The Bandra police Thursday arrested a 28-year-old man who had allegedly threatened and tried to extort Rs 2 crore from actor Salman Khan’s former lawyer Dipesh Mehta.
Police said Ram Chandra Chatri, who had sent a bouquet with a live cartridge to the lawyer on December 16 last year, knew him as Chatri’s parents were employed at Mehta’s housing society.
According to police, Chatri’s father, who is a cancer patient, worked as a security guard at Mehta’s housing society while his mother worked as a domestic help at the lawyer’s apartment.
On December 16, while the lawyer was in Dubai, two persons visited his Bandra (west) residence and dropped a bouquet with a letter. When Mehta checked the bouquet later, he found a bullet in it along with a letter. The extortionist, identifying himself as Azaad in the letter, demanded that Mehta pay up Rs 2 crore. The lawyer subsequently registered a complaint with the Bandra police.
Police said Mehta and Chatri had been in negotiations after the threat and on one occasion, in January, the bouquet delivery man went to pick up Rs 50,000 from Mehta near Mehboob Studios when the police apprehended him. The delivery man subsequently revealed Chatri’s identity to the police.
Since then, the police had been trying to trace Chatri through his mobile phone location, but he had been constantly changing places. “A few days ago, we got a tip-off that he was to arrive at his Shastri Nagar residence following which we laid a trap and arrested him around 6 pm Thursday,” said R Kane, police inspector from Bandra police station.
Chatri was Friday produced before a metropolitan court, which remanded him to police custody till March 14. The police are awaiting the ballistics report to ascertain how Chatri procured the bullet. Chatri had three cases, including two for armed robberies, registered against him in the past. He is currently unemployed, officials said.
Sources said Mehta had already paid Rs 1.65 lakh to Chatri. Mehta refused to comment on the claim.
“Chatri used to call me over 20 times a day and would talk to me for close to 30 minutes every time. I went through mental harassment in the last two-and-a-half-months.”