The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cuffed for a contract to kill
- Stall-owner dashed confectionery baron's highrise hopes

Prabhu Shankar Agarwal, the main force behind fast-expanding Haldiram's chain of confectioneries, flew to London last week to open an outlet.

On his return after starting the company's first overseas business venture, he was handcuffed instead of being garlanded.

Sleuths from detective department arrested 45-year-old Agarwal early on Tuesday at Palam airport, in Delhi, as he disembarked from a British Airways flight and entered for immigration checks.

He was rounded up on charges of attempting to murder the nephew of a tea stall-owner in the Posta area two-and-a-half months ago.

'During interrogation, Agarwal admitted that he had engaged killers to eliminate the owner of a tea stall, Satyanarayan Thakur. The stall-owner was the occupant of a house where Agarwal wanted to construct a multi-storeyed building,' said Prasun Mukherjee, commissioner of police.

Agarwal's name cropped up while police were probing the shooting at Posta.

'He had engaged Burrabazar-based extortionist Gopal Tiwari to kill Satyanarayan. On March 30, Tiwari and his accomplices came to Jagmohan Mullick Lane, off Kalakar Street, around 5 am and fired at Satyanarayan's 21-year-old nephew Pramod. Fortunately, the bullet pierced Pramod's right thigh,' said Gyanwant Singh, deputy commissioner (I), detective department.

'The men were hired to kill Satyanarayan, but they shot Pramod instead by mistake,' he added.

Agarwal's link with the shooting came to light after the arrest of Tiwari in Hyderabad on May 24. 'He (Tiwari) was on the wanted list. Recently, he had shifted to Hyderabad.'

With Tiwari naming Agarwal, police began a hunt. They found out that he had left for London. Police contacted his airline agent, who said he had booked the return ticket before leaving the city. 'We came to know his scheduled date of arrival and, accordingly, sent a team from the anti-rowdy squad to Delhi,' said deputy commissioner Singh.

It was around 2 am when the immigration staff of the international lounge at Palam Airport noticed Agarwal. 'He was detained on account of a lookout circular issued by Calcutta Police. Immediately, we contacted officers from Calcutta and handed him over to them,' said U.K. Chowdhury, deputy commissioner of Palam Airport police.

Police brought Agarwal to Calcutta on a flight from Delhi on Tuesday morning and produced him in the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate. He was remanded in police custody till June 16.

Elaborating on how Agarwal had planned to kill Satyanarayan, police commissioner Mukherjee said: 'After all his efforts to evict Satyanarayan proved futile, Agarwal called him on February 27 to Binani Dharamshala, in Burrabazar. He offered him Rs 4 lakh, which the stall-owner refused.'

Agarwal decided to eliminate Satyanarayan in the middle of March. He contacted his associate Arun Khandelwal, who introduced him to Tiwari. Khandelwal, too, has been arrested. 'The deal to kill Satyanarayan was clinched at Rs 6 lakh and Agarwal made the full payment. During interrogation, we recovered Rs 30,000 from Tiwari's possession,' said an official.

A beaming Agarwal did not say a word when asked whether he had issued a supari to eliminate Satyanarayan. He shrugged as he was led away to the Bankshal court lock-up.

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