Quoted as having killed over 931 people
Within criminal activity, there is a subgroup of offenders known as serial killers, whose acts are beyond comprehension and morality.
In contrast to spontaneous crimes motivated by passion or planned acts of retaliation, serial killers are driven by a terrifying psychological need to take lives, frequently without any apparent reason or justification.
Throughout history, India has seen the rise of some gruesome characters.
These people’s shadow has loomed large over communities across the country, from the bustling metropolises to the bucolic countryside.
Even while a great deal of people have been caught, there are still cases that remain unsolved, raising concerns and making justice elusive.
Let’s explore these terrifying Indian serial killers, where the line separating humanity from evil becomes increasingly hazy.
Unbelievably, Amarjeet Sada is the youngest serial killer ever.
At the age of eight, he was taken into custody in Begusarai, Bihar, on suspicion of killing three small children.
The victims included his eight-month-old sister, Khushboo, a neighbour’s daughter, and his six-month-old cousin.
According to rumours, his family was aware of the first two killings but thought it was a “family matter” so chose not to call the police.
However, the authorities were notified after Amarjeet killed the neighbour’s daughter.
Amarjeet merely grinned when questioned about his motives and was soon lodged in a children’s home.
He left in 2016 and was diagnosed with a sadistic personality, apparently showing no remorse for his past.
From April to September 2004, Darbara Singh abducted, raped, and tortured 23 children.
He went on to kill 15 girls and two boys, gaining the moniker “Baby Killer”. Singh would kill his victims by slashing their throats.
When he was arrested, he was given a death sentence, which was reduced to life in prison.
He was found guilty in five incidents but there was insufficient evidence to charge him with the other murders even though he led police to the bodies.
As her served his sentence, Singh fell ill and eventually died in 2018.
Raman, sometimes known as “Psycho Raman”, was a character that tormented slum residents in Mumbai during the 60s.
He used to kill his victims with a bludgeon.
Raman had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at the time of his arrest.
Whilst the number of his victims is reported to be 23, even experts can only speculate as to what the real figure is because his confession and mental state were so suspect.
It would remain a mystery as Raman passed away in 1995 due to kidney problems.
Despite his notoriety, Charles Sobhraj stands as one of the most infamous Indian serial killers of his time.
Operating from 1975 to 1976, he perpetrated approximately 12 murders across various locations in Southeast Asia.
Unlike typical serial killers, Sobhraj harboured a motive: to finance his extravagant lifestyle through robbery.
He often gained the trust of tourists and potential victims by fabricating predicaments from which he would then “rescue” them, only to exploit and defraud them thereafter.
Two of the women he killed were discovered clad in floral bikinis, leading to his name, the “Bikini Killer”.
Following his arrest in India, he was jailed from 1976 to 1997 before retiring to Paris.
Here, he garnered substantial attention by demanding exorbitant fees for the rights to his story in books and films.
However, his return to Nepal in 2004 led to another arrest, where he was supposed to serve a second life sentence but ended up being freed in December 2022.
Actor Randeep Hooda portrayed Sobhraj in the 2015 film Main Aur Charles.
The Nithari Killer(s)
The affluent Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher employed Surinder Koli as his household assistant.
They were first detained in 2006 after the finding of missing children’s skulls in the Nithari village on the outskirts of Noida.
The case took several unexpected turns, and the true nature of the situation caused a great deal of media controversy.
Allegations of paedophilia, cannibalism, rape, and even organ trafficking were made; some of these claims had evidence, while others were merely hearsay.
Their case was ultimately known as the “house of horrors” due to unfathomable torture.
After serving more than 17 years on death row, both men were acquitted by an Indian court in 2023.
A Netflix documentary titled Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi focused on Chandrakhant Jha in July 2022.
The film looked at Jha’s infamous string of serial homicides that took place between 1998 and 2007.
Jha was accused of killing over 20 migrant labourers in Delhi.
It is reported he chopped up their corpses, packed them into baskets, and left the dismembered victims’ bodies outside Tihar jail for years.
He is currently incarcerated and serving a life sentence.
