Was Sanjeev Khanna merely a manager appointed by Ajay Rawla or did he buy a substantial stake in the remote Bawali palace in South 24 Parganas at the end of 2012?
Local residents told HT on Saturday that although the palatial building was sold to businessman Rawla in 2009 by nonagenerian Arun Mondal, sweeping powers and authority made them feel he took all the decisions.
“It is difficult to believe that a person like Khanna, who was used to the party circuit of Kolkata and the comforts of a plush city life, will come and dig his heels in this village for days together to perform the duties of a manager,” said Dhananjoy Das, who owns a house next to the palace.
“From the authority with which Khanna started to negotiate with me to buy my property gave me reason enough to believe that he was not a mere employee of Rawla, but a partner in the business,” added Das.
Mumbai Police investigating the case and Khanna’s connections with it suspect he received a huge amount of money from Indrani after helping her with the murder of Sheena Bora; he used some of the funds to get into businesses, such as the Bawali resort and the 1658 Bar and Kitchen in Kolkata.
But Rawla has remained mum about the entire episode, only claiming that Khanna was a business associate and a consultant.
Rawla arrived in a light blue BMW on Saturday afternoon. On being approached for comments, he went into the building and locked it from inside.
“After Khanna joined Rawla in 2012, Rawla hardly used to visit this building and Khanna was the only master. It is only after Khanna’s arrest that we are seeing Rawla again frequently,” said Abhijit Manna, owner of a local tailoring shop.