Saturday, November 03, 2007

The lift that proved costly

The lift that proved costly

K.V. Subramanya

Six call centre cab drivers held on murder charge



M. Sudarshan Reddy

BANGALORE: M. Surendra Reddy (60), a farmer from Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, has spent sleepless nights since his son M. Sudarshan Reddy, who was working in Bangalore, went missing on August 23.

The worried father came to Bangalore in the last week of August and lodged a complaint at the Madivala police station about his 26-year-old son who appeared to have vanished. But the policemen did not respond to his complaint.

Now, Mr. Surendra Reddy’s worst fears have come true. A gang of call centre cab drivers, on the pretext of giving a lift from Marathalli to Koramangala, kidnapped Sudarshan and murdered him, investigations by the Hebbal police reveal. The seven-member gang threw Sudarshan’s body in the Hemavathi canal in Shravanabelagola police station limits in Hassan district.

Using Sudarshan’s debit cards, the accused withdrew Rs. 1.7 lakh from Citibank and ICICI bank ATMs in Bangalore and Mysore, the police said.

Enticing commuters into their vehicles by promising them lifts, the call centre drivers also robbed three persons of cash, gold ornaments and cellphones. On October 13, the gang kidnapped Pankaj Singh, owner of a serviced apartment. They took him to Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, stabbed him in the neck and relieved him of Rs. 20,000, a gold ring and a cellphone. Mr. Singh’s injuries were so severe that his vocal chords have been paralysed.

The police have arrested six of the accused who work as drivers of cars that are on hire to two companies.

The police gave the names of the accused as Raghu (23), Deepu (21) and Sreenivasa (23) of Katriguppe in Banashankari and Raghavendra (24), Raghu (19) and Anand (21) of Srinagar. The police have recovered a car and other valuables worth Rs. 5 lakh from them.
Vital clues

While investigating the kidnapping of Mr. Pankaj Singh, Hebbal inspector S. Badrinath and his team obtained vital clues from the register at a toll gate in Krishnagiri. On the basis of these clues, the police zeroed in on the call centre drivers and arrested them.

Mr. Badrinath told The Hindu that the accused were in the possession of two debit cards in the name of M. Sudarshan Reddy. They confessed that they had stabbed Sudarshan and thrown his body in the canal. The Shravanabelagola police recovered the body and registered a murder case. As it was an unidentified body, the police had interred it, he said.

During the course of their investigations, the police took the debit cards to the banks and found Sudarshan’s address.

Subsequently, they informed his father of the murder.
Shock

Still in a state of shock, Mr. Surendra Reddy told The Hindu on Friday that his son came to Bangalore four years ago and was working in a private company.

He said when he approached the Madivala police to trace his missing son, they did not take it seriously. Sudarshan was the older of his two sons while the younger is a farmer in their Thatiguntipalya village.

Meanwhile, senior officers on Friday took Madivala inspector G.M. Kantharaj to task for not registering a missing complaint.

They are likely to initiate disciplinary action against him.

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