MUMBAI: In a chilling reminder of the Adnan Patrawala kidnap-murder, the 13-year-old son of a south Mumbai diamond broker was kidnapped for ransom on Monday – allegedly to cover T20 betting losses – and then murdered when the kidnappers panicked. The body of Aditya Rankha was found dumped near the Mumbai-Pune Expressway in Kalamboli, Navi Mumbai.
The police have arrested Aditya’s cousin Himanshu Rankha, 28, and Bijesh Sanghvi, a friend of Aditya’s elder brother, who were ironically helping Aditya’s father Jitendra file a kidnapping complaint at the V P Road police station.
Police said Aditya, a Class VI student, was at home at Pawanpuri building in Khetwadi, Girgaum, when his mother received a call on the landline on Monday afternoon. The caller told her that her husband had sent some keys to be handed over to her. Aditya’s mother sent her teenaged son downstairs to collect the supposed keys. Aditya never returned. Later, the police were told Aditya was seen being pulled into a car.
Within half an hour, Jitendra received a call from a landline number telling him that Aditya was with the callers and, if he wanted his son back, he should shell out Rs 30 lakh. “The father thought this was a prank and so disconnected the phone,” said a police officer. “However, he later realized that his son was missing and began searching for him.” The officer said Jitendra called up a few close friends and relatives, including Himanshu.
At 7pm on Monday, Jitendra went to the V P Road police station to lodge a kidnapping complaint. Himanshu and Bijesh too reached the station and behaved as though they were worried about Aditya’s disappearance. They helped Jitendra lodge the complaint.
“The police then asked the father to show them the spot from where Aditya had been reportedly kidnapped,” said deputy commissioner of police Nisar Tamboli. “While two policemen sat in Jitendra’s car, two others went in Bijesh’s Honda City.” Tamboli said that the policemen in Bijesh’s car were surprised to find blood as well as slippers in the car. When the police reached Pawanpuri building, the slippers were identified by people there as Aditya’s.
The police took Bijesh into custody and interrogated him. The police questioned him about where he had been the whole day and how Aditya’s slippers had ended up in his car. Bijesh allegedly broke down and admitted to kidnapping and murdering Aditya and said his friend Himanshu helped him. The police detained both the youths and questioned them separately.
“The two men said they had lost Rs 7 lakh while betting on recent T20 matches,” said a senior crime branch officer. “They had to pay back their debts and hatched a plan to kidnap Aditya.” When asked why they killed the boy, the crime branch officer said that the two were disappointed when Jitendra had not responded to their ransom call. Furthermore, they were afraid that if they let Aditya go, he would identify them since he knew them.
They allegedly told police that they stabbed Aditya inside the car and threw his body in the jungle near the Expressway. The VP Road police and crime branch officers traced Aditya’s body in the jungle on Tuesday. Aditya’s body, which has several wounds, has been sent for a post-mortem to JJ Hospital, Byculla.
The victim is survived by an elder brother, younger sister, mother and father Jitendra, who works at Panchratna building, Opera House.
Police sources said investigations have revealed that Himanshu and Bijesh are in the metal business and often bet on cricket matches.