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Kidnapper mum still on the run PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Shali Ittaman, TNN   
V Ravi Chandran with ex-wife Vijayasree Voora V Ravi Chandran with ex-wife Vijayasree Voora in happier times (TOI Photo)

It's the tragic tale of a broken family - of a mother and child who have become the focus of an international manhunt. Vijayasree Voora, 39, has been on the run ever since she reportedly fled with her son, Aditya, 6, to India from the US in August 2007.

Vijayasree and ex-husband V Ravi Chandran, a scientist, divorced in 2005. Last year, Ravi won the custody rights of the child. Since her flight to India, the FBI has been looking for her after the New York family court issued an arrest warrant. In India too, the police launched a hunt following orders by the Supreme Court and the Madras High Court.

Ravi says she has succeeded in eluding everyone not because she is smarter, but because her trackers are not trying hard enough. Vijayasree has been changing names and mobile numbers frequently; does not use credit cards or known bank accounts; supports herself and the child by selling her gold; never stays at a place for long; and does not visit relatives, including her parents.

Till now, clues about her whereabouts have come from people who recollected seeing her, after Ravi published lookout notices in The Times of India and a few vernacular newspapers. In July this year, six people, including owners of hotels where she stayed with her son, and drivers of private cars who drove them around, reported back to him. "I now know from the many accounts that she has been to places in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in the past few months," says Ravi. "But, every time, it is only I who has had to verify and fix her trail!"

Globe Detective Agency is on the job of tracing her but there have been no results yet. "They want me to help them with clues!" Ravi says. Even the police have not made any headway. Pinky Anand, Ravi's advocate in the SC, does not find the police at the hearings. "The court had ordered the SSPs of Agra and Chandigarh to present their reports by July 14, but no one came," says Pinky.

The advocate also points out a lacuna in the system: "India is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on international child abduction. Therefore, despite Indian courts showing sensitivity to the child, and repeatedly upholding the judgment of foreign courts... it does not preclude India from becoming a haven for PIO and NRI parents without custodian rights."

Connie Weeks Marstiller, a technical information specialist working for the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, FBI, says that of the 1,686 children kidnapped by non-custodian parents in the US between January 2006 and June 2008, 14 were taken to India, whereas 35 went elsewhere.

Ravi is a worried man. He knows he can't have Vijayasree running loose with the child. In 2007, on a New York court order, she was diagnosed during psychiatric evaluation as "hallucinating, suspicious and paranoid", and obsessed with the child. Psychologist Elizabeth Ritz Schockmel reported that Vijayasree was gripped by a fear that Ravi was molesting Aditya. She seemed distracted and tended to cut herself off from her advisors, such as her lawyer, when the advice did not seem to suit her thinking.

"I fear that her obsession for him is clouding her mind and forcing her to take dangerous and unsound decisions about herself and him," says Ravi.

The information received about them so far have only confirmed his fears: she is making Aditya travel with her in hired cars on long journeys across states, putting him up at seedy hotels and keeping him out of school for fear of being found. In February, it emerged that she had admitted Aditya to Sherwood Public School in Dehradun, but within 13 days she pulled him out and resumed her flight.

Recently, Ravi heard from a man called Ventakesh, who said he had driven Vijayasree and Aditya in his taxi through Bengaluru, Belgaum, Pune and Mumbai. Venkatesh claimed he had with him Vijayasree's diary, containing a lot of incriminating information. He said it was on sale: Rs 50 lakh for Vijayasree if she wants to reclaim it; Rs 2 lakh if Ravi wants it! It was the moment Ravi dreaded - the devious had got the scent of a lone woman and a child.


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