Four days after Jashith, a four-year-old boy, was kidnapped by two unidentified men from his home in Mandapeta in East Godavari district, he was found and handed over to the parents by District Superintendent of Police, Adnan Nayeem Ashmi.
According to the SP, Jashith was freed by the abductors, apparently finding that the police heat was making it difficult for them.
One of the kidnappers left Jashith at Kutukuluru village in Anaparthi mandal around 1 am on the intervening night of Wednesday-Thursday. A coolie, who did not know about the abduction was woken up by Jashith and he kept him at his shanty till 5 am. Then when the local brick kiln owner came, he recognised Jashith thanks to relentless media and social media coverage of the abduction, and informed the police.
The case had become the much-talked about incident in all of Andhra Pradesh, with the Telugu media carrying regular updates on the possible whereabouts of the UKG student. (See video for all details)
Jashith’s parents are bank employees and had come to Mandapeta after they were transferred from Srikakulam. The abduction took place on Monday evening when Jashith was returning home with his grandmother. There was a power cut in the area at that time and as they were climbing the staircase, the two men who had covered their face with a handkerchief barged in. They assaulted the grandmother, took Jashith and escaped on their motorbike. Some locals chased the kidnappers but lost them in the traffic and the darkness.
The police formed 17 special teams with the SP supervising them directly and with help from the Rajahmundry Urban SP. They suspected the involvement of people known to the parents in the abduction.
Contrary to the usual practise, no ransom call was made to the parents. But according to the police, there were 4 fake calls. One of them claiming to be from Delhi, asking for Rs 3000. The police got suspicious also because the facts provided by the fake caller was wrong.
Significantly, on 27 June, the father’s bike was stolen. On 3 July, similar masked men were seen entering a neighbour’s house. The police suspect they may have planned it for that day but got the house wrong.
The police got a huge round of applause (see video below) when the district SP handed over Jashith to the family. Jashith said he was given idli to eat during the time he was in the custody of the kidnappers. Grandmother Parvathi who said she had not slept a wink nor eaten properly for the last three days, was very relieved that her grandson was back home safe. So was the mother who is nine months pregnant and underwent huge trauma last 40-odd hours.
The police say the investigation will continue to track the kidnappers. It believes the boy was not taken beyond 12 km from the place. Jashith was kept in a house which also had two women and one girl. The police are not sure if they are also part of the abduction gang. One of the men, according to the boy, was referred to as Raju.