Ravi Pujari: Don Who Threatened Arijit Singh is Mildly Comic
Underworld don Ravi Pujari hit the headlines on Tuesday for threatening Bollywood vocalist Arijit Singh. The don reportedly spoke to the singer’s manager and asked him to cough up Rs 5 crore, or do two shows for free.
The matter is now being investigated by the Mumbai Police. Arijit Singh himself says he prefers not to talk about it.
But, Who Really Is Ravi Pujari?
Pujari styles himself as the “anti-thesis of Dawood Ibrahim”, a “right-of-centre”, “patriotic”, “Hindu”, underworld don who loves Bollywood only second to talking to the media.
In September 2009, the now defunct Bangalore edition of Mid-Day reported that Ravi Pujari made calls to members of the media, claiming that he had ordered his shooter to kill a local builder, who “despite being a Hindu was paying hafta to Dawood Ibrahim”.
The Communal Don
His USP, as far as extortionist activities go, was to “protect” Hindus, sound patriotic and take on the likes of Dawood Ibrahim, but most of the targets on his “hafta vasooli” list were in fact Hindu businessmen.
Media Savvy Gangster
But this hypocrisy has not stopped Ravi Pujari from further communalising underworld activities . In 2005 he ordered an attack on noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon who was defending suspected terrorists accused in the 2002 Ghatkopar bomb blast. Shortly after the attack, the gangster called up a television journalist and claimed responsibility for the attack.
In fact, Pujari has relied heavily on the media to revive his “fear factor” in the underworld. While extortion money from businessmen and builders has ensured a steady source of “income”, Pujari pursued infamy by making extortion calls to Bollywood celebrities.
The likes of Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and filmmakers like Karan Johar, Karim Morani and Rakesh Roshan have all been contacted by Ravi Pujari at one point in time or the other in the last two decades.
In 2006, Pujari sent a shooter to Mahesh Bhatt’s office, alleging that the film director was anti-India and working with Pakistan’s ISI. Ironically, Pujari claimed to have planned the attack on Bhatt for over a month, but the film director was not even in Mumbai when Pujari’s man came calling with a loaded gun.
Zero Street Cred
A Tehelka report profiling Ravi Pujari describes him as “a gangster in search of credible teeth, a figure verging on the mildly comic”. It quotes a police officer who describes his standard modus operandi.
“Just imagine,” the officer recalls, with a chuckle, “he called up some guy and said, ‘Give me 50 lakhs.’ The guy said no, so he said, ‘Okay, give me 25 lakhs,’ and the guy said no again, and he said, ‘Alright then, give me five lakhs,’ which the guy agreed to. Then he sent two of his boys, young boys, and we picked them up.”
– July 1, 2006 article in the Tehelka
Originally from a small, sleepy beach town called Malpe in Udupi district of Karnataka, Ravi Pujari was a small-time businessman who defaulted on loan repayments and turned to some “friends” who were running a protection/extortion racket in Kalmady. Pujari found his calling as a gangster and aligned himself with Chota Rajan for a short while before going it alone.
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