| Anant with mother Nidhi in Noida on Friday. Picture by Prem Singh
New Delhi, Nov. 17: After four days in the custody of kidnappers, three-year-old Anant Gupta once again got to play in his mother’s lap today, returning safe and healthy aboard an autorickshaw with his father paying ransom.
As sweets were distributed and prayers said in the family’s Noida house, Anant’s mother Nidhi was overwhelmed by tears of relief. “We are all so happy. We have been nervous wrecks since the kidnapping.”
Police said the boy’s father, Naresh Gupta, the CEO of Adobe India, had paid ransom.
“We recovered Rs 50 lakh from a house at Kakor (the place between Noida and Bulandshahr where the police said the boy had been found),” said R.K.S. Rathore, a senior Noida police officer.
Rathore said Gupta hadn’t told them he had paid ransom.
Two men had been arrested — one of them is Chatrapal Dev, who works in the Mother Dairy depot just across the road from the Gupta residence in Noida. The police said Chatrapal was keeping track of movements in the house.
Another kidnapper, described as Pawan, is also in custody and the police are looking for two others. “We will find Jeetendra and Chauhan, hopefully by tomorrow morning,” said S.N. Bhagat of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force.
The first lead came in the form of repeated calls to one of the guards in the house on his mobile phone, from the same number, around the time of the kidnapping at 8.45 am on Monday.
The police said they traced Pawan, and were following the kidnappers when they left Noida, going first to Ashok Vihar in West Delhi and then to Meerut. They claimed to have cracked the case within eight hours of the abduction, but moved with caution for the child’s safety.
“It took four days only because of concern that the kidnappers should not do anything silly to the child,” said N.B. Singh, inspector-general (Meerut range).
After having flatly rejected earlier that Anant was brought home in an autorickshaw, Singh was left red-faced when in his presence Bhagat confirmed so. According to Bhagat, Anant was sent back in an autorickshaw, all alone in the middle of the night in order not to arouse Chatrapal’s suspicion.
“We arrested Chatrapal only today after the boy returned safely,” Bhagat said.
Anant’s father said: “We were not even aware that our son had been found.”
He thanked the police, adding: “It would not have been possible without the assistance of Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh (Uttar Pradesh chief minister).” Amar Singh is Mulayam’s second man in the Samajwadi Party.