Toddler’s kidnapping: Primary accused, aide held in Moga

Five people had hatched a conspiracy to adduct a family member
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times/Ludhiana, Ludhiana
UPDATED ON DEC 05, 2020 12:16 AM IST
The accused in police custody.(HT Photo)

The primary accused in the kidnapping of the two-year-old son of the Keys Hotels owner was arrested along with an accomplice in Moga on Friday.

The main accused, Harjinderpal Kumar, had been in the employ of the family for two years and had kidnapped the child when he took him for a spin in the car on December 1 and demanded 4 crore ransom to secure his release. Fearing capture after the police launched an intensive search, the accused had abandoned the child in a car and informed his parents of his whereabouts the next morning.

Five people had hatched a conspiracy to adduct a member of the hoteliers’ family and extort money from them, of them Harjinderpal, Sukhdev Singh Sukha and former sarpanch Rachhpal Singh have been arrested, while one Sukhdev Singh and Lal Singh are still absconding. The police only learnt of the involvement of Sukhdev Singh on Friday.

Moga senior superintendent of police (SSP) Harmanbir Singh Gill said after arresting the accused near Moga the accused were handed over to the Ludhiana police on Friday evening.

Gill said after returning the boy on December 2, the accused had fled to Ferozepur and taken shelter in the house of Sukhdev Singh’ sister. The accused told her that they had met with a minor accident and needed to stay at her house for a night.

On December 1, Sukhdev Singh and Lal Singh had come to Ludhiana on a bus. After kidnapping the child, Harjinderpal had doubled back to Hotel Keys, owned by the boy’s father Pankaj Gupta, where Lal Singh was already waiting for him. Since the boy was familiar with Harjinderpal, he did not create a fuss.

After reaching Mullanpur, Sukhdev Singh Sukha joined the party and the trio headed towards Moga. They wanted to reach Ferozepur but abandoned the plan upon learning that the police had already initiated a search operation.

The accused abandoned Pankaj Gupta’s Maruti Swift, on the state highway Kot Isse Khan village in Moga, where Rachhpal provided them with a Volkswagen Polo.

Accused tempered with engine, chassis numbers

The police are still trying to trace the owner of the Volkswagen used to commit the crime. The accused had installed a fake number plate and efforts to trace the owner using the engine and chassis number did not garner any fresh leads. The police suspect the accused had tempered with the numbers.

Harjinderpal was wanted in three states: Police

Additional deputy commissioner of police Jaskiranjit Singh Teja said all the accused were habitual offenders. Harjinder is already facing trial in multiple cases, including robbery, kidnapping and murder. He was wanted by the Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab Police in many cases. Embarrassed by his criminal proclivities, his family had disowned him a long time ago.

The accused have confessed that they had been planning to kidnap a member of Gupta’s family for two years. They had initially planned to kidnap the toddler’s father but had to abandon the plan as he did not venture out much due to his medical problems. It was then that the accused decided to kidnap the child.

Credit war

After the arrest of two of the accused in Moga, the local police took credit for the arrest and held a press conference claiming that the Moga police had arrested the accused, while the Ludhiana police claimed that it was a joint operation. Teja said, “It was a joint action. A team of the Ludhiana Police had accompanied Moga Police.

Earlier, on December 2, too, after recovering the child from an abandoned car in Dagru Railway crossing in Moga Jagatpreet Singh, superintendent of police (SP, Detective) Moga held a press conference and claimed that they had recovered the child with help of the Ludhiana police after a long operation. The SP had handed over the child to his parents in front of the media. Hours later, the Ludhiana police had held a press conference in Ludhiana and handed over the child to his parents again.

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