Criminal gang in school staffer abduction, 4 held

Bhubaneswar: In what could be termed as a first such case in Odisha in which the involvement of a criminal gang came to fore in an abduction to extort Rs 50 lakh ransom, the Koraput police on Friday arrested four persons including a minor for their alleged connection in the kidnapping of two school staffers.

The accused have been identified as Bhagwan Khila, Madan Khemundu and Jagarao Khemundu, police said adding the minor’s name has been kept confidential.

“We have seized two arms and some incriminating articles from their possession. They will be produced in court very soon,” said IG (south-west range) Yashwinder Jethwa.

Talking to reporters about modus operandi of the group, the official said suspecting the handiwork of such a local gang, three special squads were formed to rescue the victims and arrest the abductors.

The eight-member gang, on January 24 had kidnapped two staffers of Auro Mira Vidya Mandir at Kechla in Koraput district and tried to make it look like Maoist activity, taking advantage of the ultra -hit area.

“From investigations we came to know the group had confined the victims in Podabazar village. Through mobile tracker, we located the place and rounded up the suspects,” Jethwa said.

Though the main accused has managed to escape along with some others of the group, we’ll nab them soon, the official stated.

“We are told by the victims, rescued last night that one Arjuna Nana gang is behind the episode as they were identifying themselves of that group only,” added he.

School in-charge Sukanta Satapathy, one of the two victims told reporters that the group members were talking in Odia and behaving like Red rebels.

“They were demanding Rs 50-lakh from our school authorities and threatening to kill us if the amount was not paid,” Satapathy narrating the horrific experience said.

Sources said a few months back, a letter was found pasted on the school gate, demanding Rs 50 lakh from the authorities. Police found it to be a ‘fake Maoist letter’.