Debt-ridden man attempts to kill self, goes into hiding; caught
Neck-deep in debt, a 43-year-old former national-level powerlifter attempted to kill himself two weeks ago in outer Delhi’s Kanjhawala in such a way that it would appear to be accidental death and his family could receive his life insurance benefits, the police said on Tuesday.
But when the suicide didn’t go through as planned, the man went into hiding to escape his moneylenders, forcing the police to investigate his disappearance as a case of kidnapping.
On Monday, as the homesick man tried to return to Delhi from Haridwar, the police intercepted him on a train in Meerut.
The man, Deepak Dabas, lives with his wife and two sons in Kanjhawala. “He had won a gold medal in powerlifting at the national level years ago,” PK Mishra, the deputy commissioner of police (Rohini), said.
Later, he began dealing in property and opened a gymnasium. “The problem began when he borrowed money from his relatives and friends at an interest of 2% per month and lend it to others at a higher rate of interest,” the DCP said.
He borrowed nearly ₹1.5 crore just to earn the interest, the DCP said, adding that he had also borrowed another ₹50 lakh to construct a house.
“Soon, he was neck-deep in debt and had no way to get out of it even as the lenders began insisting that he return their money, along with the interest. Meanwhile, he could not make any money off lending,” the officer said.
Finally, he decided to get out of the mess by killing himself, the DCP said. But, he added, he needed to make the suicide look like an accidental death.
“He had an accidental death policy of ₹1 crore and life insurance of ₹50 lakh. He thought at least his family could benefit from his death,” the DCP said.
On May 15, Dabas allegedly drove his Renault Duster car to an isolated stretch of road near the Bawana-Kanjhawala Road and doused his vehicle with diesel.
“He thought if he was burnt inside the car, it would look like an accidental death. But when the car caught fire, he couldn’t bear the dense smoke and got out,” the DCP said.
Leaving his burning car behind, the man walked for six days to Haridwar, allegedly to go into hiding forever. “He walked all the way since he could not find transport,” the DCP said.
His family, meanwhile, registered a kidnapping case at Kanjhawala police station as they thought someone had abducted him for not returning the borrowed money.
“We questioned his family and friends. We checked his and his family’s bank accounts to find that all the accounts had maintained only the minimum balance. We continued to keep a watch on their bank transactions,” the DCP said.
The burnt car also aroused the police’s suspicion—why would kidnappers trouble themselves with burning the car if they just wanted Dabas?
On May 19, the police found that ₹2,500 had been withdrawn from Dabas’ account from an ATM in Muzaffarnagar. “We checked the CCTV camera footage from the ATM and saw that it was Dabas who had withdrawn the money and that he was alone,” the DCP said, adding that sources were deployed to gather more information about his movements.
“We alerted people in and around hotels and ashrams in Haridwar and neighbouring areas to alert us if they saw any man matching his description. On Monday, one of our informers alerted us that Dabas had boarded a Jan Shatabdi Express from Haridwar to Delhi,” the DCP said.
A police team intercepted the train in Meerut and found Dabas on board.
The police are still contemplating whether to press charges against Dabas and if so, under what sections of the Indian Penal Code. “As of now, the possible offence he has committed is attempting to trick insurance companies. But neither he nor his family had proceeded with claiming insurance so far. So, we are still contemplating what legal action to take against him,” the DCP said.