Special Correspondent

Swords, clubs, chilli powder and mobile phones seized from the accused

Police take into custody seven persons who were sitting in a van in suspicious circumstances The gang revealed they had hatched a conspiracy to kidnap one of the sons of a tea trader in Sagar

SHIMOGA: Police have arrested eight persons in connection with an attempt to kidnap the son of a businessman of Sagar town.

The names of the arrested have been given as Mohammed Ibrahim, Abdul Azeez, Shaji, Mohammed Bapu, Rathnakar, Raju, Vasu and Chandra.

Superintendent of Police Arun Chakravarthy told presspersons here on Friday that a night beat squad led by the Police Inspector Jagdish of Sagar Market Police Station took into custody seven persons who were sitting in a van in suspicious circumstances. The police seized swords, clubs, knives, chilli powder and mobile phones from them.

He said that on being questioned, Abdul Azeez, the leader of the gang, reportedly revealed that they had hatched a conspiracy to kidnap one of the sons of `Tip Top' Ibrabim, a tea trader in Sagar, Town. Azeez told the police that `Naxalite Prabhakar,' whose real name turned out to be Mohammed Ibrahim, offered his gang Rs. 15 lakh to kidnap any rich merchant.

Mr. Chakravarthy said three squads were formed to trace Prabhakar. He said that Azeez, who was in police custody, was told to talk to Prabhakar on the phone to inform him that `Tip Top' Ibrahim's son had been kidnapped. Prabhakar then called the father of the "kidnapped" boy to tell him that his son was in his custody and demanded a ransom of Rs. 2.25 crore for his release.

He said that the police tried to establish the whereabouts of Prabhakar with the help of the numbers of the three mobile phones that he had used while talking to the boy's father and launched search operations in Kundapur, Bhatkal, Udupi and Byndoor.

Mr. Chakravarthy said that when Prabhakar was contacted on the phone, he asked the police to keep the ransom amount, which he had reduced to Rs. 50 lakh at the request of the boy's father, at four specified places. The police kept dummy notes in bundles in a plastic bag, which was tied to the branch of a tree, and waited for Prabhakar to pick up the "money." But he did not turn up.

Later, the police established contact with Prabhakar through Azeez's mobile phone. Even as the conversation was on, the battery of the mobile phone began to run down. Convinced that the phone call he had received was from Azeez, Prabhakar rang him back on a landline, which enabled the police to trace his whereabouts. The police tracked Prabhakar down in Bhatkal. Prabhakar's real name was Mohammed Ibrahim. He was a dealer in cigarette lighters who had no links with naxalites.