'Rao tried to extort Rs 50 lakh from behind bars'

DK Rao, a Chhota Rajan aide who was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Iqbal Kaskar's driver Arif Bael in July and is currently lodged in Taloja Jail, has been arrested again by the Crime Branch, this time for trying to extort Rs 50 lakh from a South MumbaiĀ steel merchant.

Rao has been behind bars for the past five months, after he was arrested for paying a supari of Rs 5 lakh to Umed-ur-Rehman for the murder of Arif Bael in Nagpada.

Relentless: The police have revealed that an associate of Rao asked a
metal trader from Girgaon to meet Rao in court, where he was scheduled
to appear for a hearing

The Unit II of the Crime Branch revealed that it had received a complaint of extortion against Rao by metal trader Dinesh Shah from Girgaon.

The police learnt from Shah that in July, two unidentified men fired at his office, leading to the death of two of his employees. Shah then received a call from a man who called himself Vicky, and identified himself as one of Rao's cronies. He demanded Rs 50 lakh from him, threatening him with dire consequences if he failed to pay up.

"All the calls were made between October 19 and November 10, and the caller demanded Rs 50 lakh," said a Crime Branch officer.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy then formed a team, headed by Nishikant Patil and comprising Bhaskar Kadam, Hridinath Mishra and S Shelar, to investigate the case.

The investigating team learnt that the calls had been made by Vijay Babar, Rao's associate from Panvel.

"Shah was first called to Dharavi on October 25. This was precisely the time when Rao had asked to be released on parole in order to meet his brother. Shah managed to wriggle out of the appointment by making excuses about preparations for Diwali," said Kadam.

Soon, Shah was asked to show up in court where Rao was slated to appear for a hearing. This time, too, he managed to avoid attendance on some pretext. Anxious about the increasing persistence of the extortionists, Shah decided to inform the police.

"Rao was actively running his syndicate from inside jail, and thought he could extort Rs 50 lakh from Shah," said a police officer.

"He is going to be in police custody till November 22, and we are investigating the case," said Nisar Tamboli, deputy commissioner of police, Crime Branch.

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