Sixteen-year-old Ribhu Chawla, a kidnap victim found dead on Wednesday, was killed because he could recognise at least one of his kidnappers and identify him later, the police said on Thursday.
They murdered him to prevent him from identifying them, said Ajai Kashyap, a senior police officer.
The body was found in Vasant Vihar on Wednesday, just a day after Ribhu was reported missing.
The chances of people kidnapped by acquaintances escaping unharmed are “very, very nominal”, Kashyap said when asked if the police may have unwittingly botched the rescue operation.
On Thursday, the police arrested four men for the crime: Kunal Bhandari (27), Rishabh Chauhan (24), Sukhvinder Singh (22) and Gaurav Chaddha (20). The police seized Rs 8 lakh cash and the WagonR car used in the kidnapping from them.
Bhandari, a Tilak Nagar food supplier and a gym trainer, was the mastermind, the police said. He came to know about the Chawlas from a neighbour of theirs — that they were rich and had a son who went to school on his motorcycle.
Kashyap refused to divulge the identity of Chawla’s neighbour, saying he was being investigated for possible complicity.
Bhandari stopped Ribhu on way to school on July 28, to ask about this neighbour.
He was stopped again on his way back. This time Bhandari pulled him into his car and sped off.
Ribhu’s friends saw this and informed the parents, who in turn called the police.
The police said the kidnappers drove around Delhi for hours and then headed towards Karnal.
The accused contacted Ribhu’s parents several times using his cellphone to make the ransom demand.
Ribhu’s father, a software seller, paid Rs 15 lakh of the Rs 60 lakh demanded to the kidnappers at a bus stop on GT Karnal Road, the police said.
An hour later, Bhandari and Chauhan strangled Ribhu in the car while on way to Vasant Kunj.