Calcutta, Nov. 1: A city businessman and his son-in-law were shot dead on the Delhi-Moradabad highway late last evening.
Amrit Lal Agarwal, 62, and his son in-law Yogesh Agarwal, 40, were driving to Moradabad with family members to attend a wedding when dacoits stopped their car. They snatched gold ornaments and cash and shot dead Amrit Lal and Yogesh before making off.
Amrit Lal, who owns a rolling mill in Howrah, had left his Belvedere Road residence for Delhi last Wednesday with wife Rajani and elder son Girish. On reaching the capital, he asked Girish to set out for Moradabad, the marriage venue, saying he would join him in a few days.
“Two days ago, I arrived in Moradabad and was waiting for my parents to join us with my sister when we heard this news last night,” Girish said over telephone from Moradabad today.
Amrit Lal, Rajani, their daughter Ritu and her husband Yogesh set out from Delhi last evening by car. They had covered most of the 150-km highway stretch when their driver noticed a long plank lying on the road.
He stopped the car to take a closer look when seven to eight armed dacoits overpowered him and ordered Amrit Lal and Yogesh to hand over their valuables. Other gang members snatched jewellery and briefcases containing cash from Rajani and Ritu.
Having robbed the passengers, the dacoits shot dead the businessman and his son-in-law. “Without any reason they pumped bullets into the two men from close range. They died on the spot and the dacoits left with whatever costly items they could lay their hands on,” B.B. Bakshi, superintendent of police (Moradabad) said.
“One of our patrol parties found their (Amrit Lal and Yogesh’s) bullet-riddled bodies beside the car. The two women were unharmed, but totally shaken by the ghastly incident,” Bakshi said.
He said highway robbers and dacoits have been attacking people travelling on the highway, but added that this “cold-blooded killing without any rhyme and reason has left the force confused”.
Girish said his father and brother-in-law hadn’t resisted the dacoits. “That is the most baffling part of it,” Girish said. “My father told the dacoits to take anything they wanted but to leave them alone.”
A pall of gloom has descended on the Agarwals’ Belvedere Road residence and their Julliram Shyamlal mill in Howrah.
“Immediately after hearing the news, Amrit Lal’s younger son, Nikhil broke down late last night. It was a big shock for him,” factory manager Chandrika Prasad said.
Nikhil took the first flight to Delhi this morning to join his family in Moradabad.
Amrit Lal never looked back since starting the mill in the mid-1960s. In a short span, he acquired the reputation of being a fierce competitor in the iron and steel industry.
Close friend and business associate Rajinder Singh Walia said: “He was a gentle soul and very well respected in the industry. He was one person who did not have any enemies. I do not have words to express my sorrow.”
The businessman also ran a homeopathic clinic for his factory employees and Howrah residents. “Amrit Lalji used to do (a) lot of good in the locality and gave a patient hearing to everyone’s problems,” Prasad said.