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Body of four-year-old Ghaziabad boy missing for 18 months recovered from wooden box

Zaid’s body was curled up inside the box, two feet high and two-and-a-half feet wide. He was dressed in the same school uniform he was wearing when he had gone missing.

delhi Updated: Jun 04, 2018 08:09 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal
Peeyush Khandelwal
Ghaziabad, Hindustan Times
Kindapping,Ghaziabad kidnapping,Missing boy
Police investigate at the spot where a body of a four-year-old boy was found inside a wooden chest on the rooftop of his neighbour's house - 18 months after he went missing on Sunday, in Ghaziabad, on Sunday. (Sakib Ali/HT Photo)

The partially decomposed body of Mohammad Zaid, who was allegedly abducted 18 months ago, was found inside a wooden box on Sunday on the rooftop of a room next to where he lived in Sahibabad’s Shamshad Garden locality. Zaid was four when he went missing on December 1, 2016 while he was playing outside his house. He was wearing his school uniform at the time.

Zaid’s father Nazar Mohammad, who runs a barber shop, had received ransom calls soon after. The boy had not been traced despite the police arresting two alleged kidnappers — Irfan and Aftab — who are now out on bail after a charge sheet has been filed against them.

The body was first spotted by Zaid’s elder brother, eight-year-old Junaid, who had gone to fetch a ball from the rooftop on Friday evening. The box belongs to the victim’s neighbour, Mohammad Momeen, on whose rooftop it was found, police said.

“The boy rushed down and told the family that there was a scary doll inside the box. Nobody took him seriously and asked him to take a photo of the doll. When he got the photos, no one looked at them. It was only on Sunday morning that we saw pictures and ran to the rooftop to find the body,” said Zaid’s cousin, Chote.

Zaid’s body was curled up inside the box, two feet high and two-and-a-half feet wide. He was dressed in the same school uniform he was wearing when he had gone missing. The discovery raises questions about the police’s previous investigation and about whether he 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 it later.

“There are a lot of possibilities in the case and we have ordered further investigation. The DNA of the body will be matched first to ascertain whether it is of the same child. The two accused, who are out on bail, will also be questioned. Autopsy is also being conducted,” said senior superintendent of police Vaibhav Krishna.

The Mohammads and the Momeens have been on good terms over 15 years of living next to the each other. Momeen said that he got the chest from one of his relatives and had kept it on the rooftop in November 2016, a month before Zaid’s disappearance.

“I remember that, after my daughter’s marriage in November 2016, I had stored some of my belongings on the first floor of my house, and some, including the chest, on the rooftop. The box with the body inside appeared to be at the same location where I had left it,” Momeen said.

He said the box was sealed when he put it on the roof that and he’d had no reason to open it since then.

Zaid was the fifth of six siblings and was studying in nursery at Happy Public School in Sahibabad’s Garima Garden.

“After he went missing, I received nearly 45 calls from the kidnappers asking for Rs 8 lakh as ransom. The first call was on December 12, 2016. The kidnappers also made me speak to my son but I felt at the time that it was not my son who spoke to me on phone and probably some other child,” Nazar said.

Nazar collected Rs 8 lakh and went to Ballabhgarh on December 17, 2016 to hand over the ransom money to the alleged kidnappers after coordinating with the police. “They called me up and asked to meet outside the railway station. When two of them arrived, one was nabbed by a police team in plainclothes while the other fled. He was arrested two days later. Since that day, the police could not extract the whereabouts of my son from the kidnappers. I even approached the kidnappers in court, but they never spoke to me,” Nazar added.

He said the police kept telling him that his son could not be traced and investigation was continuing.

One of the investigating officers who asked not to be named said there was a possibility that two “fake” kidnappers had started calling the boy’s father for ransom after they came to know that the boy had gone missing.

First Published: Jun 04, 2018 07:33 IST