File photo of inmates in India's Tihar jail taken in 2005, for illustrative purposes only. Photo courtesy of Manpreet Romana / AFP
Two spelling mistakes made in a ransom note by a kidnapper helped the police crack a case of extortion and murder of an eight-year-old in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. On October 26, 22-year-old Ram Pratap Singh kidnapped, and later killed, his 8-year-old distant cousin from a neighbouring village while the child was visiting his grandmother. That night, the boy’s father received a text from an unknown number with a ransom note demanding INR 200,000 ($2,639). However, in the ransom note text, Singh misspelled the word “police” as “pullish” and “Sitapur”, the area he asked the kidnapped child’s family to meet him, as “Seeta-Pur”.
The family filed a missing person complaint with the local police station, which prompted the cops to launch an investigation into the kidnapping. While police were able to trace the cell phone the kidnapper used to send the ransom note text, they realised it had been stolen from an illiterate man who did not know how to send text messages. After going through several tip-offs and CCTV camera footage, the police rounded up 10 suspects including Singh on November 7, and asked them to write “I want a police job, I can run from Hardoi to Sitapur,” – a sentence which had both the words the kidnapper had misspelled. Out of the 10 suspects, Singh’s spellings matched the ones on the ransom note. In India, nationwide data shows that 95,893 cases of kidnapping and abduction were registered in 2017, from which 56,622 victims were children. Last month, in another bizarre kidnapping goof up, five people abducted an auto-rickshaw driver, only to realise they had kidnapped the wrong person half an hour later. Follow Shamani on Instagram.