Chennai, June 3: Tamil Nadu Police have rescued a kidnapped British couple. Chennai Police Commissioner S. George, speaking to reporters Monday, said the May 29 kidnap has been cracked and eight of the nine involved in it have been arrested.
One member of the nine-strong gang, comprising Indian nationals and Sri Lankan refugees, is on the run. Of the eight arrested, one is a woman teacher who had been suspended from her job.
Speaking to reporters, George said: "Thavaraja, a person of Sri Lankan origin, and Salaja, were kidnapped when they came here on a nine-day temple tour from Colombo." The couple had gone to Colombo from London to attend a wedding there.
On his arrival at the Chennai airport, Thavaraja saw someone holding up a placard with his name on it. The couple had booked a room in a hotel, and assumed that the man had come to escort them to their hotel.
When they got into the vehicle, the couple was threatened and told that they were being kidnapped for a ransom.
Meanwhile, in London, the couple's daughter Dharshini, unable to contact or trace her parents, informed a relative, Sadasivam Ananda Thiyagar.
Thiyagar, who also lives in London, got in touch with a friend who lodged a missing report with the Chennai police.
City police formed eight teams to trace the couple, and worked in coordination with the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard), London, Serious Organised Crime Agency (SCOA), UK, and the British Deputy High Commission here. Inputs were received from the couple's daughter.
Meanwhile, Dharshini got a ransom call from the kidnappers, asking for Rs.2.48 crore (300,000 British Pound) to be paid to certain people in London.
London Metropolitan Police told the Chennai police that Thavaraja owned a departmental store and a Sri Lankan, Ajanthan, worked with him there. They also said that Ajanthan had a friend named Ramesh hailing from Tiruchirapalli (Trichy) in Tamil Nadu, working in another departmental store in London.
Chennai police then checked the background of Ramesh, and found that among his friends was Kannan alias Dharmalingam of Trichy, with a history of involvement in kidnappings.
Police said after the arrests were made Saturday, the arrested people told them that Ajanthan and Ramesh hatched the kidnap plan, and told Dharmalingam, a businessman running a travel agency, to kidnap Thavaraja and Salaja in return for 30 percent of the ransom amount.
Dharmalingam roped in Indira Anthony Mary, a teacher, who in turn asked Sathya, a member of the newly formed Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi party, to join the gang.
After the Thavarajas were kidnapped, the gang contacted their daughter Dharshini in London. Dharshini passed on the mobile phone numbers to the police team here.
Tracing the calls, the police discovered that the gang was active in Cuddalore district, and moving in vehicles in and around Cuddalore and Villapuram.
With the search narrowing down, police intercepted a speeding utility vehicle Saturday to find the Thavarajas in it and make the eight arrests.
Sathya, sensing trouble, gave policemen the slip.
The eight arrested were brought to the city Monday and remanded in judicial custody.