Two months after he was nabbed by the Philippines Police, dreaded absconder gangster Suresh Pujari has been deported to India and will face charges for nearly two dozen serious crimes in Mumbai, officials said here on Wednesday.
In mid-October, he was nabbed by the Paranaque Police’s Fugitive Search Unit in southern Manila metropolitan region and the extradition process was initiated, culminating in his deportation late on Tuesday to New Delhi.
Pujari was handed over to a team of Intelligence Bureau and Central Bureau of Investigations after he landed at New Delhi airport, returning to the country after absconding for 15 years.
After the CBI interrogation, he was handed over to a waiting team of Mumbai Police Crime Branch.
The Mumbai and Thane Police had already issued red-corner notices against him in 2017-2018, as he was wanted for several major crimes registered here against him.
Suresh Pujari is a relative of another notorious gangster, Ravi Pujari, who was deported from Senegal in Africa to India in February 2020, and is currently in custody being probed by central agencies and police of Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Soon after he sneaked out of the country in 2007, the Mumbai Police had shared a detailed dossier on Suresh Pujari with the Centre over a decade ago, said officials.
Since the two Pujaris fell out due to territorial disputes, Suresh Pujari, along with a few other ruffians, launched independent mafia operations in the early 2000s, with activities in parts of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane regions.
Living in Asalpha area of Ghatkopar suburb in north-east Mumbai, he managed to hoodwink the law-enforcers and slipped out of India 15 years ago.
Later, the InterPol issued a notice for him and the Maharashtra Police was closely monitoring his movements in different countries.
Suresh Pujari faces at least 10 major cases of extortion, threats to murder, killings, etc., in Mumbai and more offences elsewhere the MMR region, other cities and the Mumbai Police CID, the CBI and the FBI were on the lookout for him in the past nearly 15 years.
Going by aliases like Suresh Pai, he and his associates had allegedly made extortion-cum-threat calls to several top builders, contractors, and glamour world celebs in the early 2000s, organised or ordered gangland killings, etc.
Sources working with intelligence agencies said, “The businessmen, liquor shop owners of Mumbai and South India were on his radar. He used to make extortion calls. He had also threatened a few politicians,” said an official wishing anonymity.
“Most of the time Suresh would open fire at the house of his target, though he wouldn’t hurt anybody. Later, he used to drop threat letter demanding money. He did this in Ulhasnagar, Kalyan, Dombivali and Thane areas of Mumbai. His victims were too frightened to approach the police, but a few had reported the matter to the police,” said the sources.
Two politicians, Omi Kalani from Ulhasnagar and Jitendra Awhad from Thane, had lodged complaints against him.