With the Pune police having booked as many as 100 criminal gangs and 670 criminals under the dreaded Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime (MCOCA) Act under the direct supervision of Pune police commissioner Amitabh Gupta since September 2020, the Maharashtra state police for the first time in their history have invoked the highest number of MCOCA cases.
The crackdown on organised crime began after Gupta took over the reins as Pune police commissioner. From September 2020 to December 2020, the city police invoked seven cases and booked 54 accused, whereas from January 2021 to December 2, 2021, the city police invoked 56 cases against 400 criminals on record. Several feared gangsters owing allegiance to various organised crime outfits are currently behind bars after being booked under this act.
From January 2022 to October 7, 2022, as many as 37 cases were invoked against 670 serial offenders. The first MCOCA case was invoked at Hadapsar police station while the 100th one was invoked at Kothrud police station. The latest MCOCA case has been invoked against loan app scam main accused, Dheeraj Bharat Punekar, 36, a resident of Kumthekar naka in Solapur and his gang of nine members who are stated to be involved in the loan app scam in Pune city wherein scores of gullible citizens have been coaxed into downloading loan apps and allowing the use of their cameras, contacts, locations, microphones, galleries, SMS and storage. After obtaining complete control over their mobile devices, the fraudsters have extorted money from the victims and threatened to release their morphed, obscene pictures on social media and various WhatsApp groups if they failed to repay the loan amount. The gang members were earlier booked by the cyber police under sections 384, 385, 386, 420, 469, 500, 501, 504, 506, 120(b) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 43(a), 66 and 66D of the IT Act.
Gupta said, “The gangs were engaged in taking out processions, uploading threatening messages on social media and cutting birthday cakes with swords which were serious anti-social activities. We systematically took up the cases of each and every gang in the city and booked them under MCOCA based on the number of cases lodged against them and the available evidence. The citizens too have expressed satisfaction over the sustained action taken against the crime syndicates, which has made the city safe and peaceful for residents.”