Gujarat: 7 booked for extortion under new GCTOC Act

Ahmedabad: In a first case registered under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Act, seven persons have been booked for extortion, police here said on Wednesday.

The offence has been registered against gangster Vishal Goswami and six of his aides under provisions of the GCTOC Act that came into force on December 1, 2019, an official said.

While Goswami and his two aides, Ajay and Rinku, are currently lodged at Ahmedabad Central Jail, four other gang members were arrested on Wednesday, special commissioner of police Ajay Tomar said.

The accused formed "an organised crime syndicate" to run an extortion racket using mobile phones smuggled inside the jail, he said.

"Acting on a tip-off, a team from the city crime branch arrested four members of the gang who were working at the behest of Goswami," Tomar said.

The three jailed accused conspired with the four others outside and targeted businessmen using mobile phones smuggled into the jail premises, he said.

They would threaten their targets through WhatsApp calls and messages, the senior official added.

The police have recovered three mobile phones, two SIM cards, a notebook with phone numbers and a pin to insert SIM cards from the jailed accused, he said, adding that 20 mobile phones, Rs 50,000 cash, a pistol, 40 cartridges, a motorcycle and a car were seized from the others.

The jailed accused are serving a seven-year term in Ahmedabad Central Jail for a crime registered in 2012, Tomar said.

More than 50 cases have been filed against Goswami and his gang across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, Tomar said, adding that the accused would also threaten witnesses deposing against them in courts.

Apart from the GCTOC Act, the seven accused have also been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Prisoners Act, he said.

Meanwhile, Tomar said one of the key features of the GCTOC Act is that intercepted telephonic conversations would now be considered as legitimate evidence.

The bill, earlier named as the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill, had failed to get the presidential nod thrice since 2004 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state.

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