The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Abducted toddler found in empty train

Siliguri, June 17: Held in his mother’s arms he had missed for more than two weeks, 13-month-old Ajay grinned at the men in uniform at the government railway police outpost, his face bearing no signs of the ordeal he had gone through.

The toddler, abducted from New Jalpaiguri on June 1, was found abandoned last night in an empty train compartment at Kishangunj station in neighbouring Bihar. He was returned to his parents today.

“I don’t know what to say. I have got my child back. I am grateful to god,” mother Sushila Saha said, blinking tears.

Ajay, the only child of a fruit-seller, was playing in front of his grandfather’s roadside eatery at New Jalpaiguri when Om Prakash, his father’s friend-turned-foe, spirited him away.

The man, who later called up the family to demand a ransom of Rs 30,000, has not been traced yet.

The child was released a few days after police picked up Mahadev Thakur, a pan shop owner and his eight-year-old son Ratan, for their alleged roles in the kidnapping.

The police said the family had not paid any ransom to buy the child’s release. Amar Saha, the father, also denied giving in to the abductor’s demand.

Saha had lodged a “missing” diary with the police after his son went missing.

The police suspect that the abduction was the outcome of personal vendetta and ruled out the involvement of any organised gang. . “It is possible that Saha and Om Prakash fell out over some business deals. But no organised racket is involved even though initially the needle of suspicion pointed to Bihar, from where the ransom calls had originated,” Jalpaiguri superintendent of police Siddh Nath Gupta said.

While inquiring locally, soon after his son went missing, Saha said some neighbours had told him that they had last seen Ajay with Om Prakash, who lived in the same neighbourhood.

The police registered a kidnapping case after the family started getting the ransom calls.

“We received at least three calls from Bihar over the past 15 days. The callers refused to identify themselves and said they held our son captive and demanded the money,” Saha said.

An unknown voice had first called him up asking him to come to Jehanabad with Rs 30,000. “In the next call, the demand came down to half. This time, the man told us to come to Patna and hand over the ransom. Otherwise, he threatened to slit Ajay’s throat,” Saha said.

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