About the case

The violent kidnapping of two-year-old Insiya Hemani on 29 September 2016 was planned in immaculate detail over eight months. On a computer belonging to one of the suspects, the police found a document showing that the abductors were prepared to use violence. A specialist was even flown in from America for this purpose.

The document, entitled ‘Operation Barney’, describes with military precision how the abduction was to be carried out. It included five phases, special code names for the kidnappers based on Disney characters, and an observation and pick-up team. Willem. V. would bring tie-wraps: ‘To bind the grandmother’s thumbs, if she doesn’t cooperate’. Pepperspray, getaway cars, semi-automatic guns; the kidnappers were prepared for anything.

On the evening of Thursday, 29 September 2016, around 8:15 p.m., the toddler Insiya was violently taken by three men from her grandmother’s house in Amsterdam, on her father’s orders. At that time, her mother, Nadia Rashid, had just left. 

Two kidnappers got away with Insiya. One of the kidnappers, Robert B., was knocked to the ground by a local resident and Insiya’s aunt. When he was arrested on the day of the abduction, he was found to be carrying a taser and tie-wraps. Robert B. used the taser as a weapon and electrical stun device.

The other two perpetrators, Willem V. and Imran S., managed to escape the crime scene in a getaway car, a Renault Espace. In the carpark of the De Witte Bergen Van der Valk hotel in Eemnes, they handed Insiya over to another group. They drove to a ‘safe house’, Erik S.’s house in Germany. From there, Insiya was smuggled by her father to India, where she has been held to this day.  

Within a few hours of the kidnapping, an Amber Alert was issued. The next day, Willem V., who wrote the kidnapping plan and drove the kidnap car, gave himself up to the police. 

According to the Public Prosecutor, Insiya’s kidnap took months to prepare. 

In 2017, the Dutch journalist John van den Heuvel tracked down Insiya’s father in Mumbai, and discovered the address where the little Dutch girl was probably being hidden.

Sentencing kidnappers

In July 2019, the District Court in Amsterdam sentenced the kidnappers (five men and a woman) to hefty prison terms.

The former police officer Erik S. had to serve four years and three months in prison, Robert H. and Daniël C. were each sentenced to four years, and Willem V. had to serve three years. The other convictions were for Huibert V. and Lizzy S., who were sentenced to 16 and 12 months in prison. 

According to the Public Prosecutor, the perpetrators had ‘taken the law into their own hands, purely for financial gain’, by following Shehzad H.’s orders. The abduction was prepared down to the last detail, and had the character of a military operation. 

Prosecution Shehzad H.

The Public Prosecutor has also tried to have the father extradited, but India has refused, despite the Public Prosecutor’s requests. On 23 September 2020, the criminal trial of the main suspects, Shehzad H. and his cousin, was held at the District Court in Amsterdam. The case was heard in absentia.

In February 2019, the Dutch court ruled that Shehzad H. had lost parental authority over his daughter. This decision was upheld by the Court in Amsterdam in March 2020. 

The criminal trial of Shehzad H. on 23 September 2020

On 23 September 2020, the Public Prosecutor demanded a nine-year prison sentence for Shehzad H., the main suspect in the abduction of Insiya. The Public Prosecutor suspects Shehzad H. of having instigated and ordered the kidnapping in September 2016. The Public Prosecutor demanded a four-year prison sentence for Shehzad H.’s 36-year-old cousin, Imran S. According to the Public Prosecutor, Imran S. forcibly took the little girl from her grandmother’s home. 

In her closing speech, the public prosecutor said: ‘If the offence involves deception, violence or the threat of violence, or in the case that the minor is under the age of twelve, the maximum prison sentence is nine years’. The public prosecutor sees no reason to moderate the requested penalty. Particularly blameworthy, in her view, is the fact that Shehzad H. has sought to frustrate almost every contact between Insiya and her mother and little sister since the abduction. According to the public prosecutor, Shehzad H. has not hesitated to use all kinds of ways to intimidate the little girl’s mother.

On October 12th 2020, the court has sentenced Shehzad H. to 9 years in prison for organizing the kidnapping of his then two-year-old daughter Insiya in 2016.

“Father and cousin, along with the other suspects, destroyed a family life,” the court said. “By violently taking Insiya to India, the father placed his own well-being above that of his child and that of her mother. Moreover, the father has frustrated virtually every contact between Insiya and her mother.”

A devastating aftermath

The Public Prosecutor is in no doubt that Shehzad H. is chiefly responsible for the abduction of Insiya, aged two at the time. Together with a number of fellow suspects, he drew up a professional abduction plan with military precision, thinking only of his own interests. Both the plan and the abduction itself were violent. The ongoing aftermath for Insiya and her family could not be more devastating. Now six years old, Insiya hasn’t seen her mother for four years. Since 29 September 2016, she has no longer lived with her mother in the Netherlands, but far away in India. According to the public prosecutor, ‘This is the ongoing, sad result of the abduction that took place on 29 September 2016, on her father’s orders.’ 

On July 11, 2019, six kidnappers involved in this kidnapping were already sentenced to substantial prison terms. On October 12, 2020, the court sentenced Shehzad Hemani, Insiya’s father, to a 9-year prison term for organizing the kidnapping of his daughter in 2016.

His nephew, Imran S., was sentenced to a 4-year prison term due to his involvement in the kidnapping. Hemani is seen as the main culprit behind the violent abduction of Insiya and has paid the kidnappers for their participation. Despite the conviction, Insiya still remains illegally in India.

The case has garnered much attention in the media, but a solution has not been reached even after 7 years.

(Sources: NRC, Op1, AT5, AT5, DVHN, Hart van Nederland, NOS, DHVN, AT5