Two debt-ridden men were arrested on Tuesday on charges of abducting and killing a 13-year-old Khetwadi boy after their ransom plan went wrong – a gruesome case in which the victim was first fatally stabbed and then set on fire. The crime took place on Monday.
One of the suspects, Himanshu Ranka, is a first cousin of the victim, Aditya Ranka. Himanshu, who planned the abduction with his friend Brijesh Sanghvi, pretended to search for Aditya after he was dead, the VP Road police said.
The two men even took Aditya’s diamond broker father to police authorities in the same car in which Aditya was repeatedly stabbed. The involvement of Himanshu and Brijesh, aged 28 and 25, unravelled after the father spotted Aditya’s slippers in the car. A further search of the vehicle led to discovery of blood in the trunk.
Till Tuesday night, the VP Road police were still putting together the chain of events on the basis of Himanshu and Brijesh’s interrogation. A third suspect was being sought in the case. “The two planned the kidnapping together, but it seems Brijesh killed Aditya as he feared the boy, who knew him as Himanshu’s friend, might reveal their names once released,” said Senior Inspect Rajendra Chavan of the VP Road police station.
Aditya’s body was set ablaze at an isolated spot near the Mumbai Pune Expressway. The remains had not been recovered till Tuesday night. Himanshu and Brijesh had lost close to Rs 10 lakh each in cricket betting. In order to pay off their debts, they decided to abduct Aditya and demand a ransom of Rs 30 lakh from his father, Jitendra Ranka, the police said.
Around noon on Monday, Aditya’s mother, Chandrika, received a call from a man named Rajesh, who told her to send the boy to a pan shop near their home in Khetwadi to collect a bunch of keys sent by Jitendra.
Brijesh was waiting in a Honda City nearby and when Aditya reached the spot, Brijesh asked him to get in, lying that the keys needed to be fetched from some place else. According to his statement to the police, he then drove to Sion, from where he made a ransom call to Jitendra.
A worried Jitendra immediately called home and enquired about Aditya’s whereabouts. After the family realised that Aditya was missing, Jitendra decided to approach cops. His elder brother’s son, Himanshu, accompanied him to the police station. While cops searched for the 13-year-old boy, Himanshu allegedly kept Brijesh updated about the developments.
At some point, Brijesh panicked that Aditya would reveal his name if set free. He drove Aditya to Khopoli and allegedly stabbed him to death in the car, even as Himanshu insincerely tried to reassure Jitendra back at the VP Road police station.
According to the police, Brijesh then drove to a spot near the Mumbai Pune Expressway, covered Aditya’s body with hay and set it ablaze. On Monday night, he returned to the city and met Himanshu at the police station.
Additional Police Commissioner (south region) Krishna Prakash, meanwhile, was keeping a track of the investigations. He asked Jitendra to come to the Wankhede Stadium, where Prakash was overseeing security arrangements for an IPL match.
Jitendra, Himanshu, Brijesh and a cop got into the same white Honda City in which Aditya was killed. On the way, Jitendra spotted a pair of slippers he had bought from Dubai for Aditya in the car. They immediately stopped, and the accompanying cop began inspecting the car. He opened the trunk and found traces of blood. Himanshu and Brijesh were then arrested.