How kidnappers used gaps in cab verification to trap Delhi doctor
Dr Srikand Goud was kidnapped and kept in captivity for 12 days by a gang who demanded a ransom of Rs 5 crore for his release. The abductors were caught by the cops from their Meerut hideout.delhi Updated: Jul 21, 2017 11:21 IST
When Dr Srikant Goud booked a cab on July 6 after missing his regular Metro, he had no idea that he was walking into a trap laid by a first time Ola driver.
Investigations have revealed that the cab he booked from east Delhi’s Preet Vihar area was registered with Ola only three days ago, with the soul purpose to abduct a passenger and then ask for a ransom from the company. The abductor in the guise of a driver was just waiting for someone to call when Goud became that first passenger who rang in for a pick up.
While Promod Kumar, Amit Kumar, Sohanveer and Nepal have been arrested, Gaurav, Vivek, Sushil, and his brother Anuj, who masterminded the plan are still on the run.
Since Sushil and Anuj had earlier been associated with Ola as drivers and knew how the system operates. They exploited the gap in the verification process and were certain that once they successfully abduct a passenger, the company would pay a ransom of Rs 5 crore to save their reputation.
“They never demanded any money from the family of the victim and tried to portray to victim that he was merely incidental to the crime and it was Ola that they were targeting,” Joint Commissioner of police, Ravindra Yadav said.
Once they managed to take Goud out of Delhi, they switched off the GPS, their phones and also snatched his phone.
“When the doctor did not reach home a missing report was lodged by one Dr. Rakesh. Meanwhile another complaint was received from the Ola company that one of the drivers had called to convey that he has kidnapped a customer. Subsequently, on July 8, the same Ola cab driver called the Bangalore head office of the company and informed that he had kidnapped the passenger and demanded 5 crore as ransom,” Yadav said.
When the police checked the records of the driver, the cab was found to be registered on fake papers including a fake insurance, permit, licence, Aadhar card, Pan card and bank account. “The papers were in the name of one Vinita Devi. When we checked we found that although the account belongs to her, the photo and other particulars didn’t match. Further, the actual Vinita Devi, who is the account holder is an illiterate lady who uses her thumb impressions and had never been issued any cheque book,” Yadav said.
The police then realised that the driver along with his associates pre-planned the kidnapping and took all precautions to conceal their identity by preparing a fake paper trail well in advance.
For 12 days over 200 police personnel stayed in sugarcane fields, camped in villages, fields, canals, jungles to trace the accused and rescue Goud.
The abductors used Goud’s phone to make the ransom calls and each time they called, they were in a different location. “They switched on Goud’s phone only for a few seconds, that too from different locations to make the calls to Ola,” Yadav said.
Through technical surveillance, it emerged that the abductors were based in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and were changing their locations frequently. “They were shuttling between Ghaziabad, Bulandshahar, Baghpat, Hapur, Meerut, Bijnor, Muzzafarnagar and Haridwar. We tried using technical surveillance but it failed so we had to resort to local intelligence for inputs. We roped in UP police, special cell and police from other districts for the purpose,” Yadav said.
Leads could not be materialise since the kidnappers were continuously changing locations. During one search operation, we managed to trace the cab used for abduction. “When we searched the vehicle, we found a few masks that they kept for hiding their face at the time of receiving the money, rubber bands to stack the money, alluminium foil to cover the GPS,” Yadav said.
Finally on July 19, a specific input was received about the location of abductors and the victim. A raid was conducted and the house was cordoned off. “When the kidnappers realised that they have been surrounded, they opened fire. Police too fired in self-defence. Pramod sustained bullet injuries on his left leg. The victim was safely rescued,” Yadav said.
During questioning the men confessed they had been planning to execute a foolproof ransom operation. “They meticulously arranged a paper trail, identified several hideouts to conceal the victim and also planned the timing to coincide with the huge rush of Kanwar pilgrims which leads to traffic jams and hampers mobility of police,” Yadav said.