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Abduction-rescue:‘Frustrated’ kidnappers had scaled down ransom demand by half

Vihaan’s “increasing restlessness” in the last two days in captivity had left his kidnappers desperate to get done with the deal, even prompting them to reduce the ransom amount from the initial Rs 60 lakh.

delhi Updated: Feb 07, 2018 23:44 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times
Vihaan,kidnapping,ransom demand
The flat Ghaziabad’s Shalimar City from where five-year-old Vihaan was rescued after a gunbattle on Tuesday morning. (Sakib Ali/ Ht Photo)

Had five-year-old Vihaan not been rescued on Tuesday morning, his father would have paid Rs 30 lakh as ransom money later that day, police said on Wednesday.

Vihaan’s “increasing restlessness” in the last two days in captivity had left his kidnappers desperate to get done with the deal, even prompting them to reduce the ransom amount from the initial Rs 60 lakh.

Vihaan was rescued by Delhi Police from a flat of a multi-storey apartment building in Ghaziabad’s Shalimar City, 12 days after he was kidnapped from a school bus in east Delhi’s Dilshad Garden. A gunbattle during the rescue operation had left a suspected kidnapper dead and another injured.

For the first 10 days of the captivity, the kidnappers were able to keep Vihaan under control. “They downloaded mobile games for him and even bought chips, mango drinks and instant noodles,” said Ram Gopal Naik, a crime branch DCP, who led the rescue operation.

While two of the men were “very patient” with Vihaan, one of them, 24-year-old Ravi would be “rash” with him often, said the officer. Ravi was the lone suspected kidnapper to be gunned down during Tuesday’s encounter.

Initially, Vihaan would cry intermittently. Even though other residents of the building heard his cries from time to time, they ignored it. “Over the last two days, he had become difficult to manage. In the last two days, he would cry frequently and would keep asking for his parents. He wanted to go home and that frustated his abductors,” said Naik.

So, the kidnappers — who had been demanding Rs 60 lakh ransom for the first few days — decided to wrap up the deal quickly, said the officer. “They agreed to release the child if the boy’s father paid Rs 30 lakh. The money was to exchange hands near Cross River Mall in Shahdara on Tuesday. That is why we named the rescue operation ‘C-River’,” said Naik.

The boy’s father said he was scared that a delay on his part could cost him his son’s life. “I was willing to do whatever it took to get back my son but the police told me to trust them,” said Vihaan’s father Sunny Gupta.

Police officers who rescued Vihaan described him as a “very intelligent boy”.

“When the boy was taken for a medical examination, he told me that there three kidnappers who kept frequenting the flat. He asked us to catch the third person or else he wouldn’t go to school. He said he was scared that he will be targeted again,” said DCP Naik.

The third kidnapper Vihaan was referring to was Nitin Kumar Sharma, a 28-year-old dhaba owner who had already been nabbed an hour before police swooped down on the Ghaziabad flat.

Naik said the initial moments of the boy’s rescue was “very emotional” for him. “I found him hiding beside a bed. He was very scared. When I told him that I was his uncle and a police officer he jumped up and hugged me,” said Naik.

The boy’s father on Wednesday said Vihaan was still scared. He is currently living with his grandparents in west Delhi’s Nangloi. “He wants the windows of the house closed always. He says people will come in through the window,” said the father.

First Published: Feb 07, 2018 23:44 IST