While Udupi-born Ravi Pujari was arrested in January 2019, he could not be deported to India as he got himself implicated in a ‘fake’ fraud case in Senegal.

Gangster Ravi Pujari in police net again arrested in South AfricaFile image
news Crime Sunday, February 23, 2020 - 15:31

Underworld don Ravi Pujari, who is a former aide of Chhota Rajan and had fled after being arrested in West Africa’s Senegal in January 2019, was arrested again in South Africa on Saturday.

The arrest was made by a joint team of Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Mangaluru police and Senegalese police, after the Interpol issued 13 red corner notices against him. According to police officials, he will be brought to India by Monday.

After being arrested in Senegal on January 21 last year, the don reportedly got himself implicated in a fraud case, foiling attempts by the Indian government to get him deported from the country. In June 2019, a local court in Senegal granted him bail and asked him not to leave the country until the hearing in the matter was over. However, he jumped the bail and had allegedly escaped to South Africa, where he was involved in a major drug trafficking and extortion racket.

Sources in the Indian Intelligence told IANS that Ravi Pujari was located in a remote village in South Africa. Based on a tip-off from the Indian external intelligence agency, the Senegal police air-dashed to South Africa last week.

According to IANS, which accessed the don's new passport, Pujari has been using a fake identity, as Anthony Fernandes, a citizen of Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West African. His date of birth is shown as January 25, 1961

Pujari, who is believed to be a movie junkie influenced by Amitabh Bachchan's portrayal as Anthony Gonsalves in Amar Akbar Anthony, was using the name Anthony Fernandes. 

The new passport was issued on July 10, 2013, and is valid till July 8, 2023. The passport showed his profession as Agent Commercial, which means that he is designated as a businessman. He has reportedly been running a chain of restaurants called Namaste India in Senegal, Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries.

Earlier, during his arrest in 2019, Pujari got off the hook after claiming that his name is Anthony Fernandez and a citizen of Burkina Faso. At the time, the Burkina Faso citizenship issue had stood out to be a barrier in the extradition issue. Moreover, one of his aides had falsely filed a case against him, which put a legal hurdle in the extradition process as the case had to find its logical end in the same country before his extradition process could begin.

Since Ravi Pujari has now been arrested from South Africa, the Indian authorities are planning to deport him to India “informally”, the Mangaluru police told TNM.

Back in India, Pujari is wanted in close to a hundred criminal cases ranging from murders, extortions, kidnapping, and making threat calls to Bollywood stars to top politicians. Shehla Rashid, politician Jignesh Mevani and Bollywood singer Arijit Singh are few of his recent targets.

He has been absconding from the Indian authorities for two decades now after he fled the country while on bail in a murder case.

In recent years, he had painted himself as a ‘patriotic criminal’ along with Chhota Rajan.   

The mafioso first made headlines in early 2000 when he started extorting huge amounts from famous Bollywood personalities and builders. He was involved in an attempt to murder case, aimed at killing a prominent lawyer of Mumbai.

Pujari's wife Padma and three children also fled India and some of them hold Burkina Faso passports. His son, who was recently married in Australia, reportedly holds an Australian passport.

(With inputs from IANS)

Read How cops traced don Ravi Pujari living under a different name in Senegal


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