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Mumbai: Hotel manager lands in jail after prank call turns into ‘extortion’

A senior officer said, “As of now, the version given by the accused has stood scrutiny. We are, however, verifying other details to confirm his version of events. We will then decide about the further course of action.”

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai | Updated: May 16, 2019 2:53:42 am
Mumbai, Mumbai news, prank call, Anti-Narcotics Cell, Mumbai extortion, extortion, Indian Express The caller allegedly identified himself as “narcotics officer Pawar” from Kandivali Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC). ‘Pawar’, while claiming that the V-P’s name has been found in the diary of an arrested drug peddler, asked him to come to the ANC office. (Representational Image) 

A mere mistake in saving a phone number on his cellphone has led to the arrest of the manager of a Juhu hotel. While the crime branch arrested the 56-year-old man for making an extortion call to the vice-president (V-P) of a diamond firm on Saturday, during investigation, it realised it is most likely a case of a prank gone wrong. The police are now mulling whether to charge the person or file a closure report.

The matter came to light after the V-P approached the police, saying that he had received an extortion call from an unidentified number on May 9.

The caller allegedly identified himself as “narcotics officer Pawar” from Kandivali Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC). ‘Pawar’, while claiming that the V-P’s name has been found in the diary of an arrested drug peddler, asked him to come to the ANC office.

But when the VP checked with the ANC, he found no officer by the name of Pawar was posted there. The V-P then approached the crime branch and the case was transferred to the Anti-Extortion Cell. After tracing the call data records of cellphone number from which the call was made, the manager was arrested.

“It did seem odd that a person would use his own number to make a threat call,” a police officer said. “He claimed that he did not know the complainant. While he agreed he made the call, he claimed it was a prank call made to a police informer he knew.”

During scrutiny of his phone records, it was found that the manager had the V-P’s number saved under the name ‘Kaushik khabri’. “The V-P’s name is also Kaushik. We realised that the accused had saved the complainant’s number under the name ‘Kaushik khabri’, whom he knew,” the officer said, adding that the informer — who gave tip-offs about narcotics cases — was known to the manager as he often came to have food at the hotel.

The manager told the police that on May 9 — the day the threat call was made — he saw the informer at this hotel and thought of playing a prank. However, unknown to him, he dialled the V-P’s number, the officer said. The police are now trying to verify how the manager got the number of the V-P instead of the informer.

A senior officer said, “As of now, the version given by the accused has stood scrutiny. We are, however, verifying other details to confirm his version of events. We will then decide about the further course of action.”

On Wednesday, the manager was produced before the court, which was remanded him to judicial custody.

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