Haldiram owner sentenced to life for murder conspiracy
A fast track court here on Friday awarded life sentences to Prabhu Shankar Agarwal, owner of the Rs.500 crore Haldiram food chain, and four others for conspiring to kill a tea stall owner in Kolkata in 2005.
Tapan Sen, judge of the fourth fast track court at the City Sessions Court, handed the punishment to Agarwal, his aide Arun Khandelwal as well as contract killer Gopal Tiwari and his two henchmen Raja Sonkar and Monoj Thakur.
They had been convicted on Wednesday for the murder conspiracy against tea stall owner Pramod Sharma. The judge also gave 10 years' rigorous imprisonment to Tiwari, Sonkar and Thakur. Tiwari was also awarded a one-year prison term under the Arms Act. All the sentences will run concurrently.
Agarwal's lawyer said: "We are not happy with the verdict. We will appeal to a higher court. There is no direct evidence against him."
Tea stall owner Sharma, however, thanked god and the country's legal system.†† "Everything is happening as per the almighty's wish. One has to pay for one's sins. He (Agarwal) is also paying for his crime," said a beaming Sharma, soon after the judgment.
"God has been with poor people like us in this battle. I had left everything to the almighty and the law," he said. Agarwal, with the connivance of Khandelwal, had hired contract killer Tiwari in 2005 to dispose of Sharma who had refused to remove his stall, which was blocking the entrance to a shop that the businessman was about to open in the Burrabazar area of central Kolkata.
Tiwari, Sonkar and Thakur shot at and injured Sharma March 30, 2005. Tiwari was arrested May 22 the same year from Hyderabad by sleuths of Kolkata Police. Based on information provided by Tiwari, Agarwal was arrested from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi June 7, 2005 on his return from Britain, where he had gone to open a branch of his food chain.