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Hotel shelter in Tarapith

Tarapith, July 9: Birbhum’s Tarapith had become a hideout for criminals, police said hours after Shyamal Karmakar, the principal accused in the murder of college student Sourav Chowdhury in North 24-Parganas’ Bamungachhi, was arrested after spending days in the pilgrim spot.

Tarapith has one of the famous Kali temples in Bengal and attracts around 10,000 pilgrims a day. It has around 500 hotels in the neighbourhood.

A police officer said that in the past five years, at least 20 wanted persons had been arrested from various hotels in Tarapith.

Police sources said that at several meetings, representatives of hotel owners had been told to keep proper records of their guests and take copies of their photo identities such as PAN card, voter card and passport.

“We had asked them to submit their guest lists daily to the local police station but a large section doesn’t do it. After last night’s arrest of Shyamal Karmakar, we have decided to call a meeting soon with the hotel owners to tell them to follow the guideline,” an officer said.

Subdivisional police officer Koteswara Rao said: “If the hotel owners don’t follow our guideline, we will have to think about ways to take action against them.”

Shyamal was arrested late last night from near the gate of Rampurhat railway station.

Police sources said that after Sourav’s murder, Shyamal had shaved off his hair and taken shelter in a hotel in Tarapith with an associate.

A police officer said Shyamal told them he stayed at a hotel called Lodge Tara but there is no hotel by that name in Tarapith. “There are 11 hotels with the name Tara in Tarapith. After the arrest of Shyamal, the police went to all hotels named Tara but nowhere did they find Shyamal’s name on the records. None of the hotels’ officials could recall any guest that matched with Shyamal’s physical description,” the officer said.

“We are trying to find out whether Shyamal had put up in some other hotel,” he added.

The president of the Trinamul-affiliated Tarapith Hotel Owners’ Association, Biman Chatterjee, said this evening: “Shyamal Karmakar was arrested from Rampurhat railway station. We don’t know in which hotel he stayed. But we always ask our members to collect identity proofs and send daily report to the police.”