Ravi Pujari detained in Senegal, may be brought to Mumbai in a month
Mumbai Police’s crime branch on Friday confirmed gangster Ravi Pujari had been detained by authorities in Dakar, Senegal, against a red corner notice (RCN) issued by Interpol almost 17 years ago.
Pujari, who had christened himself the “Hindu Don” of Mumbai, is wanted in over 50 cases of murder, kidnapping, shootouts and extortion across the country. He has been on the run for several years and has travelled through numerous countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Dubai, Morocco. The police are working towards having him repatriated to India over the next few weeks.
A crime branch official, who is coordinating with the Interpol wing of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said Pujari had been intercepted in Dakar, on Thursday evening following a tip-off by Indian agencies. “His calls were being monitored by the police of three to four states. However, as those were infrequent and made through the internet, he managed to dodge surveillance,” said the official. Pujari was travelling on a fake Indian passport to Burkina Faso at the time of his detention.
Authorities estimate it will take at least a month to complete the formalities to bring Pujari back home. “We are sending the biometric proof, including the DNA samples collected from his family members living in Mumbai to stake our claims,” said the crime branch official.
Pujari, born in Udupi, came to Mumbai as a teenager and became gangster Chhota Rajan’s right hand man in the 1990s.
He was arrested by Mumbai Police in 1994, for the murder of builder Om Prakash Kukreja. Pujari came out on bail and allegedly fled first to South Africa, then Dubai and later, Australia. By 2000, he had parted ways with Rajan, worked with gangster Dawood Ibrahim for a while and eventually, set up his own gang. The Interpol issued an RCN against Pujari in 2002.
Pujari’s extortion and mafia syndicate saw a surge in its Mumbai activities in the mid-2000s.
In 2009 alone, over 100 extortion calls were allegedly made by Pujari to several celebrities, hoteliers and industrialists. His gang suffered a setback when the Mumbai crime branch rounded up over two dozen of his front-line shooters and operatives by 2012. This forced Pujari to shift his operations’ base to Karnataka. In October 2017, the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) rounded up his aide Dasrath Shinde and the RCN against Pujari was renewed.
The most recent blow to Pujari’s Mumbai operation came on January 22 this year, when his new Mumbai head Akash Shetty was arrested in a dramatic operation in Mangalore.