KOLKATA: Haldiram Bhujiawala proprietor Prabhu Shankar Agarwal was today sentenced to life imprisonment along with four others by a fast track court for conspiring to kill a tea stall owner whose shop came in the way of a food plaza he was building.
Judge Tapan Sen of the Bankshall Court awarded the sentence to Agarwal, history-sheeters Gopal Tiwari, Arun Khandelwal, Manoj Sharma and Raju Sonkar under Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) besides 10 years rigorous prison terms under section 307/34 (attempt to murder/common intention).
Tiwari was also found guilty under the Arms Act and sentenced to seven years in one section and three years in another. All the sentences would run concurrently, the judge said in his order.
Agarwal, owner of the multi-crore food and confectionery chain which has outlets in many cities and also in London and elsewhere, had failed to persuade tea stall owner Satyanarayan Sharma in Burrabazar area here to move out as the shop would spoil the facade of the food plaza he was constructing.
His hired goons had then raided the shop looking for Satyanarayan, but not finding him, shot his nephew Pramod Sharma, injuring him seriously on March 30, 2005.
Earlier, Agarwal pleaded for mercy before the judge stating that thousands of his employees and their families depended on him and his incarceration would hamper his business and put their livelihood in jeopardy.
The judge then asked Agarwal whether his business was affected when he was jailed earlier for 45 days. Agarwal conceded that it did.
The other four convicts also prayed for mercy. The prosecution had stated that Satyanarayan had been threatened by the accused a few days before the attack.
Agarwal, who was in London to open his first overseas food plaza at the time of the attack, was arrested when he returned home two months later.
Agarwal was arrested at IGI Airport in New Delhi as soon as he landed and was handed over to Kolkata Police.
Tiwari was arrested from Hyderabad where he was hiding while the other accused persons were arrested here.
All of them were released on bail later. The prosecution, during trial, submitted that Tiwari and his henchmen had embarked on the murder bid at the behest of Agarwal.
All the five had surrendered to the police on Wednesday, when the court pronounced them guilty.