Calcutta, Oct. 10: Sampad Mukherjee died today under mysterious circumstances in his solitary cell in Presidency Jail.
The prime accused in the murder of his friend, an undergraduate computer student called Kuntal Sain, the 21-year-old was grieved over by his mother Manjusha, who is also in the jail in connection with the same case.
'Both my younger son and I are in jail. Then who but my father-in-law should take Sampad's body' Manjusha said after his grandfather refused to claim the body.
Sampad, his friend Arijit Pal, mother and brother Jyotirmoy were arrested during investigation into the murder of Kuntal, the son of a businessman at Domurjala, Howrah.
Kuntal was allegedly abducted by his two friends for a ransom of Rs 25 lakh and subsequently hacked to death on the night of July 1. The mutilated body was found the next day under a bridge on Kona Expressway. Manjusha and Jyotirmoy were said to be aware of the plot.
Sampad's mysterious death, two days before his scheduled production for trial in a Howrah court along with the other accused, has raised uncomfortable questions for the authorities. 'We have no idea about the cause of his death,' inspector-general (law and order) Chayan Mukherjee said after visiting the jail.
'There was no mark of injury on the body and the doctor who examined it could not readily offer an explanation. I hope the post-mortem will throw light on the mystery,' he added.
A police reconstruction of Sampad's last few minutes in cell No. 35 showed that the death was quick but painful.
In jail for the last 82 days, his groans had brought a warder to the cell around 3.40 am. Finding Sampad frothing at the mouth and rolling about in pain, he sent for the jail doctor. By 4, when the doctor arrived, the youth was dead.
A conclusion on the nature of death will have to wait for the post-mortem report but jail officials are looking at a medicine overdose or a fatal reaction to a medicine as the likely cause.
Their view is based on the discovery of several strips of tablets, tubes of ointment, a plastic container full of white powder and several prescriptions after a search of the cell.
Epileptic Sampad required regular medication ' a fact known to jail authorities.
Sleuths said the powder in the plastic container was a 'surprise' because it was not mentioned in any of the prescriptions found, including the jail doctor's.
'We have sent the medicines for a forensic test' and an inquiry is on to find how the entire lot reached Sampad, deputy inspector-general (prisons) Ramapada Bhattacharya said.
The rules stipulate that a prisoner will be provided only a daily dose of medicine.
The investigators ruled out any impact on the trial because Sampad had already confessed to the crime in a statement to the magistrate.