Mumbai Police Crime Branch officers believe that fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari’s call to the office of businessman Nusli Wadia last month is little more than the latest in his recent attempts to get his name in the news as many times as possible. Officers who have been tracking his activities over the last few years told Newsline that Pujari has lately taken to telling his victims to ‘Google’ his name if they doubted that he meant business.
On June 19 this year, Wadia’s office in Worli received a total of five calls, allegedly from Pujari, which were received by two of Wadia’s assistants. While the man identifying himself as Pujari asked to speak to Wadia in the earlier calls, in the last two calls he told the assistants that Wadia should stay away from the Preity Zinta and Ness Wadia matter.
Pujari is reported to have also confirmed to a new channel two days later that it was he who made the call as he was a huge fan of Zinta’s, and as no one seemed to be standing up for her. The Crime Branch’s Anti Extortion Cell is currently investigating the case.
“Every time someone gets a call from Pujari, the coverage of his threats or extortion attempts helps his cause. With the rapid development of online news media, it takes a quick search of his name to get all news reports about him on a single search page, and Pujari has been trying to make this work to his advantage. Aware that he has never been taken very seriously, he has now started saying things like, ‘Jaanta nahi mai kaun hoon? Mere naam ka Google maarke dekh (Don’t you know who I am? Google my name)’ to the people he calls to threaten,” said a Crime Branch officer.
A Google search of Pujari’s name results in a list of articles about him and his alleged activities, which include his call to Wadia’s office, reports on his suspected whereabouts and activities, and profiles on the fugitive. More significantly, the ‘People also searched for’ section of the search results, which lists related search strings, shows names such as Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Shakeel Babumiya Sheikh alias Chhota Shakeel and Rajendra Nikalje alias Chhota Rajan.
“Pujari seems to know very well that in the day and age of internet enabled phones, it doesn’t take more than five minutes for the average citizen to run a search and see his name listed alongside the big names of the underworld, along with accounts of his criminal activities. Although in reality, he is regarded to be something of a chindichor (small fry), who starts with demanding lakhs and ends up settling for a few thousands,” the officer added.
The Crime Branch is currently trying to find where Pujari is running his criminal racket from, and is questioning all his known associates.