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Sonar gang members held for kidnap

Investigations into the high profile kidnapping of the son of a well-known Surat businessman brought Bihar CID to Ranchi from where they picked up two persons on Tuesday evening.

Sandeep Mahto and Ganesh Munda — both members of the Chandan Sonar gang that is believed to have carried out the abduction of 22-year-old Sohail Hingora for ransom on October 29 last year — were picked up from Chutia locality.

They were taken to Patna, where CID officers are interrogating them.

The twin arrests come close on the heels of Sonar’s associate Ashok Sharma, a suspended constable of Jharkhand’s jail department, landing in the police net at Hazaribagh on Saturday.

“They (Sandeep and Ganesh) have not revealed much so far. But we have evidence to prove Chandan Sonar gang’s involvement in the case. Sohail was released on November 30 after payment of a ransom of Rs 9 crore. Sandeep and Ganesh purchased an SUV in Delhi with a portion of that money. We have documentary evidence of the purchase and also of their frequent conversations with other members of the gang,” ADG (CID, Bihar) A.K. Upadhyay told The Telegraph over phone.

According to Upadhyay, Sonar, who hails from Hazipur district in Bihar, runs an interstate gang.

Apart from the criminals of Bihar, where Sohail was kept hostage till his release, those from Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand and were also involved in the crime.

Till now, around eight persons have been arrested and all of them have criminal background.

The CID has also scanned at least a dozen bank accounts where the ransom money was deposited in parts.

“At least, five bank accounts have been put under freeze, including one belonging to Ravish, an associate of Sonar, who has already been arrested and forwarded to jail. We have evidence that Rs 5 lakh was deposited in his bank account a couple of days after the ransom was paid. Ravish is also an accused in several other kidnap cases,” the ADG said.

Sohail was kidnapped from Dharampur village in Daman and subsequently held hostage in Saran and Vaishali districts of Bihar. The victim’s father Hanif Hingora had said that he paid Rs 9 crore to the abductors for his son’s release with the CID claiming that the deal was struck at the house of an influential JD(U) leader in Patna.

The case exposed a well-connected criminal network that extends beyond Bihar and Surat with the Gujarat government ordering a special probe following a request by Hanif. The businessman had also written to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar.

Earlier, a joint team from Gujarat and Bihar had arrested Ranjit Kumar, son of police officer Nagmani Singh posted in Giridih district in Jharkhand, from his native village at Chuturpur in Saran. Police had recovered handcuffs and the victim’s visiting card from the house.

“Ranjit was paraded before Sohail, who identified him as the person who kept him in confinement,” Upadhyay said.

Police are now looking for Ranjit’s elder brother Deepak Singh. “Deepak too played a key role in the abduction and is on the run. We will move court for attachment of his property,” the ADG informed.

Incidentally, soon after the case surfaced, Jharkhand DGP Rajiv Kumar ordered suspension of Nagmani Singh for remaining out of station without prior permission and making false entries in the attendance book.

Ranchi police did not rule out more arrests from across Jharkhand in the coming days in the light of their Patna counterparts seeking information about more people.

A seasoned criminal, Sonar is involved in numerous criminal cases in Jharkhand, including abductions of Luv Bhatia, son of a renowned businessman based in Ranchi, and Gomia businessman Mahaveer Jain.