Missing Indian student Mohammad Arfath found dead in US; family alleges kidnap plot

Arfath's father claims he got a ransom call seeking $1,200 for his son's release

Arfath-student Mohammad Abdul Arfath | X

A 25-year-old Indian student, who was missing for over a month in the US, was found dead in the city of Cleveland, the Indian Embassy confirmed on Tuesday. The deceased has been identified as Mohammad Abdul Arfath, hailing from Nacharam in Hyderabad.

Arfath, who arrived in the US last May to do his master's programme, was reported missing last month and a search operation has been underway since then.

"Anguished to learn that Mr Mohammed Abdul Arfath, for whom search operation was underway, was found dead in Cleveland, Ohio," the Consulate General of India in New York said in a post on X.

"Offering deepest condolences to Arfath's family," the Consulate said. It added that the officials were in touch with local agencies to ensure a thorough investigation into his death. "We are extending all possible assistance to the bereaved family to transport his mortal remains to India," the Consulate added.  

According to Arfath's father Mohammed Saleem, he last contacted his family members on March 7. Arfath's mobile phone was found to be switched off as well. 

Arfath's roommates in the US had informed his father that they lodged a missing persons complaint with Cleveland Police. However, on March 19, Arfath's family received a call from an unidentified person, who claimed that Arfath had been kidnapped allegedly by a gang selling drugs and demanded USD 1,200 to "release" him.

"The caller also threatened to sell Arfath's kidneys if the ransom wasn't paid," his father said.  

"I got a call from an unknown number, and the caller informed me that my son had been kidnapped and demanded money. The caller did not mention the mode of payment but just asked to pay the amount. When I asked the caller to allow us to talk to my son, he refused," Saleem told PTI in Hyderabad.  

Following this, Saleem wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who alerted the Consulate. The Embassy officials have since been working with local law enforcement authorities to locate the Indian student. 

This is the second death of an Indian citizen within a week. Three days ago, the Embassy had confirmed the death of Uma Satya Sai Gadde, a student in Ohio. The case is still being investigated.

This is the 11 such death this year. Earlier this year, Amarnath Ghosh, a 34-year-old trained classical dancer from India, was fatally shot in St. Louis, Missouri, while Sameer Kamath, a 23-year-old Indian-American student at Purdue University, was discovered deceased in a nature preserve in Indiana.

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