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Bullets end hostage drama

An operation spanning three states and 32 days reached its climax in a sugarcane field late on Monday, with the rescue of Prateek Dewan. The city boy had been abducted on his way to Delhi from a Dehra Dun school.

The Uttar Pradesh police, the Delhi police and the CID, West Bengal, had joined hands to finally track down the kidnappers of the Class XI student to a sugarcane field in Kairana, Muzaffarnagar. That was the stage for the final showdown between the goons and and the Special Task Force (STF) of UP police. STF men surrounded the hideout, flushed out the abductors after a gunbattle and rescued Prateek.

Inspector-general of police, Meerut, P.C. Sabarwal told Metro over phone on Tuesday that Sanjeev Maheswari, the local mastermind, and his five associates had been arrested. “Sanjeev, a local crimelord, abducted the boy under instructions of a UP-based don. Sanjeev admitted during interrogation that the don, currently holed up somewhere in Chennai or Calcutta, had planned the kidnap-for-ransom operation,’’ added Sabarwal.

On November 1, Prateek, a Class XI student of a Dehra Dun school and son of Calcutta businessman Rajesh Dewan, was abducted while on his way to Delhi to celebrate Diwali with the family. The Dewans are residents of Karnani Estate, in the Beniapukur police station area, and run an audio-and-video cassette business.

Police found the bullet-ridden body of driver Ramesh Khurana in a field off a road in Bhainsi, Muzaffarnagar, but with no ransom calls coming through, initially, they made little headway in the case. The first ransom call came on Rajesh’s cellphone a week after the incident, with the caller demanding Rs 3 crore.

The cellphone trail then took the sleuths through Calcutta, Delhi, Muzaffarnagar and Mumbai. The Special Operations Group (SOG), an anti-kidnapping unit of the West Bengal CID, got into the act and according to special superintendent of police Manoj Malaviya, “vital information” was passed on to the STF in UP.

Police first zeroed in on three criminals in a Mumbai suburb on Sunday night. They were brought to UP and sleuths picked up the scent of the sugarcane hideout.

Superintendent of police, STF, Rajiv Ranjan Verma, told Metro that “investigations are on to trace a few others involved in the incident”.

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