Beware of pani puri vendors, warn cops

Beware of pani puri vendors, warn cops

Some might be kidnappers planning to carry out acts

Beware of pani puri vendors, warn cops

“Some of them might be kidnappers, in the guise of pani puri vendors, planning to carry out acts while they serve the tasty snack on roadside,” cautions Basaveshwaranagar Police Station Inspector H Hanumanthappa. Hanumanthappa is just back from Bhind in Madhya Pradesh, after rescuing a local astropalmist from the clutches of kidnappers who hailed from a northern State and were running the trade of pani puri vendors in Bangalore.

“Santosh who kidnapped astrologer Lakkappa in Basaveshwarnagar two weeks ago was a pani puri vendor near Shankarnag bus stop in Kurubarahalli. Santosh hails from Bhind district in Madhya Pradesh,” Hanumanthappa told Deccan Herald.

The Inspector said several youngsters from Bhind and other areas in MP and Uttar Pradesh who come down to southern states. They pose themselves as pani puri vendors and hatch conspiracy to kidnap. They target astrologers who they feel are easy victims. Many of such youngsters might be selling the pani puri in southern states including Karnataka,” Hanumanthappa said.

Santosh had come to Bangalore a year ago. He met Lakkappa on several occasions seeking divine help for his problems. After studying Lakkappa’s routine carefully, he told the astrologer a few months ago that his master had constructed a factory in Bhind City and wanted him to study Vaastu of the premises. Unsuspecting, Lakkappa accompanied him to Bhind. However, suspecting a trick he returned, the Inspector said.

Recently, Santosh repeated the same story and offered Rs 20,000 for his services towards the Vaastu and other things. Lakkappa, who is preparing for his three daughters’ wedding, decided to accompany Santosh as he wanted some money.
It took the astrologer some time to realise that he was trapped after reaching Bhind. He was fed only one roti a day and was beaten often. Tracing Santosh’s calls, the police worked out the kidnappers’ whereabouts. Bhind district SP Chanchal Shekhar provided the Bangalore police team with an encounter specialist, Assistant Sub-Inspector Shivakumar.

On February 13, a few local police officers, who were with the Bangalore team stopped a motorist, Mehpal for suspicious riding. Mehpal did not give satisfactory reply for questions about a wrist watch he wore. Suddenly, one of Lakkappa’s relatives, who had accompanied the Bangalore police told the police that it was Lakkappa’s wrist watch. Grilled, Mehpal spilled the beans.

Police raided a premises based on Mehpal’s information, but Santosh and three others had left the premises with Lakkappa on two bikes. They wanted to reach a village called Soni from where they had planned to board a train. However, the police chased them and rescued Lakkappa before they could reach the railway station on February 14 at 9 pm. Two other suspects managed to escape.

There are several gangs, each led by a leader, indulging in kidnapping in dense forest area in Bhind which is very close to Chambal Valley. Youngsters like Santosh act as their agents. They identify people, take them to the valley, hand them over to their leaders, take their financial share and begin to hunt for another person, added the Inspector. Santosh and Mehpal were imprisoned in a jail in Bhind City.

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