Gangster Ravi Pujari brought to Mumbai, sent in police custody

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(Eds: adding details) Mumbai, Feb 23 (PTI) Gangster Ravi Pujari was brought to Mumbai from Bengaluru on Tuesday and produced before a special court which remanded him in the custody of city police till March 9 in a 2016 case of firing at a restaurant.

Pujari was extradited to India from Senegal in West Africa in February last year after being on the run for several years, and was lodged in a jail in Bengaluru.

The crime branch of Mumbai Police which is probing the case produced him before a special court for the Maharashtra Control of Organized Crime Act (MCOCA).

His custodial interrogation was required to find out who gave instructions for the attack as Pujari himself was in Senegal at the time, the police told the court.

They also needed to find out where the pistol used in the attack was obtained and how the finances were arranged, police said.

Pujari's lawyer Devanad Manerkar argued that the case was under investigation for aboutfive years, so his extended custody was not needed.

Judge D E Kothalikar, however, noted that on the face of it there was ample evidence on record against the accused and the allegations were serious, so police should have sufficient opportunity to probe the case.

The court permitted Pujari's lawyerto meet him once in two days.

The incident of firing had taken place at a restaurant in suburban Vile Parle on October 21, 2016. According to police, it was done by the Pujari gang to intimidate the owner and extort money.

Seven aides of the gangster were arrested in the case earlier.

According to Mumbai Police, Pujari, who hails from Udupi in Karnataka, ran an extortion racket from abroad, targeting businessmen and film personalities among others.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Milind Bharambe told reporters that as many as 49 cases are registered against the gangster at various police stations in Mumbai including those of murder. PTI AVI/DC GK KRK KRK