Police in central California in the United States are looking for an India-origin family of four, including an 8-month-old girl, who were allegedly kidnapped in central California's city of Merced on Monday, 3 October.
The baby, Aroohi Dheri, was abducted on Monday along with her mother Jasleen Kaur (27), her father Jasdeep Singh (36) and her uncle, Amandeep Singh (39).
The family of Jasdeep Singh went to the US around 16 years ago and settled there and runs a transport business.
The relatives of the family back in India say they were in shock and grief after hearing about the mysterious disapperance of their kin.
The Police Investigation
The police were alerted of the crime after finding Amandeep Singh’s black pickup truck burning on the side of a county road on Monday. While investigating the burning truck, sheriff’s deputies were unable to reach the family and determined that they had been abducted.
Meanwhile, a man, who was sought in connection to the kidnapping was in custody on Tuesday after he attempted to take his own life, police said.
Forty-eight-year-old Jesus Manuel Salgado was named a person of interest by the police after cameras captured a man resembling him using a bank card belonging to one of the missing persons.
"Prior to law enforcement involvement, Salgado attempted to take his own life. Salgado is in our custody, currently receiving medical attention and in critical condition."
The Merced County Sheriff’s Office later said it was determined that the photo of the person at the ATM was not the person of interest that is in custody. "The victim’s ATM card was used, however we are working with the bank to obtain the correct photo," it said in a statement.
While details about the incident remain scarce, authorities have said that the four werre taken against their will from a business at the 800 Block of South Highway 59, a local news outlet – ABC 30 – reported.
The site is a roadway lined with retailers and restaurants.
On Tuesday, the Merced County Sheriff's Office, who asked for the public’s help in solving the case, said that the suspects were considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached by civilians.
"So far we have no 'why' of the kidnapping; we have no motivation behind it," County Sheriff Vern Warnke said before Salgado was taken into custody. "We just know that they are gone."
Warnke added the kidnapper had made no ransom demands or contact of any kind.
Surveillance photos of the kidnapping showed a man with a shaved head with a surgical mask obscuring his face.
The sheriff’s office said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the California Department of Justice, and other local law enforcement agencies are helping with the investigation.
“Investigators continue to follow up on all leads and are working diligently to find the family. We continue to ask for the public’s help with any information that may assist us in locating the family’s whereabouts,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.
Family in India in Shock
Naindeep Singh, executive director of the Punjabi Sikh community organisation, Jakara Movement in Central California, said the victims’ relatives told him that the family was taken from a gas station.
Jasdeep’s parents, Dr Randhir Singh and Kirpal Kaur, are natives of Hoshiarpur’s Harsi Pind village in Punjab.
“They were in shock and worried about the family and the baby. They are in a lot of grief,” Naindeep Singh, who is not related to the victims, told The Indian Express. He added the family has asked for privacy.
Jasdeep’s father Dr Randhir Singh is a retired doctor and his mother Kirpal Kaur is a retired employee of the education department.
Their neighbour Charanjit Singh said that Jasdeep's parents were in a state of shock and not in a position to talk.
According to Charanjit Singh, Randhir Singh returned to India from abroad on 29 September.
“His parents had come from the US to visit Hemkund Sahib. They reached here on September 27 and left for Uttarakhand. When they got the news about the kidnapping of their sons and other family members, they returned immediately and left for the US late last night."Charanjit Singh
Singh added that the kidnapping news was a shock to the whole village as the entire family had no enmity with anyone, The Indian Express reported.
Charanjit Singh further claimed that Union minister and Hoshiarpur MP Som Parkash had also telephoned Randhir Singh and assured him of full support from the central government.
Tanda Deputy Superintendent of Police Kulwant Singh said that he also visited Randhir Singh's residence, assuring full support to him and his family.
(With inputs from Reuters, The Indian Express, and PTI)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)