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Top corporate executive goes missing, search on

Ashwani Kumar Bhat, president of pharmaceutical major Nicholas Piramal India Limited, goes missing in Madhya Pradesh.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2008 02:31 IST

Ashwani Kumar Bhat, president of pharmaceutical major Nicholas Piramal India Limited, has gone missing in Madhya Pradesh. Police launched a search on Saturday while his abandoned car was found from Rajasthan.

Piramal group chairman Ajay Piramal said it was a matter of concern. "We are taking all steps and working in all directions to trace Bhat," Piramal told IANS late Saturday evening.

According to information available here, Bhat had left Indore to attend a conference in Gwalior on Friday. He delivered a speech at an investors' meet organised by the Madhya Pradesh government before leaving for Indore in his Toyota Corolla.

Bhat was expected to return home here late Friday, but had not till late Saturday.

His family and top company officials made repeated attempts to contact him, but his cell phone remained switched off. Even his driver's phone remained switched off, sources in the Mumbai-headquartered firm said.

Bhat's family lodged a complaint with the Indore police.

Indore Superintendent of Police Anshuman Yadav told IANS over telephone that while it was too early to say if Bhat had been kidnapped, police teams were on the lookout for him.

Yadav said the top executive's vehicle was found abandoned in Dholpur district of Rajasthan bordering Madhya Pradesh, around two hours' drive from Gwalior. Indore and Gwalior are around 250 km apart.

Yadav said there were no leads on the whereabouts of Bhat and his driver till late Saturday.

Bhat was in charge of the company's all plant operations in India. Nicholas Piramal has several operations in India and abroad, including Britain and Canada.

Gwalior Superintendent of Police Vijaykumar Suryawanshi told IANS that a senior company official informed police Saturday morning about Bhat's disappearance.

"After this, we informed all police stations on the Gwalior-Indore route to check if any vehicle was involved in an accident. This afternoon, we got the information that a vehicle matching the registration number of Bhat's car was found abandoned at Dholpur," said Suryawanshi.