NRI suspected of setting Pujari on Moranis, SRK

MUMBAI: Investigations into the recent firing at a film producer’s bungalow and alleged threats to several Bollywood personalities from a fugitive gangster appear to be pointing to a US-based NRI show producer identified as Bittu Singh.

The crime branch, which is probing the case, is issuing a Letter Rogatory (LR) through a local court for information on Singh. LR is a request of legal assistance from one court to the court of another country.

Sources said when gangster Ravi Pujari called the production company owned by Karim Morani recently, he threatened them to give Singh the rights for shows abroad by the cast of ‘Happy New Year’ to promote the movie. Last Saturday, a few shots were fired outside the Moranis’ bungalow in Juhu, apparently to scare them.

Now, the Moranis have told the police that a few weeks ago, Bittu Singh himself had called and asked for the overseas rights of the promotional shows. When the Moranis told him it was not in their hands, Pujari called up asking them to favour Singh.

Little is known about Bittu Singh, except that he is originally from Punjab and now a US citizen based in New Jersey with interest in Bollywood shows abroad. Calls TOI made to Singh’s purported US number went unanswered.

Since the calls started, the police have provided security to most of the stars of the new movie, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani and Sonu Sood, among others. “As a precautionary step, almost all the actors of the movie have been provided security,” said an officer.

On Monday, a crime branch team along with Juhu police questioned a close relative of Singh in the city. “Irrespective of who Singh is, we are in the process of collecting evidence against him and making him an accused in the case. People using underworld pressure to get their work done will not be tolerated,” said the officer.

At least six to seven former associates of Pujari, who are now out on bail, are being questioned by the crime branch. Officials said despite several arrests, some people associated with Bollywood are still passing information to Pujari. “In the past, we have booked Khar Gymkhana member Ravi Punjabi and Chembur-based builder Rakesh Sharma for passing information of possible targets to Pujari. This time if we find anybody passing information, they will not be spared,” said a senior IPS officer.