While the father of 12-year-old Eric, who was kidnapped on Monday morning, appeared elated and relieved, the boy looked withdrawn, recovering from the ordeal he had been through.
“The police have done a commendable job. I am grateful to them for conducting the operation the way they did and for bringing my child back without harm. It was a risky job, but it was accomplished successfully,” said Pravin Fernandes, the boy’s father and an interior designer.
He said that the kidnappers had given him elaborate instructions on how to deliver the ransom. “From the name of the train [Sahyadri Express], to which compartment and berth I should board, the kidnappers had detailed every move to me. In fact, one of their men was positioned in the train I had boarded,” he said.
Fernandes said that he had a lot of difficulty coping with the abductors’ unpredictable moves. “The kidnappers changed their location thrice after I boarded a Karjat-bound train from Dadar station. They would call and say that I should meet them at another location. I was practically jumping off trains and waiting to board the next one at little-known railway stations,” the interior designer recollected.
“It was a well-planned affair. They told me that when the train nears a village called Shelu, they will point a torch in the direction of the train, which is where I was to drop the bag with the money,” he added.
But despite the ordeal his family went through, Fernandes wore a smile, relieved at the end result. “The money I paid as ransom is yet to be recovered. But it does not bother me. I am glad that my son is back, and is absolutely safe,” he said.
First-time criminals had suffered financial losses
The four kidnappers do not have a criminal record and resorted to kidnapping due to poor financial condition, the police said. One of the accused, Niranjan Mishra, owned a garment business in the city while two others, Abdul Sattar and Vinod Pandey, worked as his employees. The fourth accused, Vedprakash Yadav, was Mishra’s tenant.
“Mishra had a flourishing garment business, but began facing severe losses around six months ago due to the economic downturn,” said Nisar Tamboli, spokesperson for the Mumbai police.
Mishra’s business, Tamboli said, folded up by December. “Not only did he lose his business, Mishra was also in debt of Rs9 lakh. Because Sattar and Pandey worked for him, they were affected as well,” said Tamboli.
The trio then began looking for ways to mint quick money and also roped in Yadav. “Yadav proposed kidnapping a child for ransom. Being aware that kidnapping a child from Bandra (West) will yield a good ransom, they targeted Fernandes,” said Tamboli.
The police said that the quartet had been scouring the city in an Indica car three days before they kidnapped Eric, looking for children they could target. “Kidnapping Eric was not preplanned. They did not keep a tab on the child and his whereabouts before they picked him up, as is usually the case. They were desperate to make money and picked up the first child they saw outside the school in Bandra (West) on Monday,” said Pratap Dighavkar, deputy commissioner of police (zone 9).