Gangster Ashwin Naik, who was arrested by the Dadar police while extorting money from a Dadar-based builder on Sunday, had earlier warned the builder’s two partners that no building should be constructed in Dadar without his permission.
It is alleged that he also threatened to kill the two men if they rejected his extortion demands.
According to the police, the builder’s firm has been working on a Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) project to turn a chawl of 47 houses into a building near his house in Shivaji Park for the past six months.
In his complaint to the police, the builder said his two partners had been receiving threatening calls from Naik for the past four months. He said they had told him about the calls eight or nine times but were too scared to report the matter to the police.
In the second week of November, the builder had gone to Dubai for some work. When he returned on December 7, his partners told him that Naik threatened them again and warned them that no building could come up in Dadar without paying him first. Having received numerous threats, the two men said they paid Naik Rs 15 lakh and Rs 10 lakh at his Subhash Nagar office, according to a police source.
A day later, Naik’s men kidnapped the builder in a Scorpio at Dadar and took him at gunpoint to the gangster’s office, where Naik threatened to kill him if he didn’t pay him Rs 50 lakh and give him flats totaling 6,000 square feet in his SRA project at Gomeswadi, Shivaji Park.
After the builder lodged a complaint on Sunday morning, the police laid a trap outside his office and arrested Naik and his men while they were taking the money around 3pm. The bag, the police later revealed, contained mostly blank bundles of paper and just Rs 2 lakh in cash.
The police are now looking for three more men suspected to be involved in the builder’s kidnapping. They have seized four cellphones from Naik and searched his home, as well as those of his aides. During the searches, the police recovered Rs 50,000 in cash from the Prabhadevi home of arrested suspect Pramod Keluskar.
“We have written to the crime branch seeking details of Naik’s past criminal cases to see if the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) can be invoked against him,” said Mahesh Patil, deputy commissioner of police, zone V.