Police quiz hotel owner, try to find Pujari gang link

Police said that Dilip Verma and Shashidhar Shetty were receiving extertion calls demanding Rs 25 lakh in July 2016.

Mumbai: A day after two bike-borne men wearing black masks shot at Dilip Verma (27), manager of a Nalasopara-based hotel, Galaxy, Nalasopara police questioned the hotel’s owner, Shashidhar Shetty, whether he had prior contact in any manner with the Suresh Pujari gang that orchestrated the attack.

Mr Verma sustained a bullet injury below his neck and is recuperating in a private hospital at Mira Road. According to police sources, Mr Shetty and Mr Verma had received extortion calls demanding Rs 25 lakh in July last year however, rather than fall prey to the calls, they alerted the police.

Mr Shetty even lodged a complaint, following which he was given police protection for six months. Convinced he was out of danger, Mr Shetty did not extent the police protection. The police is on the lookout for accused members of the Pujari gang and is questioning Mr Shetty to get to the bottom of the reason for threats.

Police inspector Ravindra Badgujar of Nalasopara police station told The Asian Age, “The Pujari gang suspected that Mr Shetty was informing the police about illegal activity in the vicinity. Hence, they tried to extort Rs 25 lakh from him while threatening him with dire consequences if he opened his mouth.”

When this newspaper on Monday spoke to Galaxy staffers, they said requesting anonymity that the shooter came masked in a white shirt and did a recce of the hotel entrance for a good five minutes. When Mr Verma asked him how he could help him, the accused brought out a revolver and shot Mr Verma below the neck. No sooner, he left after placing a note before anyone could register what had happened.

According to the police, Mr Verma is now recovering from the gunshot wound and has already recorded his statement about the incident.

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