A hawker who sold shaving blades at railways stations in Mumbai allegedly ran an extortion racket and is now a millionaire. He has been arrested under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act.
Santosh Kumar Singh alias Bablu Thakur came to Mumbai in 2005 and sold shaving blades in Mumbai’s Dadar. He is now a millionaire. And, an alleged extortionist.
Thakur, his wife Rita Singh, and six of their associates have been booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) by the Government Railway Police (GRP) for allegedly running an extortion racket at railway stations in the city.
The GRP suspects that Thakur has a "boss", who is the syndicate's supreme leader. However, he has not revealed any name yet and further probe is underway.
According to GRP, Thakur owns 10 houses in Mumbai, five-acre agricultural land and two plots in his native district of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, 1.5 kg gold, insurance policies worth around Rs 10 lakh and cash in about 30 bank accounts. The police have attached "many of his properties worth crores".
A fellow train hawker’s complaint against the 43-year-old led to his arrest.
His rags-to-riches story
Thakur came to Mumbai from Sultanpur in 2005 and started selling shaving blades on the Dadar station bridge. Soon he came in contact with criminals and learned a few extortion tricks, police said. In a few months, Thakur bought the loyalties of these criminals with liquor and began to extort fellow hawkers with their help.
The hawkers were charged in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 per day as 'protection money'. His syndicate expanded to other railway stations over the next few years. He allegedly ran an extortion racket at Dadar, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Byculla, and Kurla railway stations, while his associates covered railway stations in Thane city and Kalyan.
The GRP said that Thakur and his wife stopped travelling via trains after 2010 and would only fly to other cities and states whenever they needed to.
How did he manage to evade the law?
Thakur has had run-ins with the law since 2006. He was convicted and jailed for eight months in a weapons-related case. He, however, got bail in most cases after his associates threatened witnesses to retract claims.
So far, he has been booked in more than 25 cases on charges including extortion, robbery, and attempt to murder among others. The last case registered against him was under sections 387 (extortion) and 392 (robbery) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
This time, however, the GRP has booked him under MCOCA to ensure that he doesn't escape the law.
His arrest - The Bollywood style
In May this year, the police set out to arrest Thakur but he was tipped off. He tried to flee from Govandi along with his gang members, however, the police intercepted him at a check post near Thane.
After a dramatic chase, the police caught hold of him near a toll point.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)