The 62-year-old chairman of a private engineering college in Ranchi was abducted at gunpoint from his car in front of his driver and a colleague near a bridge on Iche River in Burmu (see map), 22km from the capital, on Monday evening.
Bheem Singh Munda was on his way home to Kadru in the city from Nilai Institute of Technology in Thakurgaon, Ratu, when the incident took place. Police are clueless who kidnapped the ex-serviceman and why. Sources said that Munda had been targeted by extortionists in the past although a link between those incidents and his abduction is yet to be established.
According to the two eyewitnesses — faculty member Simmi Sinha and driver Sahil Ansari — the incident took place around 8pm on Monday when Munda’s SUV had barely travelled 5km from the college.
“Six men in a Scorpio, which did not have a registration number displayed, overtook the victim’s Safari and gestured at the driver to stop. Two youths boarded the vehicle and told the elderly man that their ‘boss’ wanted to see him,” a police officer at Burmu thana referred to the FIR lodged on Monday night.
When Munda asked who their “boss” was and why he would have to meet him, they flashed guns, dragged him out by the collar and packed him into the Scorpio. “The lady professor was made to part with her mobile phone while the ignition key was snatched away from the driver. The SUV then made a dash towards Ratu,” the officer said, adding that the operation took a minute.
After Munda was whisked away, driver Ansari managed to borrow a cellphone from some passers-by and inform college officials and police.
SP (rural) S.K. Jha confirmed abduction and said raid were being conducted at various criminal hideouts. On which gang might be behind Munda’s kidnapping and why, Jha conceded that they were still “groping in dark”.
The engineering college chairman’s wife and sons were not available for comments. At their residence near Kadru overbridge, friends and relatives said the family was too busy in the search and would not talk. “Baad mein aaiyega. Sab khojne mein lage hain (Please come later. Everyone is searching for Munda),” urged an elderly man, also requesting anonymity.
One Amit Munda, who called himself a close relative of the victim, said they had not received any ransom call.
Bheem Singh Munda was associated the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) as chairman of its ex-servicemen’s cell. “After retiring from the army 12 years ago, he joined the Bhootpurva Sainik Koshang. He may be 62, but he is fit as a fiddle,” said Ravindra Singh, JPCC secretary.
A resident of Thakurgaon said Munda had been targeted by criminals in the past. “On January 6, there was an attack on him on the college premises. His Scorpio was set on fire.”