Four debt-ridden men arrested for Chandigarh teen’s abduction
Piling debt, an addiction to online games, and poor investments led bank recovery agents to concoct a scheme to abduct a 15-year-old Kishangarh resident while he was out cycling with his friends in Manimajra on June 15.
The accused, Rajat, 21,and Mukesh Kumar, 23, of Phase 1, Ram Darbar, and brothers Vishal, 24, and Pankaj, 28, of Kishangarh, Manimajra, have been arrested. Their accomplice Ajay Sharma is at large. The kidnappers had demanded ₹50 lakh as ransom, but later released the teen after four hours.
“Three of the accused worked as recovery agents with a private bank, while Rajat was unemployed. The accused devised a plan to kidnap the 15-year-old for ransom so that they could settle their outstanding monthly instalments as their financial condition had been rendered tenuous after the lockdown, ” Chandigarh senior superintendent of police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal said.
“Pankaj, who is addicted to online games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Garena Free Fire, was the mastermind. He had invested some money online and had suffered losses,” said Chahal.
The accused were produced in court on Thursday and sent to four-day police remand. The knife used to commit the crime has been seized but the vehicle and toy pistol have yet to be found.
Accused knew victim’s family
The brothers, Pankaj and Vishal, knew the victim’s family. They were aware that the victim’s sister was to get married in October. “The victim had confided in the brothers about the purchases being made for the wedding. Therefore, the accused knew that the family had cash and gold in their home,” the SSP said.
Mukesh was the first to be arrested. He was found by the technical cell after combing through CCTV footage. His statement led to the arrest of the other three.
CCTV footage revealed that a white Maruti Suzuki Brezza with a fake Haryana number had been used to commit the crime. The same vehicle was spotted again but with a different number plate registered in the name of a resident of Sector 19, Panchkula. It was learnt that the vehicle’s owners had moved to Baltana and the vehicle was being used by one Ajay Sharma.
How the plan fell through
While Ajay, Mukesh and Rajat kidnapped the victim, Pankaj and Vishal shadowed the family. They even accompanied the family to the police station. “Pankaj also spoke to the kidnappers on behalf of the family and told them that money was being arranged. Later, Pankaj tipped off the kidnappers about police teams’ presence in the vicinity, after which the accused dropped the victim at Golden Estate, Baltana, from where he was recovered after he contacted his family,” the SSP said.