When Srikanth Goud, a Delhi-based doctor from Hyderabad boarded an Ola cab on 6 July, he couldn't have known he was actually stepping into a criminal saga that would involve ransom demands, 25 police teams, 200 cops, two rescue operations, and end, finally, in a dramatic shootout and rescue on 19 July. And it all started with two disgruntled drivers out to exact revenge on Ola, the cab-aggregator company they felt had short-changed them.
Dr Goud unwittingly found himself in the middle of a criminal conspiracy when he booked an Ola cab to return home to Gautam Nagar from a birthday party in Noida on July 6. According to a Times of India report, the driver picked the doctor up from near Preet Vihar metro station, where his friend had dropped him. Once inside the cab, the driver locked the doors and windows and drove towards Noida, threatening to kill Dr Goud if he raised an alarm. In Noida, three co-conspirators joined the driver in the car and they then drove off to Dadri in UP.
The kidnappers' first call was to an Ola call centre, demanding Rs 5 crore as ransom.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the kidnappers' first call was to an Ola call centre, demanding Rs 5 crore as ransom. The company informed the police and shared the driver and vehicle details with them. The kidnappers also called Dr Goud's workplace, Metro Hospital, and asked them to pressure Ola to pay the ransom money. Meanwhile, they took videos of Dr Goud in a pitiful condition, begging for water, and sent it to his family and Ola.
The kidnappers also kept changing their location and using different handsets and numbers to confuse the cops, but eventually, using the meta data from the videos sent by the kidnappers, the Delhi Police was able to pinpoint that the doctor was being held near Meerut. Dr Goud was kept drugged and tied to a chair in an abandoned under-construction building in Meerut, reported HT.
They tried to escape, but couldn't, and opened fire. Three to four rounds of bullets were exchanged, during which one of the kidnappers was hit on the thigh.
The first encounter took place on Sunday, 16 July. The cops apprehended the kidnappers near a sugarcane field in Peerpur village while they were trying to flee with the doctor in a WagonR, but they managed to escape.
By now, the police had also identified all the kidnappers and had located their families in Daurala, Dadri and other areas near Meerut.
On Wednesday, July 19, the police again received intelligence on the kidnappers' whereabouts and traced them in Meerut's Shatabdi Nagar area. The kidnappers were once again trying to change locations, when the police surrounded them. They tried to escape, but couldn't, and finding themselves cornered, they opened fire. Three to four rounds of bullets were exchanged, during which one of the kidnappers was hit on the thigh. Dr Goud was finally rescued from his kidnappers after 13 ordeal-filled days at around 5pm on Wednesday.
The two prime conspirators are former Ola drivers and wanted to teach a lesson to the company for not paying their incentives.
Out of the nine men involved in the kidnapping, four are in police custody while five are still absconding, with the Delhi Police hot on their heels. The two prime conspirators, who managed to escape, are former Ola drivers and wanted to teach a lesson to the company for not paying their incentives, reported TOI.
Sources in the Meerut Police told TOI that ever since the first ransom call was traced back to Daurala 10 days ago, at least 25 Delhi Police teams had been stationed in west UP. Even now, raids are being carried on in Meerut to nab the absconding kidnappers, particularly the two main conspirators. "A team led by SHO Preet Vihar Maninder Singh has been tracking the rest of the culprits in different places," TOI quoted Omvir Singh, DCP, east, as saying.
Dr Goud, meanwhile, is understandably shocked. According to the HT report, while he was fed, he was found to be in a weak condition, beaten up and in a state of shock upon rescue. He will soon receive counselling.
Ola Cabs, in an email response to HuffPost India, said that the company would cooperate with the police in their investigations to ensure that the culprits are brought to justice. "We will also support and assist the (Goud) family to help them fully recover from the aftershocks of this harrowing crime," Ola's spokesperson said.