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Students held for girl abduction

Islampur, Aug. 22: A Class IX boy and a first-year college student were arrested from Dalkhola last night for kidnapping a five-year-old girl from her school earlier in the day and asking for Rs 20 lakh ransom.

The girl who is the daughter of a cloth merchant from Dalkhola has been rescued.

The two boys posed as the girl’s father’s employees and took away the child from her school in an SUV.

The child’s father said she studied in Class I. “My mother drops her off and picks her up from school. Yesterday, my daughter had an exam and around 12.30pm, a Class IX boy went to the school and claimed that he was my employee and had come to take her home. The school, without suspecting anything, handed over my child to the boy. At 1.30pm, when my mother went to get my daughter, she was told that the girl had already left,” he said.

The businessman’s mother returned home and said the child was handed over to a boy.

“Little later, I received a call on my mobilephone and the caller demanded Rs 20 lakhs as ransom for my daughter. I contacted the police immediately,” said the father. He said he got several calls from the same number throughout the day.

The police tracked the mobile signal with the help of the service provider. “It took some time. Around 6pm, the caller said the money should be dropped at Raiganj. We sent policemen in plainclothes along with the girl’s father and some of his relatives to Raiganj, 55km away. But no one came. By then, the phone was traced to Dalkhola,” said an officer.

The girl’s father got another call around 9pm and he told the caller that he would pay Rs 3 lakh instead of Rs 20 lakh.

“The caller agreed and the girl’s father was told to come with the cash near a culvert close to High School More in Dalkhola. It was agreed that the money would be handed over and the girl returned underneath a culvert,” said the officer.

The merchant reached the spot, 40km from here, at 10pm.

“Our men in mufti had surrounded the area. When the girl’s father handed over the cash to two boys, they returned the girl. The duo tried to flee in an SUV parked nearby. But we caught them,” the officer said.

Sources said the SUV had a “government of West Bengal” board fixed to the windscreen.

Subimal Pal, subdivisional police officer, Islampur, said the duo were produced in the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court today and remanded in jail custody for 14 days. Police sources could not confirm if the arrested duo were minors.

“The college student is from the same locality where the girl stays. We have seized an SUV. He told us the SUV belongs to his family and is hired out to the food and supplies office in Gangarampur, South Dinajpur, where his uncle works,” Pal said.