Padmakumar, his wife, and their daughter were having lunch at a restaurant in Tenkasi, in Tamil Nadu when they were caught by the police,
The Kerala police made a breakthrough in the sensational Kollam child abduction case on Friday, 1 December, by apprehending a family of three who allegedly plotted and executed the crime.
KR Padmakumar, a businessman from Mamballikulam near Chathannur in Kollam, was apprehended along with his wife Anitha and daughter Anupama at a restaurant in Puliyara near Tenkasi in southern Tamil Nadu around 2.30 pm on Friday.
The six-year-old girl was abducted on 27 November while on her way to a tuition centre at Velinalloor in Oyoor in the southern Kollam district.
Abigel Sara Reji was found a day later, abandoned at the Ashramam Maidan in Kollam city.
Meanwhile, a corruption angle has been added to the case, with the police suspecting the accused kidnapped the girl because her father took a bribe but did not do what he said he would in return.
The Kollam District Anti-Narcotic Special Action Force (DANSAF) had been tasked with solving the mystery behind the abduction.
It was pursuing the family, which had sought to elude capture by travelling to neighbouring Tamil Nadu and locating a suitable hiding place.
According to the police, the family cooperated with them during the arrest, and were quickly taken to the police camp in Adoor in the Pathanamthitta district for questioning.
The cops said they seized two cars used by the family to abduct and transport the young girl to various locations while evading the police net.
The police also continued the surveillance of television media personnel in the state, which were accessing crucial CCTV footage — something that apparently helped the cops connect some dots.
According to authorities, Padamakumar claimed responsibility for planning and carrying out the abduction, and said his wife and daughter were not involved.
The police are yet to locate the people who assisted Padmakumar in the kidnapping and subsequent run from the law.
Padamakumar reportedly admitted to police that he abducted the child because of a feud with the child’s father over financial dealings.
The cops said Padmakumar had given ₹5 lakh to Reji John, the father of the abducted girl, to obtain admission for his daughter to a nursing college.
But Reji cheated him by not ensuring admission and refusing to return the money, said the police.
Padmakumar apparently said he plotted the abduction to take revenge on Reji. The plan was to abduct both the girl and her brother. But the boy put up a fight and escaped.
While the police were undertaking an exhaustive search for the youngster, one of the areas they covered was the location of Padmakumar’s house.
Padamakumar, according to police, had no criminal history and rarely mixed with the locals. Nobody expected him to be a part of such a crime.
Locals in Mamballikulam told television news channels that Padamakumar was an engineering graduate who also owned a cattle farm and a bakery in the neighbourhood.
His neighbours reported that he had no financial constraints. The locals were unsure whether Padamakumar was duped by nursing recruitment rackets in which the abducted child’s father, Reji John, was allegedly involved.
They did, however, help the police establish the fact that Padmakumar recently purchased the two vehicles.
Surprisingly, Padamakumar’s image was virtually accurate in the pencil sketch of the prime suspect that the police released on Thursday after producing it based on the girl’s description.
It may be noted that the picture had been circulated for two days and was brought to Reji John’s attention multiple times.
Yet, he said he did not see the similarities with Padamakumar, whom — it would transpire — he had known for a long time.
The father even told the police he did not know anyone who had a likeness to the sketch.