Mumbai police invoked stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against 11 alleged members of fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari, who were held in connection with a plot to attack veteran film producer-brothers Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt.
The eleven accused are among the 14 Pujari gangmen, who were held between November 15 and 21.
Mahesh Bhatt and Mukesh Bhatt
Following the arrest of the Pujari gang members, city police recently claimed to have thwarted a plot to kill the Bhatt brothers and cracked the case of firing in the air outside the residence of Karim Morani, producer of blockbuster movie 'Chennai Express'.
"The ten of the eleven accused, who have been charged with the stringent provisions of the law, were today produced before the special MCOCA court which extended their police custody till December 6," said Deputy Police Commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni.
They were produced before the special court as their police custody ended today. The eleven accused now facing the MCOCA charge are Mohammed Anees Merchant, Ishrat Shaikh, Mohammed Hakikulla Khan, Azim Khan, Ashfaq Abdul Rashid, Asif Sattar Khan, Shahatwal Shaik, Feroz Sayyed, Shabbir Shaikh, Rahim Khan and Ravi Singh.
Accused Ravi Singh could not be produced before the special court as he is presently in judicial custody. The other three accused - Sufiyan SK, Faise SK and Armaan Siddique - are behind bars in connection with Morani firing case reported in the city on August 23. Mumbai police had on November 15 laid trap outside the Bhatt's office in suburban Khar following information that a group of men would gather there with firearms.
Spotting seven men with suspicious behaviour, police nabbed them with firearms. They were later identified as Ishrat Shaikh, Mohammed Hakikulla Khan, Azim Khan, Ashfaq Abdul Rashid, Asif Sattar Khan, Shahatwal Shaik and Feroz Sayyed, police said.
The interrogation revealed that they gathered to bump off Mahesh Bhatt, his brother Mukesh or son Rahul at the instructions of Pujari, police said.
Pujari wanted to trigger a fear in the Bollywood industry so that he could extort money from the celebrities without much effort, police said. Further questioning of the seven accused threw up the names of six of their associates, who were subsequently arrested in the next two days of operation.
The six were identified as Mohammed Anees Merchant, Shabbir Shaikh, Rahim Khan, Sufiyan SK, Faise SK and Armaan Siddique, police said. Last accused Ravi Singh was held on November 21, police said.
According to police, the MCOCA can be applied, if at least two members of the organised crime gang have at least two charge sheets registered against them. In Bhatt's case, wanted accused Ravi Pujari and arrested accused Mohammed Anees Merchant already have two charge sheets against them.