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Trap, chase, surrender: Mumbai cops crash wedding at Mangalore, gangster Ravi Pujari’s aide as return gift

Following his arrest, gangster Ravi Pujari’s aide Akash Shetty was flown into Mumbai and a special court on Wednesday remanded him in police custody till January 28.

mumbai Updated: Jan 24, 2019 11:00 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
gangster ravi pujari,ravi pujari's aide akash shetty,mumbai police
Akash Shetty, an aide of gangster Ravi Pujari, was arrested by the anti-extortion cell of Mumbai police. (Getty Images/ Reprsentative Photo )

A trap, chase and surrender – the anti-extortion cell (AEC) of the Mumbai police arrested Akash Shetty, 30, an aide of gangster Ravi Pujari who took over the Mumbai operations, amid high drama in a village in Mangalore in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka on Tuesday.

An officer from AEC said Pujari’s extortion cartel, which had suffered a blow after the arrest of top aide Dasrath Shinde in July 2017, had resumed operations in the past seven-eight months. “Pujari had stopped calling Mumbai developers for the past one-and-a-half years,” the officer said.

But as developers started getting ransom calls again, the police suspected that someone had stepped into Shinde’s space. The cell on January 15 arrested William Rodrigues from the city, for being part of Pujari’s extortion syndicate. Rodrigues allegedly provided the contact details of a developer from the western suburbs to Pujari, after which the fugitive gangster started demanding ransom from him. While going through Rodrigues’ call data records, the sleuths came across a number he frequently called.

Rodrigues then revealed that the number was of Akash Shetty, their operational head, according to sources. Sources said Shetty ran a restaurant – New Kuber – in Udupi town in Karnataka, which he used as a front to run the mafia cartel. A seven-member crime branch team was then sent to Udupi, but after Rodrigues’ arrest, Shetty had gone into hiding. A search at Shetty’s restaurant in Udupi and house in Salikeri village, 60km away, too, didn’t lead to his whereabouts. In Mumbai, another AEC team managed to intercept a close acquaintance of Shetty family. “We learnt that Shetty was supposed to visit his cousin’s wedding in Vittala Verkhamba village, 20km from Mangalore, on Tuesday,” an AEC official said.

The camping AEC team then laid a trap at the wedding venue. Shetty who came in a car, spotted the policemen upon arriving and rushed back into the car. As he drove off, the police party followed him in another SUV. They overtook Shetty’s vehicle after a 5-6 km chase and blocked his way. Surrounded by armed sleuths, Shetty surrendered.

Shetty allegedly revealed he had pieced together the gang’s operation by hiring six-seven men in the past one year. “Shetty earlier ran a restaurant in Goregaon. There, he befriended Rodrigues, who is from Goregaon, through whom he got in touch with Pujari. Shetty shut down his business in Goregaon three years ago and moved to Udupi,” the officer said. He was flown into Mumbai and a special court on Wednesday remanded him in police custody till January 28.

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First Published: Jan 24, 2019 10:56 IST