KASARGOD: The Kerala Crime Branch has indicted mobster and extortionist Ravi Pujari — who is in a Bengaluru jail now — for trying to extort money from a Kasaragod-based contractor and opening fire at his house at Bevinja.
Contractor M T Muhammed Kunhi had got extortion calls allegedly from Pujari and his henchman Manish Shetty in 2008 and 2012, and gunshots were fired at his house on both occasions.
Pujari, a native of Dakshina Kannada, has been indicted in the case of the 2008 shooting.
Kunhi, who refused to pay up, said he got a paper with the name of Ravi Pujari on his verandah soon after the 2008 shooting.
Crime Branch inspector C A Abdul Raheem, who investigated the case, submitted the chargesheet at the Kasaragod court on Friday. Crime Branch inspector Rahim is likely to go to Bengaluru to record his arrest.
Eight persons were arrested in connection with the shooting.
Manish Shetty, who owned a bar in Bengaluru’s Brigade Road, was shot and hacked to death by assailants who came on motorcycles on October 15. His name could be dropped from the chargesheet.
The Crime Branch officers said they got clinching evidence when they could trace the phone call Kunhi got to Senegal. The extortionist was running a successful restaurant chain, ‘Namaste India’, in Senegal and several African countries.
Acting on a tip-off from Karnataka police, Senegal police arrested Pujari from the country’s capital city of Dakar on January 19, 2019. However, he managed to stall the extradition by getting himself booked in a fraud case in Senegal.
According to the country’s law, a person cannot be extradited if he is facing criminal charges there. His lawyer also argued that he was not Pujari but Anthony Fernandes who had a passport of Burkina Faso, a small west African country.
Pujari, a movie buff and Amitabh Bachchan fan, must have picked the name from the movie Amar Akbar Anthony, said Karnataka police.He was granted bail in the fraud case and went into hiding. A year later, he was spotted in South Africa, and Senegalese police picked him and took him back to the country. He was extradited to India in February this year.
Police said Pujari used voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to make calls to his victims and his gang members would attack the house of victims to scare them. He cut his teeth in the underworld by working for Chhota Rajan in Mumbai. Rajan was arrested in 2015.
Pujari faces at least 200 cases, including murder, attempt to murder, and extortion in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala. Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala also complained of getting a threat call from Pujari.