Siddhesh Kamble alias Mahakal, an alleged member of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang, has told investigators that Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar was on the list of persons whom the gang planned to target for extortion, a police official said on Saturday.
But a senior official also warned that these claims have not been verified yet, and there was a possibility that there was an element of bragging in Kamble's statements.
Kamble was a close aide of Santosh Jadhav, a suspected shooter in the Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala murder case, and well aware of the murder conspiracy, a police official said.
While Kamble is in the custody of Pune rural police for an earlier case registered in the district, teams of Delhi Police's Special Cell, Punjab Police and Mumbai Crime branch have questioned him in connection with the Moosewala murder and a threat letter received by Bollywood actor Salman Khan and his father Salim Khan earlier this month.
In his statements before the investigating teams, Kamble disclosed a lot of information about the Moosewala murder conspiracy and named Santosh Jadhav and one Nagnath Suryavanshi as having been involved in the killing, the official told PTI.
He also provided information about future plans of the Bishnoi gang, which is suspected to be behind Moosewala's killing, the official said.
The gang had allegedly planned to extort Rs 5 crore from Johar by threatening him, he said.
As per Kamble's statement, Vikram Brar, brother of Canada-based gangster Goldie Brar, had discussed these plans with him on Instagram and Signal apps.
A woman involved in drug trafficking and a doctor who had allegedly desecrated a holy book of the Sikh community were also on the target list, the official said.
Investigating agencies are still verifying Kamble's claims, he added. Jadhav and his aide Navnath Suryavanshi were arrested by Pune rural police from Bhuj in Gujarat earlier this week.
After Moosewala's murder in May, the Bishnoi gang was trying to take advantage of the sensation it had caused, and had decided to threaten Bollywood celebrities, the official claimed.
Threatening Salman Khan for extortion was part of this plan, hatched by Vikram Brar, he said. Police had earlier claimed, citing information given by Kamble, that Vikram Brar had sent three members of the Bishnoi gang to Mumbai to deliver the threat letter to Salman Khan.
But a senior official of Pune rural police cautioned that they were still verifying Kamble's claim about Karan Johar being a target for extortion. "With some accused, there is an element of bragging in their confessions. The motive behind bragging is to gain publicity and get bigger extortion amounts.
This phenomenon is common in Punjab and other neighbouring states. They (gangsters) want their names to get associated with high-profile cases," said the officer.
Five gangsters have taken responsibility for the Moosewala murder, but none of them was present on the spot when the crime took place on May 29 in Punjab's Mansa district, he said.
"Mahakal is a small fish. Vikram Brar told him about Karan Johar. Why Brar told this to Mahakal, who is just a foot soldier? Because Brar wants to increase his clout and impress youths like Mahakal," he added.