The case of serial killer Trailoyka (or, “Troylucko Raur,” Troyluko the Whore”) was reported in the English language press in November 1883, but without the name of the accused woman. Modern historian Samanta Banerjee rediscovered the case researching the history of Calcutta prostitution in the 2000s. The original accounts were reported in a Bengali language true crime periodical by the officer who arrested Trailokya.
Trailokya was a prostitute with a remarkable talent for talent for larcenous innovation.
Following is a brief summary of Troylucko Raur’s criminal career. Deepanjan Ghosh’s superb 2018 article, “Sex worker, con-woman, serial murderess: The story of Troilokya, who terrorised Calcutta in 1800s,” should be consulted for the full detailed story.
~ Racket #1 / “Rolling” Drunk Customers
With her partner Kali Babu she would rob intoxicated customers. Once her scam began to be known she found it impossible to lure new marks.
~ Racket #2 / Fake Marriages
Troilokya’s next scheme involving the luring and fleecing of marriage partners. The “bride price” racket was retired when it was no longer possible to pass of the “bride” as a 13-year-old.
~ Racket #3 / Kidnapping Girls
The pair’s next racked involved kidnapping girls, “brainwashing” them, the abducted children, and marrying them off to village families in East Bengal for a fee. “But as the disappearance of girls started making news, the police became more alert, forcing Troilokya and Kali Babu to abandon their crime.”
"Kali Babu acted as a middleman for a raja (a man from Uttar Pradesh or Bihar), promising to fetch him jewellery from a shop in Barabazaar at low prices. He asked the shop to send him the jewellery through a shop assistant, guaranteeing him payment upon receipt of goods. But when the assistant arrived with the valuables, he was murdered by Kali Babu and buried under the floor of a rented house. Kali Babu was caught and hanged, but Troilokya’s role in the entire episode could not be proved in court. She walked free.[Ghosh]
~ Racket #5 / “Holy Man” Magic ~
Trailokya now had to give up her luxurious lifestyle. She moved with her adopted son, Hari, to a poor quarter of the city. She renewed acquaintance with the prostitutes she used to know –
“She told them she had become a disciple of a guru who could work miracles. She would then pick up one of them, persuade her to deck herself in all her expensive ornaments on the pretext of introducing her to the guru who, she promised, would double the amount of the ornaments she wore, and lure her to a desolate spot near a pool in the city. As the woman would enter the pool to bathe, Trailokya would [hold her head below water and drown her] and strip her of her jewellery.” [Banerjee, 2008, 41]
“Over a period of three years, Trailokya took five women, one at a time, to a derelict garden house near Maniktala in Calcutta.” [Ghosh] The examining doctors classified the deaths “natural” – drowning. Finally, a passerby witness one of these drownings.
“The victim, who survived the murder attempt, along with the eyewitness, dragged Troilokya to the local police station. But Troilokya charmed the old police officer and convinced him to let her go. Not satisfied, the plaintiffs took their case to Mukhopadhyay, who investigated the case, believed Troilokya was guilty, and had her arrested and sent to trial. Luck was on her side, though. The police officer who had earlier let her go had been suspended. Fearing that a conviction would cost him his job, he bore all the expenses of her defence, and probably even sabotaged the prosecution’s case. Once again, Troilokya walked free.” [Ghosh]
Due to all the publicity Troilokya, out of money, had to relocate. She moved to a house in Panchu Dhobani Lane in Chitpur. Trailokya targeted a neighbor in the same house, a well-off prostitute named Rajkumari, whom she drugged, but without the desired effect. She strangled the woman to death and stripped her of her bountiful gold jewellery.
~ End of a Crime Career ~
Police inspector Priyanath Mukhopadhyay tricked Trailokya into confessing by bribing her neighbors to claim they had evidence that her adopted son had committed the crime. Troilokya was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging on Sep. 3, 1884. Her appeals were denied and she was hanged.
[Robert St. Estephe, Aug. 10, 2020; based on sources noted below]
FULL TEXT: Reis and Rovyet, a native Indian paper, says :— A horrible story of a series of most diabolical murders in cold blood appears in Prabhakar, and is reprinted in the Bharat Darpan. A prima-facie case appears to have been made out, and the facts are under investigation by the Court of Sessions. It appears that a public woman of Calcutta, living in Amratolla lane has hitherto with impunity been trading on the simplicity and superstition of women of her class, and inveighling them to their destruction.
She bethought herself to the common device of giving out that she was the repository of charms which had wonderful power of benefitting those who would have them. In this case she succeeded in getting her dupes to believe that by using her charms they would be able to enthral Circerlike their sweethearts to their will. Her credit spread, and many unfortunate women besieged her doors. She chose her victims, however, with shrewd discrimination from those who had profusion of jewels on their limbs, but a meagre allowance of brains within.
It appears she used to take these to a secluded place called Kakoorgachi, at a distance from town, which she pretended, was her guru’s garden, and tell them to immerse themselves in the tank for purification, antecedent to the wearing of the charms. When they dipped their heads she violently caught hold of them by their tresses, and by sheer force strangled them under water.
The place was so well sequestered that no cries they might make availed to bring any relief. In the present instance, however, some fishermen were engaged in the neighboring pond and they were attracted to the spot by the cries, and seeing what the matter was about, handed her ever to the police.
The police say there had been on five different occasions corpses seen floating on the water of the tank to which they had failed to obtain any clue, and not unnaturally were disposed to connect her with these cases. Further particulars are promised on the conclusion of the proceedings in the Sessions Court.
For a remarkably similar case from a century later, see: K. D. Kempamma, alias “Cyanide Malllika” Female Serial Killer, India – 2007
Deepanjan Ghosh, “Sex worker, con-woman, serial murderess: The story of Troilokya, who terrorised Calcutta in 1800s,” Scroll.in, Nov. 26, 2018.
“A Wholesale Murderess.” The Daily Telegraph (Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand), Nov. 8, 1883, p. 6
Original 1884 source: Priyanath Mukhopadhyay (1855-1947), Darogar Daptar (crime periodical), No. 78. Bengali language. Republished in book form.
Sumanta Banerjee, “Victims ad Villains: The Construction of Female Criminality in Colonial Cancutta,” pp. 28-47 (Trailoyka segment, pp. 40-42); article In Kalpana Kannabiran & Ranbir Singh (eds.), Challenging the Rule(s) of Law: Colonialism, Criminology and Human Rights in India, SAGE Publications India, 2008.
Book: Sumanta Banerjee, Under the Raj: Prostitution in Colonial Bengal, Monthly Review Press, 2000.
Priyanath Mukhopadhyay was an inspector of Lalbazar Police Station in the detective department of the Calcutta Police. He served in the department for 33 years, from 1878 to 1911. He was a detective of Calcutta Police. In 1889 he began writing accounts of some of his cases in the journal Anusandhaan, before moving in 1892 to Darogar Daptar (The Inspectors files) devoted solely to his stories, writing 206 stories over the next 11 years. He wrote his autobiography in 1911.