Underworld don Ravi Pujari, believed to have been mentored by Chhota Rajan, has been arrested from the West African country of Senegal, media reports said on Friday, 1 February. According to a statement by the state government, Dr Amar Kumar Pandey, ADGP Intelligence, Karnataka coordinated with authorities in Delhi and Senegal to make possible the detention and eventual extradition of Pujari to India from Dakar. He is to complete the necessary formalities and bring Ravi Pujari back to the country.
"“When the coalition government was formed, we had instructed the state police to track down Ravi Pujari. The Karnataka State Police, through solid investigation, tracked him down to Senegal. They got his call records and many other evidences to obtain his location. Once his location was confirmed, they managed to get him arrested with the help of the officials abroad. This is the coalition’s success.”" - CM HD Kumaraswamy, in a TNM report
The arrest took place on 22 January in Senegal's capital Dakar, with the Indian embassy getting intimated on 26 January, a Hindustan Times report said.
Pujari was said to have been travelling from Burkina Faso when the authorities took action against him, and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was purportedly coordinating the operation, The Times of India added.
Pujari reportedly parted ways with gangster Chhota Rajan in 2001. There are 39 cases against him in Bengaluru, 36 in Mangaluru, 11 in Udupi district and one each in several other districts in Karnataka.
A Red Corner Notice was also issued by Interpol against him, and he is accused of making several extortion demands and threat calls to real estate builders and Bollywood personalities, including the likes of Mahesh Bhatt and Farah Khan.
His gang was also reportedly involved in the shootout outside producer-brothers Karim and Aly Morani's residence.
Absconding for many years, Pujari has purportedly travelled across various countries, including Australia, Thailand, Malaysia and Morocco. According to a press release issued by the Karnataka government, he had obtained a new identity as Antony Fernandez and had gotten a Burkina Faso passport for himself and his family. He was arrested from a barber shop with three bus loads of cops at hand.
Just last week, a man named Akash Shetty, believed to be close to Pujari, was arrested by the Mumbai police from Karnataka, the HT report further said.
Four members of his gang were arrested last year in April and sentenced to five years imprisonment for plotting the murder of Bollywood filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt. According to ANI, Bhatt had testified against the gang in 2017.
Umar Khalid, student leader of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani had allegedly received death threats from Pujari and his gang, following which they filed a police complaint last year.
Hailing from Karnataka's Udupi, Pujari had shifted to Mumbai early on, and indulged in petty criminal activity. He is said to have earned notoriety after killing rival gangster Bala Zalte. Pujari also operated out of Dubai in the 1990s.
(With inputs from NDTV, The Times of India, Hindustan Times and ANI)
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