Face to face with a brother

Partho: How could I let her go?

By Jhinuk Mazumdar in Calcutta
  • Published 13.06.15

A painting by Debjani De, whose skeleton was found at her home in Robinson Street on Thursday, when she was a teenager. The painting bears Debjani's full name and the words: "Age: 15 yrs. (1983)"

Calcutta, June 12: A psychiatrist who spent an hour with the man who had kept his sister's corpse at home even after maggots had eaten into her bones today shared with The Telegraph his first impressions.

Sabyasachi Mitra, a consultant neuro-psychiatrist, had been called to Shakespeare Sarani police station yesterday to assess Partho (not Partha as mentioned in Friday's paper) De, who had told the cops "my sister is at home, dead".

Mitra shared the following account with this newspaper since too many speculative theories had been doing the rounds in the city in the previous 24 hours.

Mental condition

Partho, according to my assessment, has psychotic depression.

( A person with psychotic depression is so depressed that he or she loses contact with reality and may experience hallucinations and delusional thinking.)

Physical condition

Partho was very upset and tearful and his personal care was very poor. His nails were long and scruffy and his teeth had not been brushed for a while.

These point towards a psychotic illness that could be schizophrenic or affective (depressive psychosis) in nature.

Emotional condition

He came across as very depressed and very scared but deluded.

The delusion was that God was taking care of all of them, including the dogs and his sister (Debjani De, whose skeleton was found yesterday).

He was sitting in a chair but was emotionally restless. He was not concentrating on the answers, there was a certain anxiety about him.

(At Calcutta Pavlov Hospital, where Partho has been admitted, he has told doctors he should be allowed either to go home or to go to Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity. Partho did not sleep for most of Thursday night.

(He was dozing off from time to time, sitting on a concrete slab that is used as a seat in the dining area. Towards Friday morning, he went into a cabin with a bed that is adjacent to the dining area and fell asleep.)


Partho said he had had a wonderful relationship with his sister. "I loved my sister very much. How could I let her go?" he told me.

Partho believed she was fasting to make good things happen to the family. He possibly tried to force-feed his sister after her death because when she was alive she possibly did not listen to him as she starved herself to death.

I asked him and he categorically denied having any sexual intimacy with anybody in his life.

(Police said Partho's diary had references to his sister, mother and maid in places, with real-life situations juxtaposed with what appeared to be parts of a novel/novels he had been reading.

(In a diary he wrote in English, he mentioned the title of a book he was reading and then referred to Robinson Street where the family lived. There were some references with sexual connotations and to a childhood incident in Digha that led to many theories being aired through the day.

(However, one officer pointed out: "He seems to have woven fiction with reality and it is difficult to assess which part is fiction and which is fact."

(Since the circumstances are not clear yet, The Telegraph is withholding the purported excerpts from the diary.

(At Pavlov, Partho told doctors: "It's difficult to explain to all of you but I am having a conversation with my sister. She is there with me all the time. We have a very beautiful relationship.")

Father and son

There were hints of estrangement in the relationship between father and son.

Partho said their father did not know that his daughter was dead but that is not a convincing story.

(The police said some entries in Partho's diary suggested possible differences with his father, possibly linked to the brother's possessiveness about his sister.

(Arabindo De, their father who was found charred to death yesterday, visited a solicitor friend 48 hours before his death to discuss ways he could ensure that "neither of his children" were inconvenienced in his absence. But the police said Debjani had died at least six months ago.

(The solicitor said Arabindo had told him he was "concerned about my children". But Arabindo's purported suicide note says: "Good Bye Partho." The omission of Debjani suggests he was aware his daughter was no more. But the reference to "children" raises the possibility that Arabindo did not acknowledge the death or did not want to disclose it or did not know about it when he met the solicitor on June 8, two days before he died.) See Metro

Dogs' deaths

Partho claimed that the two Labradors had died of tumours. It was initially not clear whether the dogs had been taken to a vet but further queries revealed they had not.

The entire family could have been trapped in a shared delusional disorder.

Weight loss

Partho claimed he weighed 115kg about three to four years ago but now weighs about 60kg. "The loss of weight was good for my body," he told me with a smile.

No conclusions

Partho is clearly mentally unwell. His deluded mind believes what he is saying but we can't jump into conclusions on the basis of his testimony.

(At Pavlov, Partho asked "why have you brought me here" every time doctors tried to speak to him. He told a doctor pointing to a particular patient: "I don't like the vibrations coming from him."

(Hospital superintendent Ganesh Prasad said the doctors were not asking him too many questions now.

(The hospital has started conducting a psychometry test on him, asking him a set of fixed questions. The test would take at least five days to complete.)

Additional reporting by Monalisa Chaudhuri and Rith Basu