BHOPAL: Abduction and courtesy don’t go hand in hand. A Bihar-based gang learnt it the hard way after the MP Police Special Task Force (STF) identified the outlaws, courtesy their unusually courteous ransom call to the family of a private contractor.
When Sant Bahadur Singh was abducted from Rewa district on July 23, the local police focused on local gangs and criminals from adjoining Uttar Pradesh.
But, the calls for `40 lakh ransom made by the kidnappers to Singh’s family made the STF work on a different theory. Those making the ransom demand began their calls with “namaste uncleji” or “namaste auntyji’.
“Kidnappers addressing the victim’s kin in such a respectful manner is a rarity. In the past, it has only been done by members of Bihar-based gang of Ajay Singh, which usually target wealthy morning walkers. This made us zero in on the gang as one of its key members, Balindar Singh had escaped from custody while undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Rewa in May 2016,” a senior police officer, who was a part of the operations to rescue the contractor from Bihar, told The Sunday Standard.
Balindar and his accomplices were convicted in 2007 for the kidnapping of an automobile dealer in Indore. He was kept in different jails but had escaped from custody in 2012. He again gave police the slip from the hospital.
The MP Police, in coordination with their Maharashtra, Bihar and UP counterparts, trailed the gang members based on the places where they asked the contractor’s kin to leave the ransom money. “This gang operates from train and asks the kin of victims to board trains and throw the ransom money near the rail tracks at locations decided by it. The police of four states kept a watch on the gang based on ransom diktats,” said an MP police officer.
The hunt for the gang took the police from Rewa to Jabalpur, Nashik, Kanpur, Allahabad and Dhanbad on a 19-day operation that ended with the arrest of Balindar and his close aide Narayan Lohar in Bihar’s Rohtas district. Their arrest led to the rescue of Singh from a house in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district.
Bihar gang has spread wings to other states
Questioning of arrested men revealed that the gang no longer comprised criminals only from Bihar. Hardened criminals from Indore, too, were part of the gang. While one of the criminals from Indore, Narayan Lohar, was arrested, another member, Tamim alias Tammu, who carries J50,000 bounty on his head for murders and loot, is on the run.
Instead of smartphones, Balindar and his team used low-priced 2G phones purchased from Bihar and SIMs purchased from Asansol, West Bengal, to make ransom calls. They destroyed the phone sets and SIM cards after making a series of phone calls.
In 2003, the gang was involved in two high-profile kidnappings — that of a family member of the owner of a well-known battery-making company in Kolkata and of the wife of a jeweller in Jaipur. It is also suspected to be involved in the 2017 abduction of a poultry feed processing unit owner from Giridih, Jharkhand.