Three days after a bridal make-up artist went missing from Dwarka, police on Sunday rescued him from Uttar Pradesh’s Hardoi area in a sedated condition. Abhishek Kheterpal, 23, who owns a bridal make-up parlour in Janakpuri, was allegedly kidnapped on October 20 by his mother’s former employee, who wanted a Rs 2 crore ransom, police said.
Five people have been arrested in connection with the case, police said. “After an elaborate operation, Abhishek was safely rescued from the house owned by one of the accused. The victim had been given some sedatives to make him semi-conscious, and his hands and legs were tied,” said DCP (West) Vijay Singh.
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Police said the victim’s family received a text message at 9.30 pm on October 20 night, saying that he had reached a venue for an assignment. But he did not return home till late in the night.
Kheterpal’s relative Tapan Roy said the family informed police late in the night. The next day, Kheterpal’s mother received a call from a person who called himself Salman Khan. “The caller said he had received a missed call from Kheterpal’s number, but that was not the case. He then asked his mother if she wanted to say something. We suspected there was a problem,” said Roy.
The family then received another call. “This person demanded Rs 2 crore ransom. After a few hours, another person called and threatened to harm him if their demand was not met,” said Roy.
Meanwhile, police increased surveillance. After obtaining the call detail records, they found that one call was made from Kanpur while the other was made from Lucknow. “The exact location could not be ascertained. We found that both the numbers were procured using fake ID. The person who had procured the SIM cards was spotted and he directed us to one Deepak, whom we put on surveillance. We then traced the victim to Hardoi,” said an officer.
After questioning the accused, police claim to have found that 32-year-old Wasim, a former employee who worked at a boutique owned by Kheterpal’s mother, was the kingpin. The boutique was later shut down.
“Wasim and Kheterpal remained on friendly terms and even started a restaurant. This, too, was shut down. Wasim felt Kheterpal had lot of money, so he planned his abduction,” said a police officer. Wasim and four others did a recce 15 days before the abduction, police said.
On October 20, one of the accused approached Kheterpal saying he needed bridal make-up done for his handicapped sister, said police. The accused overpowered and abducted him.