AFTER A 1,600-km car chase across three states, the Mumbai Police crime branch on Wednesday arrested a 38-year-old man for allegedly posing as an IPS officer and kidnapping and extorting Rs 16 lakh from a Surat-based businessman.
The accused, Shiv Shankar Sharma (38), along with his four associates had told the businessman that the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had registered a case against him and offered to “settle” the matter, police said. Police are yet to arrest the four other accused in the case.
In his complaint, Mohammed Ehtesham Aslam Naviwala, a garment trader from Surat, said he was acquainted with one of Sharma’s accomplices, who approached him in Surat to inform that the DRI had registered a case against him in Mumbai for “violating” some customs and export rules. The man, the complainant said, had claimed to know an IPS officer and offered to help the trader “settle” the matter. Accordingly, the complainant came to Mumbai along with Sharma’s accomplice on September 28, police said.
“They waited for the IPS officer at a room of a four-star hotel in south Mumbai. Sharma allegedly showed up with three other associates, posing as his subordinates, and offered to resolve the case for a hefty fee,” an officer from the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) said. When the complainant disagreed, an argument broke out between Naviwala and Sharma, during which the complainant allegedly abused him.
“Following the argument, Sharma and his four accomplices confined Naviwala in the room for a few hours. Later, the men kidnapped him at gunpoint and took him to Gujarat,” the officer said. They released Naviwala on September 29 after he paid the accused Rs 16 lakh, police added.
The trader later approached the Gujarat Police with a complaint, but as the incident had started from Mumbai, the local police did not lodge a case. He then came to Marine Drive police station and submitted a complaint.
A case under IPC sections 170 (impersonating a public servant), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 323 (assault), 342 (wrongful confinement), 364 (A) (kidnapping for ransom), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of hurt), 504 (abuse) and 34 (common intention) of and sections 3 and 25 of the Arms Act was registered. It was then transferred to Mumbai Police crime branch’s AEC.
During the course of their investigation, police found the accused were hiding in Gujarat following which a team was dispatched to the state earlier this week. “Sharma somehow got a hint that we were chasing him, so he escaped from Gujarat. After chasing him overnight for over 1,600 kilometres, we managed to nab him from Bengaluru on October 7,” an officer said.
Sharma was produced in court and remanded to police custody. Police are on the lookout for his four accomplices.
According to police, Sharma, a resident of Ajmer, Rajasthan, was earlier arrested for impersonating an IPS officer and defrauding a restaurant owner in Madhya Pradesh. He is also facing a case for duping a woman police officer on the pretext of marrying her.
When contacted, Navivala said he would return to Surat on Saturday.
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