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Gangster Suresh Pujari picks extortion targets from newspaper ads, accused tell Thane cops

The police said the accused, at the behest of Pujari, demanded Rs25 lakh from a hotelier in Bhiwandi.

mumbai Updated: Feb 24, 2018 01:01 IST
Arvind Walmiki
Arvind Walmiki
Hindustan Times
Thane AEC,extortion threats,hotelier
Fugitive gangster Suresh Pujari mostly targets hoteliers and businessmen who advertise in a newspaper from Mangalore in Karnataka.(HT File)

Fugitive gangster Suresh Pujari mostly targets hoteliers and businessmen who advertise in a newspaper from Mangalore in Karnataka, his four aides arrested in connection with the Bhiwandi firing told the Thane anti-extortion cell (AEC). A 16-year-old teenager was also part of the January 10 firing, according to an officer.

“The four men have confessed to the firing and told us that Suresh Pujari reads advertisements in a Mangalore-based newspaper to zero in on his targets. After getting phone numbers from the newspaper adverts, he demands money from businessmen and hoteliers. The accused were asked to download a video chat application and exchange the password with Pujari,” said Pradeep Sharma, senior inspector from the Thane AEC.

The four arrested men are Harish Kotian 30; Sanket Dalvi 25; Prathmesh Kadam 22; and Aniket Thakur 25. The police said the accused, at the behest of Pujari, demanded Rs25 lakh from a hotelier in Bhiwandi. As the hotelier refused to pay, Pujari allegedly sent three shooters to the hotel. The teenagershot at a receptionist in the leg and fled the spot.

The four people were arrested by the Mumbai crime branch and handed over to the Thane anti-extortion cell, while the teenager was sent to a correction home.

“The minor came in contact with Kotian and Dalvi through their common friend Kadam. He was offered Rs75,000 for firing on the receptionist at KN Park hotel on Kalyan-Bhiwandi Highway. He acted on the instruction of Kotian and Dalvi, who were in contact with Pujari,” said an officer.

“The arrested accused also told the police that Pujari had lied to them, saying that the hotelier was his childhood friend and owed him Rs25 lakh, said Rajkumar Kothmire, inspector from the Thane AEC. Pujari told the four men and the minor that they should not have fired at the receptionist,” said Kothmire.

The accused were supplied with two pistols and 11 bullets by a man on Ghodbunder Road, said the police. They used five bullets for training, while another five were seized.

Suresh Pujari used to target contractors and hoteliers from Ulhasnagar, Ambernath, Kalyan and Dombivli.

First Published: Feb 24, 2018 01:00 IST