STF traces missing trader, says ‘staged’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/uttar-pradesh-stf-traces-missing-trader-says-staged-4772235/

STF traces missing trader, says ‘staged’

The UP Special Task Force said it doubts claims that Sanjeev Gupta was abducted for ransom. Gupta, had gone missing soon after he left his restaurant, Sagar Ratna, which he runs along with partners in Tundla police station area, around 5 pm.

A week after he went missing, Firozabad-based businessman Sanjeev Gupta was found in Haryana’s Panipat on Friday. The UP Special Task Force (STF), which investigated the case, doubts claims that he was abducted for ransom.

Gupta, 45, had gone missing soon after he left his restaurant, Sagar Ratna, which he runs along with partners in Tundla police station area, for his home in Firozabad town on July 22 at around 5 pm.

His wife Sarika registered a police complaint after he did not make it home. His car was found parked by the roadside in Gabhana police station area of Aligarh district on Sunday.

According to police, Sarika received a WhatsApp text from Gupta’s mobile number, demanding a Rs 100-crore ransom failing which he would be killed.

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Police subsequently converted the FIR, which was earlier a missing person complaint, into one of kidnapping. The STF was also engaged in the investigation.

On Friday the STF rejected the claim that he was kidnapped and said Gupta had stage the episode.

“We have accessed the footage showing him driving in a car alone after he was reported missing from Firozabad. He visited Chandigarh, Jammu and returned from there,” said STF DIG Manoj Tiwari.

He said Gupta had sent a message to his family saying he will “appear in Panipat” on Friday and asked them to bring Rs 2 crore. He said he was found in Panipat with no indication of any kidnappers.

“Gupta had staged his kidnapping to frame his rivals. He was also expecting to garner publicity for himself. He has been involved in publicity-seeking gimmicks in the past. We were surprised when we heard that the kidnappers had demanded Rs 100 crore. Then, another message was sent asking for only Rs 2 crore,” said an STF officer, seeking anonymity.

IG Agra Range Mutha Ashok Jain said Gupta was found in Panipat and he is being brought to Firozabad. He said the police will be able to reveal more details about his disappearance only after questioning him.