The Amherst Street Murder and Calcutta’s Real-Life Sherlock Holmes

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Over a century and a half ago, the sensational murder of a beautiful young Anglo-Indian sex worker named Rose Brown captured the popular imagination. The crime was committed in the wee hours of All Fools’ Day, 1868. It would change policing in India forever, forcing the Calcutta Police Commissionerate, the oldest in Asia, to set up a dedicated crime detection department. It would also be the first case in which evidence photography was used in India.
Right near the Amherst Street police station, the young Ms Brown was found lying dead on the street in the wee hours of April 1, her throat slashed, part of her sari stuffed into the gash in her neck. The heinous nature of the crime, coupled with the city’s rising violent-crime graph – five other women would be murdered that year, three of them sex workers – meant that this case became all anyone talked about.

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