Cops in dark about death

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 6.02.06

More than a week after he went missing, the body of 41-year-old cricketer Umakant Fate was handed over to his relatives on Sunday afternoon. The cause of his death remains shrouded in mystery.

The doctors who performed the post-mortem at Calcutta Police Morgue said the body was decomposed and abnormally swollen, almost beyond recognition. The swelling suggests that the body was under water for days.

?Even if there are injuries, it will be difficult to make out since the body is so swollen. The legs have been nibbled. The post-mortem report would reveal the details,? stated Ashok Kumar Gangopadhayay, executive magistrate conducting the inquest.

A former Ranji player, Fate had checked into a hotel on Sudder Street with his team-mates on the morning of Republic Day. They were returning from Asansol, where the team had taken part in a tournament organised by Coal India Limited.

Fate worked as sports organiser at Western Coalfields Limited and was posted in Nagpur. On the afternoon of January 26, he went out ?shopping?, never to return. He was scheduled to take a train back to Nagpur with his team-mates in the evening.

The following morning, a missing diary was lodged with New Market police station. On Saturday afternoon, Belghoria police spotted the body floating on the Hooghly, near Dakshineswar. Fate?s driving licence helped in identifying the body.

Police initially maintain that drowning had caused the death and Fate had possibly committed suicide. The cricketer?s relatives, however, said he had led a happy life and could not have committed such a ?juvenile? act.

?He seemed to suffer from schizophrenia. A mood swing could have prompted him to attempt suicide. Even Fate?s family members have admitted that he was a schizophrenic,? claimed Ajay Kumar, deputy commissioner (Central).

The investigators believe Fate had gone to Belur, since he was an ardent admirer of Vivekananda and had jumped into the river on his way back to the city. The body later drifted to Dakshineswar.

The relatives are not convinced. ?Even in the semi-finals of the tournament at Asansol, Fate had scored a ton. How can he be mentally unsound? I have known him closely but have never seen any mood swings. Isn?t it strange that a person falls into a river and his body is traced after a week?? said Vasant Barde, Fate?s cousin.