Debt ridden businessman fakes his own kidnapping, found hiding in Nagpur

A 48-year-old Varanasi-based garment merchant, who had incurred major losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, staged his own kidnapping and went into hiding in Nagpur.

The Bhoiwada police said that Ambaresh Asthana called his brother-in-law over the phone recently and told him that he has been kidnapped by one of his clients. He was, however, found in Nagpur a week later.

The police said that Asthana keeps visiting Mumbai to meet his clients. Similarly, he had come to Mumbai on December 10, last year, and returned to Varanasi on December 24. “He again came to Mumbai on December 27 and stayed at a hotel in Dadar,” said an officer.

On December 27, Asthana called up his brother-in-law in Vapi and said that he had been assaulted and kidnapped by four or five of his clients. “On December 30 and January 1, Asthana sent photographs of his face and hands tied with bandages to his elder brother and brother-in-law,” the officer said.

“The businessman pretended that kidnappers had lent him a phone to call. The phone was later found switched off,” the officer added.

Following this, Asthana’s elder brother from Varanasi and his brother-in-law from Vapi arrived in Mumbai. They lodged a complaint at Bhoiwada police station, as the hotel where Asthana was staying falls in its jurisdiction.

“We still got in touch with the clients whom Asthana had claimed were behind the kidnapping. They said that they never went to Asthana’s shop,” the officer said.

Following this, the police started tracking Asthana with the help of his phone number’s call data records and traced him to Nagpur. “We initially checked hotels and lodges at Parel and surrounding areas too… we then left for Nagpur on January 3. We learnt that he was staying in the premises of a trust,” said Assistant Inspector Shailendra Jagdale.

Asthana was picked up and brought to Mumbai on January 5. Senior Inspector Vinod Kamble of Bhoiwada police station said Asthana was let off and handed over to his family after a stern warning.

“Asthana was mentally stressed, as he had incurred heavy losses and had taken money from his relatives… He must have done this to gain sympathy, as he was embarrassed,” said an officer.