VELLORE: A day after Vellore police rescued four notorious red sander smugglers from their abductors, one of them succumbed to the injuries during the early hours of Monday in a private hospital in the city. A Chennai-based gang abducted the quartet demanding a ransom of `20 lakh, as the two parties had a tiff over some money matters, investigation revealed. The gang had inflicted serious injuries on the smugglers having attacked them with sharp weapons.
The four smugglers who were abducted and rescued by the police were identified as Prakash, Kathiravan (36) of Keel Arasampattu, S Venkatesh (46) of Kaniyambadi and K Rajasekar (27) of Thuthipattu. Sources said that Prakash succumbed to internal injuries at about 12.30 am on Monday in Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital. Kathiravan is in critical condition. The two other smugglers who were also hospitalised escaped from the hospital fearing for their lives and also police action.
The police rescued the quartet from a farmhouse on Friday and also arrested two persons — R Vijay Venkatesan (25) and S Arun Kumar (24) of Tiruchy, who are reportedly part of the Chennai gang who abducted the smugglers.
The rest of the gang, learning about the police action, managed to flee.
“The gang makes money by abducting red sander smugglers and agents for ransom,” said a police officer privy to the investigation.
After rescuing the four smugglers who were kidnapped, the police admitted them in the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital. Prakash and Kathiravan were shifted to the CMC Hospital after their condition deteriorated on Sunday night.
Based on the information provided by the victims, the police arrested two other history sheeters — K Ashok (alias) Ashok Kumar (23) of Keel Kothur and P Chakravarthy (62) of Kalluttai near Anaicut — in connection with the abduction for ransom-cum-murder case.
On interrogation, Kumar and Chakravarthy reportedly told the police that one M Vinayagam (aged about 45) of Kalluttai village masterminded the kidnap. He along with his associates first kidnapped Prakash on August 24 for ransom. Knowing that, Prakash did not have much money, the gang threatened to give information about red sander smugglers and agents who are wealthy.
It was through Prakash’s mobile number that the Chennai abductors lured the other three red sander smugglers, luring them to Sripuram on the pretext that the Chennai gang wanted to buy a large consignment of red sander logs.
Believing this, the trio reached Sripuram at about 2 pm on August 26. The gang kidnapped them in a car and took them to a farmland in Padapai in Kancheepuram. The gang made a ransom call and demanded `20 lakh from Kathiravan’s brother, Kumar.
Acting on a complaint, the district police formed a special team and devised a plan to rescue the quartet and also arrest their abductors.
“We told Kathiravan’s brother to assure the kidnappers that he would have the money ready and to ask for the meeting point. We followed Kumar’s car and managed to arrest two and also rescued the four. But the rest of the gang learnt about the police action and fled from their hideout,” said a police official part of the team.
However, the abductors had inflicted serious injuries on the quartet with deep cuts before abandoning them.
“We have launched a search for Vingayagam and his associates. Soon, they will be arrested,” said Superintendent of Police of Vellore P K Senthil Kumari.