A 13-year-old boy was kidnapped and murdered for a Rs 1-crore ransom by unidentified persons in east Delhi’s Gandhi Nagar, police said on Wednesday.
Preliminary investigation points to the involvement of someone very close to the boy and his family, though the police have no information about the identity of the perpetrators yet.
According to the police, Utkarsh Verma, the youngest son of a local jeweller, was kidnapped on Tuesday around 2.30pm when he was returning home from school. CCTV footage showed the boy, a student of class 8 at a private school in Anand Vihar, was 100 meters from his house when he was abducted as he stepped out of the camera’s coverage area. “There are no eye-witnesses to the abduction,” said the investigating officer.
Joint commissioner of police (eastern range) Sanjay Baniwal said they were informed of the kidnapping around 4pm and teams of east Delhi police, crime branch and special cell were immediately deployed to trace the boy.
“While our efforts were on, the family received two ransom calls between 7.30pm and 8.45pm. The kidnappers demanded R1 crore for the boy’s safe release. The kidnappers, in their last call, told the family they would call on Wednesday morning to tell them the location where the ransom money was to be delivered,” said Baniwal.
On Wednesday morning, Utkarsh’s body was spotted by a passerby near a drain in Geeta Colony Block 12, about 1.5km from his home. He was in his school uniform and his schoolbag was lying next to him, said police.
Police believe the kidnappers strangled the boy to cover their identities.
Utkarsh was youngest among three siblings. He lived with his parents – Mukesh and Mamta – and elder brother Rishabh, 22. His sister Kanika is married and is settled in the US.
Insider link suspected
Investigators are looking into the role of ‘insiders’ in the kidnapping and murder of Utkarsh.
Initial investigation revealed that the boy was picked up from a narrow lane barely a hundred steps from his house in Gandhi Nagar. Utkarsh was last seen in the CCTV footage of a private school in the lane while he was returning home.
The police are still trying to establish the identity of his abductors. They believe the boy was not forcibly picked up from the residential locality.
“It means he either walked with one of the abductors who happens to be the prime suspect or accompanied him on his two-wheeler. A car cannot pass through the narrow lane,” said a senior investigating officer privy to the case.
Investigation revealed that the abductors made two ransom calls to the family. They demanded Rs 1 crore for the boy’s release. The first call was made at 7.30pm, almost five hours after Utkarsh was kidnapped.
The last call was made at 8.45pm.
The kidnappers asked the family to wait for their third call on Wednesday morning in which they would inform them about the location where the ransom money was to be delivered.
The two calls were made from two different numbers and to different members of the boy’s family. The first call was made to Utkarsh’s mother while the last one was on his father’s mobile phone.
“Both the calls were made from two different locations in east Delhi, which are in a radius of five kilometers from the spot where Utkarsh’s body was found. We were waiting to receive the third ransom call that could have helped us to trace their location,” the officer added.
The police are preparing a list of people close to Utkarsh and his family.
Investigators said Utkarsh was not the kind of boy who would have accompanied strangers even if they tried to lure him on some pretext. The police are also probing property dispute and business rivalry angles in the case.