A CID team probing the murder of Asansol hotelier on Friday night has said the assailants seemed to have specific information about his exact location and might have been assigned the task by someone who was not happy with his recent business ventures.
Arvind Bhagat, 55, had been shot dead by two men at his Hotel Meera International while he was negotiating a real estate deal with his business associates.
“The assailants entered Bhagat’s lobby at the hotel and left within minutes of firing four rounds at him while he was seated on a sofa,” a CID officer said on Saturday.
Hours after Bhagat had succumbed to the bullet injuries at a hospital in Durgapur on Friday night, a six-member CID team led by a senior officer left Bhabani Bhaban in Calcutta for Asansol.
The team will work in tandem with officers of the detective department of the Asansol Durgapur police commissionerate, senior officers said.
“The two assailants exactly knew where their target was located. Someone who was aware of Bhagat’s proposed meeting with his clients on Friday evening had possibly passed on the information to the killers.... The duo were so daring that they left only after checking if Bhagat was dead,” said the senior CID officer.
“We believe there was an insider, who had been passing on information about Bhagat for some time to the gang at work.”
The investigators scanning the footage from the CCTV camera inside the hotel observed that the two assailants — one of them with a helmet on him — walked inside and fired at the hotelier at pointblank range even before anyone could react.
Among the bullets that were fired, one that pierced Bhagat’s neck possibly proved to be fatal.
The hotel owner was involved in several other businesses, including land deals and money lending, the police said.
Sources said the hotel owner was in the midst of a discussion of a possible land deal with two persons for acquiring a five-kottah plot when he was fired upon.
“Bhagat was looking at some land deals beyond Asansol in Durgapur and had developed interests in real estate development recently,” said a senior officer. “He would also lend out money against interest.”
The investigators have collected the mobile numbers of some of Bhagat’s close aides and business associates and begun scanning their locations throughout Friday before and after the hotelier was gunned down.
The killers appear to be hired for the job possibly by someone, who was unhappy with some of Bhagat’s recent business moves, including efforts to buy land parcels, said a source.
Abhishek Modi, deputy commissioner of police (west) who inspected the spot on Saturday, declined comments. “As of now, there is no update in the investigation,” he said.
Arvind Bhagat. Santosh Kumar Mondal
The police suspect the assailants could have possibly sneaked into the bordering state of Jharkhand immediately after the incident. Jharkhand is just around 30km from Asansol.
The police officers said they were in contact with their counterparts in Jharkhand and were trying to collect specific inputs about a few persons with criminal antecedence.
The daring murder has prompted the BJP to train its gun on the Trinamul Congress administration.
“This incident once again proves the deteriorating law and order in the state.... A police outpost is is a few hundred meters away from the place of the incident. The home of law minister Moloy Ghatak is also close by. The police need to answer what they were doing,” said Asansol South MLA Agnimitra Paul.
Trinamul convener in West Burdwan V. Sivadasan has said the law and order in Asansol as well as in Bengal is far better than any BJPruled state. “One crime occurred and police are probing it. There is nothing to panic about. The law and order here is far better than any BJPruled state,” he said.
Firearms seized, duo arrested
Malda: Police here seized two improvised firearms and some live cartridges on Saturday and arrested two persons in this connection.
Ali Abu Backer, the additional superintendent of police (rural) of Malda, said based on source information, a police team was conducting raids in Rajnagar under Mothabari police station.
Policemen saw the duo trying to flee on a two-wheeler and gave them chase. As both were searched, two pipe guns and four rounds of live cartridges were found in their possession.
Those arrested are Rabiul Shrikh and Golam Mostafa of Rajnagar.
“We are trying to find out from where they got the arms,” said the police officer.
In Gazole, the police arrested three persons Friday night when the trio harassed the on-duty policemen at a checkpoint at Alal Bazar on Gazole- Chanchal Road. “A local rural hospital confirmed they were drunk,” said a policeman.
SOUMYA DE SARKAR