A four-year-old boy left for dead by his kidnapper was found alive when the suspect led the police to the spot where he had dumped the child's 'body'. The police said the accused was a neighbour of the child and had come to believe the boy's father had a lot of money because he had told all and sundry living near his residence in Mangadewadi, Sundarnagar, about his plans to build a new house.
The boy, Pranav Chinchane, was found by the Bharati Vidyapeeth police with barely any signs of life in him at an isolated spot near Katraj at 12.30 am yesterday and rushed to
Sassoon General Hospital, where his condition improved after treatment.
The police said Pranav's father Mahadev, a painter, made the mistake of announcing his plans to build a new house to all and sundry. They said this made his neighbour Sainath Balasaheb Raut (19), also a painter, think he could kidnap Pranav for ransom.
"Mahadev Chinchane came to us around 8 pm (on Saturday) and told us that he had received three threat calls from a man who was speaking in Hindi and asking for Rs 1 lakh ransom if he wanted to see his son alive again," said Senior Police Inspector Nagnath Wakude.
"We investigated the matter further and came to the conclusion that considering the not-so-great financial position of the complainant, it was unlikely that someone would kidnap his son for ransom. Then Chinchane told us that he had plans to build a new house and that this thing was known to the entire locality in Mangadewadi, Sundarnagar, in Haveli."
DCP Zone II Rajeshkumar Mor, who was supervising the case, said the police made enquiries with residents of Mangadewadi and got two witnesses.
"The witnesses claimed to have seen Pranav last with Mahadev's neighbour Sainath Balasaheb Raut," said Mor.
The police said when they questioned Raut, he claimed to have dropped Pranav back after giving him an ice cream. Then, a paan shop owner, Pappu Gaikwad, told the police that Raut had bought his usual paan masala from him but, unusually, had demanded four one-rupee coins back in change.
"This information about Raut demanding rupee coins as change made us draw a link to the fact that Mahadev had received three calls from public booths in Nasrapur and Sinhagad Road," said Mor. "After conducting a search on Raut, the investigating team found only a single one-rupee coin on him."
This made the police suspect Raut had used three one-rupee coins in making the three phone calls from a public booth to Pranav's father, and the police confronted Raut with this evidence.
Raut at first denied he had kidnapped Pranav, but later confessed to the crime and told the police that he had "strangled Pranav and thrown his body" at an isolated place near Hotel Rajgarden in the vicinity of Katraj.
The police made Raut take them to the spot, reaching there around 12.30 am yesterday. As they neared the spot, they had little hope of seeing the boy alive.
"The boy was lying upside down with his hands folded and initially showed no signs of life, but as we lit the torch he moved his legs and lips," said Police Inspector Anil Aade. "We were happy to see the boy alive and felt content. For almost eight hours, Mahadev, his wife and other members of his family had not even had water."
The boy had marks on his neck indicating an attempt at strangling him, and there were other injuries on his face and neck.
"From the beginning, the Chinchane family kept saying that Raut being a neighbour and like a member of their family, he could not have done this," said Wakude. "Raut did this as he was certain that the family had money since the Chinchane's were planning to build a house in the same locality."
The officer said Raut was also angry with Mahadev's elder brother Sudhakar, whom he had had an argument with over repayment of a loan.
Wakude said Raut had wanted a bike but could not get a loan, so Sudhakar had purchased one in his name with the understanding that Raut would use it and also repay the loan. The officer said Raut had defaulted on two installments and this had resulted in the argument with Sudhakar.
"The argument also contributed to spurring Raut to commit the crime as it made him want to take revenge on the family," said Wakude.