THE MUMBAI police crime branch, which arrested a 71-year-old alleged hawala operator of gangster Ravi Pujari from south Mumbai last week, have learnt that extortion money sent by the operator reached Pujari through another Dubai-based hawala operator who goes by the name of ‘Raju Dubai’. The police are trying to identify the man, who is known by this alias. So far, the crime branch has arrested five persons in the case and charged them under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
An officer linked to the probe said that during questioning, Dilip Israni, who was arrested last week, revealed that the money was sent to another hawala operator, Raju Dubai, who passed it on to Pujari through a network of people. “A lot of these hawala operators do not use their own names to protect their identity. We are trying to find out who this person is,” an officer said.
The police also learnt that one of the four accused they arrested had earlier approached Israni and asked him to use his hawala network for transferring the extortion amount. “Israni was offered a percentage of the amount he would send to Dubai, to which he agreed,” the officer said.
Israni, on receiving money from Pujari’s henchmen, would call up Raju Dubai and ask him to pay the same amount to Pujari’s aide in Dubai, the police said. “It is through this network that the money reached Pujari. However, he ensured that people in the network, through which he received the money, did not know each other. Even if one person is arrested, the entire link is not revealed,” said an officer who added that once Israni’s custody is over, they will begin filing the chargesheet.
The crime branch had arrested three aides of gangster Pujari for allegedly extorting money from an Andheri-based developer to give him a share of a development project. The developer approached the police following which the anti-extortion cell arrested the trio. The police later arrested another person who was believed to be the link between the three arrested accused and Israni.