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7 Feb 2017

55-year-old 'tenant' tried to drive elderly owners out of Salt Lake house- Promoter held for threatening couple -

Suresh Gupta after his arrest on Monday. Pic: Mayukh Sengupta
Snehal Sengupta, TT, Feb. 6: A promoter who had allegedly been threatening and stalking an elderly couple for years while staying forcibly on the ground floor of their two-storeyed house in Salt Lake's CD block was arrested today while trying to break open a lock on the main gate.
Suresh Gupta, 55, the arrested man, had not paid any rent for seven years, said Protima Chaudhury, 80, who stays on the first floor of the house with her husband Keshab Chandra Chaudhury, 84, and her younger sister Maya Dey, 77.
Om Prakash Gupta, who had leased the ground floor in 1987, had introduced Suresh to the couple as his younger brother months before the lease was to expire in 2010. According to Protima, Suresh has been living on and off on the ground floor, along with others, since then.
He allegedly refused to vacate the premises and had been harassing the couple for the past few years. The harassment turned to abuse last year. "He wanted Rs 1 crore as 'compensation' for moving out. Last year, he started pressuring us to move out so that he could build another floor," said Protima.
"Suresh would not only threaten us inside the house but also follow me in a silver Maruti Suzuki Swift whenever I stepped out. Twice he screeched to a halt inches away from me and started hurling abuses. If I tried to run away, he would chase me on the empty streets near our house," recounted Protima.
In mid-2016, Suresh remodelled the ground floor, spanning over 2000sq ft, allegedly without taking permission from the couple. When they protested, Suresh and his wife Renu allegedly pushed Protima in the couple's dining room. "They said they could do whatever they wished to as they were the owners and pushed me. I fell and hurt my head," said Protima, who lodged a complaint with Bidhannagar North police station on September 18, 2016.
The couple's son Arup, a teacher, said the police were reluctant to act against Suresh. "One officer said that we did not have any proof to back our claims. Another advised us to install CCTV cameras on our premises and then lodge a complaint," said Anup, who stays with his family in Belgachhia.
The matter came to a head last week. On Saraswati Puja, Suresh called Protima to the ground floor, where he and a man he introduced as Kamal Gupta asked her to withdraw the police complaint and threatened her with dire consequences if she did not. They also pressured her to sell the house, police said.
This prompted Protima to meet Bidhannagar police commissioner Gyanwant Singh, who asked Bidhannagar North police to take prompt action. The couple also locked their front gate. They called the police when Suresh allegedly tried to enter by breaking open the lock today.
Salt Lake has several hundred houses with elderly couples whose children live in other cities as the only residents. They are considered easy prey by land sharks and promoters, said a police officer.
Santosh Pandey, deputy commissioner (detective department), Bidhannagar police, said "swift action" had been taken after the couple lodged the complaint. "After collecting requisite evidences, we arrested the person. We are trying to find out if anyone else was also involved," said Pandey.
Suresh had been charged under several sections of the IPC related to threat and extortion. If convicted, he can be sent to jail for 10 years.

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