Gangster Ravi Pujari's associate held

Thane: An aide of dreaded gangster Ravi Pujari, who is an accused in the murder of a Shiv Sena MLA and had jumped bail, has been arrested here, police said on Friday.

Prakash Shankar Bagam alias Pakya, a childhood friend of Pujari, who was wanted by the police since the last 11 years, was nabbed yesterday, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) P G Kendre said at a press conference.

The 43-year-old was initially associated with the Arun Gawli gang, but later switched loyalty to Pujari, he said.

Bagam, who originally hails from Kolhpaur, operated from Mumbai. He was arrested in connection with the murder of Shiv Sena MLA Ramesh More, who was shot dead in 1994.

He jumped bail in 2000 and since then police had been looking for him. Anti-Extortion Cell of Thane police carried out an operation after a local businessman got a call from Bagam demanding Rs 50 lakh from him last month, Kendre said.

The gangster was apprehended from Kapurbwadi Naka area and several mobile phones were seized from him. He was produced in a local court, which remanded him in police custody till December 29, Kendre said.

Bagam was involved in half a dozen criminal cases related to murder, attempt to murder and extortion. Two of his associates, Ajit B Patil and Mahesh Khade, were arrested earlier and they are now in judicial custody, the ACP said.