The Nagpada police on Friday arrested a gang of four history-sheeters who were allegedly attempting to extort 'protection money' from various mandals in Kamathipura area. So much is the fear of the gang in the vicinity that the police did not receive any official complaint regarding the threat.
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The arrested have been identified as Gopal Tamang, 28, Meghraj Sabunkar alias Meghya, 42, Nilesh Amtolkar, 24, and Junaid Rehan Akhtar Qureshi, 28.
According to the police, specific information was received that a group of people having criminal records have been threatening officials of Ganpati mandals in Kamathipura.
"Someone had approached us with information on condition of anonymity. The person told us that a group has been demanding protection money from mandals," said an officer from Nagpada police station.
The person also gave the names of the four to the police.
In order to verify the information, a special police team was formed. The team visited several Ganpati mandals in Kamathipura and made inquiries. "Mandal office-bearers appeared to be under pressure when we asked them if they were being threatened for protection money, but most of them refused to name anyone. We then took a few officials in confidence and assured them that their names would not be revealed. Only then they told us that they have received direct and indirect threats," said the officer.
"The gang's activities indicate that they wanted to create ruckus during Ganeshotsav, which could have led to law and order situation in the vicinity. On Friday, the group members were spotted on MR Road in Kamathipura. They were about to flee when we apprehended them," the officer said.
While Tamang has 12 criminal cases, Sabunkar has 10, Amtolkar has four, and Qureshi has three registered against them at the Nagpada police station. "We have arrested them under section 151 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code under which an arrest can be made to prevent the commission of cognisable offence. The court has remanded the group in judicial custody till September 9, which means they will be behind bars till the festival comes to an end," said another officer.