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Burqa blunder botches kidnap

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Mumbai
  • Published 21.08.08
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Mumbai, Aug. 21: A doctor puzzled by a hoarse voice from behind a burqa saved a Pune builder from being kidnapped by a young woman who claims to hold an MBA degree.

Anita Naidu, 25, and her relatives K.L. Pradeep, 29, and Raviraj Chiranjeevi, 24 — all from Bangalore — were arrested yesterday on their way to abduct Kanwaljit Sharma.

Anita, who says she has an MBA from Singapore, told police the trio planned to kidnap Sharma to force him to pay up Rs 8 lakh, which she claimed he owed her.

The young woman said she had bought a flat in Nirmal Heights apartments in Chikhali, Pune, while working in that city as an animation designer in 2005. She claimed she later sold the flat to Sharma, but he still owed her a balance of Rs 8 lakh and was refusing to pay up. Sharma could not be reached for comment.

Anita and the two men reached Pune by train on Tuesday and put their plan into action yesterday. But they hadn’t reckoned for the alert doctor, Anand Joshi.

Anita and the men, all wearing burqas, were trying to hail an auto-rickshaw when Joshi, who was passing by, spotted them. The trio also had a folded wheelchair with them.

The doctor, in his mid-forties, smelt a rat when he heard a male-sounding voice giving instructions to the auto driver who, he later told the police, seemed “equally perplexed”.

Sensing the trio could be up to some hanky-panky, Joshi dialled the police and told them what he had seen, where the auto was headed and its registration number.

“The doctor told us that from the way two of the burqa-clad persons carried themselves and walked, it seemed they were men,” said inspector Dilip Shinde.

The police intercepted the auto while it was travelling towards the IT hub of Hinjewadi on the way to Nigdi, where the builder lives.

“They ordered the auto driver to go faster when we gave chase. The driver, however, soon slowed down and stopped despite their pleadings, and we caught them,” Shinde said.

At first, the trio furnished false names and addresses but later broke down under interrogation. The police seized a bottle of chloroform, a nylon rope, a crepe bandage, a wheelchair, mobile phones and an extra burqa from them.

“The fourth burqa was for Sharma. Their plan was to drug him with chloroform, throw the burqa over him and take him away on the wheelchair,” Shinde said.

Anita has told officers she works in Bangalore and that Pradeep and Raviraj are relatives. The police have not been able to establish the relation.

“A team led by a sub-inspector has left for Bangalore to find out more about the three,” said Pune police commissioner Satyapal Singh.

A local court today denied bail to the trio and remanded them in police custody. The next hearing is tomorrow.

Commissioner Singh will hand over an award to Dr Joshi at a special ceremony next week.