Bannanje Raja, an elusive underworld operative who is wanted in more than 40 criminal cases, including the December 2013 murder of a BJP leader in Karwar, has been nabbed in Morocco on the basis of information provided by the Indian law enforcement agencies, the Karnataka police said.
Mangalore city police commissioner S Murugan confirmed the arrest of Raja, who was allegedly hiding in Morocco after changing his name to Hegde. He is wanted in several cases registered in Mangalore and other parts of Karnataka.
Raja used to run an extortion racket from various foreign countries. An Interpol Red Corner notice had been issued for his arrest after his role was detected in dozens of attempts to extort money from businessmen in India as well as the daylight killing of businessman-politician R N Nayak in 2013.
The Mangalore police commissioner S Murugan said the police were yet to decide on the course of action to extradite Raja and bring him to trial for his alleged crimes in India.
In October 2009, Raja had been detained in the UAE by local authorities but was not extradited to India.
According to police, the gangster managed to dodge the extradition by getting a local cheque bounce case filed against himself resulting in UAE authorities holding him for prosecution in the cheque case.
Raja alias RK alias Rajendra Kumar hails from Dakshina Kannada in coastal Karnataka. Investigations in the past of extortion calls made by Raja has shown that he uses VOIP calls and cloned SIM cards to prevent police from tracking him down through the calls. He is a long time associate of Muthappa Rai, a former underworld operative, who was arrested in Dubai and extradited to India in 2001.
Rai was subsequently exonerated in all cases against him. Raja and Rai were co-accused in a 1997 murder of a rival.