The police arrested six persons and seized a Tempo Traveller and Rs. nine lakh in cash from a gang which allegedly kidnapped the Corporation Chief Town Planning Officer, P. Murugesan (55), near his house in KK Nagar last Thursday.
The officer, who was on his morning walk, was forcibly taken into a van by the gang. After 10 hours, the officer returned home claiming that the gang freed him, but told the investigation officers that he was relieved of Rs. 2,000 in cash and a gold chain.
Commissioner of Police K. Nandabalan told reporters here on Thursday that discreet inquiries with some suspects and witnesses led to the seizure of the van and arrest of S. Manoharan (40) of K.K. Patti, Theni district, the key accused in the incident.
From two districts
Based on his confession, S. Sendil Kumar (27) and A. Kannan (29) of Arapalayam in Madurai, B. Arunachalam (32) of Thenur, Madurai district and P. Kalaiarasan (24) and S. Sivamuniandi (28) of Keela Gudalur in Theni district were arrested.
Initially, the official did not disclose details of the kidnap. But following the seizure of the van and arrests, Mr. Murugesan revealed that the gang demanded a huge ransom to set him free.
During discreet inquiries with some of his relatives, the investigators came to know that the kidnappers had demanded Rs. 15 lakh.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (law and order) P. C. Thenmozhi said that the police had recovered Rs. 9.03 lakh from the gang so far. Anna Nagar police have registered a case of kidnap and robbery against the six persons. They were produced before a court. Further investigation is under way.
Some of the senior police officers, who were part of the investigations from day one, told The Hindu on Thursday that the gang members, most of whom were involved in grave crimes, had cases booked against them by the Q Branch police as well.
Before committing the crime, the gang closely monitored the movements of Mr. Murugesan for almost a week. “They identified his house in K.K. Nagar, noted the timings at which he went for his morning walk, the time he left for office, persons visiting his house, and at the office….”
The key accused, Manoharan, is the son of a former policeman. He figured in the murder case of Sivaganga Municipal Chairman who was killed by a ‘remote bomb’ by a gang two years ago.
Mr. Murugesan, who hails from Theni district, had volunteered to build a temple in the village. Even as the villagers were all praise about the philanthropy of the Corporation officer, Manoharan hit upon the idea to kidnap him and make some quick money.
Despite the nonchalant attitude of the Corporation officer in giving details about the kidnap, the team work and coordinated efforts of the investigating officers fetched results swiftly, a police officer said.
Following clues gathered from the scene of crime that the vehicle was a Tempo Traveller; the police were on the look out for such vehicles. The police learnt that there were 69 Tempo Travellers being operated in the city/district. They zeroed in on the vehicle and when the driver confessed to the crime, the police were hopeful of nabbing the kidnappers.
A senior officer said that after being kidnapped at around 8 a.m., Mr. Murugesan who could not be contacted at all, spoke to a man (claimed to be his Personal Assistant) over mobile phone at 6.13 p.m. As the kidnappers demanded a huge ransom to set him free unharmed, his well-wishers raised the money and delivered it at a spot near Chekkanoorani police station, two hours after which he was freed, the officer added.
The accused claimed to have paid Rs. 20,000 towards hiring the van and divided the ransom money among themselves.