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Hotel boss missing on way to Calcutta

July 3: The Dhanbad-based executive director of a three-star hotel owned by a Calcutta-headquartered company has been reported missing on his way home to the city to spend the weekend with his family.

Uday Shankar Chanda, 66, had left Dhanbad for the city at 12.30pm on Saturday in his silver Hyundai Verna with his driver, Dilip Kumar Singh, at the wheel, according to his eldest son Rahul.

“I spoke to him over the phone when he was leaving his quarters in Dhanbad. He visits our Thakurpukur house twice a month. He told me that he would reach Calcutta by 5pm,” Rahul, a product manager with a telecom company, told The Telegraph.

Chanda’s next call from one of his two cellphones was to a senior colleague at Hotel Skylark, the property he has been overseeing for six years, at 1.06pm. General manager Anutosh Bagchi confirmed receiving the call, saying they spoke about “business matters”.

Nobody from Chanda’s family or the Johal Group of Companies, which owns Skylark, has had any contact with him since. His two cellphones, along with that of driver Dilip, appeared to have been switched off.

Rahul lodged a diary with Dhanbad police today, saying he had checked with his father’s cellphone service provider and found his last recorded tower location to be Kulti in Asansol, around 60km from Dhanbad and 260km from Calcutta. The time then was 2.15pm.

Dhanbad police said they weren’t treating it as an abduction case yet. “Neither the company nor the family has received a ransom call. So, as of now, we are investigating it as an instance of a person mysteriously going missing,” the deputy superintendent of police (law and order) in Dhanbad, Sanjay Singh, said.

Officials of the Johal group, which owns a chain of liquor stores among other assets and has its corporate office on AJC Bose Road, said they had no reason to believe Chanda had been abducted.

All police stations along the Jharkhand-Bengal border have been alerted. “We are sharing information and a search operation has been launched,” Singh said.

Sources in Dhanbad police said a sub-inspector and a member of the hotel staff had delivered photographs of the missing executive director and his driver to all the police stations along the inter-state border. Driver Dilip is a resident of the Kustore neighbourhood in Dhanbad.

Rahul said his mother Mahamaya would have been with his father yesterday had she not left for Canada three months ago to spend some time with his younger brother Rajarshi. The couple live in a company-owned flat at Garden City apartments in the heart of Dhanbad.

Rahul got suspicious about his father’s whereabouts when he did not reach Calcutta till late in the evening it takes around six hours to cover the 320km distance from Dhanbad and calls to his cellphones hit a dead end.

General manager Bagchi recounted: “I came to know about it around 6.30pm when I received a call from a family member. We initially took it lightly, thinking he might have stopped somewhere to rest or meet someone. But when the family member said his cellphones appeared to have been switched off, it rang alarm bells. We contacted Dhanbad police immediately.”

Rahul left his city apartment for Dhanbad with wife Shrabani and nine-year- old son Shreyan around 9.30pm. “We enquired at all the police stations along the route to know whether there was any incident involving a silver Verna. We reached Dhanbad this morning and lodged the missing persons diary. I also went to Kulti police station and gave them photographs of my father,” Rahul said.

Saumitra Moitra, a distant relative and neighbour of the Chandas in Thakurpukur, said the family had been residing in the locality for over two decades. He said Chanda would be home once every fortnight.

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