While Pune City Police is understandably relieved at its “successful operation” to free a kidnapped seven-year-old child, the fact that the two kidnappers managed to travel with the child for about 900 km over three days without being detected, that too in a car with a fake number plate, has left question marks over the efficiency of police patrolling.
Om Kharat, son of industrialist and Purnanagar resident Sanjay Kharat, was kidnapped, allegedly by two youths, on Saturday and released on Monday evening, unharmed.
The two alleged kidnappers, Roshan Shinde and Akshay Jamdare, took Om all the way to Gevrai in Beed, a distance of about 300 km, during which they crossed district borders several times, said police.
During the return journey, they took a detour to avoid the police, travelling double the distance. “That’s how they avoided the police… they told us they drove for 600 km to reach Pune,” said Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla. According to police, the kidnappers had borrowed the white Indica Vista from a friend and kept travelling across three districts: Pune, Ahmednagar and Beed. “They used at least four number plates,” said Shukla.
She added that when the kidnappers returned to Pune, they did not come inside the city limits. “They were outside the city limits…,” said Shukla.
Expressing doubts about the efficiency of city police, Amit Gorkhe, an activist from Pimpri-Chinchwad, said, “Though the kidnappers travelled with the boy for 900 km, no policemen, especially traffic police personnel, who show great alacrity in stopping citizens on the road for various reasons, could find anything amiss with the car… while the kidnappers changed their number plates, nobody seemed to have noticed it. It is surprising.”
Anita Landge, president of Damini Bachat Gat, said last week she and her family were heading to a Kothrud hospital with her one-year-old grandchild, who was unwell. “But a traffic policeman stopped us at the Khadki signal and unnecessarily argued with us about the dark colour of the car windows. We kept telling him that we were in a hurry as the child had fever. But the policeman wouldn’t listen to us… we told him that we never violated any norms and the glass was not that dark. He snatched our licence… we lost precious time in reaching the hospital,” she said. “Will the police chief explain this double standard… how a car with fake number plate travels for 900 km with a kidnapped boy, and no policemen stops it,” she asked.
Vijay Palsule, an inspector with Nigdi police station who is investigating the case, said it was “unfortunate” that nobody stopped the kidnappers. But he said the kidnappers could be lying about travelling to Beed.
“… They told us that they travelled to Beed. It could be a lie. Probably one of them travelled and the other stayed in Pune with the child… we will find the truth… we have got their custody till October 4,” he said.
Palsule also claimed that the car could not be caught en route because the police got contradicting information about the vehicle. “First, we were told that it was an Indica Vista, then we were told it was a Swift, and then we were told that it was a Santro… there was confusion in tracing the right vehicle,” he said.