Airport officials detained 42-year-old Sridevi Pujari and her son Aryan, who share biographical details with the gangster’s kin, while clearing her husband and daughter
A lot’s in a name, especially when you share it with the kin of a wanted gangster. Sridevi Pujari (42) learned this the rough way, after she was detained for well over 24 hours by the police who thought she was fugitive gangster Ravi Pujari’s wife.
To escalate the confusion, her son is called Aryan, just like the gangster’s son, and their roots are in Udupi, just like the gangster. Worse, cops said their passport photos matched with the wife and son of the gangster.
Ravi Pujari. File pic
On Monday, acting on a lookout notice against Ravi Pujari and his wife, immigration authorities at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport detained Sridevi, who was to travel with her husband Santosh, 16-year-old son Aryan and 13-year-old daughter to Dubai for the Christmas vacation.
After detaining her, the authorities informed Sahar police, who took her into custody and sent her son to a remand home in Dongri, then proceeded to inform the Mangalore police who had issued the lookout notice in an extortion case that names the gangster as the main accused and his wife the second accused.
The situation became fuzzy when some senior police officers, who had arrested Ravi Pujari’s wife Padma Pujari in a fake passport case in 2005, arrived on the scene: they knew the gangster’s spouse by face.
“When our officers saw the detainee, they told us she was not the same woman they had arrested in 2005. But in any case, we have informed the Mangalore police who had sent out the lookout notice and will let them take a call,” said DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, Mumbai police spokesperson.
Mangalore Police Commissioner R Hitendra told mid-day, “We have sent our team to Sahar police station in Mumbai and are trying to verify the case. We are also trying to see if anybody has a voice recording of the gangster’s wife so we can match it with the detainee’s.”
Sources said that the woman, a teacher in a Kandivli school and a resident of Borivli’s Ekta Nagar, was likely to be let off pending the go-ahead from Mangalore police. A Sahar police officer said, “The woman, her husband and their two children were going to Dubai when she was detained by the airport authorities on the basis of a circular from Mangalore East police station in an extortion case.
We produced her in Andheri court under CrPC 41D and will release her once the Mangalore cops verify the facts.” “We were on our way for a planned trip to Dubai. While my 13-year-old daughter and I cleared the immigration, my wife and 16-year-old son were detained by the immigration authorities and the police.
My wife works for an English-medium school in Kandivli. We have no links with Ravi Pujari. We have been married for 17 years and are respectable people but this incident threatens to ruin our reputation. This is harassment. Our entire family and my wife’s colleagues are worried about us and our trip has been ruined,” her husband Santosh told mid-day, while her wife could be heard crying inside the police room.
Cops have also clicked Santosh’s mugshots. The police officer said, “The woman’s husband also brought a retired ACP from their building in Borivli, where they stay, to corroborate her credentials, and establish that she is not the wife of Ravi Pujari, but of Santosh Pujari.” Santosh Pujari’s friend Harish Pujari said, “I know the family for years; they come from a respectable background, and have no links to the gangster.”
- Inputs by Shiva Devnath