With gangster Ejaz Lakdawala in custody, police expect drop in extortion cases

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Police claim Ejaz Lakdalawala had made the maximum number of threat calls last year.

Mumbai Police expect a drop in extortion phone calls to builders and traders in the city following the arrest of gangster Ejaz Lakdawala Wednesday. Police claim Lakdalawala had made the maximum number of threat calls last year.

“There was a rise in extortion calls by Lakdawala last year which had left builders and businessmen scared. That’s when we decided to find him,” a senior police official said.

Lakdawala, who was last believed to be living in Canada, mainly used two phone calls to demand money. “Like other gangsters running extortion rackets, Lakdawala also used apps to generate phone numbers that hid his actual location. His victims would receive phone calls from American numbers,” the official added.

With gangster Ravi Pujari believed to be arrested in Senegal, and gangster Suresh Pujari mostly targeting hoteliers, police claimed that threats from Lakdawala accounted for the maximum number of extortion calls made in Mumbai last year.

“After Ravi Pujari’s arrest, extortion calls in Mumbai had reduced to a large extent,” the official said. He added that while Lakdawala also suffered setbacks when the police caught his cousin Sameer in February last year and bother Aqeel in March that year. He had resumed his activities after a temporary hiatus.

With Lakdawala in custody till January 21, police also hope to learn about fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim and his associates. “Though Lakdawala stopped working for Ibrahim in 2003, he would still be able to tell us about the inner working of the gang,” the official added.

Lakdawala, 50, was caught in Patna Wednesday after his daughter Sonia told the police that he would be arriving in the city. Her arrest on December 27 last year while attempting to fly to Nepal, allegedly to meet her father, was the breakthrough in the police’s six-month-long concentrated effort to track Lakdawala. He is an accused in 25 cases of murder, attempt to murder and extortion in Mumbai and is alleged to have made threat calls to 80 people, police said.

“We expect people, who had received extortion calls from Lakdawala but had never reported them, to come forward now,” another official said.