The arrest of underworld don Ravi Pujari by the Senegal police on January 22 made quite some news, with many believing that the gangster would soon be extradited to India. However, this time it looks like Pujari is playing his cards differently and is said to be claiming that he is not the much-wanted underworld don.
Pujari's lawyers have written to Senegalese authorities and have said that the officials have mistaken him for someone else. The lawyers claim that the man they arrested is Anthony Fernandes, a citizen of Burkina Faso and not the gangster, reported the Times of India. Due to this confusion, it looks like Pujari extradition to India may be delayed until the Indian embassy and the external affairs ministry provide documents to the Senegalese officials proving the arrested man's identity.
The ministry has already submitted documents detailing the activities of Pujari's gang, along with the 13 red corner notices issued against him by the Interpol. In addition, evidence against his fake passport has also been sent to the Indian embassy in Senegal.
To further prove Pujari's identity, the Indian officials have also asked the Karnataka and Mumbai police to collect DNA samples of his family members immediately and send them to Senegal to help prove Pujari's identity. Meanwhile, Pujari's wife Padma and the couple's three children have also reportedly secured Burkina Faso passports and proving their identity too may delay the extradition.
Pujari was detained by the officials from Dakar while he was travelling from Burkina Faso and the embassy was informed of the arrest on January 26, reported the Hindustan Times. The Senegal officials were acting on a tip-off from the Indian investigative agencies, which received information from the Karnataka police.
Pujari is one of the most infamous names in the underworld and is wanted in India for a number of cases of extortion, kidnapping and murder. He is known to have started off with petty crimes in Andheri, Mumbai, and was a small-time criminal until he killed rival Bala Zalte. He has been mentored by Chhota Rajan, who later took him into his gang.
He and Rajan, however, parted ways after Dawood Ibrahim tried to kill Rajan in Bangkok in 2000. Pujari, who has been on the run for about 10 years has made several extortion calls to Bollywood personalities such as Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Rakesh Roshan, Mahesh Bhatt, Farah Khan and Shahrukh Khan. He is also known to have threatened Shah Rukh for his equation with friend and business partner Karim Morani.
In 2015, he is also said to have threatened senior lawyer Harish Salve and in 2016, Pujari had also threatened to eliminate hardliner Hurriyat faction Syed Ali Shah Geelani over protests in JNU.