The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Father of three found dead after poll duty

Siliguri, May 16: Mystery surrounds the death of a Group D employee of Darjeeling Government College who had come to Siliguri on May 6 to officiate as a polling staff during the Assembly polls two days later.

Santosh Routh (38) had gone missing since the early hours of May 7, after he walked out of the Siliguri Sadar Hospital where he was admitted following complaints of uneasiness.

His decomposed body was identified today at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital morgue by relatives from Darjeeling. They were here in response to a mysterious phone call last night, saying his body had been found in Siliguri last night.

Surprisingly, no police or administration official has so far provided a clear explanation as to what could have happened to Routh after he walked out of the hospital.

On arrival at the Siliguri College ground, the control centre for the Siliguri and Phansidewa Assembly seats, Routh felt unwell.

'He was kept as a reserve fourth polling personnel due to his illness,' said Siliguri subdivisional officer B. Bhattacharya. When he continued to feel unwell, the Red Cross personnel at the ground took him in an ambulance to the subdivisional hospital. He was admitted there at 12.20 am.

No one knows exactly what happened after that. He reportedly walked out an hour and a half later, but no one knows where.

When contacted, hospital superintendent Anup Ghosh said, 'That night about 10 or 12 polling personnel were brought to the hospital for admission. There was some chaos over the process and the man must have slipped out in the commotion.' He said it was unlikely that the ward master would know when Routh left.

Meanwhile, when the Darjeeling Government College (DGC) employee did not return home even after May 11 when the poll process was over, his relatives lodged a complaint in Darjeeling.

Lalita Rai Ahmed, officer in charge of DGC said: 'Last night, some unknown people who claimed to be a police official, apparently called up a family member and told him the body of Routh was lying near Hotel Conclave (on Hill Cart Road) in Siliguri.' When Routh failed to turn up on May 9, the official had intimated district magistrate Aariz Aftab about his disappearance, he said.

The officer-in-charge of the college also contacted the police. Additional superintendent of police, Siliguri, Kallol Ganai, added a twist to the whole affair when he said today that after Routh left the subdivisional hospital, a body was brought to the North Bengal Clinic in Pradhannagar on the night of May 9. 'It was brought dead, and from reports I have received so far, the body was taken to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, where it was identified today.'

District magistrate Aariz Aftab, District Magistrate, said that he was waiting for the post-mortem report but added that the all benefits entitled to the family as per the norms of the Election Commission would be given. Routh had lost his wife only a year ago and is survived by three daughters.

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