A seven-year-old girl on her way to school in a rickshaw was kidnapped this morning. The girl was reportedly released by the kidnappers almost six hours later.The police and the parents of the child claim that no ransom was paid, but since none of the kidnappers was arrested and they released the girl on their own, sources say ransom could have been paid.The victim, Shanvi Gupta (7), was on her way to The British Co-Ed School in a rickshaw when an unidentified man asked the rickshaw puller to identify a girl from among the children he was ferrying. The rickshaw puller said: “He then offered a chocolate to the girl and when she refused, he pulled her out and handed her over to his accomplice in a Hyundai Verna car that fled the scene. The person who offered the chocolate was on a bike and sped in the opposite direction.”

The victim has a twin sister who was also going to the school in the same rickshaw, but she was unharmed and reached the school. The victim’s father, Amit Gupta, owns a trading firm and runs an established electronics business in the city.The first ransom call was made to Gupta within 25 minutes of the kidnapping. The police by then had collected crucial information about the girl and had started sealing the main entry and exit points of the city.”The girl’s father received the first call for Rs2 lakh cash and 2 kg gold as ransom, which was to be delivered once the kidnapper makes the next call. The kidnapper then called again in half an hour and asked the money be dropped near YPS Stadium market,” said Gurmeet Chauhan, SSP, Patiala. “We were monitoring the calls. The location of the kidnapper was changing every few minutes. We knew that they were working in two groups — one was making the calls and the other had the victim’s custody,” he said.The kidnappers called again and this time they asked that the money be dropped near a factory area. They warned Gupta not to inform anyone about the kidnapping. Later at 2.15 pm, the police was informed that a silver coloured Maruti Zen had dropped a girl in school uniform near Sular area and sped. “Our team reached the spot and brought the girl safely,” said a senior police officer.