Pujari wanted to kill Mahesh Bhatt, not scare him: Sharpshooter
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Pujari wanted to kill Mahesh Bhatt, not scare him: Sharpshooter

Bangali was arrested at Santacruz following a tip off to crime branch’s senior police inspector Mahesh Desai after which a team led by assistant inspector Sharad Darade and sub-inspector Valmik Kore arrested him.

mumbai Updated: Dec 06, 2018 01:14 IST
Aritra Hazra
Aritra Hazra
Hindustan Times
Mahesh Bhatt,Ravi Pujari,Ravi Pujari gang
Sharpshooter Sadiq Bangali (HT Photo)

Sharpshooter Sadiq Bangali and his weapon supplier Dhawal Devalmani were arrested by Unit 9 of Mumbai Police’s crime branch on Tuesday night. Bangali, who was trying to start his own gang after parting ways with gangster Ravi Pujari, was arrested with four pistols and 29 rounds of ammunition. The police said Bangali has admitted to his involvement in the 2006 plan to shoot filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt in his office.

Bangali was arrested at Santacruz following a tip off to crime branch’s senior police inspector Mahesh Desai after which a team led by assistant inspector Sharad Darade and sub-inspector Valmik Kore arrested him. Upon questioning, sources said Bangali had admitted to having been in Pujari’s gang.

Bangali and Devalmani have been charged with sections 3 (possession of more than three firearms) and 25 (manufacture or sale of firearms) of the Arms Act and section 37 (prohibit certain acts for prevention of disorder) of the Maharashtra Police Act.

Sources said during his interrogation, Bangali told the police about the details of Pujari’s plan to kill Bhatt. “They [Pujari’s gang] had an informer who told them he would inform them when Bhatt would be in office. Pujari wanted to set an example and his motive was not to scare the filmmaker, but to actually kill him. The informer developed cold feet at the last moment and without even going inside the office and checking, he told the shooters that Bhatt was present in the office,” said an official familiar with the case.

Bangali also told the police he parted ways with Pujari in 2008 because he suspected Pujari was turning his own men in to the police. “His [Pujari’s] modus was simple: He would hire a team of shooters to work for him. After one or two assignments, the shooters would ask for hike in the money they were getting per assignment as by then they were known in the circle. Pujari would then get in contact with a few police informers and get them arrested,” said the officer. Bangali said after leaving Pujari’s gang in 2008, he never spoke to Pujari directly but was offered money by the gangster on various occasions and received offers to return to his gang. He has alleged Pujari doesn’t take care of either the legal fees or families of gang members who are behind bars, which made him unwilling to return to Pujari’s fold.

Pujari began his criminal career as a small-time gangster in Andheri and gained prominence after joining Chhota Rajan’s gang. He is accused of masterminding attacks on builders and Bollywood celebrities. In April, 10 men were convicted for conspiring to kill Bhatt in 2014. Bhatt has said he’s been threatened by Pujari repeatedly. Pujari is believed to be running his operations from Australia.

First Published: Dec 06, 2018 01:14 IST