Kolkata’s Bleak House that grabbed headlines last June — because of a 'hell boy' who slept with the dead — could eventually turn into a real estate slugfest, claim those following the bizarre case.
The palatial home at 3 Robinson Street that lies close to Park Street, Kolkata’s only boulevard, is priced at a little over Rs 100 crore and is high on the radar of the city’s notorious real estate mafia, a section of which is popularly referred to as “syndicate” by those in business.
But their plan could have one stumbling block: The 'hell boy' himself.
Partha De, the 44-year-old man who was found living in the house with the skeletons of his father, sister and two Labrador dogs, is keen to donate the entire property to the Missionaries of Charity (the group founded by Mother Teresa).
On his arrest on 11 June 2015, De was found to be in a 'mentally unstable' condition. The charred body of his 77-year-old father, Aurobindo De, was found inside one of the bathrooms in the house. The fully-clothed skeleton of a woman, Partha's sister Debjani De, was found in one of the bedrooms. Two bags full of bones — of the pet dogs — were also found in one of the rooms.
The investigation revealed that De had been living with the corpse of his sister since her death in December 2014. The dogs had died shortly before that, in August. Debjani reportedly went into deep depression after the death of the Labradors and the siblings refused to cremate the remains of their pets. As for keeping Debjani's remains, De told the cops that (he kept them because) his sister's spirit often visited him, and he regularly left food next to her body.
It's been over a year since the case first rattled Kolkata. Now, De has fallen off the map. And in his place has emerged a house that is worth many crores. “We heard this has become a major bone of contention with the city’s syndicate,” said a top cop in Kolkata.
“Partha De is no longer staying with us,” said Sister Blesilla, an official spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity, where De lived for a month or two after his release from the Pavlov Hospital, where he was lodged after his arrest by officers of Kolkata Police in June 2015.
Sister Blesilla said she was unaware whether or not De had offered to donate his property to the Missionaries of Charity.
The police officer said they were keeping an eye on the developments, ostensibly because De is not in stable mental health.
“He needs help, he cannot help himself. He has expressed his desire to donate the building to the Missionaries of Charity. And not many are liking it,” said the officer, whose team commands the area close to Park Street.
The officer further said a team of scientists from Singapore had travelled to Kolkata early this year to study De’s case, which they found extremely bizarre but apparently returned disappointed because of major inconsistencies in his statements.
“What he spoke and what he wrote were simply not matching. He was courteous, well mannered and even showed the team books he was reading (including Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali) but his statements were garbled and made no sense,” said the officer.
Highly placed sources in Kolkata said real estate brokers in the city have zeroed in on De, pushing him to sell the property for a pittance so that they can create a multi-storeyed structure in its place. “They have even impressed upon De that it is in his interest that he should not return to stay in the house where his father, sister and pets died,” the sources said.
Those pushing De to sign on the dotted lines are members of the city’s powerful real estate syndicate which has strong connections with the ruling Trinamool Congress, claim sources.
“Two rounds of meetings have happened with De but with no result,” a source told us, adding the real estate sharks were bolstered by the fact that the Kolkata Police did not even file a chargesheet more than a year after De was arrested in June 2015 and subsequently sent to the Pavlov Hospital. And now, even if a chargesheet is filed, the chances of it holding up to a judicial trial appear weak because the protagonist of the case is mentally unbalanced, our sources said.
Helping the real estate sharks is an uncle of De, who also claims to be an inheritor of the property on Robinson Street, the sources added.
De, a former employee of TCS, had lived abroad before moving to India. He was last seen in public when he was on his way to cremate the remains of his sister Debjani, on 15 September 2015, after being granted permission by the cops.
Sources told Firstpost that the delay by the cops in filing the chargesheet could also be “deliberate”. “It is common practice in any city to bury the case after it has fallen off the consciousness of the masses. And this is exactly what is going to happen with De and his Robinson Street house,” our sources added.
Sealed by cops, the house in Central Kolkata is — virtually — off the radar of the city and its people. Once, it triggered breaking headlines and even a bit of horror tourism in the city with hordes visiting the home — named Hitchcock House by the media — to hear macabre stories and take selfies.
But the house could be back in news, once the slugfest between De and the real estate sharks comes out in the open.