Cops located gangster Ravi Pujari after he organised dandiya night, participated in it

Updated: Feb 25, 2020, 13:59 IST | Faizan Khan, Vishal Singh | Mumbai

Karnataka police procured a video of the event and spotted Pujari, who was going by the name of Antony Fernandes.

Ravi Pujari at the dandiya night event in Senegal
Ravi Pujari at the dandiya night event in Senegal

The Karnataka police, who began tracking gangster Ravi Pujari in 2018, got the first definitive proof of his whereabouts through a video of him during a dandiya night organised at one of his restaurants in the West African country, Senegal. Karnataka police procured a video of the event and spotted Pujari, who was going by the name of Antony Fernandes.

The police team arrived at Bengaluru Airport with Pujari on Monday morning. The Karnataka police got to know in March 2018 that Pujari had moved from Dubai to Uganda, then Kenya, then Burkina Faso and then to Senegal in West Africa. In Burkina Faso, he changed his identity to 'Antony Fernandes', apparently inspired by one of his favourite films, Amar Akbar Anthony. There he ran a restaurant chain, Namaste India for six months. In Senegal's capital, Dakar, he started another restaurant chain called, Maharaja.

"We got a tip-off from one of his associates arrested earlier, that he his hiding in Burkina Faso. Based on that we first traced him near Cambodia International School and began trailing him," said a senior Karnataka police officer privy to investigation.

Pujari with Karnataka police at the Bengaluru airport on MondayPujari with Karnataka police at the Bengaluru airport on Monday

"In October 2018, we received information that he organised a dandiya night at one of restaurants in Senegal. We also procured the invitation card wherein the organiser's name was Antony Fernandes. This was the same name given by the former associate," the officer said.

"Pujari had settled in Senegal for the past three years. There, he began a restaurant chain called Maharaja. He continued extorting from people from the film industry, businessmen, real estate professionals and also meddled in political activities in India," Karnataka police's Additional Director General Amar Kumar Pandey said.

The second lead came in the form of a cricket tournament in Senegal. "The invitation for this event also had Antony Fernandes as the organiser. The match was organised by his restaurant chain Maharaja. We matched his face in the video from the tournament with those we had," said Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), Bengaluru police.

Ravi Pujari at a cricket matchRavi Pujari at a cricket match

The team, lead by Pandey, then spotted him in Dakar in January 2019. Pandey informed the local police in Senegal and the Indian Ambassador to Senegal. On January 19, Pujari was arrested by Senegal police when he was going to a salon for a haircut.

After his arrest, Karnataka, Mumbai and Gujarat prepared a dossier of the several cases registered against him. The extradition took one whole year as Pujari plotted to have a false cheating case registered against him. As per Senegal's laws, an accused can't be deported until the conclusion of the trial. He was later granted bail and instructed to not to leave the country. However, he went underground again before being traced to South Africa.

Pujari, who evaded Indian authorities for close to two decades, was brought back to India after the Supreme Court of Senegal allowed his extradition. He was produced in a local court in Bengaluru and remanded to police custody till March 7.

Ravi Pujari’s fake passport identifies him as Antony FernandesRavi Pujari's fake passport identifies him as Antony Fernandes

Pujari has 97 cases registered against him in Karnataka, 49 in Mumbai, including murder and extortion, and some in Gujarat.

"The long chase of this ghost-like figure has come to an end. He faces 97 cases in Karnataka alone, of which 47 are registered in Bengaluru. There are cases registered in Mumbai, Thane, some districts of Gujarat and one is in Kochi. He led the life of an honorable citizen in Burkina Faso and Senegal," Pandey added.

Mar 2018
When Karnataka police began tracking Ravi Pujari

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