By Deepak Sharma
New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) Dreaded underworld don Ravi Pujari, operating from overseas, has been reportedly arrested in South Africa and efforts are on for his deportation to India.
Pujari, who parted ways with underworld don Chhota Rajan, had jumped bail from Senegal, last year and had escaped to South Africa, where he was involved in big time drug trafficking and extortion racket.
Sources in Indian Intelligence said that Ravi Pujari, who was hiding with a false identity of Anthony Fernandes, a Burkina Faso passport holder, was located in a remote village in South Africa.
On a tip off from Indian external intelligence agency, the Senegal police air dashed South Africa last week. Pujari, 52, wanted in over 200 cases of heinous crimes, including murder and extortion, was detained with the help of South African agencies.
Sources in Mumbai Police said that Pujari’s arrest has not yet been confirmed officially but Ministry of External Affairs is in touch with its mission in South Africa. An official in MEA refused to speak on the issue. Embassy of Senegal in Vasant Vihar, New Delhi, also did not respond to IANS’ queries in connection with Pujari’s arrest.
The mafiaso first came into news in early 2000 when he started extorting huge amounts from famous Bollywood personalties and builders. He was involved in an attempt to murder case, aimed at killing a prominent lawyer of Mumbai.
Pujari’s wife Padma and three children also fled India and some of them hold Burkina Faso passport. His son who was recently married in Australia reportedly hold an Australian passport.
Earlier last year Ravi Pujari, living under identity of Anthony had jumped bailed from a Senegal court through fraudulent means. IANS had accessed the don’s new passport. Pujari now goes under the name of Anthony Fernandes and is a citizen of Burkina Faso, a West African country, his date of birth is shown as 25.1.1961.
Pujari, a movie junkie influenced by Amitabh Bachchan’s portrayal as Anthony Gonsalves in ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ was using the name Anthony Fernandes. This passport was issued on 10.7.2013 and is valid till 8.7.2023. The passport showed his profession as Agent Commercial which means that he is designated as a businessman running a chain of restaurants Namaste India in Senegal, Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries.
Pujari’s lawyers in Senegal had argued in the court citing that he is Anthony Fernandes, a businessmen from Burkina Faso as mentioned in his passport and not a fugitive as claimed by the Indian Government.
Clearly indicating a collusion between top government functionaries of Burkina Faso and Pujari in which an influential Indian businessman, who is his partner in a restaurant chain, may have played a role of conduit.