Special Correspondent

SALEM: A gang abducting businessmen and wealthy people for ransom was busted following the arrest of seven members, including its kingpin ‘Valathi’ Kumar alias Kumar, here on Wednesday. Kumar had been detained under Goondas’ Act earlier.

Of the 18-member armed gang, which was active in Coimbatore, Salem and nearby towns, seven, including a woman, were arrested. Two others had surrendered.

Salem City Commissioner Sunil Kumar Singh said that the gang used to woo its victims with the help of women to isolated places where they would be tortured, photographed in compromising positions and made to pay hefty sums for release.

“The victims, out of fear for life and loss of face in society, did not report to the police and silently paid the ransom,” Mr. Singh said. The crime came to light when the gang kidnapped a realtor and received a ransom of Rs.2 lakh and 43 sovereigns of gold. Before that it had abducted a financier on January 29 and received Rs.2 lakh.

The gang had kidnapped the managing director of local cable TV in 2006.

The police had stormed its hideout to rescue him.