The Central Crime Branch (CCB) police have arrested a 31-year-old close associate of notorious underworld don Bannanje Raja for allegedly assisting him in his Gulf-based extortion activities by organizing logistics for his gang – including supply of phone numbers of businessmen to be targeted for extortion, collection of money through hawala and other routes, and supply of guns to carry out armed extortion threats or attacks on targets.
The associate has been identified as Sujeeth Poojari Kudkoli alias Ramesh, a resident of Nagarabhavi and a native of Mangalore. The police seized a pistol, a motorcycle and a mobile phone from him. The CCB police said Poojari was going to deliver the gun to a set of sharp shooters set to arrive in Mangalore from UP to carry out an attack on a local businessman.
CCB’s investigations have revealed that Poojari was in constant touch with Bannanje Raja through internet telephony. He used to collect the phone numbers of businessmen and builders and pass them to Raja for extortion calls. He was scheduled to deliver a gun to sharp shooters at Mangalore to kill a businessman for ignoring the gang’s extortion threats when he was arrested, the CCB police said in an official note.
The police said Raja used to call businessmen based on the information provided by Poojari to threaten them and ask for large amounts of money. Poojari was working as a liaison man between Raja and his associates in Karnataka, police said.
Investigation has further revealed that Poojari visited Dubai recently to meet Raja. Evidence is detailed in his passport. During the visit, he provided phone numbers of five businessmen to Raja.
Police said Poojari was working in Mangalore and shifted to Bangalore seven years ago. He started a real estate and chit fund business and also became the agent of an insurance company. He was brought in contact with Raja by a common associate, identified as Jagadish Raje Urs, who was recently arrested by the Karwar police in connection with the assasination of a local businessman and BJP leader R N Nayak in November 2013.
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CCB police have registered a case in Upparpet police station. Poojari was produced in court and taken into police custody for eight days to interrogate him for more details about the gang.