A British couple held hostage by gunmen in east India made a dramatic escape by swimming down the river Ganges
Jessica and Matt Kidd, aged 28 and 30, were kayaking down the famous Indian river during a ‘dream world trip’, and had stopped at a secluded island to pitch a tent for the night when two armed men attacked them.
The couple, both school teachers from Glasgow, tried to bargain with the men using their mobile phones and cash, but decided to risk their lives and flee when they threatened to sexually assault Mrs Kidd.
Brave: Geography teachers Jessica and Matt Kidd, aged 28 and 30, had their dream trip around the world interrupted by two men taking them hostage by the river Ganges in India
Mr Kidd threw himself into the Ganges, while his wife jumped into their kayak and managed to escape their attackers.
The couple swam and rowed for a mile until they reached a village to raise the alarm and police came to their rescue.
Mr Kidd said: ‘We are on an adventure tour in a raft moving downstream on the river Ganga from Haridwar to Calcutta. Around 8pm on Sunday evening, we reached a place called Pandarak.
‘We were camping and had some food when we were approached by two men who started to threaten us for one hour and he had a gun pointed at us.
‘We managed to escape by running into the water with our boat. I was in the water swimming and we got across to the village where the public phoned the police.
‘The youngsters tried to loot us and behaved violently with my wife.’
Under attack: Mr and Mrs Kidd were held hostage for an hour, during which the men threatened to sexually assault 28-year-old Mrs Kidd
Fear: The couple appear in a press conference sat in front of the two men who held them hostage and threatened them with a gun and sticks
The Scottish couple, now based in London, helped to create sketches of the two attackers and police then conducted raids in the area, arresting two suspects within two hours.
Manu Maharaj, Senior Superintendent of Police said: ‘The couple had reached Patna three days ago. On November 5th they were on an adventure journey on their boat and had stopped at the basin for a night’s rest.
‘The couple sought help from nearby villagers, who came to the rescue and informed the police station. By the time police reached there, the men fled the area. The couple then filed a complaint with Pandarak police station.
‘Both the accused, Chhattu Mahanta and Baija Kumar, aged 22, were traced and arrested from near the banks of the Ganges last night. They have confessed to harassing the couple.’
The cops also recovered their stolen items from the attackers but the tent is still missing.
He added: ‘We recovered the stick that they used to scare the couple. They have said they did not carry a pistol and we are yet to recover it. The couple has shown tremendous courage.
‘We have initiated a probe and would like this case to be run under speedy trial. We are taking this incident very seriously,’ said the officer adding that the couple resumed their journey the next day.
The pair had been writing about the trip on a blog called Tartan Travellers after ditching their jobs in London to travel the world.
The couple, both geography teachers, had had reached India on September 13 – the first stop on their tour.
After visiting Rishikesh on he foothills of Himalayas, they started their trip to kayak the entire Ganges from Haridwar-the holiest place for Hindus in Uttar Pradesh in northern India on September 27 and were going to Kolkata in eastern India.
They were to reach Kolkata on December 14 after covering a distance of about 1,300 mile trip in 78 days and from there they were to return to Scotland..
The had been rowing for up to 25 miles a day and would stop on islands or villages on the shore for rest.
Great escape: The couple, originally from Glasgow and now based in London, fled the hostage situation by throwing themselves into the river Ganges and kayaking away
The couple were moving downstream in their boat with a plastic tent for night accommodation, GPS-enabled navigation device, dry fruits, biscuits, water bottles and medicines.
Manish Tiwari, Assistant Superintendent of Police said: ‘None of the things were looted from them. The couple had tried to negotiate and offer their mobile phones and cash but the two refused. However, the tents, were missing when we reached the spot.
‘The place is extremely secluded. Even we make arrangements before going there. But the couple had only stopped to take rest as they were to resume their journey next morning.’
Mrs Kidd said: ‘We started our tour from Haridwar in September and travelling downstream we celebrated Diwali and Chhath. The people have been extremely cooperative in providing us food and Indian delicacies.’
She wrote on the blog: ‘It’s quite a daunting prospect, leaving a job that I had established myself in for the past two years, as well as leaving behind friends and family.
‘But when the opportunity arose to travel with Matt, I grabbed it with both hands. That’s what life is all about, living the life you want to lead and sharing it with someone you love.
‘I’ll be travelling with someone who is equally as passionate about discovering new places, learning new languages and full of enthusiasm for adventure. ‘
The couple also wrote on their blog: ‘We have travelled over 500km on the River Ganges from Haridwar to Kanpur and we are not even half way yet! We have been very fortunate to immerse ourselves into the real India along the river, met the most generous people and witness incredibly rare wild life.’
They next plan to trek to Everest base camp dressed in kilts.