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Trio, including BJP neta held for extortion bid

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
By Suresh Golani

Kingpin flaunted his position as BJP vice president, local leadership desperately tries to wash their hands off

Sleuths of the Thane (rural) police arrested three people yesterday for trying to extort money from an orchestra bar owner in Bhayandar. The trio had threatened him with raids at his establishment on the virtue of their influential contacts in the local police circle. Interestingly one of the extortionists, identified as Lalit Satish Bhaneriya (36), posed as the vice president of BJP’s local youth wing.

According to the police, Bhaneriya along with his accomplices Rajesh Ramashankar Yadav (31) and Harendra Amarnath Singh (29), demanded Rs 20,000 as monthly hafta from the complainant Ashok Shetty who operates Hotel Roopesh – a live orchestra bar opposite the railway station in Bhayandar (E). Boasting about their influential contacts with police officers and political leaders, the trio demanded the money from the owner, to avoid police raids at his establishment.

After negotiations, the demand was scaled down to Rs 10,000. However, the bar-owner informed the police, following which a trap was laid and the trio was caught after they accepted Rs 5,000 as the first installment. The police have also seized Bhaneriya's Mahnindra TUV car which was used in the crime.

BJP district president Hemant Mhatre was quick to dash off a letter to the police station claiming ignorance about any such office bearer. “Lalit Bhaneriya is nowhere connected with our party,” said Mhatre. This despite of the fact that Bhaneriya owed his allegiance to BJP's youth wing and not the parent body which is headed by Mhatre.

However, apart from BJP stickers pasted on the windshield, the car had a name plate displaying the vice president's designation of party's youth wing. Bhaneriya who had even posted his photographs on social media, while being handed over the appointment letter in the presence of top BJP leaders, was also found to be in possession of the party's visiting cards.

Not ruling out the trio's involvement in other extortion cases in the region, Senior Police Inspector Ram Bhalsingh said, “A case under Section 384 (Punishment for extortion) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against the trio who have been remanded to custody.”

The Navghar police is conducting further investigations into the case.

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