The gang had told the builder, whose son they had abducted, to drop off the cash at Sanjay Gandhi National Park; cops could do nothing as the criminals took the money and fled, since they didn’t know the victim’s whereabouts
The Mumbai Crime Branch suffered a major embarrassment when kidnappers walked away with Rs 2 crore in ransom money and the police could do nothing but look on. Police officials said they couldn’t do anything at that time because the victim had not yet been released.
The gang asked the builder to drop off the money at a spot in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Illustration/Amit Bandre
He has, however, returned home now. On the night of March 21, the 21-year-old son of a builder from Ghatkopar was kidnapped from near his residence. Soon after his disappearance, the family received a text message, while they were asleep, that their son had been abducted.
As police lay in wait to nab them, two men on motorcycles sped away with the bag of cash before cops could even react
The message was sent from the youth’s mobile phone. Police said that after this, the accused would call the family every two days or so and demanded Rs 2 crore in ransom. After playing a cat-and-mouse game with the distressed family, in which they fixed venues to collect the ransom several times and refused to show up, the venue was finally fixed at Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The next day, the victim returned home, telling his family that the kidnappers had left him at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Bridge in Nashik with Rs 2,000
The money was to be delivered at around 7 pm on Sunday. Crime Branch instructed the family to meet the kidnappers and, accordingly, laid a trap there.
“As the family’s car entered the SGNP area, the kidnappers called them and asked them to throw the bag full of cash at a certain spot. Once the bag was thrown out of the car, two men on motorcycles arrived and zoomed away with the money before we could react,” said an officer from Crime Branch, on condition of anonymity.
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When asked why they had not acted on time, a senior Crime Branch officer said, “Arresting them from the spot would’ve endangered the victim’s life. It didn’t make sense to lay our hands on the kidnappers till we came to know of the victim’s location.”
Less than 12 hours later, the youngster was released in Nashik, where his abductors gave him Rs 2,000 to reach home. “Now that he is home, we can investigate the case. We are sure the accused will be behind bars soon,” added the senior officer.
The police also suspect the gang knows the family and is from the same locality, since they hadn’t used a single expletive or abuse word while speaking to the father. Police have also been trying to trace the location of the kidnappers, who have been one step ahead of them at all times till now.
The youth himself is not in a state to answer questions. An officer added, “We will send the victim for a medical check-up after two days, and then begin asking him questions in detail.” The unidentified accused have been booked for kidnapping.
According to the police, the gang has played hide-and-seek with the family ever since the kidnap. They told the family members to come with the money to Lonavla, Neral and Matheran. They also seem to have a macabre sense of humour, when they called the family to the Ghatkopar crematorium to meet their son.
Once, they also sent a memory card containing the video of the youngster. In the clip, the youth is seen telling his parents he is safe, and implores them to pay the ransom. Police said the gang had gauged their preparations well before proceeding with the Sunday plan.