| KIDNAP COUPLE: Mohit Srivastava and Mini Kanoria in Bankshal court on Sunday. Picture by Amit Datta
Rounds of grilling, several telephone calls, tapping a network of informants and, finally, the discovery.
The city police were happy on Sunday that a 'long night of intense search and precision planning' had not just paid off, but that the outcome had vindicated their belief that 24-year-old Mini Kanoria was a party to her own 'abduction'. Mini, however, denied the charge when produced at Bankshal court.
'We knew after interrogating Vikas Khaitan (with whom Mini's marriage was scheduled for December 15) that this was not a case of abduction,' said an officer of Hastings police station, where a complaint was lodged at 7.20 on Saturday evening, around 40 minutes after the incident.
Vikas told sleuths that the kidnappers had pulled Mini by the upper part of her arm. 'Had that been the case, she could have easily broken free. Later, after questioning Mini, we realised our guess was perfect,' the officer added.
Vikas told police that while they were on Vidyasagar Setu, Mini asked him to stop, claiming she had a pain in the abdomen. He immediately pulled up his motorcycle and Mini got off the pillion.
Two youths then arrived on a motorcycle that did not have a registration number. The pillion-rider got off, grabbed Mini and led her to a grey Maruti Omni, that had stopped nearby. 'She was thrust into the vehicle legs first, a situation we thought improbable,' the police officer pointed out.
Vikas also claimed that Mini had told him about a local youth, who would often make blank calls to her. She even cautioned him that the youth could call him as well. In fact, Vikas had received four blank calls on his mobile phone in the past month and gave the numbers to the sleuths.
Officers soon came to know that the calls on Vikas's phone came from the same Howrah locality where Mini lives. The phone's owner was identified as Mohit Srivastava. Though the phone was switched off, sleuths learnt that it was being carried by someone in Behala's Unique Park.
Meanwhile, some of Mini's relatives ' not her parents ' told police that she had an affair with a local youth named Mohit.
'We found Mohit was not at home. Even two of his friends were missing. Among them, one had bought a new motorcycle, which did not have a registration number,' said deputy commissioner (south) N.R. Babu. The friends were later identified as Santosh Sharma and Lala, alias Devaki Nandan Bhojak, a trader in Posta.
The sleuths then approached another friend of Mohit's, who gave them the telephone numbers of Santosh and Lala, said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner (I), detective department. The friend also claimed that he was 'vaguely aware' of Mohit's abduction plan.
Early on Sunday, Lala called up a sub-inspector of Beniapukur thana, whom he knew, and told him about the details of the 'abduction' and also the place where Mini had been put up.
The officer immediately contacted Hastings police station, from where a team rushed to the site and found Mini with her 'abductor'.