Kolkata's House of Horror: The Full Story

Kolkata's House of Horror: The Full Story

Officials at 3 Robinson Lane, Kolkata

Kolkata, West Bengal:  "My family is in a shambles. 3 Robinson Lane used to be a garden. Now it is hell."

Thus wrote 44 year old Partha De in one of his innumerable diaries scattered around his 3 Robinson Lane flat just off Park Street in Kolkata.

More jottings reflect a troubled upbringing, so much that this Information Technology engineer thought it perfectly normal to keep his dead sister's body in his bedroom for over 5 months; also the bodies of their two pet labrador dogs and "feed" them every night.

Wednesday night, the body of his father, Arabinda De, was taken away after he had committed suicide; since then Mr De was behaving so oddly that two policemen were posted at his house. But his behaviour remained so odd that the police got worried he may run away or commit suicide. So, late at night they brought him to the Shakespeare Road police station.

When the officer-in-charge talked to him at length, he suspected Mr De was hiding something. Finally, when the officer said sympathetically, speak to me as your brother, he broke down.

"I may have committed what may be a crime in the eyes of the law," Partha De told the officer, adding, "but I did it because I loved them, my sister and the dogs, and I couldn't let them go."

Flummoxed, the officer called Deputy Commissioner of Kolkata Police, Mr Murli Dhar, who rushed to the house. There, the police team was in for a shock. A woman's voice was heard speaking wherever you went in the flat.

Investigations revealed that there were a sound system's speakers in every room and playing out of them, gospel of Joyce Meyer, a well-known American evangelist familiar to many in India for her appearances on TV channels.

When Mr Dhar neared Mr De's bedroom, the stench was unmistakable and unbearable. Inside, cakes and pastries were littered on the floor and, at the foot of the bed, a heap of bones. One of the dogs had died in August last year, another in September.

Go round the foot of the bed and next to it, on the side away from the door, a cot. At its head, a bunch of teddy bears. On it, a skeleton was covered with a blanket was found, that was 50 year old Debjani, Mr De's sister.

Partha De told the police that after the death of the dogs, his sister went into depression. By end of November, she went on a fast. "She felt there was so much trouble in our house, her fasting may invite God's help" he told the police.

After she died on 29th December, Mr De did not cremate her, to which his father Arabinda De objected vociferously.  "But later I managed to convince him that my sister was coming back every night," Partha De told the police.

Besides the music system, the house was packed with at least a dozen laptop and desktop computers, a piano had pride of place in the drawing room. There were no newspapers, but at least 20,000 spiritual books all over the flat which looked like it hadn't been dusted in a decade.

Both Mr De and his sister Debjani were engineers with Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) degrees. He used to work at a reputed IT company, she as a music teacher at some well-known English medium schools.

Their father, Arabinda, was director in a British company in Bangalore. He retired in 1987, came to Kolkata a year later and moved in their ancestral home at 3 Robinson Lane in 1989.

Their mother's death in 2005 may have changed things. Two years later, both son and daughter quit their jobs, stayed at home, living off rent from two tenants.

Relations with Arun De, Arabinda's brother, and his family who lived in an adjoining building were not good. In February this year, there was a thaw and Arabinda De went to his brother's house for a family function.

On 11 May, Partha De's birthday, his uncle Arun and wife Mukta say they came over with a cake, cut it, had a slice and left. They asked about Debjani and were told, wherever she is, she is fine. The couple said they did not find any foul smell.

Partha De, however, told the police that his aunt and uncle were lying. He claims they had come to his house with a cake, but he had refused to let them in. So, there was no question of them noticing any smell.

There was dispute between the brothers, Arabinda and Arun, over property. Arabinda De wanted to give the property to promoters, while Arun De says there was no concrete plan.

A suicide note was found at the house written allegedly by Arabinda. Police are checking the handwriting. The note said, "I am leaving this world by my own free will. No one is to blame. I am 77 years old. Bless you all. Goodbye Partha. Love you, Love you."

Partha De has been arrested for two bailable offences, for an act that may spread infectious disease that could be dangerous to life, and not informing public servants about his sister's death. He was presented in court on Thursday and sent to the Pavlov Mental Home at Gobra in east Kolkata.

His sister's body has been sent for forensic tests to ascertain whether she died of natural causes or not.

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