The four-day ordeal of Adobe India CEO Naresh Gupta’s family came to an end on Friday, when his three-year-old son, Anant, was returned unharmed by his abductors. Considering the manic media glare on the case, the police teams investigating the kidnapping must be equally relieved at the fortunate turn of events. Yet, what happens next is of even more importance. Anant Gupta is now one more addition to the rising statistics on organised crime in Uttar Pradesh, of which kidnapping has become the most profitable. To call the state the ‘Other Bihar’, where the kidnapping industry nearly single-handedly destroyed opportunities for investments and industrial growth, would not be an exaggeration.
That UP’s reputation is in the muck is evident from the National Crime Records Bureau’s 2005 statistics. It has emerged as the state with the highest percentage of violent crimes, as well as the most kidnappings (21.3 per cent of the total 3,518 cases reported across the country). The criminal-politician nexus that exists here, as in Bihar, has made it next to impossible to bring abductors to justice. Considering that the Indian Penal Code treats abduction on par with murder in some cases — penalties go as far as life imprisonment and even death — there is little to be done by way of deterrence if the criminals are allowed to fearlessly roam free. And here is the danger: the more crime infests the state, the less investments it will receive. Also, the less opportunity for the average person to earn a respectable livelihood, the more the number who will turn to this illegal route for ready — and easy — cash.
While the police have a task ahead of them in breaking criminal networks spread across several states, the media, too, have to learn a lesson. As the Anant Gupta abduction case made evident, the media, along with the police, need to be more sensitive, less sensational. The power of the media automatically puts immense responsibility upon them. Nowhere is this more evident than in maintaining restraint especially where the life of an individual is at stake. In the latest case, police leaks ensured that the entire country was witness to the nitty-gritty of the investigative process, further endangering the life of a three-year-old boy. Only by showing more professionalism can the police break the back of this criminal network. But are they willing and able to do this job?