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Daylight kidnap on highway

Patna: Three men in a Scorpio with a "police" sticker abducted a woman on the busy National Highway 28 in East Champaran district on Wednesday morning, around the time chief minister Nitish Kumar was huddled with the state cop brass around 145km south in Patna in a law and order review meeting.

The abductors were forced to release Shikha Kumari, 25, branch manager of the Central Bank of India at Pipra in East Champaran, after about two hours when after passers-by at a toll booth on the highway noticed "unusual activity" in the SUV. Before pushing her out of the vehicle, the criminals threatened Shikha with dire consequences if she did not pay up Rs 10 lakh extortion money.

The trauma for Shikha, who is from Agamkuan in Patna, started around 10am when she was on her way to office on her scooty from Chhatauni Bazar near Motihari, the East Champaran district headquarters.

A white Scorpio overtook her scooty near the railway overbridge and forced her to stop. The men in the car introduced themselves as police and Shikha that she had to accompany them in their vehicle as there was a complaint against her. When she objected, the men, who were in their 40s, threatened her and forced her to get into the Scorpio.

Initially they told her they were going to Pipra police station, but later said they were taking her to Chakia to verify the complaint. As the Scorpio neared the Pipra toll plaza, Shikha shouted for help. Some passers-by informed the security personnel at the toll plaza.

The Scorpio then took a U-turn before the toll plaza and started off towards Motihari. The men then pushed Shikha out of the car close to where her scooty was stopped. The men took away her mobile phone and threatened her with dire consequences if she did not pay the extortion money soon. Shikha then informed the Pipra police.

Chakia sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Mundrika Prasad said Shikha used to go to office from Chhatauni to Pipra, about20 km from Motihari, on her Scooty every day.

"The men kept moving with Shikha captive on the busy road for nearly two hours. Can you imagine her trauma?" said a Muzaffarpur-based close relative of the bank manager.

Pipra police station house officer (SHO) Santosh Kumar said a complaint has been lodged against unidentified persons based on Shikha's statement.

"The alleged kidnappers were talking about some loan, which means the kidnappers were probably known to her," the SHO said.

SDPO Mundrika said Shikha had faced a similar incident during her previous posting at Bettiah in West Champaran.

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