Palghar (Maha), Mar 31 (PTI) Police in Palghar district have registered cases against ten persons including local leaders of the BJP, Shiv Sena and NCP for allegedly extorting money from builders.

Vasai-Virar NCP chief Govind Gunjalkar was arrested in one of these cases last night.

Corporator and former deputy district chief of the Shiv Sena, Dhananjay Gawde, and BJP Yuva Morcha district chief Arun Singh have also been named as accused, and police had launched a manhunt for them, officials said.

Holding a press conference in Vasai today, Palghar Rural Police Superintendent Dr Manjunath Singe and Additional SP Raj Tilak Roshan said that two cases were registered at Tulinj and one each at Nalla Sopara and Virar police stations.

Police have pressed IPC sections 384 (extortion) and 506 (criminal intimidation) alonwwith provisions of the Arms Act against the ten accused, including two women, the officers said.

Dhananjay Gawde figures in all four FIRs, they said.

In the case at Virar police station, Gawde and some others are accused of extorting Rs 36 lakh from a builder since October 2016 after threatening to complain against his constructions and have them demolished for alleged irregularities.

In the case at Nalla Sopara, another builder has alleged that the accused, through Gunjalkar, extorted Rs 5 lakh from him, threatening to initiate action against him by the civic body and publish slanderous articles against him in newspapers.

In a case at Tulinj, a builder has accused Gawde of demanding Rs 50 lakh for withdrawing a petition filed against his construction projects in the Bombay High Court.

The builder alleged that he was called to a hotel, and the accused forced him to part with Rs 32 lakh at gun point, and supply steel and cement worth Rs 10 lakh for construction of a farm house at Shirsad Phata.

In another case registered at Tulinj, Gawde and others are accused of extorting Rs 30 lakh from a builder after threatening to have his buildings demolished for alleged irregularities.

Further probe was underway, the two officials said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.