The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Schoolboy kidnap inside job

The abduction of city boy Prateek Dewan had been plotted by his local guardians in Saharanpur, Bipin and Harish Malhotra. This was revealed on Thursday by the police who accused the duo of hiring a UP gang to kidnap the Class XI student while he was headed for Delhi from his Dehra Dun school on November 1.

After a month-long operation spanning three states, police rescued Prateek Dewan from a sugarcane field, in Muzaffarnagar, on December 3, and arrested five goons, including local crimelord Sanjeev Maheswari.

Inspector-general of police, Meerut, P.C. Sabarwal, said over telephone that Bipin and Harish, “distant relatives of the Dewans”, have been arrested. The two, apparently, run a travel agency in Saharanpur. “The boy’s father, Rajesh Dewan, had asked them to look after Prateek when he joined the Dehra Dun school,’’ said Sabarwal. “They were the only ones, apart from Prateek’s father and grandfather, who knew that the boy would be travelling by car to Delhi to celebrate Diwali.”

Harish had, apparently, contacted Maheswari in the first week of October. “He was visiting the Dewans at Karnani Estate, in Beniapukur, where he came to know of Prateek’s travel plans,’’ a senior officer of Muzaffarnagar police station said.

The driver, Ramesh Khurana, was lured into the kidnap plan. “Bipin and Harish paid him a hefty amount the day before the abduction and directed him to stop the car on a deserted stretch of the National Highway,’’ Sabarwal said. That’s how it happened. When Khurana had stopped the car at the designated spot, five goons jumped in.

Rajiv Verma, special superintendent, Special Task Force (STF), UP police, said the goons who got into the car drugged Prateek, shot Khurana (they, apparently, reckoned that the driver would be the police’s first target and could spill the beans during interrogation), dumped his body and drove to a hideout.

“Prateek was shifted a dozen times and kept in sugarcane fields and huts. The ransom calls were made from cellphones and PCO booths in Jaipur, Chandigarh, Delhi, Mathura, Delhi and Mumbai,’’ Verma said.

Police said the kidnappers had demanded Rs 3 crore as ransom, which they later scaled down to Rs 35 lakh. “With the help of West Bengal CID and Delhi police, we were tracing the calls and piecing together information on the suspects. We zeroed in on the abductors before the family paid the ransom,’’ Verma added.

Special superintendent of the CID Manoj Malaviya said Prateek is expected to arrive in the city on Friday.

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