The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sholay & Ludo on day of kidnap

Calcutta, Feb. 9: Roma Jhawar's family and police said she was 'playacting', but the lady of the house where the girl spent 10 hours after abduction described her as normal and happy.

Sandhya Das, the aunt of now arrested Dilip Baidya, said Roma (in picture), who was introduced as Gunjan Ghosh's 'girlfriend', showed no tension. She watched a film on the VCD, played Ludo, laughed and joked and prepared her own dinner which she ate contentedly, Sandhya added.

Roma was brought to the Das' Sodepur home shortly after her abduction last Friday from Salt Lake.

Roma's family explained she was simply 'cooperating' with the kidnappers so that they did not harm her.

'She did not either know the kidnappers, nor did she have anything to do with them,' said the Jhawars' lawyer, Partha Majumdar.

The police, who with another find today from Kadapara in east Calcutta have recovered almost all of the ransom money, said she did not have an option. 'She had to act normal to prevent them from drugging her or harming her. She did not know them, but simply acted intelligently,' said DIG (operations) of the CID, Rajeev Kumar.

In a raid tonight on the house of a person called Suraj, the police recovered Rs 3.8 lakh in a bag, on top of the Rs 16.7 lakh they had found till yesterday. Sources in the Jhawar family had spoken of a ransom payment of Rs 22.5 lakh.

Suraj said Pappu, a friend who is an accused in the kidnap and is absconding, had left the bag in his house

According to Sandhya's account, kidnap mastermind Gunjan came with Roma and two others to her home around 11.45 on Friday morning. She said she was unaware of the abduction at the time.

'I knew him a little because he is a friend of Dilip's, who stays with us,' Sandhya said. 'He told me he was going to marry the girl and I joked with him, asking why he had picked a non-Bengali girl.'

After speaking to Dilip, Gunjan left, leaving behind the two others 'whom I did not know', Sandhya said. Roma sat around for some time, chatting with the two others.

'She listened to songs from Dhoom and Tere Naam,' said Sandhya's 13-year-old son, Digha. 'Then she said she wanted to play Ludo. So, we played for quite some time.'

A Das neighbour, Shipra Saha, said that 'off and on' she could hear the girl's voice.

Sandhya said that at lunchtime, she asked Roma to join them. 'But she said she would have her tiffin. So she had her biscuits and chocolate.'

After lunch, Sandhya said, Roma told her she was 'bored' and asked to watch a film. So Digha stepped out and got her a Sholay VCD.

'They borrowed Sholay from my library around three,' confirmed VCD library owner Srikanta Saha.

around eight, Roma wanted to have some Maggi noodles. 'She said she would make it herself,' Sandhya said. 'She ate the noodles quite happily.'

Around 9.30, Gunjan reappeared and they left.

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