Mumbai crime: 21 men kidnap 60 buffaloes at gunpoint

A crime medley ended badly for the kidnappers, who were apparently stumped as to where they should take their considerably immense loot

Even mixing up three offences abduction, theft and stick-up in equal measures could not keep a large circle of perpetrators from losing the booty. In the small hours of Tuesday, shortly after midnight, a cattle shed in Bhiwandi was looted of 60 buffaloes and Rs 1.5 lakh in cash.

Illustrations/Amit Bandre

It is believed that 21 unidentified men snuck inside the shed and kidnapped the buffaloes, holding the shed workers at gunpoint. Police officials said they are still to identify and arrest the 21 men. But, at least, the motive of the crime is clear: greed for buffaloes.

The buffaloes languishing in the trucks in Valiv were returned to their owner
The buffaloes languishing in the trucks in Valiv were returned to their owner

Cops said the accused had arranged for six trucks, which are also thought to be stolen, to accommodate the quadrupeds. After stealing in the shed, they snatched the cell phones of the workers and deleted all the contacts. An officer from Padgha police station said, “The 21 accused beat up the employees and the manager of the buffalo shed, tied them up, and locked them inside a room.

They snatched their cell phones and deleted all the contact numbers. They also took out the SIM cards to prevent the workers from contacting anyone outside.” But, the grand theft apparently wasn’t thought through. For, one of the accused used the cell phone of a shed worker and called up his boss in Delhi, believed to be the mastermind of the operation, asking where he should take the buffaloes.

“The accused called someone in Delhi to ask where they were supposed to land those buffaloes, and after hanging up, they deleted the contact number and tossed away the SIM card,” the police officer said. The SIM, though, didn’t travel very far. “After the gang left the shed, the SIM card owner extracted it from the buffalo dung on the floor where it had landed, and inserted it back in his phone. Instantly, he got a call from the mastermind, whom the accused had called earlier,” he added.

Without hearing the receiver’s voice, the person at the other end barked orders that the trucks should be unloaded in Valiv area of Vasai, where the five-dozen buffaloes would be transferred to other trucks and shipped outside the city. The officer said, “After getting the call, the employee instantly informed us and we dispatched a team to Valiv. Five of the six stolen trucks transporting the buffaloes were recovered.”

Inspector S Bhosale from Padgha police station confirmed that the absurdity did indeed occur. “We have registered a case and have sent a team to recover the buffaloes which were robbed overnight. We are investigating further and trying to identify all the accused.” Most buffaloes were safely back in the pen by evening yesterday.

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