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Death after hoax call

Paramjit Singh Jaggi

Calcutta, April 5: A businessman from Ballygunge Circular Road suffered a cardiac arrest and died after an unknown caller told him his son, who was away in Singapore, had been abducted and demanded a ransom of Rs 7 lakh.

That was on March 16, when the rest of the state was celebrating Holi.

Police today arrested the alleged caller, Arun Giri, from Sagar in South 24-Parganas, following a complaint from the businessman’s family on March 20.

Paramjit Singh Jaggi, 59, who stayed in an apartment on 20 Ballygunge Circular Road near Calcutta Punjab Club, used to run a business of manufacturing earth-moving equipment in Calcutta. He received the call when his son Amardeep, 32, was in Singapore on vacation, family members said.

Amardeep, who had left for Singapore on March 14, didn’t have international roaming on his phone and so couldn’t be contacted immediately.

Jaggi fell ill soon after the 4.30pm phone call and was taken to a private hospital where he was declared brought dead that evening. Police sources said the autopsy, conducted at SSKM hospital, confirmed Jaggi died of cardiac arrest.

An officer at Ballygunge police station said although preliminary investigations suggested Giri, who drives a payloader, had made a prank call, it was yet to be determined how he knew the businessman’s son was away.

“There was just one phone call. The caller told Jaggi his son had been kidnapped and that he had to pay a ransom of Rs 7 lakh to get him back,” the officer said.

“The caller said he was calling from Sagar. Within minutes of receiving the call, the businessman tried to call the number but found it switched off,” the officer added.

The police have found on Giri a visiting card of Jaggi. “Maybe, Giri was in touch with some contractors who were clients of Jaggi. We are investigating how he got that visiting card and whether he had some other motive behind the call.”

Amardeep, who had been assisting his father in their family business they ran from their Mangoe Lane office, said on March 16 he got a message from his sister on WhatsApp asking if he was all right. “I told her everything was fine. I was clueless about all that had happened at my house in Calcutta,” Amardeep told The Telegraph today.

When he did learn that his father had suffered a massive cardiac arrest, he cut short his trip. “I reached here next morning but, by then, my father was dead,” Amardeep said.

Amardeep, who lost his mother last year to a heart attack, said his father didn’t have any history of cardiac ailments but had been a diabetic for years.

Shuvanan Ray, chief interventional cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Calcutta, said usually, there are no apparent signs like chest pain when a person is diabetic. “If such a person with underlying cardiac ailment suffers acute emotional stress, he can have ventricular arrhythmia or irregular heart beat which can even be fatal.”

After he returned to India, Amardeep dialled the number from where the “threat call” had come. “The person who received the call said he had dialled my father’s number by mistake and that he had intended to call someone else,” Amardeep said.

On March 20, the family decided to go to the police.

A police source said the SIM card used for making the call had been taken under a fictitious name and address and it was only on tracking the tower location of the phone set that it was traced to Sagar.

The sources said they were trying to find out whether Giri had actually kidnapped anyone and was making a ransom call that went to Jaggi by mistake.

“We have learnt from Sagar police station that people in that area have been receiving threat calls, which eventually turn out to be hoax calls. It is subject to investigation whether this call, too, was meant as a joke,” said another police officer.

A criminal lawyer said if it is proved that the caller had the “intention to kill”, he could be handed a life term. “If it emerges that he knew that such a call could kill someone but did not have any intention to kill, he can be jailed for up to 10 years.”


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