Lawyer continues to get extortion calls, police clueless

Jan 01, 2014, 10:16 IST | Saurabh Vaktania

A fortnight after he received threat letters, advocate Dipesh Mehta continues to receive calls demanding money from prime accused Ramchandra Chatri, who is the son of the lawyer's domestic help

The Crime Branch seems to have absolutely no inkling of where the mastermind behind the plan to extort money from Salman’s lawyer is. Two weeks after the lawyer brought the threats to the cops’ notice, police are still to trace the location of prime accused Ramchandra Chatri.

The main accused Ramchandra Chatri claims he is being framed and that the ‘Azad gang’ is the real mastermind behind the extortion plot

MiD DAY has already reported on how police had failed in their ploy to catch hold of Chatri, after trying to take the help of his girlfriend to lure him into their trap (‘Mastermind of gang behind extortion still at large’, December 26).

Dipesh Mehta

In his phone calls, the last of which was received yesterday, Chatri claims to have been framed. He says he is not the mastermind behind the extortion plot; instead it is ‘Azad gang’ that is responsible for the plan. Chatri claims to be the negotiator. “He behaves strangely at times. He suggested that I take extra police cover, since I was on the hit list of some Azad gang, who can cause me harm,” said Mehta.

The advocate’s office in Bandra

Initially, the accused asked for money for his father’s treatment. When the advocate asked for medical bills, Chatri couldn’t produce them. Still, Mehta went ahead and deposited Rs 10,000 in the bank account, whose number the man had provided.

Chatri is the son of the maid who works at the lawyer’s house. “His mother is still working in our house. I have been taking care of the family since two decades. I had paid for the medical expenses of his father, who is suffering from cancer. I also took care of his sister’s educational expenses. I am deeply hurt that a child who has grown up in front of me is now after my life,” said advocate Dipesh Mehta, narrating his dilemma.

According to Mehta, Chatri’s father, Ram Bahadur Chatri, used to work as a security guard with him some years ago. Mehta had even helped Ram Bahadur find accommodation in Bandra, when he had come to Mumbai. “He used to visit my office in his spare time. I had been searching for a suitable job for him. I’m shocked that he thought of making me the target.” Mehta added.

Chatri has now been demanding Rs 45,000. He claims he can negotiate with the Azad gang to pacify them, once the lawyer gave the money. Otherwise, says the accused, the Azad gang will cause bodily harm to Mehta. When Mehta switched off his cellphone to avoid the ever-increasing phone calls, the accused called up Mehta’s driver, Rajesh Yadav, and spoke to Mehta.

Mehta fears Chatri is out of his mind and has been coming up with fictitious names to create pressure on him. He has even written a letter to the local cops. Till date Chatri had been able to outsmart the Bandra police, as well as Crime Branch officials. All attempts to arrest him have proved futile, as the man has always been a step ahead of the cops.

A source told this newspaper, “The police are taking the case too lightly. The investigating officer was not even present during the court hearing.” Sources from the police department claimed that Chatri had been switching base between Mumbai and Gujarat, constantly changing his location, to make it difficult for cops to locate him.

When contacted, Senior Police Inspector Ramchandra Dhawale of Bandra police station said, “Our investigations are on the right track. We have formed several teams, and expect to nab the accused soon. I can’t comment further on the matter.” The police believe that once Chatri gets hold of the money, he will run away to Nepal, from where it is near-impossible to arrest him.

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