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Pune: Gang calls builder ‘from Ajit Pawar’s number’, tries to extort Rs 20 lakh; 6 held

The Pune city police have arrested six persons for allegedly attempting to extort Rs 20 lakh by calling a prominent builder from the phone number of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar using a ‘fake call’ application.

The police have identified the accused as Navnath Bhausaheb Chormale (28) and Akash Sharad Nikalje (24) of Wade Bolhai in Haveli, Saurabh Narayan Kakade (20) of Hadapsar, Sunil alias Bala Gautam Waghmare (28) and Kiran Rambhau Kakade (25) from Theoor, and Chaitanya Rajendra Waghmare (19) of (*20*).

Cops said one of the accused allegedly downloaded a “fake call app” on his mobile phone, using which they contacted a prominent builder in the city from what appeared to be a mobile phone number used by the deputy chief minister. The accused then went to the builder’s office and demanded Rs 20 lakh to settle a land dispute at Mauje Shiraswadi village in Wade Bolhai.

The accused men allegedly threatened the builder saying that they would not allow him to complete his project if the money was not paid. They asked him to keep the money ready and left his office saying that they would return to collect it, the police said.

But the builder contacted the police. Soon, a crime branch team went to the office and drew up a plan to hand over fake currency notes to the extortionists. As per the instruction of the police, the builder kept four bundles of 400 dummy currency notes of Rs 500 denomination ready to be handed over to the accused. Meanwhile, the police officers posed as staff members.

On Thursday, three of the accused persons – Chormale, Saurabh Kakade and Waghmare – reached the builder’s office where they were caught red-handed while accepting the fake currency notes. The police soon arrested three of their accomplices including Kiran Kakade, who had made the call to the building using the “fake call app”. Cops said the other three accused were asked to wait outside the builder’s office to “keep a watch”.

An FIR was lodged at Bund Garden police station and the police arrested the six men under IPC sections 385 (putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion), 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts by several persons with common intention) and sections of the Information Technology Act.

Chormale has previously been arrested in four cases of attempt to murder, extortion and caste atrocity, the police said in a release on Friday. The police recovered the dummy currency notes, six cell phones, a car and a motorcycle, together worth Rs 6.56 lakh, from the accused.



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