Six men and one woman were arrested in India on July 14th for kidnapping three people in an attempted ransom that saw the assailants demand 80 bitcoins in exchange for their victims’ safety.
The three victims were rescued after being held captive for more than 15 days following a 13-hour search operation of an 11-story apartment in Jaipur, the capital city of India’s Rajasthan state. Five of the individuals arrested are members of a gang based in the North Indian state of Haryana who have been involved with multiple cases of kidnapping, extortion, and robbery.
Kidnapper Accidentally Arrested During Search for Stolen SUV
Deputy commissioner of Jaipur West police, Vikas Sharma, stated that police accidentally encountered one of the abductors during the search for a stolen SUV traced to a township on the Ajmer highway. “When the police team entered the township, a man was seen fleeing. He was caught and upon questioning he told police that three men were held hostage in a flat for several days,” he stated.
After using CCTV footage to identify the apartment blocks in which the captives were being held, deputy commission Sharma stated that “Police teams from six police stations and commandos from anti-terror squad were called in for a search operation.”
The seven individuals arrested were identified as 21-year-old Jitendra Kumar, 22-year-old Deepak Kumar, 19-year-old Anupam Soni, 20-year-old Pawan Kumar, 19-year-old Bhawani Singh, 19-year-old Rahul Kumar, and 24-year-old Lokendra Singh. All of the kidnappers are from Haryana except for Lokendra Singh, who is from Rajasthan.
Jaipur police are yet to determine whether other individuals were also involved in the kidnapping.
Victims Were Tortured While Held in Captivity
Jaipur police revealed the identities of the three rescued individuals as 19-year-old Luftan Shaikh of Mahrashtra, 44-year-old Malang Shah of Andhra Pradsh, and 36-year-old Mohammad Shazad of Rajasthan.
Deputy commissioner Sharma stated that “The gang kidnapped Shaikh and Shazad, two bitcoin traders, and demanded 80 bitcoins worth ₹8 crore (approximately $1,165,880). Shah was kidnapped two days later. The gang demanded ₹10 lakh (roughly $14,573.50) from his family members.”
Luftan and his friend Shahjad were lured to Jaipur under the guise of an offer the purchase BTC below market value via an in-person transaction, while Shah, who operates a trust, believed he was traveling to Jaipur to negotiate a contribution.
Deputy commissioner Sharma stated that the kidnappers “wanted to extort money from the trio. They held them hostage in the flat and had threatened to kill them if the demands were not met. The victims told police of being badly beaten with “belts, sticks, and other things” during their captivity, with one individual left unable to walk properly.
Jaipur police also seized “two pistols, one country-made gun and three SUVs” during the operation.