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Court asks ATS, not Crime Branch, to quiz gangster Suresh Pujari

🔴 Sources said that it was his visit to India in 2013 following his son's death and the social media activities of a female friend in The Philippines that helped agencies locate Suresh in the island nation and get him to India.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai |
Updated: December 16, 2021 7:16:25 am
Suresh Pujari, Gangster Suresh Pujari, Suresh Pujari news, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, Maharashtra Police, The Philippines, extortion cases, gangster Ravi PujariSuresh Pujari (File)

Underworld gangster Suresh Pujari (46), deported from The Philippines on Tuesday night, was on Wednesday produced before a Thane court that remanded him to the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) custody for 10 days in connection with an extortion case. Sources said that it was his visit to India in 2013 following his son’s death and the social media activities of a female friend in The Philippines that helped agencies locate Suresh in the island nation and get him to India.

Meanwhile, there was a surprise in store for crime branch officials, who had been tracking Suresh over the years and coordinated with The Philippines authorities to ensure his return, on Wednesday after the ATS was asked to take a lead on the investigations. Instead of the crime branch, it was the ATS that was asked to take Suresh’s custody from Delhi airport and interrogate him in connection with the case registered in Thane. Sources said that a decision was taken by senior officials to ask ATS to probe the case instead of Mumbai Police first although no reason was specified for the same. Suresh, who faces at least 24 cases in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, had been on the run for the last 14 years before he was tracked down to The Philippines in October and detained there.

Suresh, who was born at Asalpha village in Ghatkopar, ran a video game parlour in the Ambernath area in the 90s. In 1993, an attempt to murder case was registered against him which is believed to have pushed him to the wrong side of law.

As per sources, it was during his time at Thane prison in 2006 that Suresh came in contact with Madhu Pujari, brother of gangster Ravi Pujari who introduced him to the underworld. Ravi by then was working with gangster Chhota Rajan and was well entrenched in the underworld. Madhu introduced Suresh to Ravi after which Suresh started working for him.

An official said that the services of Suresh were allegedly used by Ravi in the firing on filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s office. It was Suresh who is alleged to have coordinated the attack at the behest of Ravi. Soon after that, Suresh too fled the country in 2007. He was believed to have been holed up in Dubai.

A senior official said that they had lost track of Suresh Pujari till 2013 when he sprung up on the police radar following his visit to India. “His son had died due of blood cancer and hence, Suresh visited India for the last rites. He entered India on a passport in the name of Satish Shekhar Pai. It was then that the intelligence agencies realized that the person was Suresh Pujari. By then, however, he had fled the country,” the official added. That, however, gave the police a link to the gangster and his family. The officials kept tracking his movements abroad, including monetary transactions he made with his family. “During one instance, for example, the family had received money from him to purchase a scooter,” the official said. However, another giveaway of his movements was the social media activity of a Filipino woman who was allegedly residing with Suresh.

Tracking him over the years, by 2019, the crime branch confirmed Suresh’s location at a building in Paranaque located in the National Capital Region of The Philippines. The sleuths also knew that Suresh’s passport had expired and thus he was living illegally in the country, making him eligible for deportation. The crime branch informed the Central agencies on his whereabouts following which authorities in The Philippines were tipped off.

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