For several decades now, the Sahyadri Krida Mandal, Tilak Nagar’s Ganesh celebrations used to be grand and lavish and both, residents as well as the police, knew that the mandal had patronage of the fugitive underworld don Chhota Rajan. However, the links of the mandal office bearers with Rajan could never be proved.
But, on Thursday, the Tilak Nagar police arrested the mandal’s secretary, Ashok Satardekar, on charges of threatening and extortion. A builder, on whose behalf Satardekar had allegedly threatened some residents, has also been arrested.
According to the police, Satardekar used to carry out illegal activities in Mumbai, allegedly on the instructions of Rajan. He used to help identify prime properties in Tilak Nagar for redevelopment for builders, a close aide of the don.
Inspector Vilas Shinde of Tilak Nagar police station said, “Satardekar had threatened members of Sahyog Cooperative Housing Society to sign an agreement with a local builder, and hand over the land for redevelopment. This was going on since September 2009, but till now no one was willing to speak out. But the complainant in this case, Subhash Darekar, had written various letters to the senior officers informing them about the case.”
Investigations carried out after receipt of a letter, led the police to the mandal, which according to them was earlier financed by Rajan himself, when he resided in Chembur.
Shinde further added, “Police recorded the conversations between the accused and the victim, but did not make a hasty decision of arresting him immediately. We even recorded Satardekar’s calls, which he made to a builder Chintaman Belekar, and his accomplice, Jagdish Belnekar. Belnekar owned a construction company Varad Vastu constructions and is a Rajan aide. He wanted to grab the Sahyog Society redevelopment project at any cost, but the society members were against it. Thus he asked Satardekar to help him.”
Investigating officer, Assistant Inspector, Jitendra Sonawne said, “It’s was a known fact that Sahyadri was still financed by the Rajan company and even during Ganesh utsav they used to extort money for the lavish pandals they constructed. But we did not have any evidence to nail them. After the secretary’s arrest, we now have concrete proof. We have arrested all the three accused in the case and have booked them under sections 386, 387, 507 (2) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).”