Acting swiftly, Amravati Police rescued a 4-year-old child by nabbing the kidnappers within 24 hours at Ahmednagar, hundreds of kilometres away, on Friday. Police suspect the kidnapping was the handiwork of a family member, the boy’s paternal step-grandmother.
Four-year-old Anay Ankit Lunia, a resident of Sharda Nagar, was kidnapped by two motorbike-borne persons from the locality around 8 pm on Thursday when he was taken for a stroll by his step-grandmother Monica Jaswantrai Lunia (47).
“CCTV footage from the place showed the boy being very comfortable with the kidnappers and Monica unruffled by the event. The boy’s two cousins, who are part of the joint Lunia family, realised that something was amiss and one of them did raise an alarm. But the kidnappers fled,” said Amravati Police Commissioner Arti Singh, who led the investigation.
“We suspected that it could be the handiwork of some family member since the boy didn’t raise any alarm. The family members had no doubts about anyone, either from the family or outside… We then asked all the family members to hand over their mobile phones and found that Monica, who is Ankit’s step-grandmother, was engaged in long conversations with one Hina Shakir Sheikh alias Hina Aniket Deshpande on the day of kidnapping. Monica, who also hails from Ahmednagar, said Hina was her friend. So, we immediately tracked her mobile location and found it to be in Ahmednagar. We alerted Ahmednagar Superintendent of Police Manoj Patil, who pressed his men into action, leading to Hina’s detention on Friday evening,” said Singh.
A team of Amravati Police also reached Ahmednagar. Hina told the police that the boy was with one Asif Sheikh, who was hiding in an Ahmednagar slum. “Our men managed to quickly zero in on Asif and free Anay. All this was done in the nick of time as Asif was about to run away to Mumbai along with the boy,” said Singh.
Monica hasn’t yet confessed to her involvement in the crime, said the police officer.
“Monica is the stepmother of Anay’s father and would ask for money from the family to send it to her parents in Ahmednagar, who are poor… Monica was born a Muslim but was raised by a Hindu family in Ahmednagar, to whom she used to send the money,” Singh further said.
But of late, the family had cut down on the money, which had prompted Monica to come up with a plan to have Anay kidnapped for ransom, which was to be equally divided among everyone involved in the crime, said police.
Hina, who is married to a Hindu, would often visit the Lunias and hence the boy was acquainted with her, said police. She had come to Amravati two days earlier, along with two others, Almash Sheikh, 18, and Musahib Sheikh, 21. Accompanied by Almash, she had allegedly taken the boy away from Sharda Nagar. The two then left the bike near a private bus stand, from where they travelled to Ahmednagar in a car, said police.
“The kidnappers were planning to seek a ransom of Rs 4 crore but didn’t make any call for the same till they were apprehended,” said Singh.
Later, it was revealed that the whole plan was hatched under the guidance of a criminal from Ahmednagar, Israr Sheikh Mukhtar Sheikh alias Taklu. “Taklu has 19 different crimes, including kidnapping, registered against his name and is currently absconding. We are tracing his whereabouts,” said Singh.
The police have arrested six persons so far, including Hina and Monica.
Lunias are a joint family and run multiple businesses including a bicycle shop and manufacturing fruit pulp.
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