“Salaam Walekum, Abbasbhai!” cried a youth, stepping out of a bottle-green Maruti Omni.
“Walekum Salaam,” was the spontaneous response from Mohammad Abbas. But barely had he uttered the words, than the 26-year-old owner of a medical store on CR Avenue felt the cold nozzles of twin revolvers on either side of his temple.
At 5.30 pm on Monday, Abbas was sitting in front of his pharmacy, Life Care Medical Stores, in the Jorasanko police station area, when a youth approached him for a popular health drink.
Then another youth stepped out of the van and wished him before he whipped out a revolver and held it to Abbas’ head. The first youth followed suit. Abbas was herded into the vehicle and driven deep into Metiabruz.
“An hour later, his family received a call from Abbas, saying all was well and he was visiting a friend. He had been forced to make the call. Meanwhile, Abbas’ men in the shop had informed us about the incident and we set up a caller line identification (CLI) machine at his place,” said Timir Kumar Bhattacharya, officer in charge of Jorasanko police station.
At around 7.15 pm, the abductors called up Abbas’ Colootola Street residence and demanded a ransom of Rs 5 lakh. Police asked his relatives to negotiate. The call was traced to Metiabruz and a team of officers sent to the area.
“The abductors then gave a cellphone number to contact them on as soon as Abbas’ uncle, Mohammad Idris, was ready to deliver Rs 1 lakh (the amount finalised after negotiations) in front of Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI), in Ekbalpore,” Bhattacharya said.
The team of officers, led by deputy commissioner of police (central) Rajiv Kumar, waited at a distance. At around 11.30 pm, two youths on a motorcycle, with Abbas sitting between them, approached Idris. “They sensed trouble and fled immediately,” Bhattacharya said. In the confusion, Abbas managed to escape from their clutches.
After a long search in the Metiabruz area, with Abbas by their side, police found the two-storeyed house in Ayub Nagar where he had been held captive. Further clues led the cops to Mohammad Asif, 24, identified by Abbas as one of his abductors.
“But Pintu managed to flee. Later, we recovered the two-wheeler and the cellphone from another house on Mayurbhanj Road,” said Kumar.