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Bhatt attack: Who is Ravi Pujari?

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
June 14, 2006 18:53 IST
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Ravi PujariWho is Ravi Pujari?

That was the question on everyone's mind after he called Mahesh Bhatt's office to claim that his men were responsible for the attack at the filmmaker's Mumbai office.

Pujari reportedly abused director Ashok Pandit who picked up the phone since Mahesh Bhatt was not in the office.

"He was using filthy language and threatened to kill Bhattsaab next time," said Pandit.

Pujari also called Bhatt's home within five minutes of the attack but Bhatt again was not available.

"I have never heard of his name," said actress/director Pooja Bhatt, Mahesh Bhatt's daughter. "There was no extortion calls to my father prior to this and we are absolutely clueless about this person."

Of medium height and built, Pujari, who has a scar on his face, started his criminal career in Andheri in suburban Mumbai. He speaks English, Hindi and Kannada and is a school dropout. He was a small time criminal for a few years. He rose in the underworld after he killed his opponent Bala Zalte. 

He joined gangster Chotta Rajan's gang and soon he became one of his favourite protégés. He moved to Dubai in late 1990s and started extorting money from builders and hoteliers from there. 

He however split with Rajan after Dawood Ibrahim men made an attempt on his life in a daring attack in Bangkok, Thailand in 2000. Pujari is now believed to be in Australia.

Interestingly, Bhatt is not Pujari's first Bollywood target. He allegedly sent a threatening mail to actress Karisma Kapoor's husband Sanjay Kapur to pay Rs 50 crore as extortion money.

The police however moved swiftly and arrested Pujari's henchman Rajkumar Vazirani in Mumbai when he came to a cyber café in suburban Mulund to send another e-mail.

He was also allegedly was behind the unsuccessful attempt on the life of lawyer Majeed Memon in Mumbai.

Pujari said that his men tried to kill Memon because he had close links to underworld gangsters Dawood Ibrahim and Chotta Shakeel. 

Memon is a well-known lawyer and is defending many of the accused in the Mumbai serial blasts of March 1993.

"I want to finish all those connected to Dawood and Shakeel. They are anti-India and connected to the ISI (Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence)," Pujari told television channels after the attack.

He claimed that Bhatt and Bollywood producer Vashu Bhagnani were Dawood Ibrahim's men and he will see that they will not live for long.

However, police dismissed Pujari's claims as a publicity stunt.

Arup Patnaik, joint commissioner (crime), Mumbai Police said, "Pujari is only trying to gain publicity. He wants to bring back fear in the minds of Bollywood personalities by such acts."

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
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