An auto driver and a scrap seller were today arrested for allegedly attempting to extort Rs 10 lakh as “protection money” from a prominent builder, who runs a construction company in Mumbai.
The accused, Maruf Sayyed Ali (32) and Parvez Ali Khan (34), were apprehended today when they were accepting Rs five lakh as the first installment from the builder at the posh Hiranandani area in suburban Powai, police said.
According to Mumbai Police Crime Branch, the victim is a resident of an upscale Worli area. Since the past few days, the builder had been receiving text messages and phone calls from a person, who introduced himself as Sahid Lala, demanding Rs 10 lakh for the safety and security of his family members.
The panicked builder approached Crime Branch about the calls, following which an FIR was registered under IPC section 387 (putting person in fear of death or of grievous hurt, in order to commit extortion) at Worli Police Station last night.
“Taking serious note of the complaint, our sleuths immediately swung into action. The preliminary probe pointed out the links of the accused to Ghatkopar area and accordingly policemen were deployed there,” Vinayak Vast, senior inspector and head of Anti Extortion Cell of the Crime Branch.
Meanwhile, the caller again rang up the builder and instructed him to hand over Rs five lakh as first installment at Hiranandani in Powai.
“Accordingly a trap was laid by our men, who were disguised as auto rickshaw drivers and call centre employees, in Powai when the two men arrived there to take the cash. The police teams swooped down on them, cracking the case within 24 hours,” said Deputy Police Commissioner (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni.
The duo identified as Maruf and Parvez, an auto driver and scrap seller respectively, was subsequently handed over to Worli police, who placed them under arrest, police said.
During interrogation, Maruf claimed that he got hold of the builder’s phone number in a mobile handset, which was lost in his vehicle by one of his passengers.
“The passenger who lost the phone mentioned the builder’s name in his handset as ‘Seth’, which is usually referred to rich people. Hence the auto driver decided to extort money and conspired to extract money from the victim,” Kulkarni said.
The duo confessed to the crime, police said, adding that further probe was on.