Woman ‘victim’ among three held for staging fake kidnapping for ransom

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Police here on Friday arrested three persons including a 35-year-old woman, who faked her kidnapping and sought a ransom of Rs 1 crore from her brother in the name of gangster Lawrence Bishnoi.

The woman identified as Smruti Rekha Pani is a resident of Bhubaneswar while her associates have been identified as Pradeep Kumar Ola of Jaipur and Devi Lal of Sikar district, both from Rajasthan.

“During the course of the investigation, we came to know that the purported victim lady developed a relationship with Predeep over Instagram in December 2023. They had hatched a plan and staged the abduction to extort money from Smruti’s brother. Accused Pradeep and Smruti had decided to get married but had no money. As Smruti knew that her brother possessed enough money, she and her associates planned the kidnapping to extract money from her brother,” said Sajeeb Panda, Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack.

Accused Pradeep and Devi Lal reached Bhubaneswar in a car hired from Rajasthan on June 17. Later on June 19, Smruti left her home. They then called Smruti’s brother Subhashis who stays in Bangalore over WhatsApp and asked him to pay a ransom of Rs 1 crore for the release of his sister.

Subhashis is a stock market trader and also owns a YouTube channel.

The accused, using gangster Lawrence Bishnoi’s name, called incessantly day and night and threatened the family members, police sources said.

Based on the complaint lodged on Wednesday by accused Smruti’s father, Satya Narayan, the Bhubaneswar police started the investigation by scanning CCTV cameras. The city police also alerted the police of neighbouring districts, the sources said.

Within 24 hours, cops nabbed the accused persons after a long chase. A police official also sustained serious injuries during the chase.

During interrogation, all the accused revealed the details of the “fake kidnapping”. Police also ascertained that accused Predeep and Devi Lal are involved in two separate criminal cases in Rajasthan.

They were later produced before a court, which sent them to a 14-day judicial custody.


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