Eight workers of the Shiv Sena, including the deputy party chief of Kamothe in Navi Mumbai, have been booked by the police for demanding Rs 10 lakh and a flat from a local builder to 'settle' a dispute with 20 of his defaulting buyers.
The Kalamboli police acted on the complaint of developer Shaukat Shaikh after he approached the Panvel court with a video recording that shows the main accused, Prafulla Mhatre (in pic), the deputy chief of Kamothe, demanding money.
Shaikh, the proprietor of Quality developers, undertook a 146-flat residential project in Kamothe. As the project was nearing completion, Shaikh noticed that around 20 people who had invested in the project had failed to make the payments on time. The builder declared them defaulters and issued them notices, asking them to pay the dues. But the defaulting buyers approached Mhatre in April, seeking his help to resolve the matter, police said.
"On April 12, Mhatre and 25 of his followers ransacked my office. They also attacked my employees. On April 23, Mhatre held a press conference and made several false allegations against me. When I approached the Kalamboli police, they refused to act on my complaint," Shaikh alleged.
Incidentally, on May 2, Shaikh approached the Bandra court and filed a defamation suit against Mhatre over the press conference he had held in April.
Pay up and settle Soon after, Mhatre contacted Shaikh and proposed to put an end to the controversy if Shaikh gave him Rs 12 lakh in cash and a 2BHK flat. "Mhatre even threatened me, saying that if I failed to meet his demands, he would bring my project to a halt by creating more such controversies. He also erected banners defaming me and my project," added Shaikh.
The builder finally decided to cut a deal with Mhatre, and negotiated with him. Mhatre agreed to back off in exchange for Rs 5 lakh.
However, after Shaikh paid up Rs 3.5 lakh as the first installment, Mhatre turned and demanded another Rs 7 lakh in July.
Caught on video But Shaikh videotaped the entire conversation (CD with MiD DAY) and produced it in the Panvel court. On October 3, the court ordered the Kalamboli police to register a complaint, and a cognisable offence was registered against Mhatre and seven other Sena workers.
The Kalamboli police booked the accused under Sections 384 (extortion), 452, 447, 504 and nine other sections of the CrPC.
K T Vidhate, senior inspector, Kalamboli police station confirmed that the case has been registered against the eight Sainiks.
The other side Mhatre denied the allegations, as well as that a complaint was registered. "No offence is registered against me. And even if the police have registered an offence, there is no problem for me." When this reporter told him that MiD DAY has the copy of the complaint and the CD, he said, "I am aware of the offence, but the police have not come for inquiry."