It was supposed to be a routine police investigation into the death of a septuagenarian, Arabinda De, who allegedly committed suicide by setting himself on fire in his house on 3 Robinson Street, in the heart of the city, on Wednesday. But the probe revealed not-so-routine facts: a 44-year-old man living with the body of his elder sister and the carcasses of his two dogs — all reduced to skeleton — for the last few months.
De’s son, Partha, told the police that his sister, Debjani, had died on December 29 last year, while the dogs had died in August and September. All the skeletons were found in Partha’s bedroom on Thursday.
“According to Partha, Debjani started a fast to ward off the evil spirits in the house. She fasted for over a month and died in December. Debjani’s body was kept in Partha’s bedroom, along with the dogs’ carcasses,” said Muralidhar, DCP (South).
“When I went inside the room, it looked like it had not been dusted for years… There was a pile of about 50-60 bones on one side of the bed, with cakes and pastries near them. There was another small cot with a skeleton, half covered by a blanket. There were a few stuffed toys near the headboard of the bed,” he said.
JCP (Crime) Pallab Kanti Ghosh said Partha was in the habit of offering food to his dead sister and the dogs everyday. “He had sealed the windows and all other openings of the room to confine the stench to his room,” he said.
Partha reportedly told the police that his father had objected to his decision to keep Debjani’s body, but he later managed to convince him. Investigations revealed that Partha, who was earlier employed with Tata Consultancy Services in the US, quit his job and returned home after his mother died in 2007. Debjani, who used to teach music at a reputed Kolkata school, also quit at around the same time. Both were unmarried.
Police found many books on spirituality in the house. Partha, a B Tech graduate, had reportedly set up a home audio system in all the rooms and would play records of American evangelists.
Partha’s relatives, who live next door, told the police that they had visited him on May 11 to celebrate his birthday but they were not allowed inside. “They had a bitter relationship for a long time, but had started making efforts to patch up recently,” said a neighbour.
“He was a reserved child, and after his mother’s death he became more of an introvert. He would not leave the house or even let the dogs outside. We would hear the dogs barking, but never saw them,” said another neighbour.
“We recovered three mobile phones. The outgoing calls were mostly to electricians, plumbers and eateries from where food was ordered,” said Muralidhar.
“The maid used to cook and leave… We never went inside and the family was not very sociable,” said Harendra Hansda, who works as a security guard in the area.
Partha was sent for medical examination and found to be suffering from “depressive psychosis”. “We have filed a case against him under sections 270 (act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 176 (omission to give information to public servants) of the IPC and he has been sent to a mental hospital,” said Muralidhar.
Meanwhile, police said they had found De’s “suicide note” dated June 8, implying that he had been planning his death for some days now. “The body has been sent for post mortem… we are not ruling out anything,” said Muralidhar.