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In a hard-fought battle, the Mumbai police have finally managed to gain success in seeking the custody of gangster Ravi Pujari, who is wanted in more than 49 cases in the city. The order was issued by the special court in Bengaluru on Saturday after the Mumbai crime branch produced the documents related to the permission granted by the Senegal authorities and the production warrant issued against Pujari by the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) special court.

However, Pujari’s lawyer Dilip Sequeira will appeal against the order in the Karnataka High Court. He said, “Will be challenging the order in the High Court as it is not in consonance with the extradition order passed by the Senegal court.”

Since the time he was extradited to India in February 2019, Pujari has been trying to prevent a transfer to Mumbai. Police said he has many enemies in Mumbai, including in jail -- members of rival gangs or betrayed members of his own gang.

Officials from the Mumbai crime branch are hoping for a custodial interrogation of Pujari, who is wanted in several cases including extortion and murder. They are scheduled to take his custody from Bengaluru jail on Monday, and bring him to the city on Tuesday. Earlier, Mumbai police were denied his custody as the Senegal authorities had extradited him only for the Bengaluru cases.

“At the time of extradition, the cases lodged in Karnataka were presented before the Senegal authorities but there was no mention of the cases registered against Pujari in Mumbai. Their lawyer had approached the Karnataka High Court with the same due to which the HC refused our appeal. So we approached the Senegal authorities through the Ministry of External Affairs. And we succeeded in getting permission last week after which we produced the permission documents and the production warrant issued from MCOCA court in Bengaluru’s special court and got his custody,” said a police source.

The Mumbai crime branch sought his custody in the Gajalee firing incident that had taken place on October 21, 2016. “Pujari had been trying to reach the owner and had made multiple calls to the restaurant but the owner was not reachable. He decided to scare him by sending henchmen over to fire at his restaurant,” said an officer.

The two men who had gone to Gajalee restaurant at 11.45 pm on that day, fired a few rounds in the air and fled on a motorbike. A case was registered at Vile Parle police station and the Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of Mumbai crime branch launched a parallel probe. Subsequently, the AEC managed to arrest seven accused for firing and supplying firearms. They were booked under the stringent MCOCA, while Pujari was named as a wanted accused in the case.

The officials further added that a special team will be designated to interrogate Pujari while special security arrangements will be made given his track record.
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