MUMBAI: Extradited gangster Ravi Pujari, who is wanted in more than 49 serious offences in the city, was produced before the special MCOCA court on Tuesday in connection with the 2016 firing at Gajalee restaurant in Vile Parle and remanded to police custody till March 9. The police said Pujari will be kept in highly guarded stone-brick lockup at the police headquarters at Crawford Market under 24×7 CCTV vigilance.
The city crime branch has formed a special team of officers from the anti-extortion cell, led by inspector Sachin Kadam, to interrogate Pujari under the supervision of deputy commissioner of police (crime) Prakash Jadhav.
Brought to the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court amid heavy security, Pujari was made to sit in the accused dock at the back of the third floor courtroom. A policeman sat next to him. Dressed in a neon green-black t-shirt and his face covered with a black cloth, Pujari remained stoic during the proceedings.
Seeking Pujari’s remand, special public prosecutor Sunil Gonsalves submitted that the gangster had been absconding for over a decade. The prosecution said the investigators wanted to ascertain who gave instructions for the firing at the Vile Parle restaurant since Pujari was purported to be in Senegal at that time. The prosecution said it was suspected that the attack was carried out on someone’s instructions. It was further submitted that Pujari’s custody was also required to find out where the pistol was procured and how the finances were arranged. “Prima facie, ample evidence is available on record. Considering the seriousness of the allegations made against the accused and…since investigations are to be carried out and for that purpose sufficient opportunity should be given to the investigating officer,” the court said. It granted permission to Pujari’s defence lawyer to meet him once every two days while in custody. The prosecution requested the court to direct them to only converse in Hindi, English or Marathi and not in Tulu during the meetings.
As per the undertakings given to the extradition court in Senegal while seeking Pujari’s custody, Mumbai Police has given 10 serious offences on which MCOCA has been invoked. The 10 cases in which Pujari will be prosecuted first are the 2005 firing on Humayun Chandiwala of Deepa Beer Bar, 2010 firing at Mahesh Notandas Jewellers, 2010 firing on builder Tajuddin Maradia of Sagar City, 2011 double murder on builder Sudhakar Shetty’s Andheri site, 2011 firing on businessman Rohit Shah, 2011 firing on Ashok Mohannai of Ekta World Construction, 2014 firing on civil contractor Idris Shaikh in Deonar, 2015 extortion and attempt to firing on a Bhandup wine shop owner , 2016 extortion and firing on the guard of Gajalee restaurant, and 2017 extortion bid on prope-rty consultant Sushilkumar Sh-inde of Nirwana Enterprises.