Nine-member group demanded Rs. 2.48 crore from UK couple’s daughter

A nightmarish experience for kidnapped British citizens Thavaraj and Salaja came to an end when a police team arrived at the house in which they were being held hostage near Puducherry. However, so traumatised was Salaja by the experience that she thought that her rescuers were part of the same gang.

The couple had been abducted by a gang of nine persons from Chennai airport on May 29. The police arrested all the abductors including the headmistress of a private school.

The London police arrested Ajanthan, an employee in a petrol bunk owned by Thavaraj, who had provided details about the couple’s schedule to the gang. “In addition to coordinating with the couple’s daughter Darshini, we also closely worked with Scotland Yard, Serious Organised Crime Agency and the British Deputy High Commission We also ensured that any movement by the law enforcement agencies there did not put the hostages’ lives in danger,” said S. George, city police commissioner. The gang members had contacted Darshini and demanded Rs.2.48 crores in British pounds as ransom.

The couple came to Chennai from Colombo where they had attended a wedding. They were about to set out on a nine-day tour of temples in the State. At the airport, they were deceived by a man holding a placard bearing Thavaraj’s name and the hotel they were bound for and got into his car. “Soon, two others joined us and our phones were taken away,” said Thavaraj at a press meet.

They were taken to Mandharakuppam, a village near Neyvelli and held hostage in a house allegedly belonging to a PMK member. The gang began negotiations with Darshini, who pleaded with them for some time.

Meanwhile, police teams were conducting investigations across the State. On June 1, they received information that the abductors were in Puducherry and were headed towards Mandharakuppam. Vehicle checks were organised on the highway and soon, the abductors’ vehicle carrying Kannan and Indira, a head mistress of a private school, was stopped.

During interrogation, they revealed that the couple was in a house in Mandharakuppam and a police team rescued them Mr. George said that the case was complex as the money was asked to be delivered in U.K and there was no clue about the abductors here. “We listened to the audio clips sent by Darshini of her interaction with the abductors. We got clues from their accent. We had also appointed an officer to liaison with the U.K. police,” said George. Some of the abductors are Sri Lankan refugees.

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