The police played no role in the release of a 7-year-old girl who was kidnapped in Patiala on Wednesday morning, the HT has learnt. The girl was freed after her father paid `50 lakh to the kidnappers.
Shanvi Gupta, a student of Class 2, was travelling in an auto from her home at Mishri Bazar to the school at Lower Mall Road when she was kidnapped around 7.30 am. Witnesses said they saw a Verna car intercept the auto at Bahera Road and forcibly pull out Shanvi as her schoolmates watched in horror. They said passersby raised the alarm and some of them tried to chase the car, which sped away.
Back at Shanvi’s home, her father Amit Gupta, a leading businessman who deals with electronics and owns franchisees of prominent companies, received a call for ransom. Seven hours later, Shanvi was back home. But nobody knows how.
Sources told HT that Gupta paid the ransom at a spot chosen by the kidnappers, who then released the girl at Sular village, around 10km from Patiala city. But inspector general of police (IGP) Paramraj Singh Umranangal and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurmeet Singh Chauhan, who ‘handed over’ the girl to her father, denied Gupta had paid the ransom. They insisted the kidnappers let Shanvi go due to “police pressure”.
But the IGP and the SSP gave conflicting statements about how the girl was found, indicating they were not involved. IGP Umranangal said “someone” had informed the police control room about a girl weeping at Sular. SSP Chauhan said a couple had contacted the father’s girl that the kidnappers had left his daughter at a secluded placed in Sular.
Sources in the police and the girl’s family said it was Shanvi’s parents who had asked the police to keep away. Also, they said the district police “kept a close watch, but did not act” after instructions from top police officers to ensure the girl’s safety was not compromised.
“I can’t comment on anything. In the morning, our primary objective was to ensure the girl’s safety, which we did as per plan that we made with the family. Now, our main motive is to nab the accused, and we are on job,” SSP Chauhan said.
CITY SHOCKED, COPS CLUELESS
Shanvi’s kidnapping was the second major crime in the city in four days. On April 30, gunmen fired at the owner of a leading jewellery shop, Om Jewellers, situated just 50 m from the Kotwali police station, wanting to loot it. But Rajesh Kumar, who despite being hit by a bullet in the stomach, fired back and killed one of the assailants, identified as a resident of Delhi. The Police have yet to solve the case.
In Wednesday’s incident, however, SSP Chauhan said police had got some vital leads. He said the police had traced a car which had the registration plate of a stolen motorcycle and had crossed the Samana toll barrier.