February 4, 2015 1:19:45 am
A special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court on Tuesday convicted Ravi Panjabi, a key figure in the syndicate of a wanted fugitive currently believed to be overseas, and sentenced him to ten years of rigourous imprisonment in connection with the firing at a jewellery showroom in Oshiwara in 2010. Panjabi has served four years in prison till date as an undertrial.
On July 14, 2010, three men had opened fire on the jewellery showroom, injuring the manager. The Anti Extortion Cell of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch went on to arrest seven accused in the case, including Panjabi, a Khar-based businessman. Panjabi was accused of having orchestrated the attack on the showroom while himself remaining in the background.
Sentencing the six accused to ten years of rigorous imprisonment, Harshad Maru, Kannu Thakur, Paresh Ramprasad Nepali, Narendra Soni alias Lala, Hargbahaddur Bhandari and Ravi Punjabi, the court convicted them under section 120(b) (criminal conspiracy) and 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) of the IPC and various sections of the Arms Act and MCOCA.
One of the accused had turned an approver in the case and gave a confession statement about Panjabi’s involvement. According to his statement, Punjabi passed on personal details and mobile phone numbers of extortion victims to the wanted criminal in the case and he mediated to reduce the amount demanded. Panjabi would then collect the money from the targets and pass it on to the fugitive.
“For someone trying to make a name for himself while being based out of the country, such a person is of considerable important, and Panjabi was one such person back in 2010,” said a Crime Branch officer.
Panjabi, at the time of his arrest, was involved in real estate development and had also directed and acted in a movie about match fixing in cricket under the screen name Ravi Kapoor, officials said.
“The biggest challenge in the case was proving Panjabi’s involvement when he had not physically participated in the firing. We examined 44 witnesses, including those from whom Panjabi had collected money, and the depositions of the witnesses helped a lot. There were several attempts to intimidate witnesses throughout the trial. However, we had anticipated this and took swift action whenever we got wind of such an attempt being planned,” said another officer.
Punjabi through his lawyer contended that he was a victim of the wanted criminal’s extortion racket and he was falsely implicated in case.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sadanand Date said, “This was an important case, and it was important to marshall evidence in a proper manner.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.