A city sessions court sentenced Prabhu Shankar Agarwal, owner of the Haldiram’s fast food chain, and four others to life imprisonment for conspiring and attempting to murder a tea vendor on March 30, 2005.
The other four are contract killer Gopal Tiwari, Agarwal’s manager Arun Khandelwal, the conduit between Agarwal and Tiwari and the latter’s henchmen Raja Sonkar and Manoj Thakur.
Immediately after the verdict, the convicts were taken back to Alipore Jail where they have been lodged since Wednesday, the day they were convicted.
Agarwal and the others will shortly file an appeal before the Calcutta High Court and also seek bail.
Earlier, Agarwal pleaded for mercy citing the interest of his employees.
“I have 1,000 employees and a big business, which will suffer. Sir, please give me the minimum sentence,” he had pleaded before the court.
The other four convicts had prayed for leniency on their family grounds.
The case dates back to 2005, when Agarwal hired Gopal Tiwari to kill Satyanarayan Thakur, who had refused to shift his 170 sq. ft tea stall from the ground floor of a multistoried building Agarwal had bought in 2000. Agarwal wanted to set up a shopping mall in the building, but the tea stall was blocking the entrance.
Agarwal had earlier offered Thakur Rs 4 lakh to vacate his shop, but the latter had rejected this offer.
The hitmen, however, shot Thakur’s 18-year-old nephew Pramod on March 30, 2005.
Agarwal was in London on that day.
The police cracked the case two months later when they arrested Tiwari in Hyderabad.