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Man held for abducting 4-year-old Ghaziabad boy says he never had the child, made fake ransom calls

Police in the charge sheet had hinted that the accused may have tried to take advantage of the situation to extort ransom money from the boy’s father, but may not be the actual kidnappers.

cities Updated: Jun 05, 2018 08:46 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal
Peeyush Khandelwal
Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad
Ghaziabad mystery death,Kidnapper,ransom
The body of a four-year-old-boy, missing for 18 months, was found inside a wooden chest on the rooftop of his neighbour's house in Ghaziabad on June 3, 2018. The two men held for allegedly abducting the child claimed they took advantage of the situation but never had the child in their custody.(Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

One of the two men arrested by the Ghaziabad police 18 months ago for the alleged abduction of four-year-old Mohammad Zaid, said on Monday that they never had the child in their custody. Zaid’s body was found on Sunday, in a wooden box on his neighbour’s roof in Sahibabad.

Even in its charge sheet, the police had hinted that the accused – Aftab and Irfan – may have tried to extort ransom money from the boy’s father under false pretences, rather than being the actual kidnappers.

Zaid went missing on the evening of December 1, 2016 from outside his house in Sahibabad’s Shamshad Garden locality. His father Nazar Mohammad, who runs a barber shop, started receiving ransom calls on December 12, 2016 and the callers asked for Rs 8 lakh. Aftab was arrested by the police on December 21, 2016 in connection with the calls. His accomplice, Irfan, was apprehended two days later.

Zaid’s body was found on Sunday, curled up inside a wooden box on his neighbour Mohammad Momeen’s roof. He was dressed in the same school uniform he had been wearing when he had gone missing. The discovery raises questions about the police’s investigation into the case and about whether Zaid had been abducted at all. It is also not clear whether the body had been lying in the box for the past 18 months or if it was stuffed into the box more recently.

“The calls were made by Aftab. But the boy was not with us. Aftab had planned to extort money from the boy’s father after he learnt from posters in the locality that the boy had gone missing. He also made the father speak to my son, pretending that he was Zaid,” Irfan, who is out on bail, told HT on Monday.

Nazar Mohammad had told the police at the time that the child who the alleged kidnappers made him speak to did not sound like his son.

“The two men are small-time labourers. The cops could not get any information from the two accused about the boy. So they could not press charges for kidnapping for ransom,” said Mohammad Yunus, a lawyer representing Irfan, who is now working as a labour at a brick kiln in Baraut district.

In the police charge sheet, the two men were booked under Section 386 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), but not under Section 364A (kidnapping for ransom).

Zakir Hussain, the lawyer representing Zaid’s case, said on Monday that he will ask the court to convert the case against the two accused to kidnapping for ransom.

The mystery over Zaid’s death further deepened on Monday as the post-mortem report was inconclusive about the probable time and cause of death. The police said they will now take the help of a forensic science laboratory in Agra.

Senior superintendent of police Vaibhav Krishna said that further investigations had been launched. “There are lot of theories on which our teams are working on. They will include questioning family members, neighbours and the two accused. It could also be a probability that someone else harmed the child after knowing that the two accused were sent to jail. We are exploring all angles now,” he said.

First Published: Jun 05, 2018 00:04 IST