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‘Jennie The Ripper’ Of Colonial India!

A few people in India still remember Troilokyatarini’ s journey from being an innocent upper class village girl to a serial killer in the 19th Century. Thanks to senior Police Officer Priyanath Mukherjee, people came to know about the lady who had terrorised the Kolkata Police during British Colonial rule in the South Asian nation. Mukherjee was not only a Police Officer, but also an author who shared his experience regarding Troilokyatarini’s activities.

The British Kolkata (then Calcutta) was divided into two parts: the White Town and the Black Town! While White Town was for the Europeans, the native Indians used to live in Black Town. Just like the racial discrimination, the cultural difference between the two parts of the eastern Indian city was huge! As usual, the rate of crime was greater in the Black Town. And, some senior officers of the Kolkata Police’s Detective Department were responsible for monitoring the crime rate. Mukherjee was one of them who served the Kolkata Police from 1878 to 1911. He penned some articles, sharing his professional experiences with the readers, and those were published in a magazine, titled ‘Darogar Daptar‘.

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Colonial Kolkata

According to Mukherjee, Troilokyatarini was the most dangerous criminal he had encountered. She managed to escape the Police many a times after committing crimes. And, Mukherjee was the officer who arrested the young Bengali lady, finally. Jack the Ripper had triggered a sensation in 19th Century London, as he used to remove internal organs from the bodies of his victims. However, the London Police failed to catch him. Eight years before Jack the Ripper, Troilokyatarini had killed a number of ladies in Kolkata mainly to loot their ornaments. She also used to commit other crimes.

Troilokyatarini, famous for her beauty, was born in a village in eastern Indian Province of West Bengal’s Burdwan District. At the age of 13, she was married off to a 60-year-old man! She used to stay at her paternal home even after her marriage, as Troilokyatarini was not interested in spending her life with an old man. After the demise of her husband, she was completely abandoned by her in-laws. She met a pious lady in her village at that period of time. Later, the lady introduced her to a young man. As they fell in love with each other, Troilokyatarini and the man started meeting at that lady’s residence. After a few months, both decided to leave the place, and to settle in Kolkata.

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Troilokya’s house in Panchu Dhobani Lane, Kolkata.

The young man brought Troilokyatarini to a Red Light district in Kolkata. However, the girl had no idea about that area. When she realised that she could never return to her village, she had no option, but to take up prostitution as a profession. Troilokyatarini’s youth and beauty ensured she was not wanting for money. With her steadily-rising earnings, she purchased a mansion and a horse-carriage in Kolkata, and also hired armed guards and servants. But inevitably, as her beauty waned, her earnings began to dwindle. An anxiety set in about the future.

In the Red Light District, she met a person, Kalibabu, who was a notorious criminal. The two planned to target wealthy people and to loot them. Together, they committed a number of crimes. While Kalibabu’s job was to find the victims, Troilokyatarini used to lure them into her trap and to loot them. Later, they also started running a child-trafficking racket! When Kalibabu’s wife died, she adopted his son, Hari.

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Once, the Police arrested Troilokyatarini and Kalibabu for their alleged involvement in a murder. Although Kalibabu was sentenced to death, Troilokyatarini was released due to the lack of evidence. Then, she decided to lead a normal life. She left the Red Light district and started living in a different location. However, acute poverty prompted Troilokyatarini to change her mind, yet again. Once again, she started targeting rich people, possessing quite an amount of jewellery. Mukherjee claimed that Troilokyatarini admitted during interrogation that she had killed many people and snatched their ornaments before leaving the place. She was caught by the Police just before committing the sixth murder… but, the Police failed to produce concrete evidence against her.

Troilokyatarini murdered another woman within three months… this time, an alert Mukherjee planned to collect concrete evidence against her, first. When he arrested Hari for allegedly helping his mother commit the crime, she surrendered the gold jewellery that she had hidden in a secret compartment behind her wooden cupboard, along with other incriminating evidence. On the eve of her execution in 1884, Troilokyatarini revealed the details of her life and her previous crimes. Her last words to Mukherjee were: “I am leaving Hari behind… please look after him so that he does not get into trouble.

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Unlike the London Police, the Kolkata Police managed to catch Colonial India’s Jack The Ripper, as they had an excellent officer, like Mukherjee, in their team.

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