THE HEROES Police officials recall the twists and turns in the highprofile case
NEW DELHI: As the core team involved in the rescue of fiveyear-old Vihaan Gupta gathered again on Thursday, the mood in the room was starkly different from the tense atmosphere during the ‘C-River’ operation.
Till three days ago, Delhi Police’s Crime Branch office in Shakarpur was the centre of the operation for the rescue of Vihaan, who had been abducted on January 25.
The operation had been given the codename ‘C-River’ because the kidnappers, in their first ransom call, called the boy’s parents to Cross River Mall in east Delhi.
Tuesday morning’s rescue concluded after a 90-minute car chase and a dramatic shootout that left one of the alleged kidnappers dead and another wounded at the Ghaziabad flat were Vihaan had been held.
The members of the team recalled how each of them used their respective expertise to ensure the operation’s success.
Vihaan’s abduction wasn’t the first time that DCP Ram Gopal Naik, who supervised the C-River operation, found himself in the midst of an operation to rescue a child. When he was the superintendent of police at Vizag, he had been entrusted with the rescue of an abducted 11-year-old.
“In that case, the kidnappers were using different public phone booths to make ransom calls which made it difficult for us to pinpoint their location. I deployed 500 plainclothes policemen to man each of the 250 phone booths in the city for days. When one of the kidnappers finally used a phone booth to make another ransom demand, our men nabbed him,” said Naik.
Like the Vizag case, Naik said the first clue in the east Delhi case came from the ransom call made to Vihaan’s father Sunny Gupta.
Inspector Vinay Tyagi, who was pivotal in executing the operation on the ground, said the team had to skim through several false leads. “One of our teams went to MP based on a lead, but returned empty handed,” said Tyagi.
Finally, the callers were identified with the help of the local intelligence network of ASI Rajkumar and head constable Shyam Lal. On February 4, Lal zeroed in on the three men they were looking for — Pankaj, Nitin Sharma and Ravi Pal.
“My informers watched the movement all possible suspects in the area and told me that these three men have not been coming home at night consistently since the day the boy was kidnapped. At this point, we started tracking their movements,” Lal said.
Vinay Tyagi, who has been part of several encounters in his career, said Tuesday’s shootout was challenging because of the confined space and the fact that the child was inside the flat.
Tyagi and constable Kuldeep were the two officers primarily involved in the final encounter. The bullets which killed Ravi and left Pankaj injured had been fired by these two officers.
“However after the encounter, we were locked outside the flat as the accused (Ravi and Pankaj) had bolted the flat’s iron door from the inside. (Head constable) Shashi Kant, who weighs over 100kg and stands at 6-foot tall, used his strength to pry the door open from a corner,” Tyagi said.