Sat, Dec 11, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Indian kidnappers offering installment plans for ransom

DPA , NEW DELHI

Indian kidnappers now offer easy monthly installment ransom schemes for victims unable to pay, it was reported yesterday.

Kidnapping is a well-organized, low-risk and profitable "industry" in the lawless northeastern Indian state of Bihar, with at least five reported every day, the <> newspaper reported.

Police said Bihar's kidnappers offer victims an equated monthly installment (EMI) schemes, which is the procedure followed by banks for those taking education, housing or personal loans.

The victims are freed after making a down-payment, and the rest of the ransom follows in EMIs, the report said.

At least two of five daily reported kidnappings are for ransom, officials said. According to police records from January to September this year there were 1,583 cases. Last year 1,956 people were kidnapped. But the actual number of cases is much higher, as many go unreported, police said.

Bihar's kidnapping "industry" has also become specialized. Gangs called "liners" perform the important task of identifying victims based on their paying capacity. Typical targets include those who recently retired, whose life insurance policies have matured or who have applied for bank loans.

Others supply drivers to transport the victims, the report said. Some bigger gangs "outsource" the job to smaller groups whose only job is to pick up and drop the victim at a specified place.

A few new groups are assigned to deal with the ransom calls. After police solved several cases by tracing calls made from mobile phones, the prominent gangs hire others to make the calls from locations outside the state or even from Nepal, which borders Bihar.

"The advantage of kidnapping over other crimes is simplicity," the report quoted police officer Ratan Sanjay as saying. "In looting, there are chances of killing others, or getting killed."

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