The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wife raises kidnap questions
Harish Hitange’s wife Rekha being comforted by her father after her arrival in Mumbai. (PTI)

Mumbai, Aug. 6: Relatives of Harish Hitange, who has been kidnapped in Poland, appealed to the Centre today to take immediate steps for his freedom.

On April 20, 37-year-old Hitange, who used to work for an Indian-owned textile firm in Warsaw, was kidnapped on his way to office by men in police uniform.

After keeping quiet for months, his wife Rekha returned from Warsaw last night and spoke to reporters.

At her parents’ residence in Panvel, a Mumbai suburb, Rekha today said the kidnappers were in touch with Lucky Nihalani and brothers Prakash and Pradip Nayar — all partners of Samtex Textiles, where her husband worked — through SMS.

Nihalani accompanied Rekha to Mumbai from Warsaw.

Last night, a ministry of external affairs spokesperson said in New Delhi that the embassies of Poland and India and Polish police officials at the highest level were looking into the matter.

He added that there was no political motive behind the abduction and it was clearly a criminal act.

But the events as narrated by Harish’s relatives leave a number of questions unanswered. Rekha and her parents said they are completely befuddled by the bizarre course of events.

Rekha was staying in Nashik with Harish’s parents when she heard of the abduction from K.M. Mahajan, a businessman based in the city who is also a mutual friend of Harish and his employers.

On April 22, Warsaw police, who found his abandoned car, confirmed that he was kidnapped. But Rekha was told that kidnapping in Warsaw was very “common” and Harish would come home in two or three days. When a month passed, Rekha left for Warsaw.

She stayed with Nihalani for more than two months, but there was no clue of her husband, while in India, Rekha’s father K.P. Nepali said, Mahajan was their only connection to Poland as they had been asked to keep quiet.

In June, he added, Mahajan collected blood samples twice from Harish’s parents in Nashik — on June 17 and June 26 — to send them to Warsaw. He didn’t give any reason.

There was no news about Harish either, but Rekha heard his voice once when Nihalani played to her a recorded message sent by the abductors. Rekha said that in the message, Harish pleaded to his employer to pay the ransom as he was being tortured.

Her father said when there was no news or explanation offered to them about what was happening, he asked Rekha to come to India and make the matter public.

Nepali said he would like to have answers to certain questions. “Why would they put a ransom of 2 million euros on my son-in-law’s head when he is not worth a fraction of it' He is just an employee of the firm.”

Nepali said he has lodged a complaint with Nashik police about all the discrepancies in the case.

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