An Intermediate first-year student helped the city police solve the mystery surrounding the murder of 11-year-old Ch. Pranav at Alapatinagar in Asifnagar, with the arrest of a couple on Saturday.
Poonam, daughter of a domestic help working in a house opposite to that of Pranav, provided the vital clues when she informed the police of having noticed the boy with the kidnapper.
“She gave all the descriptive details of the accused, based on which we came to a conclusion that some persons living in the locality were involved,” explained Police Commissioner A.K. Khan
At a press conference, he said that based on the information provided by the girl, the police could make a near perfect sketch of the kidnapper.
Three friends — two working in a private bank and another in a star hotel — too gave some crucial leads helping the police to zero in on the accused couple Rajni Ranjan Malik (22) and Shalini (20).
Pranav, son of Deputy Project Director of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Ch. V. Rammohan Rao, was smothered to death the day he was kidnapped by the couple hailing from Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh on June 10.
Police said Ranjan fell in love with Shalini and married her in 2009 before migrating to the city in December last year and since then they were staying in a rented house near Alapatinagar. Ranjan worked as a sales executive in Koti, but increasing financial woes led to the couple conspiring to kidnap a boy and demand a ransom of Rs.10 lakh to Rs.15 lakh. After scouting the area, Ranjan's search narrowed down to Pranav. He visited the boy's house on June 10 and got acquainted with him stating that he was looking for a house on rent. Pranav told him to come later as his parents were away.
He met the boy the very next day and took him to his house on the pretext of playing cricket.
The couple offered flavoured milk spiked with an intoxicant, which made the boy unconscious. Ranjan then went to Koti and made a call to the boy's father from a public telephone booth. Pranav's father lodged a complaint with the police soon after receiving the call.
Ranjan returned home to find that the boy had regained consciousness and began pressurising the couple to let him go. The drowsy boy went to the bathroom, where he fell down and became unconscious on receiving a head injury. The couple got panicky and smothered him to death.
Ranjan later purchased a gunny bag from a nearby shop, stuffed the body in it and dumped it in a nala a kilometre away from the victim's residence. The body was found on June 13. The couple in the meantime vacated the house and moved to Bagh Lingampally.
The police too began a house-to-house verification when they identified five families which had vacated soon after the incident. “We admit it's a mistake. We got scared when the boy became unconscious. We killed him in a state of panic,” said Shalini, who incidentally, is pregnant.