BY DEEPAK SHARMA
New Delhi–Dreaded underworld don Ravi Pujari, operating from overseas, has been extradited to India from South Africa where he was arrested.
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.
Pujari would be flown to Bengaluru. He is being brought to India by the Karnataka Police on an Air France flight via Paris.
Sources in Indian Intelligence said that Pujari, who was hiding with a false identity of Anthony Fernandes, a Burkina Faso passport holder, was nabbed in a remote village in South Africa.
On a tip-off from Indian intelligence, the Senegal police airdashed to 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 mafioso first hit the headlines 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 passports. His son who was recently married in Australia reportedly holds an Australian passport.
Earlier last year 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 called ‘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. (IANS)