Having received Rs 2 crore from the abduction of a 21-year-old in Ghatkopar, three from the gang of nine decided to change their career path and start a travel firm instead. But first they tried to please the gods by visiting famous temples in Mumbai and paying donations there.
The trio — Rakesh Kanojia, 32, Gautam Gupta alias Abdul, 30, and Dipal Salve, 28, — donated at least Rs 5,000 each at the Siddhivinayak and Mumbadevi temple. With no police action against them twice in the past, they assumed the police had stopped looking for them this time too. Such was their confidence, that they planned a trip to Shirdi, only to get caught before they could visit the shrine.
The gang’s earlier two kidnappings, however, didn’t fetch them as much amount as the Ghatkopar kidnapping in March.
Their first brush with crime was in 2013, when they allegedly kidnapped a car dealer from Kurla. While the gang demanded Rs 12 lakh, they had to release him without getting the sum, as the dealer’s family expressed helplessness. “The victim from Kurla was known to the main accused Ajit Apraj alias Ajitbhai, 40. The victim’s family and relatives said they don’t have the money needed to rescue him. As keeping him in their custody was costing them a lot, they had to release him,” said a crime branch officer, adding in the second case they got Rs 81 lakh from the family of the victim in Aarey Colony.
The stakes were, however, higher in the Ghatkopar case. And to ensure their efforts paid off, they kept following the 21-year-old for over a fortnight. As the youngster had cough, the accused kept giving him cough syrup and put sleeping pills in his soft drink, if he refused to comply with their orders, officials said.
Meanwhile, two aides of Apraj — Ashok Dethe, 30, and Sapan Chakravarty, 36, — who played a role in the kidnapping of a three-year-old have been arrested from an ST bus stand in Sukarwadi area in Borivli on Monday night. Further probe is underway.