The anti-extortion cell of Pune police crime branch have arrested a gang of six persons,who operated with the name vichitra (peculiar) gang and allegedly extorted money from private travel firms and businessmen in Hinjewadi IT Park area. Police said the members of the group had grown a shendi (lock of hair) on their heads as a mark of their gang. They threatened to pelt stones and damage the vehicles of private travel firms if their demand for money was not fulfilled.
The suspects have been identified as Avinash Anand Waghulkar (22),Santosh Babulal Vitkar (19),Kiran Balu Shelke (20),Sandip Prakash Thakar (20),Pravin Bapu Kasale (20),Dnyaneshwar Anand Waghulkar (20),all residents of Mulshi.
A private travel agency from Sangvi lodged an offence with the anti-extortion cell against the suspects on Saturday. The firm has rented vehicles to the companies in Hinjewadi IT park. Police said unknown persons had called the owner of the travels firm on May 12 demanding hafta. Later,on May 14,two persons pelted stones on a bus owned by the firm at Hinjewadi IT Park.
Meanwhile,suspects again called the travel firm owner demanding Rs 70,000 per month. They said that several businessmen from Hinjewadi give them hafta. They also threatened to damage more vehicles owned by the firm if the money was not paid.
The firm owner then approached the anti-extortion cell for help. A team of anti extortion cell comprising inspector Sachin Sawant,assistant inspector Santosh Subalkar,constables Hrishikesh Mahalle,Anil Shinde,Pandurang Wanajale,Ganesh Mali,Anant Dalvi,Maruti Bhujbal,Balasaheb Jarad,Kashinath Jagtap,Chandrakant Savant,Mahadev Dimble,Baba Shirke,Chandrakant Ingle,Nagnath Gawli,Dilip Kachi and Sanjay Kalokhe launched a search for the suspects.
The police team nabbed the suspects on Saturday evening. Investigation is on to know how many more businessmen in the area were being threatened likewise, said additional commissioner of police (crime) A D Shinde.
Police said around 40 more people are associated with the vichitra group,which was trying to spread terror among the business community in Hinjewadi. Besides growing a shendi on their heads,the gang members had put up stickers of vichitra group on the number plates of their two-wheelers. Investigation revealed that some group members are labourers who did petty jobs in Hinjewadi IT park. Police have appealed to business persons who have been threatened by the group members to contact the anti-extortion cell.