The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Less risk, more gain
- New strategy: Threat, not kidnap, fetches the loot

Are abductors turning away from the risky business of kidnapping'

They are, going by a few recent incidents, and for good reason — a mere threat of abduction is now earning them a fortune.

Police sources said that in the first such incident in the city, a south Calcutta businessman had coughed up Rs 20 lakh after being threatened with his son’s abduction.

“The businessman, a money-broker known in the circuit across the country, did not dare approach police after receiving the call. He found it more prudent to meet the demand,” said a police officer close to the family.

Police claimed that they had come to know of the incident through their network. “The family has not lodged a complaint,” said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner (detective department).

The officer said the first time the threat-caller spoke to the businessman, a resident of Ballygunge Place, there was no demand for money.

“The caller only gave a blow-by-blow account of his son’s movements. He narrated the colour and make of the car correctly and spoke of how the driver was taking the child to school and back home every day. He even mentioned the exact spot where the child was dropped off and how far it was from his school or home,” the officer recounted.

The chilling threat started coming a week later. “The caller asked the businessman to pay up Rs 50 lakh, or else the child would be kidnapped. The amount was finally settled at Rs 20 lakh. The businessman thought it wise to take the threat seriously, as the caller knew so much about the child,” the officer said.

A section of officers said two similar incidents took place in the recent past. A trader of the Burrabazar-Posta zone had paid Rs 15 lakh after receiving a number of threat calls. A mustard oil dealer from Jorasanko paid Rs 7 lakh after a caller threatened to abduct him from his doorstep.

“The new strategy involves much less risk than actually committing a crime, be it a dacoity or kidnap,” said an officer.

Police admitted that a large number of abductions or threats are not reported. “We will try out best to track down the criminals if a formal complaint is lodged,” said deputy commissioner Singh.

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