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Friendship Day party turns fatal, woman drowns in posh club pool

Preliminary postmortem finds alcohol and water in victim’s stomach.

The pool at Lake Land Country Club, where Subhanjita Basak (below) drowned, in Howrah on Monday. (Source: Express photo by Partha Paul) The pool at Lake Land Country Club, where Subhanjita Basak drowned, in Howrah on Monday. (Source: Express photo by Partha Paul)

A Friendship Day pool party at the posh Lakeland Country Club on Sunday turned sour after a 24-year-old woman was found dead inside the pool.

The death of Subhanjita Basak, a Garia resident, is surprising, said a club official on condition of anonymity, as the pool is only three-and-a-half-feet deep, not enough for an adult to get drowned under normal circumstances.

Bouncers took out Basak from the shallow end of the pool around 7.30 pm Sunday and rushed her to a private hospital (Westbank) where doctors declared her brought dead. Friends, including Basak’s roommate Bhattacharya, not satisfied with the doctors’ declaration, then took the body to SSKM hospital in Kolkata where doctors confirmed the woman as brought dead.

Although the woman’s family has not put in a formal complaint, “they said they would not leave those responsible if anything suspicious is found in the medical report,” said Madhusudan Mukherjee, OC, Domjur police station.

Preliminary post-mortem report found presence of water and alcohol in Basak’s stomach and suggests the cause of death as “may be due to drowning”. Viscera is yet to be conducted.

“We are waiting for the complete report. Only then can we say anything for sure,” Howrah Superintendent of Police Dr Bharat Lal Meena said. The SP also denied reports that the local police have recovered strips of sedatives from the spot.
Basak, living as a paying guest in Garia since February this year, had accompanied her roommate to the party at the resort off Kona Expressway in Howrah. Priced relatively low as it falls under panchayat area and is exempted from many taxes, the resort venue is known for hosting famous parties, thronged by political class and VIPs.

On Sunday, too, at the other end of the club, Trinamool Congress’ Panchla MLA Gulshan Mullick was attending his son’s marriage party hosted by the latter’s in-laws. This gathering, too, had many significant attendees, among whom were Irrigation minister Rajib Banerjee and Howrah MP Prasun Banerjee; even Mukul Roy, TMC’s general secretary, was invited but he had instead sent his representative. All were, however, oblivious of what had transpired at the same venue. “We really had no idea that such a thing had happened at the other corner of the club,” Mullick later said.

The police are currently questioning a number of people – mostly friends of the deceased who were present at the party, the organizers of the event and the resort officials. According to the police, Basak and her roommate Priyanka had left their PG around 4 pm for the club.

One Rohit Tripathy, a friend of Priyanka had reportedly joined them from Rabindra Sadan and together they had arrived at the club around 4.45 pm.

While Priyanka and Rohit were busy with other friends at the party, Subhanjita reportedly sat by the pool even as her roommate would come over every now and then to check upon her, the police said.

Around 7.30 pm, the party stopped abruptly when Basak was spotted by someone inside the pool, according to the statement given to police by Abhishek Singh – one of the organisers and one known to Priyanka. “She was then taken out by the bouncers who tried to pump the water out of her stomach,” Singh said.

Resort authorities said they had let out the venue for the party and had no idea what was going on. When asked why there was no CCTV installed at the venue, a senior employee said “CCTVs are installed at the lobby and passages but not at the poolside and inside hotel rooms for reasons of privacy”.

Basak got married in 2011 but was living apart from her husband following marital discord. Having lost her parents at a young age, she lived with her grandmother in Garia but shifted to a PG in February to keep distance from her husband. “Her grandmother had come to me asking me to take care of her as she was dealing with her separation. She was reserved but a friendly person. She lived at the PG, preparing for competitive exams. She would often remain very depressed and would occasionally drink,” said Soma Ray, owner of the PG.

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