How A Change In Tactic Led The Hunters Straight To Puneet and Kris

Flying under the radar since their initial release at Federation Square, the Hunters stepped up their game and captured their sixth pair of fugitives, Puneet and Kris.

Utilising Melbourne’s Indian community, the Hunters were visibly frustrated that they had very little on Puneet and Kris’ whereabouts.

The pair said the kindness of the community was truly amazing, and that they were grateful for the hospitality they received during their time on the run.

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“To be showered with that much love and affection and care was mildly overwhelming," Kris told 10 play. "I was like, ‘Wow, these people are giving up their homes to us, ultimately, we’re just strangers to them.’ But they fed us, they housed us, they looked after us, they gave us money. It was genuinely heartwarming.

“I’m born and raised in India and one of the things that’s well-practised in Indian culture is the guest is treated like God,” Puneet added.

“We actually got to experience how people really treated us special. The fact that they gave us their bedrooms to sleep in, some of them even slept on the floor and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. We couldn’t believe that people were doing this for us and those people we never met in our lives,” Puneet said.

Up until this point, the fugitives had been using WhatsApp to remain undetected by Hunter HQ, a strategy they said they researched before going on the run.

“Those WhatsApp calls really saved us throughout,” Puneet told 10 play.

“We did our homework. What strategies could we try out and see whether they worked? And WhatsApp was one of the hacks we found that if we communicated on, they [couldn’t] really track us down.”

Staying connected with Melbourne’s Indian community and steering away from technology was their initial plan, but the pair soon realised that their options were very limited without technology.

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“It was so hard, and you become so conscious of how intertwined you are with technology. But having to keep away from that, and consciously not be spotted by CCTV cameras, constantly hiding, it kept us safe for a while,” Kris said.

“Our reliance on technology is astounding. You can’t do anything without technology and, as an extension of that you can’t do anything without being watched,” he said.

“We usually made every call on WhatsApp except that one which gave our location away in Harcourt North because we were desperate,” Puneet added.

It was in that moment of desperation that their plan of remaining undetected by Hunter HQ started to come undone, using a stranger’s phone in Harcourt North, a decision that ultimately led to their capture.

For the Hunters, this call was a step closer to capturing Puneet and Kris, but for the Fugitives, it was when the paranoia really started to kick in.

“Because you become so paranoid, you don’t know what networks the Hunters have infiltrated. You start becoming so weary and you distrust everyone. So, we were like, ‘Alright, we need to change the plan’. That’s what led us to change the plan, which ultimately led to our capture,” Kris told 10 play.

“I had to remind myself that I am not a fugitive. I’m not actually a fugitive on the run, I haven’t committed a crime. And you might think that’s something that’s easy to do but let me tell you something it’s not.

"I don’t have a phone, I’m completely disconnected from the world, other than this world of being a fugitive, it’s normal to believe I’m a fugitive, that was really hard.”

When the pair’s location was compromised at Chooka’s house, they decided it was time to move on to their next spot, on edge while driving past the house to get to their next location.

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“My stomach fell out of my head. I didn’t know what car to expect because we hadn’t bumped into the Hunters at that point, but as soon as we got over the hill it was an unmistakably evil-looking car,” Kris laughed.

“I was just trying to look forward so that it wouldn’t be so conspicuous that it was us but looking back at the footage I was staring straight out the window at them,” he said.

“And the way they were blocking the driveway Kris, do you remember that?” Puneet chimed in.

“I remember at least one of the 150km or so, I was constantly looking forward and backwards just to make sure they weren’t following us.”

As they battled paranoia, the pair made their way to a flat in Oakleigh when Kris looked out the window to see the Ground Hunters making their way up the stairs.

“Momentarily I was like, ‘Alright, let’s run’ but then I was like, ‘Oh, actually there’s a balcony,’ that’s two storeys, that’s not gonna work,” Kris said.

“We were just kicking back waiting and also expecting a coffee,” Puneet added, laughing.

Reflecting on their time on the run, the pair said it was a life-changing experience that strengthened their bond.

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“I’m possibly going to put it in golden words and put it on the wall that I’ve been chased by a helicopter because you only see that in movies and now, I’ve really lived it,” Puneet said in awe.

“A lot of it came down to wanting to prove it to myself. I was planning on becoming a fugitive later in the year for real, so, I thought I’d get some practice in,” Kris joked.

“I think in this life you’ve gotta say ‘yes’ more and put yourself into experiences that you otherwise just wouldn’t be able to. We were lucky enough to be able to take part in this, and it was genuinely life-changing,” he said.

Hunted Australia continues Sunday - Tuesday at 7.30 on 10 and 10 play on demand