The motive behind the kidnapping was allegedly the family's pressing financial issues (Representational)
A businessman, his wife, and their YouTuber daughter were arrested by the Kerala Police here on Saturday for allegedly kidnapping a six-year-old girl earlier this week, demanding a ransom of Rs 10 lakh. The child was later abandoned on a public ground in Kollam after the incident gained widespread attention.
Police said the accused Padmakumar, an engineering graduate, his homemaker wife Anitha Kumari, and their daughter Anupama Padman, who boasts a substantial following on YouTube, were taken into custody based on a combination of scientific, digital, and circumstantial evidence.
ADGP M R Ajithkumar said that information provided by civilians, who recognised the voice of one of the accused during ransom negotiations, played a crucial role in their apprehension.
The kidnapping, which unfolded earlier this week, captured public attention when the perpetrators abandoned the minor girl on a public ground in this southern district.
The police, aided by a portrait of Padmakumar drawn with input from the kidnapped girl, successfully tracked down the accused.
The motive behind the kidnapping was allegedly the family's pressing financial issues.
"The abduction was a meticulously planned one. The accused had been planning the crime for the last one year and was looking for a suitable child to kidnap," Ajithkumar told reporters outside Pooyappally Police station where the case was registered.
Padmakumar was engaged in several businesses, including the operation of a local cable TV network, but is said to be suffering from an acute financial crisis post Covid.
"As per his statement, he had debt to the tune of over Rs five crore. He had an immediate need of Rs 10 lakh which prompted the family to carry out the crime," the official said.
Police suspected that Anitha Kumari was the brain behind the kidnapping.
The ADGP also said the accused had tried to kidnap the child two times before but didn't succeed as she was accompanied by her mother and grandmother on the occasions.
Though 20-year-old Anupama had good earnings through social media, it suddenly stopped some time back due to technical reasons, which also prompted the family to think about some other easy way to earn money, the officer added.
He lauded the special police team under DIG Nishanthini who probed the case and arrested culprits in a short span of time.
The six-year-old girl, who was kidnapped while going home from tuition with her elder brother, was found abandoned at a public ground here the next day.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Palakkad confirmed that the investigation had achieved significant progress.
"The main accused are in police custody. Police will divulge further details," Vijayan told a press conference here.
He lavished praise on the police force for apprehending the accused.
A remarkable investigation was carried out by the police in the case which helped take the accused into custody within a short span of time, he added.
A sincere and dedicated probe carried out by the police helped to nab the real accused in a short time, the CM said.
Vijayan also slammed the opposition Congress for criticising the police with regard to the investigation of the incident.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)