Ranchi, April 14: A teenage saga of greed and crime unravelled here today with the recovery of the partially decomposed body of the Class VIII student, Prashant Kumar (14), who was missing since February 13.
Police claimed that the deceased had willingly participated in the plan to stage a “fake abduction” and extort ransom from his father. His accomplices killed him when he developed cold feet the very next day and wanted to call it off.
The body was buried on the premises of an industrial unit at Namkum, on the outskirts of the state capital, and the killers sprinkled pulse seeds in an effort to cover up the site. The culprit, Ganpat Paswan (20) from Munger in Bihar, served as a security guard on the factory premises.
Paswan fled to Munger but was nabbed from there by the police after tracking telephone calls made by him to demand ransom for the second time.
He told the police that Prashant and Monty (20), a school dropout and a friend of the elder brother of the deceased, had approached him with the plan. He also claimed that he had been roped in because the factory stopped production at 5 pm every day and provided an ideal place for meeting or hiding.
Paswan also confessed that after killing the boy, he and Monty had made ransom calls from STD booths to the boy’s father, Rajendra Kumar, who runs a pharmacy in the Chutia area of the state capital. They had also collected Rs 2 lakh, left below a bridge following their instructions.
Ranchi senior superintendent of police Manvinder Singh Bhatia told newspersons that Rajendra Kumar had not told the police about the ransom call. But when the culprits blew up the money, at least partly to pay for drugs suspect the police, they made the mistake of calling Kumar and promised to deliver the boy this time. That they were desperate was evident from the fact that they did not specify any amount. But they wanted the boy’s father to come behind GEL Church complex on a given date and time.
They made the second mistake when Monty accompanied Paswan to collect the ransom. There he was recognised by the missing boy’s cousin. When the cousin tried to speak to him, Monty fled, arousing suspicion and this time the family of the victim confided to the police.
Sniffing trouble, Paswan also fled to his native village in Munger, where he was arrested by a team of policemen from Ranchi. He broke down during interrogation and confessed to the crime and also led the police today to the site, where the boy had been buried.
The police also claimed to have recovered an iron rod used in killing the boy. The boy’s bicycle, which had been re-painted and sold to one Rasheed, has also been recovered. The boy had been hit in the back of his head and Paswan has allegedly confessed that he hit the boy while Monty kept him engaged.
While the police dug up the body, a mob turned violent. On the mistaken conclusion that the factory-owner was involved in the murder, the mob set out to set the factory on fire.
Police resorted to mild lathicharge to disperse the mob. The senior superintendent of police, however, den- ied that the police had to open fire as well. Plastic containers, he explained, were set on fire by the mob and the crackling noise was mistaken for firing.
The abduction had kept the area simmering for the past two months and people had hit the streets on more than one occasion, demanding a more pro-active role by the police to recover the boy, who had set out for tuition and had failed to return. Monty, however, is still absconding.
Meanwhile, residents of Chutia mourned the demise of the teenager and shops in the vicinity remai- ned close. The residents of the area have also decided to observe the much-revered traditional Manda Puja with simplicity because of the sad incident.