Patna: A doctor and his wife, kidnapped six days ago in Bihar by men in police uniforms, were freed early this morning from Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. Nine alleged kidnappers have been arrested, including the mastermind, a man who has a degree in ancient history and once contested a national election.
“No ransom has been paid,” said Bihar police chief PK Thakur.
Pankaj Gupta – a leading pediatrician in Gaya – and his wife Subhra were kidnapped when they were on their way home from a wedding in Jharkhand’s Giridih district. The kidnappers, who were dressed as policemen, allegedly placed beacons on the doctor’s Audi and two other cars to pass off as a VIP convoy, and drove the couple to Uttar Pradesh.
Two dozen police uniforms and beacons have been found from the gang’s hideout in Lucknow.
Their leader Ajay Kumar reportedly has a house in Delhi’s Vasant Vihar. The 55-year-old was allegedly involved in at least four high profile kidnappings, notably one in 2003 in which he demanded a ransom of Rs 10 crore. He is believed to have contested the 1991 Lok Sabha election as a Samajwadi Party candidate.
The kidnapping of the doctor and his wife led to a massive search involving the police in two states. The trail, said police officers, led to an Uttar Pradesh-based gang suspected in a kidnapping earlier this year.
“We had zeroed in on the particular group and they were under our surveillance. We had some inkling as to where they would keep the hostages,” the Bihar police chief told media.
Last night, the gang members, sensing that the police were on to them, took the couple to the railway station in Lucknow and put them on a train to Gaya. They were spotted on security cameras.
The police waited till the couple was safely on the train before chasing the kidnappers.
The case had become a major challenge for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s government as the opposition BJP held it up as proof of “jungle rule” in Bihar. Various doctors associations had also threatened to strike work.