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Monday, November 23, 2020

Explained: Why gangster Ravi Pujari doesn’t want to go to Mumbai

Ravi Pujari has hundreds of cases against him, many of them linked to extortion, with his victims being actors and politicians.

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai | Updated: November 20, 2020 10:08:25 am
Ravi Pujari, Who is Ravi Pujari, Ravi Pujari custody, Ravi Pujari cases, Ravi Pujari trial, Ravi Pujari Mumbai, Indian ExpressRavi Pujari was extradited to India from Senegal in February.

Gangster Ravi Pujari, who was extradited to India from Senegal in February, has until now only been questioned by the Karnataka Police. Other police forces in the country have sought his custody, but Pujari is trying to delay the same.

Pujari has hundreds of cases against him, many of which are linked to extortion, with his victims being actors and politicians.

Which state police units have sought custody of Ravi Pujari?

Pujari has cases registered against him in Karnataka, Mumbai, Gujarat and Kerala, among other states. These three police forces have made several attempts to get custody of the gangster.

The crime branch in Karnataka is probing 107 cases registered against Pujari in the state.

The Mumbai Police, which plans to try Pujari in 19 major cases, approached courts in Karnataka several times over the last several months, but were not successful until last week.

Has Pujari taken steps to delay transfer of his custody to other police forces?

Yes. When the Mumbai crime branch started seeking his custody, Pujari, through his lawyer, filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court seeking that he remain with the Karnataka Police till the trial of the main cases against him in the state were complete. The lawyer had argued that allowing his custody to other state police forces would cause delay in the trials.

How did the Mumbai Police get his custody last Friday?

A sessions court in Bengaluru allowed the Mumbai Police to take custody of Pujari last week based on a letter written by a special court in Mumbai that is conducting the trial in a 2015 case involving the conspiracy to murder charge against political leader Raju Patil. The court had also sent a production warrant seeking Pujari be produced before it for the trial as he is a wanted accused and charges are to be framed against him. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Why is Ravi Pujari trying to delay his custody to the Mumbai Police?

While opposing the plea by the Mumbai crime branch, based on the production warrant by the Mumbai court, Pujari’s lawyer Dilraj Sequeira said he feared for his life due to the high number of Covid-19 cases in Mumbai.

Sources, however, said Pujari doesn’t want to be taken to Mumbai as he fears for his life. Due to the intense gang wars in Mumbai in the past, members of various gangs are kept in separate barracks in the same prison, or ideally separate prisons, so they do not attack each other.

An aide of Chhota Rajan, O P Singh, was killed in a Nashik prison by rival gang members in 2002 .

In 2013, gangster Abu Salem was attacked in Taloja prison by one Devendra Jagtap who had managed to smuggle a firearm into the prison premises. Salem survived the attack.

Also read | Gangster Ravi Pujari’s threat calls to 10 Congress, JD(S) leaders led to arrest

Does Ravi Pujari have affiliations to any gangs?

Rajan, a native of Udipi, had moved to the city in his early years and resided in Dombivli. He later moved to Andheri. He caught the attention of Chhota Rajan after he murdered one Bala Zalte, who he suspected to have tipped off the police about a gang member. He then started working for the gang, which at the time had both Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan on the same side.

Later, after the 1992-’93 communal riots in Mumbai when the gang was split with Rajan and Dawood becoming sworn enemies, Pujari sided with Rajan. However, when Pujari was attacked in Bangkok in 2000, he became suspicious of several people, including Rajan, for having leaked his location. Pujari then started his own gang and modelled his persona as a ‘Hindu don’, like his mentor Rajan, who was later extradited to Mumbai from Indonesia in 2015. Ever since, he has functioned independently and has no affiliations to any gangs in the city.

When is Pujari likely to be brought to Mumbai?

While the Mumbai Police said they would try to bring the gangster to Mumbai within a week, Pujari’s lawyer is likely to oppose the sessions court order in the High Court.

According to his lawyer, the Raju Patil case was not mentioned in the list of cases that he could be tried for in the extradition order by the Senegal government.

If the High Court does not intervene, he should be in the city by next week, an officer said.

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