Haldiram owner, four aides get life

Prabhu Shankar Agarwal

Justice done, says tea-vendor who was shot at for being an 'eyesore' to a proposed food mall

"Ek mota sa gaddi, ek accha takia, aur ek kambal vej dena jail me. Aur tum bilkul fikr mat karo. Hum sab samhal lenge," Haldiram's owner Prabhu Shankar Agarwal told his wife as he emerged from the courtroom today with a life term. Agarwal's wife looked depressed but not shattered.

Justice caught up with Agarwal and his associates when Judge Tapan Sen, of the 4th Fast-Track City Civil Court at Bankshall handed down life terms for all the five convicted in the case. The other four are Arun Khandelwal, promoter and developer and Haldiram's associate, Gopal Tiwari, Manoj Sharma and Rajiv Sonkar, the three contract killers hired by Agarwal.

Agarwal, Khandelwal and Sonkar, Tiwari and Sharma were convicted under Sections 120B, 307/34 of IPC. Tiwari was booked and convicted on additional charges under Sections 27/25 of the Arms Act. Sharma's wife Renu fainted outside inside the court premises when she learnt her husband would be behind bars for the rest of his life.

After the sentencing today, all five convicts were whisked away in prison vans to Alipore Central Jail where they would be kept for the time being. Hundreds of curious onlookers thronged the court compound and security was beefed up before the sentence was pronounced.

The case dates back to 2005, when Agarwal tried to eliminate one Pramod Sharma, who ran a tea stall near a Haldiram's outlet in Burrabazar, Kolkata's business hub. Agarwal wanted to set up a food mall and Pramod's tea stall was standing as an eyesore. He initially tried to pay off Pramod, but when he refused to accept the money and shift, Agarwal hired killers to do the job. Pramod was shot on his left leg on February 12, 2005.

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