Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.
It All Started With a Horrible Stench
At first glance, Mainak Apartments at Ballygunge in Kolkata appears just like one of those several plush high-rise apartment complexes that had mushroomed all over Kolkata.
There were car parks, liftmen operating the busy elevator, and also a modest-sized plush lobby for visitors to wait and call on the apartment owners. Nothing appeared unusual or out of place.
Except that it wasn’t.
A horrible stench was emanating out of flat no 906 and that was the reason that neighbors had gone to the nearby police station to complain about the same. The sub-inspector who had come to investigate covered his nose to escape the overpowering smell as he went about his unenviable task to break open the house.
The scene he saw inside was so horrible that he still continues to have nightmares years after the murder was solved.
The Murder of Leena Sen
It was a duplex apartment combining the 9th and 10th floors. There was the usual living room with a small balcony overseeing the city center and respective bedrooms on top and below with attached washrooms. The source of the smell was the kitchen where the scene, the investigators saw was horrifying.
They saw a woman sitting on the floor, completely naked propped up against a wall in the kitchen. Her hands were tied with rope and a cloth was stuffed inside her mouth choking her to death. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition with insects and maggots eating the body through her various orifices. There was some coagulated blood on the floor but there appeared no signs of any struggle.
The case created an uproar in the media with people complaining about the lack of safety of women in the busy metropolis. The Kolkata police to begin with had no leads to start with as no one in the apartment complex had any idea about the crime. The case was assigned to Baidayanath Saha, a sub-inspector then in the Kolkata police.
The post-mortem reports confirmed that she was not raped. But then why was she found naked? Saha believed that the killer had stripped her to throw them off-scent. There were no fingerprints found in the apartment except that of Leena and no valuables were missing from the wardrobe.
It was obvious that robbery was not a motive. The forensic experts confirmed that the crime was committed between the afternoon and evening of 29th June with the body discovered on 3rd July.
Leena was born in 1952 which made her 47 at the time of her death. At the age of 24 years, she married her first husband Bob Shesadri and went on to live with him in her current house Mainik Apartments. The marriage did not last and she was divorced within a year.
Later in Aug 1995, she fell in love with her second husband Pradeep Sen who held a top post at a commercial firm. The marriage also did not work. Close friends of the Sens disclosed that the couple was estranged and husband and wife led separate lives.
Saha starts his investigations and comes up with some startling findings.
- Bob’s phone is not reachable nor he was available at his address. Why?
- On June 30, 1999, Pradip lodged a complaint alleging that his wife was missing. As per Pradip, he still frequently visited her apartment and on that day when he entered her apartment with a duplicate key, he could not find her. The next day, Pradip returned to the flat to find the door bolted. Then, he lodged a 'missing' complaint.
- The couple despite Pradeep mentioning being ‘deeply ‘in love had frequent arguments with Pradeep accusing her opening of having ‘low moral’ character. He was not ‘happy’ with her ‘alleged’ affairs despite being estranged for quite some time.
Saha had too many avenues to pursue with the press breathing down heavily on the ‘incompetency’ on the Kolkata police. On one hand, were the huge circle of friends of Leena that she had accumulated due to her intense party going and clubbing habits. On the other end were the suspicious characters of Bob and Pradip. Time was running short and Saha began to compile the list of visitors visiting Leena from 29th June to 2nd July.
Pradip had visited at 2.45 pm on 29th as he had told and again on 30th June. But Saha noticed two more entries in the visitor’s book at 4.30 pm and 6.00 pm on 29th June, both of which had been ‘conveniently’ smudged with water. Who were these people? The watchman had no idea. It was raining heavily and he had gone to have tea.
Three weeks passed way and Saha was making no progress. Leena’s lifestyle was far more extravagant than her known sources of income. She smoked the best cigarettes and drank the best wine every day. Had she found a new lover and did Pradip become jealous because of that?
Saha decided to exclusively focus on Pradip and break him by hard interrogation.
The Murderer Admitted His Crime
After several hours of interrogation, Pradip finally confessed that her extravagant lifestyle had made mad with jealousy and in a fit of rage he decided to remove her from the world. Their relation was at its lowest nadir and Leena had even told him to stop ‘visiting’ her, from that day onwards. Pradeep was mad. He hit her, stunning her, and then choked her to death there and then. When asked on the reason for stripping her naked, he told without remorse.
“I wanted everyone to see her as she really was. I wanted to literally expose her to the world.”
After killing, he tied her hands, propped her against the kitchen, and took her clothes with him to dispose of them. It was a crime of passion executed with cold-blooded precision.
Pradip Kumar Sen was convicted for 'killing wife Leena' by Alipore court Kolkata, two years later, and sentenced to life imprisonment, along with a fine of 5,000 INR. The nature of the Leena Sen’s murder had made it one of the best high-profile cases to be solved by the Kolkata police.
- 11 Sensational Cases of Kolkata Police – Supratim Sarkar.
- The Telegraph – The murder of Leena Sen
- The Times of India – The Leena Sen Murder.
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 23, 2021:
The Most Notorious Murder of Kolkata
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on April 10, 2021:
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 10, 2021:
People do terrible things out of jealousy and rejection. Interesting and sad case.