Odisha: Woman held for faking her own kidnapping to extort brother

Sources said Smruti’s husband stays in Singapore and the couple do not have a cordial relationship.
Odisha: Woman held for faking her own kidnapping to extort brother
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BHUBANESWAR: A 35-year-old woman and her two associates were arrested on Thursday night for allegedly faking her own kidnapping in a bid to extort Rs 1 crore from her brother by posing as members of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi’s group.

The accused Smruti Rekha Pani of Chandaka and her accomplices Pradeep Ola (27) and Devi Lal (27), both natives of Rajasthan, were nabbed from Nayagarh by joint teams of Chandaka police and the special squad.

Police said Pradeep and Devi contacted Smruti’s brother Subhasis Pani, a stock trader staying in Bengaluru, over WhatsApp voice call on Wednesday and claimed they had kidnapped his sister. The duo demanded Rs 1 crore ransom from Subhasis to release Smruti.

Initially, Subhasis transferred Rs 12 lakh into the bank account of Pradeep. He also informed his father Satya Narayan Pani that Smruti was held captive by some unidentified miscreants. Unaware about Smruti’s plot, her family members lodged a complaint with Chandaka police on Thursday and informed the cops about the ransom call. Basing on the complaint, police registered a case and started investigation.

Police commissioner Sanjeeb Panda said, “Initially, police received information that the accused travelled towards Charichhak in Boudh and then to Nayagarh. During road blocking in Nayagarh, Pradeep was nabbed while Smruti and Devi managed to escape after hitting the officers deployed on the spot with their car.” A policeman sustained fractures in the incident.

Police pursued Smruti and Devi and after some distance, spotted their abandoned car. The cops searched the area and apprehended the duo while they were trying to find a place to hide.

After interrogating the trio, police established that Pradeep was also a stock trader and known to Subhasis. He suffered huge losses a few months back and hatched a plan to extort money from Subhasis who was making good profit in stock trading.

As part of his plan, Pradeep befriended Smruti on Instagram in December last year.

Sources said Smruti’s husband stays in Singapore and the couple do not have a cordial relationship. Smruti and Pradeep reportedly got into a relationship and had planned to settle down after receiving the ill-gotten money.

On June 15, Pradeep and Devi left from Rajasthan in a car and reached Odisha two days later. The duo stayed at a hotel in Khurda and made a VoIP call to Smruti asking her to meet them near a mall in Patrapada on Tuesday. The next day, Smruti left her house claiming that she would visit Satsang Kendra in Vani Vihar area.

Police seized Rs 12 lakh from Pradeep’s bank account, a car bearing Rajasthan registration number and three mobile phones from the accused. Pradeep and Devi have criminal antecedents and were earlier booked by Rajasthan police in one case each, sources said.

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