Two women are among seven suspects detained by police for the kidnapping of 71-year-old businessman Sooklal ‘Tarzan’ Ramroop. A $700,000 ransom, demanded for the elderly man’s safe release was not paid and he escaped his captors yesterday and ran out of some mangroves in Bayshore, Marabella into the arms of police and soldiers who were searching for him.
The kidnapping of Ramroop on Thursday afternoon saw a swift and coordinated response from the police, soldiers, members of the K9 Unit and even a National Security helicopter. Police believe that this coordinated and sustained operation by lawmen, spooked Ramroop’s captors who allowed him to leave the area within the mangroves where he was being held captive.
The police were led by ACP Irwin Hackshaw and included Ag Supt Ajith Persad, Supt Pragg, Insp Don Gajadhar, Inspector Thomas, Sgt Nelson and others. On seeing a weeping Ramroop stumbling towards them, his feet loosely bound with a belt and his hands tied, officers quickly placed him in an unmarked police vehicle and took him to the San Fernando General Hospital for treatment.
Ramroop left his home on Thursday afternoon telling relatives he was going to an apartment which he owns and which was advertised for rent. He later met the two female suspects at 3.30 pm and they were later joined by a man outside the furnished apartment. The elderly man was forced into a car which sped off.
When relatives tried to make contact with him at 4 pm on Thursday and got no response, his son-in-law visited the apartment and found that it was ransacked. An hour later, the family received a telephone call from Ramroop’s captors who demanded $700,000 for his safe return. Police were able to trace the call to the train line in Marabella.
With the aid of soldiers, the police virtually cordoned off the entire community in train line starting at 2 am yesterday, preventing residents from leaving and/or entering as the police conducted a house to house search for the kidnapped man. As police searched houses, some residents told them they were wasting their time.
“I think you all may be looking for Caspar the ghost. We are not about kidnapping people here,” a resident shouted. At 2 pm, screams were heard from deep inside the mangroves. “Help, help, guard me...guard me,” Ramroop shouted, as reported by a resident. Residents recalled seeing him screaming and running out of the mangroves.
He was bare feet and covered in mud, residents said. “He looked frighted and traumatized. I felt sorry for the old man. Who did this and why did they come to our community to give we a bad name, is what I want to know,” said a 44-year-old woman who lives in Bayshore.
Even as Ramroop was taken away, the joint police/army operation continued and with the aid of the helicopter which provided aerial surveillance, police arrested four men who were hiding in the mangroves. The two women were arrested inside a house in Bayshore while the seventh suspect was picked up hours later.
Yesterday, ACP Hackshaw commended the ceaseless work of the police and soldiers which ended in a positive outcome. Police sources said this was the fourth kidnapping for the year.
The suspects are being kept at several police stations and are being interrogated. It is expected that when Ramroop is able to, he will attend an Identification Parade as part of ongoing investigations.