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Asansol: Scan on money trail of murdered hotelier

According to sources, Arvind Bhagat was known as a moneylender in coal belt and he had allegedly lent a lot of money to various people

Abhijeet Chatterjee Durgapur Published 22.02.23, 03:46 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture

Investigators probing the murder of hotelier Arvind Bhagat in Asansol are looking into multiple angles, including his role as a moneylender and buyer of disputed properties.

Bhagat was killed by two assailants at the lobby of Hotel Meera International, owned by him, some 200m from the home of minister Molay Ghatak on Friday night. The CID and the detective department are probing the murder separately but without a breakthrough.


Sources said Bhagat was known as a moneylender in the coal belt and he had allegedly lent a lot of money to various people, mostly small traders, at high interest. The sources added that the hotelier spent a lot to buy disputed land and properties. The investigators are now trying to determine the source of his money.

“Arvind Bhagat had also lent a lot of money at high interest as short-term loans to small traders. He also used to purchase disputed properties. We are trying to find out the source of money. It might open up some link to his murder,” said an investigating officer in Asansol.

According to sources, “unaccounted” money of various influential people in the coal belt of Asansol as well as neighbouring Dhanbad in Jharkhand were used by Bhagat in his moneylending business as well as in buying real estate.

“He also had a good rapport with several local political leaders and police officers,” the source added.

Though much of this kind of moneylending is done informally, the investigators are trying to find out if Bhagat had a proper licence or not.

“We asked for information on his moneylending business from Arvind Bhagat’s wife but she could not give us any details. His manager is out of station now. We will examine everything on his return,” said a police officer.

As Bhagat’s public murder caused many to question the law and order in the region, the case was hurriedly assigned to the CID while the local police and detective department of Asansol-Durgapur police commissionerate continued with its own probe.

The investigators questioned the hotel staff and the security guard about their lapse in allowing one of the assailants to enter the hotel wearing a helmet. In areas covered by CCTV cameras, the practice is to ask a person wearing a helmet to take it off to facilitate identification. This was not done in the case of one of the assailants.

“In the CCTV footage, we saw two persons, and one of them wore a helmet when he entered the hotel and walked into the lounge. We could not see his face because of the helmet. Why was he not asked to take off the helmet by the security guard or hotel staff needs to be probed further,” a police officer said.

Investigators have also come to know that the hotel did not keep identity proofs and details of its guests properly.

“In such a scenario, it could well be that the informer of the killers stayed at the hotel itself and passed information about Bhagat’s exact location to the killers. We will interrogate the hotel manager on this angle too,” said a police officer.

A senior police officer said investigators were looking for a proper clue to crack the case and hence exploring multiple angles. “Right now, exploring various possibilities is the only way forward,” he said.

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