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Key suspect dies in jail
Babulal

Calcutta, Oct. 26: An accused in a sensational murder case died in Dum Dum Central Jail last night, three weeks before he was to appear in a trial court for the final hearing.

Babulal Sharma, 27, was one of a dozen prime accused in the murder of former Dum Dum municipality chairman Sailen Das. Sharma died around midnight after a fall, in which he wounded his head, said Joydeb Chakraborty, the inspector-general of prisons.

Babulal was climbing down a steep flight of stairs from the bathroom when he fell, the officer said, adding: 'There is no foul play.'

But the family of the accused pointed to the dried froth at a corner of his mouth and the 'absence' of any 'critical' wound on the body and asked why police took eight hours to inform them.

'They were very prompt in informing us when they took him out of the jail about a year ago for treatment of his eye. He was not using that bathroom for the first time,' said Sriram Sharma, Babulal's father.

The death ' the 40th in custody in Bengal this year ' comes two weeks after Sampad Mukherjee died in Presidency Jail, where he was being held over the Kuntal Sain murder case. His family, too, suspected foul play.

A resident of Jorapukur off Baguiati, Sharma was in jail since August 2001 after his arrest as alleged co-conspirator.

The police had been led to Babulal ' a lowly employee of the municipality whose rise to prominence was attributed to his proximity to Sudhir Bhattacharya, the former chairman of the municipality out on bail in the murder case ' after they rounded up the president of the Amitabh Bachchan Fans' Association, S.P. Kamat. Babulal, who was married with a child, was a big Bachchan fan and a member of the association.

The final hearing is slated for November 17.

Chakraborty said the warders had carried the bleeding and unconscious Babulal outside his cell. Jail doctor A.K. Roy advised hospitalisation after attempts to revive him failed. He was declared dead on arrival at R.G. Kar Medical College and Hospital.

Father Sriram and brother Rajesh said the jail officials told them he fell down around 12.30 am. Documents with The Telegraph reveal that Babulal was brought to the hospital at 12.45 am when the doctor on duty, Dipak Kumar Mistry, found him dead.

Babulal's friends claimed they found no injury marks on his body. 'He had froth on his right side of the mouth which, according to a hospital staff member, suggested poisoning,' said Sanjit Roy.

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