MUMBAI: A 34-year-old man, who lost his livelihood due to lockdown and pandemic, ended at police lock-up after he impersonated as a member of an underworld gang and threatened a noted actor and filmmaker.
The Anti Extortion Cell (AEC) of Mumbai Police on Thursday arrested Milind Tusankar, a native of Khed district of Maharashtra after he sent threatening messages to actor and film producer Mahesh Manjrekar and demanded a hefty sum of Rs 34 crore.
Tusankar, who has been booked for issuing threats and extortion, has been remanded to police custody.
Manjrekar, the national award-winning filmmaker, is credited with directing critically acclaimed movies like Vaastav: The Reality, Astitva and Viruddh.
According to the police, Manjrekar had on Wednesday lodged a complaint to Dadar police, under whose jurisdiction he stays, that for the past two or three days he has been receiving threats messages.
“The message sender has said that he was a member of Abu Salem gang and demanded an extortion of Rs 34 crore from Manjrekar or face dire consequences,” said investigating officer Sachin Kadam of AEC.
Police registered the offence and as the case was underworld related, it was transferred to the crime branch. The officials of the AEC with the help of a mobile service provider tracked the accused to his native village in Khed. A police team arrested Tusankar on Thursday morning.
During the preliminary inquiries it transpired that Tusankar who is a graduate used to run a tea stall at 90 feet road in Dharavi but due to lockdown and the spread of the Covid-19 particularly after Dharavi became the epicentre in March, he had to return to his village in Khed.
“As his family has a very limited source of income and the pandemic ruined his earnings, he decided to take an easy way out. He googled and stumbled upon YouTube where he learnt how gangster Abu Salem used to give threats to his victims. He procured the number of Manjrekar from myneta.com and then sent him four to five threat messages,’’ said Ajay Sawant, senior inspector.
When the police team asked him how he planned to proceed in his demand, he told police that he was likely to use hawala channels to receive the extortion money. He said that he knew he would not get crores, but at least few lakhs using which he could run his home of seven people.