Navigating hostile terrain, cops nabbed captors
For over ten days, around 200 policemen virtually abandoned their children, vacations and sleep, as they scoured the whole of Western Uttar Pradesh, Ghaziabad, Uttarakhand and NCR playing hide and seek with the kidnappers who had abducted Dr Shrikanth Goud in an Ola cab.
On Wednesday, however, the cops effort bore fruit and four of the abductors were arrested. The prime accused, Sushil and Anuj, however, are still on the run.
The kidnappers gave the police a run for their money, by hiding in sugarcane fields, forested areas, urban landscapes and even camouflaging themselves behind a wall of Kanwarias; all the while erased their digital footprint.
With the accused constantly changing clothes and mingling with the Kanwaria crowd, cops had to leave their vehicles and walk on foot several kilometres. One of the investigators who cracked the case said the cops had no choice but to wear the same sweat-stained clothes for days while camping out in the jungle hunting for the gang.
"The policemen had to carry out this tough rescue operation and could not even change their clothes. They spent their time like those who live in forests, and scoured through the difficult terrain for days without any rest and food," said Joint Commissioner of Police (Eastern Range) Ravindra Yadav.
Led by DCP Omvir Singh, over 200 policemen from East District, Shahdara were part of the operation. Even the Special Cell had been roped in to look for the accused.
"I had just come from my vacations and was lucky that I took them before the case. After kissing my children goodbye, I left home. We did not rest for ten days till we found the doctor," said a policeman who took part in the successful rescue operation.
To mislead cops, the kidnappers had made calls from Haridwar, Baghpat, Bijnor and Uttarakhand. Moreover, the enormity of the terrain forced the police team to seek help from UP Special Task Force and local police from Meerut range.
But as the accused kept changing their locations and never used their own phones, technical surveillance proved ineffective. This forced the police to activate their informer network spread over Muzaffarnagar, Daurala, Ghaziabad, Bijnor, Haridwar and Bulandshahr.
The police also reached out to Ola cabs and made a list of disgruntled cab drivers who had been dismissed from service. Later, police found out that the calls were made regularly from Ghaziabad's Vasundhara district. In the meantime, some vendors associated with Ola gave the names of some drivers, whom the police then approached.
"One of those vendors pointed us towards one of the accused, Sushil. Sushil and his brother Anuj, the masterminds of the kidnapping operation, had used a Wagon-R car which had a CNG sticker and a sticker from Tanya Motors.
This fit the profile of the car provided by Ola, which had last picked up the doctor. We got a huge lead and that helped us track them down to a sugarcane field in UP where they disappeared to, only to be caught in Meerut in the encounter," said a police source.