Miscreants vandalise eatery in extortion bid

A group of armed men allegedly vandalised Pakeeza Restaurant, located on S V Road in Santacruz West, a few minutes past Thursday midnight after the owner resisted their extortion calls, police said.

While one of them has been identified as Zulfiqar, a convicted criminal, police are using footage from CCTV cameras installed inside the eatery to identify the other three caught on camera.

The complainant, Anis-ur Rehman Allahuddin Jagrala (44), one of the partners of the restaurant, estimated the damages at Rs 5 lakh. "They have broken a glass partition wall and also the computerised billing system. We are yet to finish our complete inventory," he said.

None of restaurant's staff or the customers present inside were harmed in the attack, the police said. "They arrived just as we were about to shut for the day. They scared away all those inside before smashing things. One of our staff members immediately called me and I rushed to Santacruz police station to register a complaint," he said.

Jagarala said the suspects had been regular patrons at the restaurant for several weeks and they began attempting to extort money five days ago. "Three of them, led by Zulfiqar, had been coming to meet me for the past five days and demanding that I pay them Rs. 5 lakh immediately. I told them I needed to consult my partner and asked them to return next week. During this period, I had planned to approach the authorities," he said.

"We have found that Zulfiqar was previously convicted for an offence under Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. We are using CCTV camera footage to identify the other three men. We have booked all of them for extortion attempt and causing damage," said Arun Chavan, senior inspector, Santacruz police station.

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