Mumbai Crime: With 24 gangsters behind bars, extortion calls reduce by 90 percent in city

Updated: 15 March, 2020 05:43 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

They were arrested in the past eight months due to the efforts of the Chief of the Mumbai Crime Branch, Santosh Rastogi, and its personnel

Gangster Ejaz Lakdawala
Gangster Ejaz Lakdawala

Since the arrest of gangster Ejaz Lakdawala and his associates, extortion calls across the city have reduced to almost 90 per cent. But his arrest is not the only reason for this. According to the Mumbai police, besides Lakdawala, 23 gangsters were brought to justice in the past eight months, all due to the efforts of chief of the Mumbai Crime Branch, Santosh Rastogi.

Rastogi, a 1998 batch IPS officer, took charge of the Mumbai Crime Branch last year in May. The Anti-Extortion Cell was flooded with complaints from businessmen, builders and VIPs. The extortion calls they got were mainly from gangsters such as Lakdawala, Faheem Machmach, Suresh Pujari, Ravi Pujari, Prasad Pujari and the Chhota Shakeel gang.

Fayaz Nakhuda, Prasad Pujari's cousin Sukesh Pujari and Tariq Parveen, Dawood close aid

Speaking to mid-day, Rastogi said, "We have been working on each gangster and his associates. In the past eight months my team has done a remarkable job by arresting several gangsters including Ejaz Lakdawala. These arrests have had a significant impact, specially on the extortion syndicates. Extortion calls have reduced to almost 90 per cent."

Chhota Shakeel gang

The Crime Branch arrested Rizwan Kaskar (30), a nephew of fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim, and son of Iqbal Kaskar in July 2019. He made extortion calls in their names. They also arrested two close aides of Shakeel; Ahmad Raza Vadhariya, 24, and Ashfaque Topiwala, 34 for making extortion calls.

In the month of August 2019, the police nabbed Mohammed Altaf Abdul Lateef Saeed (50), henchman of Dawood's brother Anees Ibrahim.

Nadeem Lakdawala
Nadeem Lakdawala, Ejaz Lakdawala cousin

Ejaz Lakdawala gang

This year, in the month of January, the Crime Branch got its biggest breakthrough, on arresting gangster Lakdawala, who was on the run for more than two decades, making extortion calls from abroad. They also arrested Saleem Maharaj for helping him. The agency also arrested Lakdawala's cousin, Nadeem Lakdawala; Tariq Parveen and Fayaz Nakhuda alias Sannata.

Prasad Pujari gang

The Crime Branch does not know his whereabouts, but has disbanded his gang after the firing in Vikhroli on Shiv Sena leader Chandrashekhar Jadhav. Pujari orchestrated the firing to create terror in the city. The agency has arrested nine members of his gang including cousin Sukesh Kumar Laxman, 25; Pappu Dubey, Sunil Aangane, Laxman Pawar, Vijay Waghmare, Sagar Mishra, Umesh Shetty, Anand Fadtade and Krishna Singh.

On Wednesday, the Crime Branch arrested Indra Pujari, mother of Pujari, for allegedly facilitating his extortion syndicate.

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First Published: 14 March, 2020 19:05 IST

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