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The two brothers — the main conspirators in the kidnapping of a 29-year-old doctor from Preet Vihar — were former Ola drivers. The duo came up with what they thought was a “perfect kidnapping plan”, while simultaneously exploiting Ola’s concern with its image. The plan, though, had one flaw — a sticker they forgot to replace. Sources told The Indian Express that the driving licence of the two accused — Sushil Motla and Anuj Motla — were suspended by Ola an year ago. But since they were aware about the process of verification with the Ola service, they hatched a conspiracy and procured all forged documents needed for verification.
“Each document, including the bank account cheques and voter ID of the drivers, was forged. They had made such a watertight plan that they had not left any evidence for us to establish their identity,” said JCP (eastern range) Ravindra Yadav.
A day after Dr Shreekant Goud was kidnapped, the duo, on July 7, made their first call to Ola’s customer care office in Bengaluru. Yadav said, “They called and said they had kidnapped a customer”. “When asked the reason, they said it was done for fun. But soon after, the accused called and said he wanted to talk to the senior manager and eventually demanded Rs 5 crore from the company,” Yadav added.
The two knew that the company was extremely conscious of its image and would definitely pay. “In the meantime, they got repeated calls from the family, but they avoided those,” the JCP said. Meanwhile, the team from Preet Vihar Police Station was tasked with verifying old drivers whose licences had been suspended or had quit, said sources, which led the team to Vasundhara in Ghaziabad, where they found the two brothers.
Their documents yielded little. However, police came across information regarding a WagonR car that they drove a year ago. “The photo of this car, which they had sent to the company, proved crucial. They hadn’t changed the colour of the car but the licence plate number was different. What also was the same was a sticker of ‘Tanya Motors’ pasted on the rear end, next to right tail lights,” said a source.
Tracing it, police reached their village in Dadri, where at least a hundred villagers were questioned. Other teams were, meanwhile, formed to trace the duo. Eventually, police found that the two had been provided aide by “Vivek alias Modi, Gaurav Sharma and Pramod Kumar”. Kumar has since been arrested. Three days after the brothers submitted the forged documents to Ola for verification, they began getting calls from customers, said police. But they didn’t want to ply a customer unless he or she was alone and would ask about it whenever someone booked the cab. Confirmed that he was travelling alone, on July 6, at 11:38pm, they picked up Goud from near Preet Vihar Metro station.
Goud had booked the cab for his house in Gautam Nagar in south Delhi, but enroute the Wagon R, driven by Sushil, was chased and stopped by another car. “They (Sushil’s accomplices) got out of the car and asked Goud to keep sitting in the car at gun point. They even thrashed him when he objected.” Goud was then driven to western UP, from where, police said, their location changed frequently — from Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Baghpat, Hapur, Meerut, Bijnor, Muzzafarnagar and Haridwar. During this period, they used Goud’s phone to make ransom calls. During one search operation, the accused fled into sugarcane fields leaving behind the vehicle used in kidnapping. Even though the car was recovered, Goud was not found.
Interestingly, throughout the course of the event, Anuj Motla, kept updating his Facebook profile. On July 19, at about 6 pm, a raid was conducted at a house in Meerut, from where victim was rescued and four persons — Pramod Kumar (44), Amit Kumar alias Billu (37), Sohanveer (34) and Nepal alias Goverdhan (44) were arrested. The house belonged to Sohanveer and he was paid to harbour them. During the exchange of fire on July 19, Pramod sustained a bullet wound in his left leg. Police said during the time of the raid, Vivek and Gaurav were not in the house.
An Ola spokesperson said: “We are relieved on the safe return of Dr Sreekanth Goud… We continue to cooperate with the police and assist the family to help them fully recover.” Police said at least 200 policemen comprising 12 teams, led by DCP (east) Ombir Singh, three ACPs and 10 inspectors led to the whole operation.