A day after insisting that no ransom was paid to free the three-year-old son of a top executive, the Uttar Pradesh Police admitted sheepishly on Saturday that Rs 5 million did exchange hands - but added that they had been in the dark about the transaction.
Police in Noida town bordering New Delhi asserted on Friday that they had ended Anant Gupta's five-day ordeal by rescuing him from the gang which seized him November 13 while the boy was on his way to school with the house maid.
Some gaps remained in the police version on Friday but senior officers made it clear that no ransom was paid by anyone.
But the police was put into embarrassment when the boy's father, Naresh Gupta, jubilant after the boy was brought home unharmed, told reporters late on Friday he did pay Rs 5 million to the abductors, contradicting his own earlier statement.
A leader of Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party also announced that ransom was paid and that the money had been recovered.
Stunned, the police backtracked. Senior officers said they did not know about the ransom payment till Friday night.
"Yes, ransom was paid but Gupta did not tell us anything about it till Friday night," said Soumetra Yadav, the superintendent of police in Noida City.
The money was recovered late on Friday from the east Delhi house of one of the arrested suspects Jitendra.
Yadav also said no further arrests had been made on Saturday. "Three people are absconding and we trying our best to arrest them," he said.
Naresh Gupta, who heads the India wing of software company Adobe India and lives in a palatial house in Noida, said the money was paid to "minimise the risk and secure the safe release" of his son.
"Either you risk your child's life or risk the money. For me the life of my son is more important than Rs 5 million," Gupta said.
"Since the police had information about all the kidnappers, we gave the money," he added. He did not say through who was the money paid.
According to NB Singh, inspector general of Meerut zone, four people were involved in the kidnapping. "We have arrested Jitendra alias Babloo. Three more - Vijay Chavan, Pawan and main accused Chhatrapal - will be arrested soon."