Lucknow: Two recent high-profile cases of kidnapping in Uttar Pradesh showcase the increasing involvement of women in crime.
The kidnapping and murder of a Kanpur lab technician, Sanjeet Yadav, which has led to political outrage after the police asked the victim's family to pay the ransom but failed to retrieve the money as promised or get the accused back alive, has now led to the arrest of a young woman named Preeti Sharma.
Preeti, posed as the wife of one of the other accused to take a house on rent where they held lab technician Sanjeet Yadav hostage.
Preeti also conducted the recce of Sanjeet's house and interacted with neighbours and landlord to avoid suspicion.
According to sources, Preeti was assured a share in the ransom and she agreed to join the plot because she wanted to set up her own business.
In the kidnapping of the eight-year-old son of a gutka trader in Gonda, Chhavi Pandey, wife of the main accused Suraj Pandey played a key role in the crime.
Chhavi Pandey made the Rs 4 crore ransom call to the family and threatened to kill the boy if they did not pay the money.
"During interrogation, Chhavi disclosed that they had planned to chop the boy's body and dump it in the river," said an officer in the crime branch that finally managed to get the boy back and arrested the accused.
According to investigators, the arrested men have disclosed that the kidnapping was plotted by Chhavi.
An 84-second audio clip of Chhavi had also gone viral in which she is heard purportedly demanding ransom from the family.
In the audio clip, Chhavi is heard as saying: "If you are not able to hear properly then tell me. Your son has been kidnapped. Arrange Rs 4 crore, I will again call you by the evening and you will reply only in 'yes' or 'no'."
She also cites the Vikas Dubey episode and adds that police will not be able to help them so it would be futile to approach them.
Chhavi told police that she came to know during lockdown that gutka trader Hari Kumar Gupta was planning to construct a complex in Colonelganj .
Chhavi asked her brother-in-law Raja Pandey to visit Gupta's shop and purchase bidi/paan masala. Later, it was Chhavi who instigated her husband Suraj to take help from his friends, Deepu Kashyap and Umesh Yadav, to execute the boy's kidnapping.
"This is a new phenomenon that is emerging in the world of crime. Women are now playing a frontline role in crime and the state police will also have to change its attitude towards investigations. The issue needs to be researched because what is shocking is the fact that in both these kidnapping cases, the women are rather young," said a retired director general of police.