A local complaint filed against gangster Ravi Pujari in Senegal, west Africa, where he was arrested in January on the basis of information provided by Indian agencies, is likely to delay his process of extradition.
Pujari (51), was operating in west Africa under the fake identity of Antony Fernandes, a hotelier. He was named in a case in Senegal for disturbing peace. The extradition process could be delayed since the local case will take precedence, said sources familiar with the arrest and extradition efforts.
Pujari was detained at a barber’s shop in Dakar, Senegal on January 19 this year by Dakar police, after he was tracked across west African countries by Indian authorities. Senegal’s interior ministry informed Indian authorities on January 21 about the detention, to facilitate the process of extradition with requisite documents.
The process of Pujari’s extradition was set to begin on May 15, but the filing of a local complaint against pujari’s alias Antony Fernandes has stalled the extradition process, sources said. Efforts are on to expedite it, they added. The gangster is still in the custody of Senegal authorities.
Filing local complaints is known to be a strategy used by gangsters on the run to stall extradition processes in foreign countries.
In 2009 the gangster Bannanje Raja alias Rajendra Kumar, a contemporary of Pujari from the coastal Karnataka region, dodged extradition from the United Arab Emirates by getting an associate to lodge a cheating case against him. He escaped from the UAE subsequently.
Raja was eventually caught in February 2015 in Morocco where he was living under the fake identity of Kumara Raja Hemanth Hegde. He was extradited to India in August 2015.
Following Pujari’s arrest in Dakar, authorities have positively established through fingerprints sent to Senegalese authorities that the man claiming to be Antony Fernandes, a hotelier from Burkina Faso, is the gangster.
In the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty with Senegal, the Indian government is looking at extraditing Pujari under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime(UNCTOC).
There are 97 cases against Pujari in Karnataka of extortion including 39 in Bangalore and 36 in Mangalore. In two cases of extortion in the Mangalore region of Karnataka – from where Pujari hails – he has been sentenced to a life term and a seven year term in prison. Pujari also has dozens of cases against him in Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat and other states.