| Ankit Desai
Calcutta, Jan. 21: Ankit Desai, the 25-year-old found dead in a parked Chevrolet on Thursday night, was murdered by a childhood friend over unpaid cricket betting debts hours after having coffee with him, police said today.
They claimed that Hardik Vipani, picked up last night and arrested today, has confessed to hiring three men ' including common friend Shyam Karia ' to kill Ankit and watching them stab his former schoolmate in the head and chest before slitting his throat.
“Hardik and Ankit were engaged in cricket betting involving a lot of money,” said North 24-Parganas police chief Praveen Kumar.
“About Rs 100,000 had been transferred from Ankit’s bank account to Hardik’s over a period of time.”
But, apparently, Ankit still owed his friend lakhs and wouldn’t pay up.
Hardik, who studies in Pune, had engaged Shyam to recover the dues but Ankit coughed up only Rs 25,000 and refused to respond to calls thereafter, the police said.
On January 17 morning, Hardik flew into the city with revenge on his mind. The Chevrolet murder was plotted in a Santro ' Shyam’s ' in which the two friends drove around working out the last detail.
Hardik then called Ankit on his mobile and set up a meeting at a Ballygunge Circular Road caf'. The unsuspecting victim left home around 3.50 pm at the wheel of a neighbour’s car.
From the caf', they drove towards Salt Lake where Shyam and the two other killers were waiting for them at the Wipro complex in Sector V. Shyam climbed in and they headed towards Rajarhat New Town while the accomplices followed on a two-wheeler.
Shyam suddenly began hitting Ankit from behind, forcing him to stop the car. The spot was deserted and at 6 on a winter evening, it was already dark.
The killers dragged the victim out and finished their job. Shyam heaved the body on to the back seat and drove on.
He abandoned the car near the footbridge connecting Lake Town and Salt Lake on the Calcutta flank of VIP Road, leaving with Ankit’s gold chain, a gold ring, cash and two mobile sets.
Hardik quietly took the evening flight back with even his family in Calcutta unaware of his short visit.
Armed with clues from Ankit’s mobile records, the police yesterday got Hardik’s father, a small trader who supplies chemicals to tyre retreaders, to summon him to the city and detained him.
Hardik has been remanded in 14 days’ police custody. A hunt is on for the three killers.