After 21 years on the run, Sudaram Raj Asari alias Menda (41), who was wanted for making an extortion call to a Dadar-based businessman in 1993, was arrested by the Crime Branch officers last week. Acting on a tip-off that Asari would be arriving in Dharavi, cops laid a trap and nabbed him. Cops said Asari had managed to evade the police by changing his appearance, which had made it difficult to trace him.
Caught: Sudaram Asari alias Menda had shaved his beard and started keeping a moustache to throw the cops off his tail
A police officer from Crime Branch Unit-V, on condition of anonymity, said, “Asari was wanted for making an extortion call in 1993, wherein he along with his two accomplices — Sanjay alias Jabba and Shivaji Vengude — had demanded money from a businessman in Dadar.”
Police said that terrified with the call, the victim approached the police station and lodged a police complaint — CR number 553/93 — following which Asari’s aides were traced and arrested. “Asari, however, fled the city and remained elusive. He began shaving his beard but maintained a moustache, which he would never keep earlier,” added the officer. Asari served a jail sentence for his role in a murder that took place in 1989. He was in jail till 1991. Two years later his name cropped up in the extortion racket and he remained elusive ever since, until now.
“We got information that Asari would be visiting a friend in Dharavi and nabbed him after laying a trap. Initially, he claimed it was a mistaken identity and he was not the one we were looking for. But after thorough interrogation, he spilled the beans,” said the police officer.
Asari told cops that after his accomplices were arrested he fled the city and began residing in Diva with his family.
“Asari said his brother runs a transport business and he started working as a driver for him, with the job helping him stay away from the city,” added the officer.
Who is Menda?
According to the cops, Sudaram Raj Asari was given the nickname Menda by his criminal friends, as he had gained notoriety for knocking his victims unconscious by hitting them with his forehead. “Asari used to assault his rivals with his head, similar to how a sheep attacks. The Marathi word for sheep is mendi because of which he was called menda.” Asari has been booked under sections 387 (putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance) of the Indian Penal Code and has been sent to judicial custody.