Kollam: A day after the dramatic arrest of three people for their involvement in the Kollam child kidnapping case, ADGP M R Ajith Kumar on Saturday said the accused Padmakumar, his wife Anitha Kumari and daughter Anupama executed the crime to obtain money for settling their debt.
He said the probe team's major focus was on coercing the gang to abandon the child safely. He noted that the accused confessed that they decided to drop the child off at the Ashram Maidan after facing pressure from the police investigation.
According to police, Padmakumar's wife Anitha Kumari was the mastermind of the crime. “The abductors had left a clue for the probe team while committing the crime. Inputs from the public and cyber analysis helped the probe team solve the case. The abduction was well-planned after foreseeing the movements of the police. A team led by Nishanthini and Sparjan Kumar investigated the case,” said the ADGP.
“Padmakumar, a cable network operator, was in severe financial crisis during the post-Covid period. He claimed that he was influenced by the people who committed similar crimes for financial gain. The family watched movies and news to plan the crime," the officer said.
A year-long planning
"Padmakumar had made a fake number plate last year and another one recently. He had cancelled his previous plan as his mother objected to it. Following his mother's demise, Padmakumar decided to execute his plan," the ADGP explained.
He said the family used to watch children for the past month in search of a perfect target. "After targeting the six-year-old girl, they tried to kidnap her three times. But they failed to execute their plans as the mother or grandmother accompanied her to the tuition centre,” he said.
On November 27, they found the situation favour for them as the children were not accompanied by any adult. They planned to kidnap the girl and leave a note demanding ransom with her brother. Anitha Kumari also handed over the note to the girl's brother and asked him to give it to his mother. But as the boy resisted the kidnap, the note fell inside the car amid the scuffle.
“The accused sedated the child when she screamed inside the car. When she woke up, they collected her mother's phone number and went to the Parippally area to contact the family. They contacted the family only once and demanded Rs 10 lakh. When the news made headlines, the panicked gang abandoned the girl near the Ashramam Maidan. Padmakumar's wife Anitha Kumari dropped the girl off the maidan and confirmed that the students who were passing by the area noticed the girl. Later, they moved to Thenkasi,” ADGP Ajith Kumar told reporters.
He claimed that police received major clues from the phone call the accused made to the girl's parents.
“He wanted Rs 10 lakh to settle a debt immediately. He had asked many people for the money. As he failed to raise the money, he decided to execute the child abduction plan,” the officer said.
During the interrogation, Padmakumar reportedly confessed to the police that his wife had phoned the child's mother demanding Rs 10 lakh as ransom. He also claimed that no others were involved in the crime.
"Padmakumar, who is a Computer Science graduate, has run many businesses including cable network, bakery, agriculture and real estate. His daughter Anupama, a YouTuber, who used to earn up to Rs 4 lakh per month from the social media platform, also landed in a financial crisis after YouTube stopped payment to her videos. It is assumed that following this, the whole family hatched the conspiracy to abduct a child," added the official.
The ADGP confirmed that neither Padmakumar nor his wife and daughter have any criminal background. The six-year-old girl was kidnapped by the gang on November 27. Around 21 hours after the abduction, she was found abandoned at Ashramam Maidan in Kollam district. On December 1, police nabbed Padmakumar and his family from Thenkasi in Tamil Nadu. Later, a court remanded the trio to custody for two weeks.