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Realtor wife leaps to death

Calcutta, June 16: A leading realtor’s wife, convicted in a double murder case and awaiting the Supreme Court’s final word, died after she apparently jumped from the 10th floor balcony of her south Calcutta flat this afternoon.

Unable to move around without a walking aid and stricken by disease, Bimala Khetawat, 63, would have had to spend the better part of her remaining life in prison if the Supreme Court, too, had upheld her conviction. The lower courts had sentenced Bimala to life imprisonment for plotting to kill a neighbour and his wife with whom she suspected her realtor husband of having an affair.

Bimala’s husband Jugal Kishor Khetawat is a director of South City Projects that owns South City Mall on Prince Anwar Shah Road. He was at the mall along with his granddaughter and sister-in-law when his wife was found dead, police said. Their son Anil, president (marketing), South City Projects, was also not at the 3,600sqft duplex flat. Their daughter Seema is married in Delhi.

The frail body of Bimala, draped in a light yellow sari, was found lying near the “out” gate of the 12-storeyed Rameswara Apartments on Sarat Bose Road.

Rekha Thakur, who took care of Bimala, was the first to spot the woman lying in a pool of blood around 2.30pm, the police said.

“We have not found any suicide note so far. As of now, this appears to be a case of suicide but we are waiting for the post-mortem report. A case of unnatural death has been registered with the Bhowanipore police station,” said Rajesh Subarno, DC (South).

Preliminary investigations suggest the incident took place when Rekha was in the bathroom and two domestic helps were in the kitchen. “Bimala jumped along with the walker with which she used to move around. The walker was also found lying near her body,” said an officer. “She was very ill and frail. She weighed around 35kg.”

According to the police, Bimala was suffering from crippling backbone pain, tuberculosis and psychological disorders.

“She has been fighting for over 17 years to clear her name. She probably thought that the ruling in the Supreme Court would also go against her,” said a family friend.

Both Alipore Court and Calcutta High Court had convicted her — along with four others — of the murders of Bina Nawlakha and her husband Girish. The twin murders had come to light on Christmas morning in 1991 and Bimala was arrested on January 3, 1992.

Bimala was sent to jail but the high court granted bail on health grounds. In 1997, when a city court sentenced the five to life, Bimala was back behind the bars but was given bail by the Supreme Court. The high court upheld the conviction last year, following which Bimala moved the Supreme Court.

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