The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cops sniff cricket in killing

Calcutta, Jan. 21: What can cricket betting have to do with the murder of Ankit Desai' A lot, according to police.

The childhood buddies had apparently taken their passion for the game since their school days to a different level altogether.

“Preliminary investigati-ons suggest that Hardik and Ankit were engaged in cricket betting,” said Praveen Kumar, the North 24-Parganas superintendent of police.

“Following a recent deal, Ankit came to owe a huge amount to Hardik. The deal was struck possibly a fortnight back and the amount ran into a few lakhs,” he added.

According to police detectives, lifestyle, cricket betting, romance and peer jealousy all contributed to the murder.

Even after Ankit coughed up a part of the sum he owed, a large amount remained due, prompting Hardik to engage Shyam Karia to get the money.

Shyam managed to collect only Rs 25,000. So Hardik decided to fly down and force Ankit to cough up the remaining amount.

The cookie did not crumble that way. Ankit was killed.

According to sources, around Rs 1 lakh had earlier been transferred from Ankit’s account to Hardik’s.

Having recovered a part of the dues ' on Hardik’s behalf ' Shyam transferred the amount to Hardik’s account.

The son of a traffic warden, Shyam had called up Hardik to inform that Ankit was not responding to his calls for further payment and it was up to him to get the money out of Ankit.

“Ankit was very close to Hardik. Shyam knew if Hardik asked Ankit to meet him, he would never turn him down. And that is why Hardik flew down from Pune. Before leaving Pune, Hardik spoke to Shyam and also to Ankit,” an officer of the Lake Town police station said. Sleuths believe that it was only after Ankit refused to pay up the remaining amount that the gang finalised the murder plan.

Keen to look into the details of Hardik’s other activities, the North 24-Parganas police have decided to send a team to Pune. Another has been set up to look out for Shyam and his associates.

“Shyam has been absconding since the day Ankit was murdered,” an officer said.

Investigating officials are also not ruling out a woman angle to the murder. A blood-stained ladies’ handkerchief was found beside Ankit’s body in the Chevrolet Optra.

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