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Allegations of a sleaze racket being run by a selfstyled 62-year-old godman in Burrabazar on Friday led police to unearth an intricate maze of hidden rooms shielded by a trapdoor in a nearly centuryold mansion off MG Road.
Pramod Singhania, who partly owns the “Singhania House” at 8, Shambhu Mullick Lane, is on the run. While locals alleged Singhania, who professed to be a devout religious man and called himself a disciple of Baba Ram Rahim, used to run a sex racket in the house, police are not ruling out a larger conspiracy by property sharks to grab the lucrative Burrabazar property.
Last week, a group of local residents stormed into his house and allegedly caught a group of young men and women in compromising positions. Some locals then had beaten up Singhania, following which he allegedly used a trapdoor to escape from his room into another a floor below and flee the spot. Singhania apparently hasn’t returned since then.
“He used to run a sleaze racket here. We have asked him several times to stop this business but he would not listen. He would claim himself to be a godman and said he knew “tantrik vidya”. He also claimed to have good relations with the local police and dared us to take any step against him,” said Gajendra Chowbey, a local resident and one of the complainants.
Police said they found that Singhania had built trapdoors and used makeshift ply-board partitions to segregate structures which doubled up as guest rooms. These, he had earlier told police, were used by small-time traders from other states who came to Burrabazar wholesale markets and needed a cheap place to put over for the night. Some compartments were also given on rent, where people lived, while some were used as offices.
“The building is very old and has many stakeholders among owners and tenants. After a joint inspection by police and KMC recently, the building was declared dangerous and a process was initiated to demolish the building and then rebuild it. It is intriguing, therefore, that the sleaze racket allegations surfaced now. With Singhania now on the run, the part of the property owned by him which will be vacated soon can be up for grabs. There could be a property angle too,” a senior officer at Lalbazar said.
A senior officer at Burrabazar said there were no complaints of running a sleaze racket any time before this incident but added that Singhania was once arrested on charges of molestation.
On Friday TOI visited the house. A flight of dilapidated stairs from the main entrance of the house took one to the second floor where Singhania lived. The first impression of the house was that it was very dirty with several small compartments made of plywood and unclean beds where dogs and cats slept.
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