Police have “found” a 20-year-old BTech student from Greater Noida, who was initially believed to have been kidnapped but had, in fact, allegedly concocted a plan to stage her own abduction to get Rs 10 lakh from her father.
The question that the police faced was what penal sections to charge her and the three other accused. “Even if it is a case of conspiracy, the question is, who is this criminal conspiracy directed against,” a police officer said. Sources said the Noida Police spent a considerable time trying to “figure out the exact legal provisions” for a case like this. Finally, a case was lodged under IPC Section 182 (false information).
The accused have been identified as Muskan Agarwal, her boyfriend Aditya Srivastava (21), and their friends P Anant (20), a hotel management graduate, and Rituraj Singh (21), a third-year engineering student.
Police said Srivastava owed Singh and Anant Rs 2,400, and had promised to pay them back if they helped in the plan. At the time of their arrest, Singh and Anant were eating pizza and playing snooker, police said.
Officers were alerted about the case when Agarwal’s father Shiv Agarwal received a call from her at 2.20 pm, at his residence in Kanpur. “She said she was at her hostel in Noida’s Sector 62 and was going to Great India Place mall in Noida. But the call was interrupted, with the girl screaming for help,” an officer said. In 40 minutes, the girl’s father got a text from her phone demanding Rs 10 lakh if he didn’t want to “see her corpse”.
The father informed the Kanpur Police, which reached out to Noida Police and the Special Task Force. As the father scrambled to get Rs 10 lakh, police found their first clue.
While tracking the location of the girl via her phone, police found an anomaly. At 10.10 am, the girl was at her hostel in Sector 62. Afterwards, she was in Sector 128 and from there, she appeared to have gone towards Greater Noida, presumably in a bus. She arrived at 11.20 am at Jantar Flats in Greater Noida, where she stayed till 2.20 pm. “This was the problem. In the call, she said she was going towards GIP Mall from Sector 62. But this wasn’t the case. Secondly, if she had been abducted, she had voluntarily taken a bus to go to the place where she had been abducted from,” said an officer.
At 4.00 pm, a second message reiterating the ransom threat arrived. By 4.07 pm, the girl’s father had transferred the money to her bank account. “By this time, we knew the messages were originating from Greater Noida and banks were put on alert. After the money came, some of it was transferred from the girl’s account to her personal e-wallet account,” said the officer.
Police then discovered that the money was being withdrawn from an ICICI Bank ATM in Greater Noida. “Two transactions were made from the bank, withdrawing Rs 30,000. These were done by Singh and Anant, while Agarwal and Srivastava stayed in the car,” an officer said.
Police then fanned out in plainclothes. In the evening, Agarwal called her father claiming she had been dropped off near Pari Chowk. She and her boyfriend were apprehended from the spot and, after interrogation, they revealed the location of their friends.
Police sources said the couple had hatched the plan because while they wanted to get married, Agarwal’s father was against the idea.