Haldiram's fam tussle rekindles memories of 2005 Burrabazar murder bid
Kolkata, July 31 : This was not the first time when nefarious tales about Indias biggest confectionary chain Haldirams became the focal point of controversy. Their alleged role in various despicable acts related to in-house bickerings and plans to expand have earlier too made headlines.
The big names of the multi-crore business family was embroiled in notorious controversies in the past as well and even included attempt to murder of a poor tea stall owner in Kolkata's busy Burrabazar area.
On June 5, 2005, Haldiram Bhujiawala proprietor Prabhu Shankar Agarwal was arrested in connection with a case of alleged attempt to murder a tea stall owner in order to gain access to his land, that was in front of a food mart that Agarwal was building near Kalakar Street-Satyanarayan Park area in Burrabazar -- known as Asia's largest wholesale market.
According to police sources, Agarwal who was then building a swanky food plaza right on the main road of Kalakar Street had failed to persuade the tea stall owner Satyanarayan Sharma who had a kiosk in front on the land. He had hired goons to kill Satyanarayan.
On March 30, 2005, the hoodlums, led by Gopal Tiwari, raided the tiny tea kiosk looking for the owner and shot Satyanarayan's nephew Pramod Sharma in a thickly-populated market area in broad daylight.
Tiwari was arrested on 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 while he was coming back after opening a branch of his food chain in London.
A fast-track court in Kolkata had sentenced Agarwal and four others to life imprisonment on January 29, 2010 for conspiring to kill the tea stall owner.
Tapan Sen, judge of the fourth fast track court at the City Sessions Court, had 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.
The confectionary baron was sentenced to life imprisonment under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy), besides 10 years rigorous imprisonment under section 307/34 (attempt to murder/common intention).
"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," victim Pramod Sharma had said in 2010, after the fast track city session count gave its judgement in the case.
The recent developments of the Haldiram family's serious internal tussle over property issues once again triggered those memories of the 2005 incident.
The family feud broke out in the open when a group of miscreants, reportedly encouraged by a section of the family, attacked two of their stores in Kolkata and took away items, like laptops and pen drives that contained sensitive information such as bank details of the company and its properties.
The incident took place following the death of Haldiram's Kolkata food chain owner Mahesh Agarwal in Singapore in April. A complaint and counter complaint was filed with the Kolkata Police in regard to the matter.
A case has been filed with the Shakespeare Sarani police station and a lot of CCTV footage was also gathered in connection with the incident. The sleuths are now looking into all possible aspects of the case.
The company was started by Ganga Bhishen Agarwal, a businessman from Bikaner in Rajasthan. The family had migrated to Kolkata a decade after India gained Independence in 1947.
The Agarwal siblings split in the early 1990s, dividing its operations in four different zones. Manoharlal and Madhusudan got the north Indian markets, Shiv Kishan got the south and west Indian markets and Prabhu Shankar and Ashok got the markets in east India.
In 2013, a court ruling banned Prabhu Shankar and Ashok from using the "Haldiram's Bhujiawala" name. The duo rebranded it to "Prabhuji From the house of Haldiram's".
According to reports, the food and confectionary brand split into three geographic entities with nearly 12 companies, grossed Rs7,130 crore during FY19. The sales of Haldiram products were at par with Hindustan Unilever's food and refreshment division. In FY18, the combined sales of Haldiram products grossed at Rs 6,241 crore.
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