Mumbai's ubiquitous underworld, presumed decimated, raised its face once again in 2011 with a spate of high-profile killings that included the gunning down of journalist J Dey in June. This apart, if the number of extortion calls made by fugitive underworld hirelings to businessmen in the city in 2011 is any indication, it would mean underworld activism was higher in 2011 compared to 2010.
As per data compiled by the crime branch, the number of extortion calls [based on complaints] by underworld gangs to potential targets witnessed a marginal rise, from 51 in 2010 to 60 in 2011. Fugitive underworld don Ravi Pujari accounted for more than 50% of ransom calls in 2011. Another fugitive, Ejaz Lakdawala, who was lying low following a near fatal attack on him in 2002, appeared to have been desperately trying to regain lost turf by making a slew of ransom demands and is now No 2 on the extortionists' list.
One of India's most wanted criminals, Chhota Rajan, who was allegedly responsible for the murder of journalist J Dey made quite a few ransom demands while hiding somewhere in South East Asia. Dons like Hemant Pujari and the ailing Guru Satam tried their hand at extortion, but met with little success, as crime branch sources put it.
"There has been a marginal increase in the number of extortion calls made by underworld figures in 2011 compared to 2010," said joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy.
He said the beginning of 2011 witnessed a sudden spurt in underworld activity. Ravi Pujari's men shot dead two persons at a construction site at Andheri in March 2011, followed by a barrage of ransom threats to real estate developers. "But, we curtailed his activities with a series of arrests of his foot soldiers," Roy said.