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Delhi boy abducted from schoolvan rescued after 12 days, 1 kidnapper shot dead

One of the suspected kidnappers was arrested and another wounded after they opened fire on the police team, who retaliated in the late-night operation in Ghaziabad.

delhi Updated: Feb 07, 2018 10:33 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi schoolboy,Delhi boy kidnapped,Ghaziabad
The rented flat in Ghaziabad where the kidnappers had kept the boy. (HT)

A five-year-old boy, abducted 12 days ago from a school bus in east Delhi, was rescued from an apartment building in Ghaziabad after a gunfight in which one of the suspected kidnappers was killed, police said on Tuesday.

A police inspector and a commando were hit on their chests, but did not suffer serious injuries because they were wearing bulletproof vests in a midnight rescue operation, police said. The boy, Class 1 student Vihaan Gupta, hid next to a bed during the exchange of fire and escaped unhurt.

Vihaan and his seven-year-old sister were on their way to school on the morning of January 25, when two men on a motorcycle intercepted their school bus in Dilshad Garden, barged into it, and dragged the boy out. When the bus driver tried to speed away to save the child, he was shot in the leg. Police said this was the fourth attempt by the kidnappers to grab Vihaan in just over a week. On three occasions, they had abandoned the plan because of “unfavourable conditions”.

The boy was kept in a two-bedroom flat on the fifth floor of Shalimar City, a housing society in Sahibabad with multiple high-rise buildings. “At any time, at least two men with guns stayed with the boy,” said RP Upadhyay, special commissioner (crime branch).

The mastermind was Nitin Kumar Sharma, a 28-year-old dhaba owner, who, the police said, wanted the Rs 60 lakh ransom money to for his “lavish lifestyle”. Police said that he was helped by Ravi, 24, and Pankaj, 21, – two unemployed east Delhi residents looking to make quick money.

Ravi died of a gunshot wound to his neck. Sharma and Pankaj, who was injured in the gunfight, have been arrested.

Delhi Police chief Amulya Patnaik said the abduction appeared to be an “inside job” and others involved in the planning could be questioned in the coming days. “The kidnappers would send videos and photos of the boy to his father as proof that he was alive. They knew that the boy’s father had got Rs 57 lakh in a recent business deal,” Upadhyay said. They also spoke to the father, plastic goods wholesaler Sunny Gupta, through a WhatsApp voice call.

The Delhi police’s crime branch, which was roped in to rescue the boy, used informers, CCTV footage and traced phones used to make the ransom calls to zero down on the suspects. “We had cautioned the investigators to keep the child’s safety as priority as any hurried action could harm him,” Patnaik said.

The police finally zeroed in on Sharma on Monday evening, when he was picking up food for his accomplices from Vivek Vihar, and chased him through multiple east Delhi localities for nearly 20 kilometres before finally intercepting his Swift Dzire car in Seemapuri.

“Sharma led us to the flat where the child was kept. When we told the other kidnappers to open the door, they fired at us. We returned the fire, killing one suspect and injuring the other. We then tore down an iron door to reach the boy,” said Ram Gopal Naik, DCP (crime branch).

Investigators said that the boy’s father was close to giving in to the kidnappers’ ransom demand during the 12-day ordeal, but was persuaded not to. “On the way back home, Vihaan asked me to roll up the car windows because he was scared that anything could happen,” Sunny Gupta said. “He isn’t talking much. We are just delighted to have him back.”

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 07:40 IST