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NEW DELHI: Twelve days after a five-year-old boy was pulled out of his school van in Shahdara by two armed men who had shot the driver in the leg, Delhi Police’s crime branch dramatically rescued the child after a fierce gunbattle with the kidnappers at a flat in Shalimar City, Sahibabad, early Tuesday morning.
The shootout began at 1am and lasted barely a minute. It left one of the kidnappers dead and another injured. Two cops, including a commando, were shot in the chest in the burst of fire but escaped unhurt, thanks to their bulletproof jackets. Police then broke open the flat door and rescued the child unharmed.
The mastermind, Nitin Sharma, 28, was the first to be caught around 11.15pm on Monday evening. He led the cops to the other two kidnappers, Ravi and Pankaj, who were cornered at the flat. Ravi died in the firing.
Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik said the operation was extremely calculated and planned. “A crack team was formed and every detail chalked out. All measures were taken to ensure the child’s safety,” he told TOI.
The boy was kidnapped on the eve of Republic Day, when the capital was under high security for the event as well as the Asean summit and anti-Padmaavat protests. It had the police brass on their toes. A ransom of Rs 60 lakh had been demanded for the child’s release.
Sharma and Pankaj are being interrogated about the details of their plan. Sharma had promised Rs 2.5 lakh each to his two aides. Two others, including a woman involved in the plot, are being tracked down.
The drama started around 11pm on Monday when the cops zeroed down upon the Sharma using advanced surveillance techniques. His movements were analysed and cops found him shuttling between Shalimar City and Gokulpuri area of northeast Delhi.
Around 11.15pm, cops intercepted Sharma near the community block of Seemapuri and interrogated him extensively. Fearing drastic action, Sharma spilled the beans and told cops that two other associates were at flat 505 in Ebony Towers in Shalimar City, along with the boy. He gave details of the weapons the two had and the location of the child in the house.
“A crack team led by joint commissioner Alok Kumar was formed and a raid conducted. The team had crack commandos as well,” said R P Upadhyay, special commissioner (crime). Around 12.50am, cops surrounded the tower and asked Nitin to ring the bell and get the door opened.
“The entrance had an iron grille gate and a wooden door. One person from inside partially opened the wooden door while the other person stood behind him. Police asked them to open the door and release the child but they immediately fired through the iron door. The bullets hit inspector Vinay Tyagi and commando Kuldip Singh,” joint CP Kumar said.
Saved due to their bulletproof jackets, the cops retaliated. The commando then took Ravi down with a single burst of his AK-47 rifle. Two other bullets were fired by inspector Tyagi from a Glock pistol. One hit the other kidnapper, Pankaj, in the thigh. The door was then broken open and the child rescued from the bedroom.
Two loaded 7.65mm pistols were recovered from the kidnappers, who had fired five rounds while police fired three. Cops found six rounds loaded in each pistol. The abductors were taken to GTB hospital where Ravi succumbed to his injuries. The bullet had hit the base of his neck. An FIR regarding the encounter has been registered at Sahibabad police station.
Police said the trio had made three failed attempts to kidnap the boy in January itself, before succeeding on January 25.