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The Ghaziabad police on Wednesday arrested three suspects on charges of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl for a ransom of ₹30 lakh and later murdering her. A fourth suspect is still on the run and efforts are on to nab him, police said.
The autopsy report did not indicate any sexual assault and said the girl was possibly murdered a day before the conduct of the post-mortem examination on Tuesday. This revelation flies in the face of Ghaziabad police’s claims that she was murdered around 6pm Sunday and bolsters the claims of the girl’s family that had the police acted in a swift manner, the child could have been saved.
The three arrested suspects were identified as Bablu Kumar, 36, who is neighbour of the victim family; his friend Amit Kumar Pal, 38, and their accomplice Gambhir Singh, 38. The police said one more suspect, from Bulandshahr, is still at large and will be nabbed soon. The three suspects have been booked under Indian Penal Code sections of kidnapping for ransom, murder, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy.
The girl who stayed with her maternal grandparents went missing around 10am Sunday and her body was discovered on Tuesday afternoon in Bulandshahr.
Her father, who lives in Sonepat, Haryana, received the first ransom call around 1.42pm on Sunday and a second one around 3.35pm. Her father reported the matter to police on Sunday evening, after driving to Ghaziabad from Sonepat. Police have claimed that the unidentified caller was Amit, who made the two calls. One he made from the mobile number of a milkman known to him and the other from the phone of one of his friends.
The police said Bablu lured the girl out of her house when her grandparents were away and handed her over to Amit who later handed her over to Gambhir Singh and his accomplice. They drove her to Bulandshahr on a two-wheeler and killed her before dumping the body in fields near Nagla Pooth village under the Dehat police station jurisdiction in Bulandshahr.
According to police, Bablu came to know that the girl’s grandparents were about to receive a compensation amount on account of the accidental death of the girl’s biological father in 2015.
“It is with this motive that Bablu and his accomplices planned the kidnapping. The three suspects had previously worked together at a high-rise in Greater Noida West. During interrogation, the suspects told us that Bablu had told Amit to murder of the girl while handing her over to him. He passed on the direction to Gambhir and one other suspect who is on the run,” said Muniraj G, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Ghaziabad.
The autopsy report indicated that the girl died of “asphyxia due to throttling” and the time of her death was stated to be “one day before the autopsy procedure”, which would make it Monday. This is contrary to claims made by the Ghaziabad police that the girl was murdered on Sunday.
“A day before in the post-mortem report indicates that the death may have taken place about 24 hours prior to conduct of autopsy. The variation could be up to a maximum of six hours. So, the victim could have died 18-30 hours before the autopsy was conducted,” said a senior health department officer, attached with the autopsy process for about 20 years, on condition of anonymity.
The Ghaziabad police also denied any delay in launching an investigation and also maintained that the girl was killed around Sunday.
“The autopsy reports indicate that she was killed a day before, but the suspects have revealed that they killed her on Sunday around 6pm. There were no delays from our side. We launched the investigation when her family approached us around 5pm Sunday. We picked up Bablu on Sunday night but he was in a heavily inebriated state and could not reveal much. Later, he told us about handing the girl to Amit and our teams launched a search for him. When he was picked up, he told us about Gambhir. It took some time to trace Gambhir to Bulandshahr. By then, they had already murdered the girl,” the SSP claimed.
The police said that since it was Sunday, there was some difficulty in obtaining the call records and other details of the suspects from the cellular companies.
The girl’s father said, “We approached the police around 4.30pm on Sunday and the same night, they picked up Bablu. But he was heavily drunk and could not reveal much about his accomplices. He gave police the details the next day. The fact is, I lost my daughter and now I’m taking her body to Sonepat for cremation. If I had any clues that the compensation of her father may put her life in danger, I would have taken her to Sonepat with me. I want speedy justice for my daughter.”