Crime
Ravi Pujari was arrested by the West African Police in Senegal on January 19.
PTI

Indian intelligence officials reported on Thursday evening that they were notified about the detention of underworld don Ravi Pujari in Senegal.

Pujari who hails from Udupi district in Karnataka, had been on the Interpol's Red Corner Notice list for long and was finally detained by the West African police force as he was reportedly travelling from Burkina Faso. Indian intelligence officials are now coordinating with the West African Police to bring Ravi Pujari back to India.

Speaking to the media on Friday, Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy said that his arrest was due to the coalition government's efforts. "When the coalition government was formed, we had instructed the state police to track down Ravi Pujari. The Karnataka State Police, through solid investigation tracked him down to Senegal. They got his call records and many other evidences to obtain his location. Once his location was confirmed, they managed to get him arrested with the help of the officials abroad. This is the coalition's success," Kumaraswamy said.

The Chief Minister said that the police had received information about his alleged criminal activities in 2006. On December 31, 2018, intelligence officials had obtained information that Ravi Pujari was organising cricket tournaments in Africa and had obtained photographs to prove the same. "The state police immediately contacted the authorities there and informed them about his criminal activities. He was arrested on January 19. We are completing formalities so we can bring him back to India. The state police must be lauded for their efforts. The sleuth working for the central government too have worked hard for this," Kumaraswamy added.

Ravi Pujari is wanted in scores of cases including making ransom and threat calls to Bollywood actors, politicians and other prominent personalities. He has been on the run for several years now.

Ravi Pujari describes himself as a 'patriotic' underworld don. He was reportedly living out of Australia until about three years ago.

He has made several threatening phone calls to prominent persons including activist Shehla Rashid, politician Jignesh Mevani and Bollywood singer Arijit Singh.

Several politicians from Karnataka and Kerala have also claimed that they have received threat calls from the gangster. This includes Karnataka MP DK Suresh, Kerala Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala and Tanveer Sait among others.

Ravi Pujari- the don born in Udupi

He was born in Udupi and in his teenage years, shifted to Mumbai where he was working in Andheri. He shot to infamy for allegedly killing a gangster called Bala Zalte. He also worked under Chhota Rajan, a famed criminal from Mumbai, before parting ways and going alone in 2001.

Pujari began his criminal career in Mumbai's Andheri area and soon became close to gangster Chotta Rajan and his cronies. Poojary is also considered to be one of Rajan's protegees.  In the mid-1990s, three of his men allegedly shot Om Prakash Kukreja of Kukreja Builders in his office. Eight years later, a Navi Mumbai-based builder, Suresh Wadhwa, is believed to have escaped a murder attempt by ducking under his office desk. Police believe that Poojary's men targeted Wadhwa.  

He is believed to have moved to Dubai in the late 1990s and allegedly began extorting money from builders and hoteliers there.

Chhota Rajan split with Dawood Ibrahim after the March 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai. At the time, Guru Satam and Ravi Pujari also broke away from the gang and sided with Rajan.

Dawood Ibrahim then attempted to kill Rajan in Bangkok in 2000. Rajan was admitted to a hospital in a European country. At the time, the internal war in Chhota Rajan's faction had kicked off. A sharp shooter in Rajan's gang, Rohit Verma, allegedly caused Rajan to distrust Pujari. Rajan had allegedly suspected that several of his associates like Vinod Shetty and Mohan Kotian had turned on him. He had them killed in Navi Mumbai's Panvel area and Bengaluru respectively.

Unable to convince Rajan that he had remained loyal, Pujari broke away from the gang and moved to Australia in 2006.

In order to extract revenge, Ravi Pujari set up his own gang and identified himself as a warrior for the "Hindu cause". He is accused of killing Shahid Azmi, a lawyer representing the terror accused in the 1993 blasts case, and allegedly hatched a plot to eliminate Ehtesham Siddiqui, an accused in the 2011 blasts. By doing so, Poojary tried to establish himself as one who was "fighting the enemy" in Mangaluru, which had by then become a hotbed for communal politics.