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Puri deaths baffle police

Puri/Lucknow, Dec. 15: The bodies of a 30-year-old woman and her two children, who had gone missing from their Lucknow home four months ago, were recovered from a hotel room in Puri late last night.

Police suspect the woman’s absconding husband Amit Agarwal, 31, a gold merchant, to have poisoned the trio to death on Friday evening.

Agarwal, too, had gone missing with the family in mid-August to escape local jewellers, who were allegedly bullying him and threatening him to quit the gold business, said Lucknow police. The deceased were identified as Ankita Bansal, Vaani, 7, and Divyansh, 4.

Superintendent of police, Puri, Anup Kumar Sahoo said the Agarwals had checked into room number 307 of Jamindar’s Palace hotel on Chakratirtha Road on December 9 and were supposed to leave today. Hotel officials called the cops after they failed to get any response from the room yesterday.

“Our men opened the door and found the three bodies on the bed. There were no external injuries on the body. We also found a poison bottle from the room suggesting that Amit might have persuaded them to consume poison. We are waiting for the autopsy report to ascertain the exact cause of death. We are waiting for the arrival of Amit’s family members,” said Sahoo, adding that the incident possibly took place on December 13 night.

The cops are investigating a possible angle of human sacrifice as materials used for worship, including a bottle of Ganga jal, tulsi beads and mats, were found in the room.

“One of our employees had gone to clean the hotel room yesterday afternoon, but he did not get any response when he knocked on the door. We also tried to call on Agarwal’s mobile number and room telephone, but in vain. We waited till late evening and informed the police,” said general manager of the hotel Jogendra Boitai. The hotel staff had last spotted Amit on December 13 evening.

Amit, a native of Mathura, had left his residence in Lucknow on August 18 with his wife and children. The next day, his Innova car was found at Galla Mandi in Allahabad.

The police said the family had left a two-page letter, one at his residence and another in his abandoned car, which mentioned that fellow jewellers were harassing him.

Lucknow’s senior superintendent of police K.P. Gaud said: “On August 18, a missing report was lodged by Amit’s father with Chowk police station. We had spoken to various people and thought that he would return. We are in touch with Odisha police to trace Agarwal.”

The station house officer of Chowk police station, Alok Pathak, said Agarwal’s note said that he was under severe pressure from other city jewellers, who were not allowing him to run his business. Agarwal had two jewellery shops.

A police official in Puri said cops in Uttar Pradesh had provided information that Agarwal had a loan of around Rs 37 crore and had incurred heavy losses in business.