Ex-VJTI medallist extorts developer

Accused had won accolades at engineering college, but fell on hard times after ill-thought-out career moves reduced him to a debt-ridden diamond merchant; resorted to issuing death-threats to the wealthy complainant

A 34-year-old man, who in his heyday was awarded a silver medal by a reputed engineering college in the city, was arrested by the Anti-Extortion Cell (AEC) last Saturday, for demanding Rs 2 crore from a developer, with the intention of recovering the losses he suffered in a diamond business.

Wasted Brilliance: VJTI college in Matunga, where the accused, Nalin
Gala, studied engineering. File pic

Nalin Gala, former engineering student of VJTI college, Matunga was caught in the act at LBS Marg, Ghatkopar on Saturday. Gala, a resident of Pant Nagar, Ghatkopar (East) was a meritorious student who scored 90 per cent marks in his SSC exams. He was later an employee of engineering giant Larsen and Toubro. However, he left his lucrative job in order to make it big as a model.

Failing to find a foothold in the glamour industry, he started his own diamond business with his brother. Here too, he suffered losses. He was steeped in debt, with a repayment of Rs 7 lakh hanging over his head.

Officials of the AEC revealed that last week they were approached by a Ghatkopar-based developer, who complained that he had received a letter from an unknown individual, who claimed to be a "sharp shooter" with links to the underworld gangs.

In his letter, the "sharp shooter" demanded Rs 2 crore from him, saying that he would be killed if he failed to pay up.

"On investigating the matter, the cops learnt that the accused was from the same locality as the complainant, as he was constantly keeping tabs on every move made by the complainant. At the outset, he asked for Rs 2 crore, but eventually settled for Rs 50 lakh. At the end, he was agreeable even to a sum of Rs 10 lakh," a senior officer from the Mumbai Crime Branch said.

Team formed
A team was formed by the AEC, under the leadership of inspectors Nitin Alaknure, Sudhir Dalvi and S Dhumal. At their behest, the complainant was asked to set up a rendezvous with the extortionist near Radhakrishna hotel on LBS Road, near Ghatkopar. The cops kept a close watch over the proceedings.

"In course of the negotiations, it became clear to us that Gala was not affiliated to an underworld gang. He came to collect the money in a tattered shirt and shorts. We ensnared him red-handed in the act of accepting the money. Upon intense interrogation, he revealed his real identity," added the officer.

"His brother was a former colleague of the complainant, and was aware that the developer was a wealthy man. Thus they decided to victimise him. He has been produced at court today by the Ghatkopar police," he added.

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