Police in Palghar district yesterday registered four more cases of extortion against local leaders of the Shiv Sena and NCP for allegedly extorting money from builders. While three cases were registered by Vasai police, one by Valiv police station. Police have so far booked ten accused in the case. Nine persons, including Vasai-Virar NCP chief Govind Gunjalkar, have been arrested so far in connection with the cases while Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) corporator Dhananjay Gawde, former deputy district chief of the Shiv Sena, is untraceable.
According to a senior police officer, Gawde allegedly made a fresh demand for extortion while he was on the run. “The fresh offences of extortion have been registered against Gunjalkar, Gawde and other accused,” according to an official release issued here today. Police have also booked BJP Yuva Morcha district chief Arun Singh and have launched a hunt to trace him.
“The ten accused, including two women, have been booked under sections 384 (extortion) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC besides under provisions of the Arms Act,” said Palghar (Rural) SP Manjunath Singe and Additional SP Raj Tilak Roshan in a joint press conference in Vasai.
The officers said Gawde figured in all the four FIRs. In the case at Virar police station, Gawde and some others are accused of extorting Rs 36 lakh from a builder since October 2016 after threatening to complain against his constructions and have them demolished for alleged irregularities.
In the case at Nalla Sopara, another builder has alleged that the accused, through Gunjalkar, extorted Rs 5 lakh from him, threatening to initiate action against him by the civic body and publish slanderous articles against him in newspapers. In a case at Tulinj in Vasai, a builder has accused Gawde of demanding Rs 50 lakh for withdrawing a petition filed against his construction projects in the Bombay High Court.
The builder alleged that he was called to a hotel, and the accused forced him to part with Rs 32 lakh at gun point, and supply steel and cement worth Rs 10 lakh for construction of a farm house at Shirsad Phata. In another case registered at Tulinj, Gawde and others are accused of extorting Rs 30 lakh from a builder after threatening to have his buildings demolished for alleged irregularities. Further probe was underway, the two officials said.