they were his family, the Mangalore police issued a lookout circular (LOC) against Sridevi and her son, without running a background check.
“My family was questioned by 15 officers from Mumbai and Mangalore police, and asked about events that they were not remotely aware of. My son and daughter were made to sit in one place for hours together.
Both are traumatised,” Sridevi’s husband told HT on Wednesday.
The police later realised their mistake. R Hithendra, commissioner of police, Mangalore, told HT they had confirmed Sridevi was not Ravi Pujari’s wife.
The family now plans to ask the police to compensate them for the ordeal the family went through. They have also requested the Mangalore police to clear the LOC issued for Sridevi and her son, so their passports can be cleared by the immigration department and they can head to Dubai to celebrate the New Year.
Speaking on the issue, IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said the family can file a case against the police for wrongful confinement.
“Just because their names and passport details are similar, they can’t be detained for so long. Many other details should have been verified before taking action against the family,” he said.
He added that the LOC will be cleared by the immigration department. Hithendra, however, refused to comment on the subject of compensation.