Ominous dimensions of the Anant Gupta kidnapping case
The developments in the Anant Gupta kidnapping case of NOIDA appear ominous. There definitely seems to be more to it than meets the eye. Is there a clear-cut criminal-politician nexus here? Is the police administration in UP being held to ransom by political bosses to toe their line in the deadly game of criminal protection and sharing of spoils? To understand fully the complex dimensions thrown up, it would be necessary to recapitulate the turn of events.
Little Anant, three-year-old son of Adobe Systems India CEO Naresh Gupta, was whisked away by two motorcycle riding suspected miscreants on Monday, October 13 from near his Sector 15-A home in NOIDA on the outskirts of Delhi. A maidservant was taking him to the school bus stop when he was kidnapped. Naresh Gupta was away in the US and returned early Tuesday.
For five days, there was absolutely no news about the whereabouts of the missing child, though UP police kept claiming possession of vital information and clues on which they were working. All the while the child’s family members kept appealing to the media not to highlight the abduction as the kidnappers might panic and hurt their child. It was throughout given out there were no ransom calls received, though now it is out in the open that there were demands through telephone calls made every day.
As the nodal agency to handle interstate crime in the vicinity of the Capital, the Delhi Police also joined the search for the boy given the Capital's proximity to the satellite town. The anti-kidnapping wing of the Crime Branch and Special Cell who were alerted, got into the fray collecting inputs about the activities of various criminal gangs operating in the capital, in Meerut, Muzzaffarnagar and other parts of western UP.
Police questioning did not spare even the first wife of Naresh Gupta, separated about 10 years ago and based in the US, now on a visit to India along with their 14-year-old son.
On Thursday –16th, Mulayam Singh Yadav, the State Chief Minister makes a statement to the media, that the child will be returned safely to his parents.
As if on cue and in compliance to Yadav’s supreme command, then on Friday the 17th, Anant returns alone in an autorickshaw – the auto driver claiming that two persons gave him Rs.50 with the child at a CNG Pump across the river in Sarita Vihar (Delhi), also providing him the Sector 15-A address from Ananth’s school identity tag, to reach the child home.
NOIDA and Gaziabad police authorities and the Uttar Pradesh Home Secretary simultaneously issued conflicting statements that the UP STF and Noida Police rescued the boy in a joint operation at Kakore village from near the Noida-Bulandshahr border. That he was rescued a little after noon on Friday and immediately returned to his family. No details of the rescue operation were however provided.
A TV channel in the meanwhile aired in its programme a masked man claiming to be Ashok Kalia of the Kalia gang, that the child was released only after a ransom payment of Rs.5 crore made to the Sirohi and Bhati gangs of UP who had kidnapped him. To further muck up the issue, a segment of the police investigation team confirms recovering about 50 lakhs of the ransom money. Confusion confounded indeed.
Amidst clamour of a frame-up, the police have arrested one Jeetendra, and are now claiming that the kidnapping was the handiwork of four people — Jeetendra, Chatrapal, Pawan and Vijay Chauhan. It is intriguing how Jeetendra has been sent to judicial custody without the police obtaining his police remand as would normally be expected - to assist them in unravelling fully the kidnapping saga and mystery, and take his assistance in nabbing the claimed co-accused. Police have since arrested also Chtrapal and paraded him before the media at a press conference on Saturday the 19th with Chatrapal telling all that he kidnapped the child for money.
While Naresh Gupta, the child’s father, supports the police version of rescuing his child, Anant’s grandfather has told media persons that Anant came home all alone in the autorickshaw. In the face of the conflicting stories emerging, Naresh Gupta’s blind support of the police version raises eyebrows too, but can a parent really be blamed for toeing the demanded line and doing whatever in his might to save his child?
So in the resultant confusion, there are questions and questions: Was Anant rescued at all, or delivered? If rescued, from where exactly was he rescued/ recovered, and by whom? If he was released and delivered, under what circumstances? And the ransom? Was there really any exchange of money? If yes, how and where was the ransom delivered?
On the other hand if it were really a good job of sleuthing done by the police – an absolutely commendable work as is being forcefully projected by Naresh Gupta, then why the conflicting versions from the police – both regarding the rescue, and the payment/recovery of ransom? Is the reason for confusion midst the police ranks and administrators because of the political monitoring of the case? Were there parleys between the kidnapped child’s family, the police and the criminals through political mediations? Is that why the total confusion? Is the political leadership in the state going to clarify these nagging and ominous shrapnel and projectiles?
20.11.2006: Copyright © Maxwell Pereira; 3725 Sector 23, Gurgaon-122002; tel: 0124-5111026;
Available at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com & http:/www.maxwellpereira.com
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