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Kidnap, chase at midnight
- Bypass residents brave bombs to free abducted businessman

It started like something out of a Bollywood potboiler: an abduction, followed by a chase. Midway through, however, the script changed, ending in the criminals getting caught — not by the cops at their heels but by local people.

From Duttapukur, in North 24-Parganas, on the northern fringes of the city, to Mukundapur, on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, almost outside the city’s southern limits, the abduction drama was played out for over an hour, ending just before Thursday midnight.

A few daggers were wielded. Fortunately, they were not used. Several bombs were also burst. The night-time drama ended with the captive gaining release just before midnight.

Shankar Chandra, one of the biggest dealers in bicycles in the Habra belt, was returning home on Thursday to his Duttapukur residence, when he was waylaid by a gang that had been pestering him for money for quite some time.

Chandra was bundled into a taxi before his neighbours could react, and soon found that he was being driven along Jessore Road, towards Barasat. The taxi turned towards Calcutta at the point Jessore Road met National Highway (NH) 34.

The drive, first along NH 34 and then VIP Road, was uneventful, except for the beatings that Chandra took, police later said. At Ultadanga, the taxi left VIP Road for the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and sped towards Park Circus.

But near Science City, a police patrol, close to the Parama Investigation Centre, asked the taxi to stop, since it was moving at breakneck speed with several people inside. Not only did the vehicle not stop, but it hurtled past the patrol vehicle towards the south.

Then, the chase began. However, the cops’ patrol sputtered to a halt before the Rashbehari connector-Bypass crossing.

The taxi stopped along the Bypass near Mukundapur, with the abductors pushing Chandra out of the vehicle first and then pushing him along the road.

Armed with daggers, they appeared to stab Chandra when people living along the Bypass — out for a stroll before turning in — raised an alarm. As they rushed towards the abductors, who had Chandra pinned on the ground, the kidnappers burst bombs to scare them away.

But, with all the bombs missing their targets, the crowd closed in on the abductors. All three — Amar Shankar, alias Rontu, Vijay Rajak and Santosh Jha — were caught and handed over to East Jadavpur police station, South 24-Parganas additional superintendent of police (industrial) Rajesh Kumar Singh said.

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