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Five held for murder of kidnapped Gurgaon teenager

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Azharuddin who was kidnapped and later strangled to death
Azharuddin who was kidnapped and later strangled to death

Ashok Kumar

GURGAON: More than a month after a teenaged student of a prominent public school was kidnapped from near his Maruti Kunj residence here, the Gurgaon police have arrested a close friend of the victim along with four accomplices on the charge of murdering him. Two more arrests are expected soon.

Seventeen-year-old Azharuddin was strangled a few hours after he was kidnapped on November 21 and his body dumped at an isolated spot at Etah in Uttar Pradesh. A police team has been despatched to recover the body.

The accused, three of whom were known to Azharuddin, purportedly discussed a daylong trip to Agra with him as part of their kidnapping plot and asked him not to reveal it to anyone in his family. As the teenager was to go to Palwal on November 21 to submit some documents at a bank, he readily agreed to accompany them.

Azhar left home in the morning and joined his friends who were waiting for him in an Alto car outside the housing complex.

“Half an hour after Azhar left, he rang me up for the contact number of the bank manager. He called up his cousin around 4 p.m. and that was the last we heard from him,” says Azhar’s 40-year-old distraught father Mohammad Akhtar.

For almost a week thereafter the family had no information about Azhar. Their search for him ended with a ransom call on November 27.

“I received a call on my cell phone around 2 p.m. The caller told me that Azhar was with him and demanded Rs.50 lakh for his release. He gave me a week’s time to arrange the money. On December 7, he called up again asking me to reach Faridabad with the ransom amount. I informed the police and the kidnappers aborted the plan,” said Mr. Akhtar, a supervisor at Maruti Udyog Limited.

The kidnappers had been calling from Azhar’s cell phone all this while and the calls were traced to Gurgaon and neighbouring Khandsa and Manesar.

The breakthrough came when the kidnappers called up from their own cell phone that was traced to Sangam Vihar in Delhi. “On December 23, the kidnappers asked me to come to Jhansi with the ransom amount. On reaching Jhansi railway station, they called me up to give further directions. But I categorically told them that I wanted to speak to my son before paying the money. They were calling from Azhar’s pre-paid cell phone but the conversation abruptly ended. They then called from their own cell phone,” said Mr. Akhtar.

Tracing the call, the police subsequently identified the accused as Aftab Ali, Manoj Yadav, Ravi Kumar, Anilence Thomas and Aanis and arrested them on Tuesday.

Aftab, who is pursuing an MBA course through correspondence, is a neighbour of the young victim. Manoj, a science under-graduate, also stays near Maruti Kunj housing society. Ravi, a photographer, is a resident of Bhondsi. Aanis has had criminal involvements in the past, the police said. Aanis and Thomas are residents of Sangam Vihar. “The accused wanted quick money to set up their business. They knew that Azhar’s family was well off and he was their only son. Also Azhar was a soft target as he was known to them,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) A. K. Dhawan.

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