A special court in Karnataka sanctioned gangster Ravi Pujari’s custody to Mumbai Police on Saturday. (HT FILE)
A special court in Karnataka sanctioned gangster Ravi Pujari’s custody to Mumbai Police on Saturday. (HT FILE)

Mumbai Police to get gangster Ravi Pujari’s custody on Monday

The Mumbai Police is set to get gangster Ravi Pujari’s custody on Monday after a special court in Karnataka sanctioned the same. Pujari has around 50 criminal cases filed against him in Mumbai of around 200 cases across India.
By Vijay Kumar Yadav and Manish K Pathak, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 12:31 AM IST

The Mumbai Police is set to get gangster Ravi Pujari’s custody on Monday after a special court in Karnataka sanctioned the same. Pujari has around 50 criminal cases filed against him in Mumbai of around 200 cases across India.

Earlier, efforts by Mumbai Police’s crime branch to take the gangster’s custody failed due to various legal hurdles. Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh had, after taking over as commissioner last year, said that more efforts would be taken to take Pujari’s custody.

Police sources said at the time of Pujari’s extradition, authorities in Senegal, from where the gangster was extradited, were informed by Karnataka Police only about their cases. Due to this, Pujari’s lawyer opposed his custody to the Mumbai Police.

However, the same was cleared after the ministry of home affairs and ministry of external affairs intervened and represented their case before authorities in Senegal and sought permission for granting Pujari’s custody to Mumbai Police.

Senegal authorities then permitted Mumbai Police to take the custody and the documents were accordingly submitted before the special court in Bengaluru, which passed an order on Saturday, said officers.

Milind Bharambhe, joint commissioner of police (crime), said, “After compliance of all legal procedures, we approached a special Bengaluru court which granted Pujari’s custody to us. Mumbai Police will get his custody on Monday, following which he will be brought to Mumbai and produced in the court.”

The anti-extortion cell (AEC) of the Mumbai Police will take Pujari’s custody in connection with an October 2016 firing case at a hotel in Vile Parle which was allegedly done on the instructions of Pujari for extortion. The police had arrested seven members of the Pujari gang in the case including the shooter while Pujari was shown as wanted accused in the case.

Crime branch sources said a special team of officers would interrogate the gangster. Given the track record of the gangster, additional security arrangements are being made at the crime branch lock up, said a police officer.

A crime branch officer said Pujari is wanted accused in 52 cases including murder, extortion and shootouts in Mumbai over the past 24 years.

Pujari has been named in at least 200 cases across the country. He was arrested in Senegal in West Africa in January 2019, but he jumped bail and fled to South Africa where he was involved in drug trafficking and extortion racket.

Sources in Indian Intelligence said he was hiding as Anthony Fernandes, a Burkina Faso passport holder, and was located in a remote village of South Africa.

Based on a tip-off from the Indian external intelligence agency, Senegal police caught the gangster. He was then brought to India by a team of officers, including senior IPS officers from Karnataka, where he has 79 cases.

After his arrest, Mumbai Police’s anti-extortion cell (AEC) compiled a dossier with details of 20 cases against him in Mumbai for his extradition. “The selected cases were mostly registered under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Act (MCOCA),” said an AEC official. “All case papers were written in Marathi and were translated in English, which took at least two months. Apart from the documents, we collected biometric proof, including DNA samples collected from his family,” the officer added.

A senior crime branch officer said police in Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat and other cities have also prepared similar dossiers which were submitted to the home ministry, from where these were sent to the authorities in Senegal.

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