The abducted youth had overheard one of the kidnappers talk about his wife's impending delivery; police tracked down the father using maternity records of all local hospitals, and he spilled the beans on his eight accomplices
The Mumbai Crime Branch managed to save face and have solved the case of the abduction of a Ghatkopar youth, after the kidnappers managed to flee with the Rs 2 crore ransom money from right under their noses.
Interestingly, it is the newborn baby of one of the alleged gang members that led cops to the gang. Investigations have also revealed the gang members have given cops the slip twice in the past in other kidnapping incidents. The main accused was identified as Ajit Apraj (40), a mechanical engineer.
Police have arrested nine people and recovered Rs 90 lakh of the total Rs 2 crore paid in ransom amount to secure the release of the Ghatkopar youth. Pics/Bipin Kokate
His wife, Bharti, an advocate, has also been arrested. Along with the couple, police have arrested Manish Gangurde (27), Deepak Salve (28), Avinash Dethe (25), Vijay Wadle (25), Ganesh Koyande (38), Rakesh Kanojiya (32), and Gautam Gupta (30) all nabbed from Ghatkopar.
The incident occurred on March 11, when the 21-year-old TYBcom student was abducted from outside his house. On April 12, the evasive gang called the youth’s builder family to Sanjay Gandhi National Park to drop off the ransom amount.
There, the gang members managed to flee from right under the nose of the Mumbai Crime Branch, which could do naught but watch (see box). The victim youth was soon set free (‘Kidnappers flee with Rs 2 crore as cops look on’, April 15).
Tracing the accused
Police said the plan was hatched by Apraj, Kanojiya, Gupta and one Suresh, who is currently absconding. The others were later added to the plot. The victim was unable to describe the location where he was confined, since the gang would either make him dizzy with alcohol or ask him to snort glue to obscure his sense of direction.
Call details records later revealed the gang would shuttle between Vani, in Nashik and Murbad, in Thane district. However, the youth remembered overhearing a conversation in which one of the gang members spoke to another about his wife’s impending delivery on April 3.
“Since the beginning of the case, we had this intuition that the accused are based somewhere close to the victim’s house and had been monitoring him before the abduction. With the clue provided by the victim, we scanned the records of all government hospitals, for babies born on April 3.
We examined the family of every child born in all the hospitals in Ghatkopar on that day. Eventually we zeroed in on the father of a child delivered at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Mahanagar Palika Hospital in Vikhroli. He behaved in a suspicious manner when we spoke to him,” a Crime Branch officer said, on condition of anonymity.
This man was Gangurde, who was then picked up for interrogations and proved to be the prime catch. He spilled the beans on the others and all of them were arrested. Elaborating on the role of Bharti, the officer added, “Apraj had given Rs 50 lakh to his wife. She had kept the cash in her bank locker.
The money has been recovered and we have also arrested her since, she is also a part of the conspiracy.” This amount is suspected to be from the other kidnappings the gang was involved in. Police have also recovered Rs 90 lakh of the Rs 2 crore the gang took as ransom to release the Ghatkopar youth. All the accused were produced before the metropolitan magistrate court and remanded in police custody till May 5.
>> On March 11, the TYBCom student from Ghatkopar was kidnapped
>> After playing a cat-and-mouse game with his family for a month, the gang sent a memory card with the video of the victim and demanded R2 crore
>> The place of exchange was decided as Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where Crime Branch lay in wait to nab the accused
>> The gang proved too quick and fled with the money and without releasing the youth
>> The next day, the youth was dropped off in Nashik, with Rs 2,000 in cash to reach home
Other kidnapping cases
>> Mastermind Apraj confessed to kidnapping three-year-old Yug Varadkar from his Aarey Colony home in April 2014. In this case, too, the Crime Branch were left red-faced as the accused walked
away with R80 lakh from right under their nose
>> In June 2013, a 54-year-old Kurla-based businessman was kidnapped after the gang called him to Dahisar on the pretext of selling him a car for cheap. The accused abducted and confined him to a room in Nallasopara. He was released only after the family coughed up Rs 12 lakh. Kurla police failed to trace the accused in the case.