Mumbai tea stall owner arrested for trying to extort 35 crore from filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar

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Updated on Aug 28, 2020 07:41 PM IST
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ByVijay Kumar Yadav, Mumbai

Officers of the anti-extortion cell (AEC) of Mumbai Police’s crime branch arrested a 33-year-old Dharavi-based tea stall owner for allegedly trying to extort 35 crore from filmmaker Mahesh Manjrekar by claiming to be gangster Abu Salem, who is in jail. The accused, Milind Balkrishna Tulsankar, told police that that he came up with the idea to make quick money after losing livelihood due to the Covid-19-induced pandemic.

According to the police his tea business was shut down in the lockdown so he had no other means of earning. Tulsankar then moved to his village Khed in Konkan after seeing a rise in Covid-19 cases in Dharavi, but struggled to earn money there as well.

He claimed he was fascinated about underworld and watched videos of gangster Abu Salem who is infamous for extorting money from Bollywood personalities. This gave him the idea and he chose to target Manjarekar as he was contesting the election. Tulsankar found his number on an election-related website.

Tulsankar first called Manjrekar on August 23, but since the filmmaker did not take the call, he sent two threatening messages demanding 35 crore through hawala. He had also mentioned a hawala operator’s name, Abdul Rashid, in the message, said a police officer.

After getting the message, Manjrekar lodged a complaint with Dadar police station. However, considering the seriousness of the incident, AEC started a parallel investigation.

Inspectors Ajay Sawant, Sachin Kadam and assistant inspector Raju Surve’s team analysed the caller’s details and found his location. Following this, Tulsankar was detained and brought to Mumbai on Thursday.

After he admitted to the crime, he was arrested. He further said that he was aware that Salem was in jail and that some gangsters operate their business from jails.

He was produced before a local court on Thursday and has been remanded in police custody till September 2.

So far, it has not been established that the accused has any connection with gangster Abu Salem or the underworld. However, the police would explore the angle in the probe, another officer said.

HT tried to contact Manjrekar for a comment, but he had not responded to calls and messages.

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