Kidnappers target country's new rich


Staff member
New Delhi: India's burgeoning economy is having a fallout of a different kind. The country ranks as the fifth most dangerous in the world for kidnapping. And knowing that the police are ineffective, gangs of ransom-seekers are preying on well-off families.

Although the police maintain they have been successful in saving many people in dramatic rescue operations, criminologists say the police can help only marginally. And a lot of people do not rely on the police and pay a ransom of millions to save their loved ones from the clutches of kidnappers.

‘Buy time'

The recent case of Noida businessman Kapil Gupta is one example, where his wife Sonia single-handedly dealt with the kidnappers.

She said: "My husband was waylaid on the DND flyover and kidnapped. I informed the police that he was missing, but 24 hours later when I received a ransom call for Rs50 million [Dh3.4 million], I negotiated hard with the criminals. I managed to collect Rs10 million through relatives and friends."

Accompanied by a relative, she went to the specified location and following the instructions of the kidnappers left after dropping the bag with the ransom amount. Gupta was released 16 hours later.

Former director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Joginder Singh said: "Kidnappers not only know the movements of each family member, they are also aware how wealthy the family is. The only motive behind such crimes is to get rich quickly."

Anand Shah, a stockbroker in Mumbai, launched a campaign on Facebook when his six-year-old son Karnit was kidnapped. Shah said: "Using the social networking site, I posted my telephone number and Karnit's picture and sought help from the public."

The post, which received several hundred comments within a few days, turned into an online campaign. The distraught father waited for ten days, after which he received the first call from his son's abductors demanding Rs10 million as ransom. All along, Shah had also been in touch with Mumbai Police.

In this case, a call made by one of the abductors from a PCO to Karnit's family and cellphone calls to his accomplices helped police track down the abductors. The child was rescued from Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh in a joint operation by teams of the Mumbai Crime Branch, Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad and the Allahabad Police.

Similarly, Delhi-based Ishaan Singh could be considered one of the few lucky children who have been rescued.

Prakash Singh, former Director-General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, said: "People should take the police into their confidence. The family should prolong its negotiations with criminals and try to buy more time. This proves helpful in tracking the criminals."

Delhi : 2,975 cases last year

  • Delhi Police figures show 1,233 cases of kidnappings in 2008 and the figures soared to 2,975 in 2010.
  • While no separate figures are available regarding kidnapping for ransom, the National Crime Records Bureau reported 33,860 kidnappings in 2009. This meant an increase of 11.9 per cent during 2009 compared with 2008, when the figure was 302,61.
  • The highest number of kidnappings took place in Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.