The LT Marg police arrested a man claiming to be a BJP member for demanding a sum of Rs 5 lakh from a shop owner at Kalbadevi on Sunday. The accused, Sanjay Ramlakhan Gaud (37), was produced at Esplanade court and was remanded in judicial custody. He was released on bail yesterday.
According to the LT Marg police, Gaud was demanding the money from one Laxman Dharmani (46), and would regularly threaten to lodge complaints with the BMC against him.
Frustrated with the frequent harassment, Dharmani registered a complaint at LT Marg police station against Gaud on Friday.
Dharmani owns a sari shop at Princess Street, Hanuman Galli in Kalbadevi.
Ashok Sarambalkar, police inspector from LT Marg, said, “Gaud demanded Rs 5 lakh in return for not lodging a complaint against Dharmani who carried out renovation work inside his shop without BMC’s permission. Dharmani already had society permission for doing the renovation work and had no need for consent from the civic agency.” He added, “We are trying to establish whether the accused has any BJP connections at all.”
Dharmani said, “Some repair work was going on in my shop for the last few days and Gaud was regularly threatening to inform BMC about this, claiming the revamp was illegal. He wanted me to pay him Rs 5 lakh.”
Gaud was arrested under section 385 (putting a person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion) of IPC and later produced in court.
Police said that Gaud, a taxi driver by profession, has been claiming that he is ‘in-charge of BJP in Uttar Pradesh and a key member of the party in Mumbai’. During local elections in Mumbai, he had requested for tickets on several occasions.
“I heard news that a BJP member was arrested in an extortion case. This case is irrelevant to our party and his claims are false,” said Niranjan Shetty, BJP’s Mumbai spokesperson.