ATS suspects involvement of more in Kochi beauty parlour firing case

Ravi Pujari, accused in the beauty parlour shooting case, being brought out after his hearing in the Ernakulam CJM Court in Kochi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

More people beyond the six accused are suspected to have links to the beauty parlour firing case being probed by the Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS).

The agency has reached such a conclusion after grilling gangster Ravi Pujari during his nine-day-long custody, which ended on Tuesday.

“More people are involved in the case going by the confessions of Pujari. But that information will have to be verified before they can be arraigned in as accused,” said ATS sources. The investigation agency has decided not to seek further custody of the gangster, the third accused in the case and produced him before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam, on Tuesday.

The firing took place outside the beauty parlour on December 15, 2018. The Crime Branch, which initially probed the case, had arrested the duo involved in the firing and recovered the firearm.

The ATS remains confident of having secured all relevant information from the gangster who reportedly confessed to his involvement in the case as part of an extortion bid and in another similar firing case in Kasaragod in 2010. He had also reportedly admitted to his links with Mangaluru-based criminal elements who executed the firing with the help of local sources.

The ATS also collected fresh statement of actor Leena Maria Paul, who owned the beauty parlour, through videoconference on account of the pandemic. She categorically identified the voice of Pujari, sources said. However, the voice samples of the gangster submitted by the agency will be considered by court later on account of the pandemic-related restrictions.

So far, four out of the six accused have been arrested in the case. Two absconding accused are suspected to be in Dubai though the gangster claims to have no information about them.

Though Kerala Janapaksham (Secular) leader P.C. George claimed to have received a threatening call from Pujari, ATS didn’t probe it since there was no complaint from the leader except for media reports.

Pujari was flown in from the Parappana Agrahara Central Prison in Bengaluru on June 2. He was lodged there since his extradition from Senegal with the help of the Interpol in January 2019.

Directive to authorities

Pujari was on Tuesday sent back to Parappana Agrahara jail, Bengaluru.

C. Deepu, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ernakulam, issued the orders asking the police to take him back to Bengaluru on Tuesday after his eight-day custody with the Kerala Police ended on the day. While sending him back to Bengaluru, the court also extended his remand in the custody of the Kerala Police till June 22.

The court also instructed the Bengaluru jail authorities to present the accused before it on June 22 through videoconferencing.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 5:15:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/ats-suspects-involvement-of-more-in-kochi-beauty-parlour-firing-case/article34762481.ece

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