Missing Noida woman returns, admits to staging abduction

NOIDA: Shipra Kataria Malik, a Noida resident who went missing on Monday, returned home on Friday, admitting that she had staged her own abduction to get away from her family’s financial troubles.

The 29-year-old had gone to an ashram near Jaipur, but decided to return home when she saw her toddler's photo on television.

The 29-year-old had gone to an ashram near Jaipur, but decided to return home when she saw her toddler’s photo on television.

Ms. Malik, a 29-year-old fashion designer who owns a boutique, told the police that she had left home of her own accord on Monday afternoon. She decided to return after seeing pictures of her 16-month-old son, Sarvam, on television, and reading about the police’s efforts to find her.

Laxmi Singh, Deputy Inspector General (Meerut range) of the Uttar Pradesh Police, said Ms. Malik was unharmed and that the possibility of an abduction had been ruled out. Ms. Malik had called her husband, Chetan, at 1.30 a.m. on Friday, saying that she was in a village near Gurgaon. She had also claimed that she was thrown out of a car by her abductors.

When a team of the Noida Police, led by SSP Kiran S., reached Sultanpur village they found Ms. Malik without any injuries. “She then admitted that she had faked the abduction story to avoid embarrassing the family. She said she had gone on her own, but decided to return after seeing her son’s photo on television,” said Ms. Singh.

According to the police, Ms. Malik left home at 1 p.m. on Monday, saying that she was going to Chandni Chowk to buy raw material for her boutique. The Pearl Academy graduate would make such trips often, said her family. She was last spotted at a bank in Sector 18 at 1.35 p.m.

The DIG also clarified that Ms. Malik had made a deposit in a locker. To dodge the police, she abandoned her car near her residence and boarded a bus from Botanical Gardens in Noida to Dhaula Kuan.

From there, she boarded a bus to Rajasthan, where she stayed at an ashram.

At 2.56 p.m., a call was made from her mobile phone to the police helpline (100) from Lajpat Nagar in South Delhi.

“She told us that she was going to say that she was leaving on her own and that her husband and family should not be blamed. But after calling, she had second thoughts and disconnected without saying anything,” said Ms. Singh.

Images of her family, particularly her son, made her change her mind. Ms. Singh said that Ms. Malik had heard about the Sultanpur bird sanctuary and thought the forest area would serve as a good spot to be “thrown” by the “abductors”. “She reached the village and waited till it was late at night to make the story believable. She knocked on the door of the village sarpanch and used his phone to call her husband,” said the DIG.

Ms. Malik’s husband runs a construction company, and her father Satish Kataria, who also owns a building firm, had lent him money for a project that did not work out.

According to Mr. Malik, his wife was “stressed” because of the family’s financial troubles. “She felt that my business was not doing well, and so was her father’s,” said Mr. Malik.

Though a case of kidnapping had been registered, the police have said that though Ms. Malik’s statements appear to be true, they are verifying her version.

‘She was inspired by crime shows’

She had been inspired by crime shows on television to fake her own abduction, the police said on Friday.

She told police that she got the idea of faking her own abduction as she had seen similar cases on television. “She told us she used to watch real-life crime shows like Savdhaan India and Crime Patrol. We believe there was a Crime Patrol episode depicting similar circumstances telecast the night before she left,” said Laxmi Singh, Deputy Inspector General (Meerut range) of the Uttar Pradesh Police.

She had gone to an ashram near Jaipur in Rajasthan, but decided to return when she saw her toddler’s photo on television.

She then hatched the plan to fake a kidnapping, and subsequent release.

She zeroed in on Sultanpur in Haryana as she thought the area, which has a bird sanctuary, would be desolate. She waited till 1 a.m. to get “released” by abductors and call her husband using the phone of the local sarpanch.