Six people were killed in Mumbai between October 2006 and January 2007, and in each case, the police discovered a beer can next to the victim’s corpse.
They concluded that it was a serial killer as a result of this.
After Ravindra Kantrole was found guilty of the seventh murder in January 2008, he was also found responsible for the deaths of two additional Beer Man victims.
But in 2009, there was insufficient proof, thus he was cleared of all charges.
While the mystery surrounding the Beer Man remains unexplained, he currently owns a restaurant in Mumbai.
Bangalore-based Mallika killed six women between 1999 and 2007 and her approach was unconventional.
She used to pose as a comforter for lower-middle-class women who were having problems at home before poisoning them with cyanide.
Then, she would steal their possessions.
She was detained in 2007 and given a death sentence in 2012, which was subsequently commuted to a life sentence.
Mallika went down in history as India’s first convicted female serial killer.
Jakkal, Suttar, Jagtap & Munawar
These four college friends and batchmates killed over 10 people between 1976 and 1977.
These crimes are now known as the Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders.
Across India, they would infiltrate houses and torture their victims before killing them.
The gang would usually break into houses, strip the occupants, and tie their hands and legs before stuffing cotton balls in their mouths.
Then, they would murder them by strangulation, usually using a nylon rope.
After being apprehended, the four of them were executed by hanging in 1983.
These personalities served as the basis for Anuraag Kashyap’s cult classic Paanch.
Originally named Gowri Shankar, he swiftly gained notoriety as a trafficker of illicit arrack (coconut liquor) and a participant in the local sex trade.
However, what secures his position on this roster of Indian serial killers is his spree of violence in the 80s.
Over six months in 1988, Shankar embarked on a gruesome campaign.
He abducted and murdered nine teenage girls from Chennai.
He initially attributed his actions to the influence of cinema.
However, he confessed, just a month before his execution, to carrying out the killings at the behest of certain politicians who had sexually assaulted the abducted girls.
Despite a daring escape from Chennai Central Prison following his arrest, authorities later captured him in Rourkela, Odisha.
Shankar died at the gallows in Salem Prison in 1995.
Bhagaval & Laila Singh
According to reports, two women were murdered in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district as part of a human sacrifice ceremony.
The victims’ body parts were dismembered and buried in two different places at Elanthoor.
The breasts of one victim were severed, and the other’s body was dismembered into as many as 56 parts. They were both fatally strangled.
Bhagaval Singh, a conventional massage therapist, and his wife Laila were charged with the crime after Laila said she had been convinced to perform a human sacrifice to advance financially.
Truck driver Aadesh Khamra murdered 34 other drivers with brutal measures.
In his confession, he said he killed individuals to “save them the suffering of having to stay away from home”.
Khamra would discard the victims’ remains in ravines, woodlands, or isolated bridges.
They often remained undiscovered and heavily decomposed.
After years of evading capture, Khamra was apprehended by the Uttar Pradesh police in 2018.
Based on statistical data, Thug Behram is among the most prolific Indian serial killers in history.
Despite only admitting to having killed roughly 125 people and maintaining that he was just “present at the scene” of the other killings, he is frequently quoted as having killed over 931 people between 1790 and 1840.
He was a prominent member of the infamous Thuggee sect that spread over central India.
Before robbing unsuspecting victims, the Thuggees would strangle them with their ceremonial rumaal (handkerchief). They would then grab onto travelling parties.
In 1840, he was hanged to death.
One of the most notorious unsolved homicides in Indian history is this one.
It’s similar to India’s own take on Jack the Ripper.
In 1989, nine Bombay residents were similarly murdered in 1989.
Their heads were crushed by a large blunt object which led a Calcutta newspaper to name the unidentified murderer as “The Stoneman”.
Although it is impossible to tell for sure, it is conceivable that the subsequent killings were copycat killings of both Raman Raghav and the Ripper.
Mohan Kumar was a former primary school teacher.
He would entice single girls to have sex with him and then deceive them into taking what were essentially cyanide pills for contraception.
Between 2005 and 2009, he murdered a staggering 20 women.
He was a physical education teacher at a primary school before going on this killing rampage.
There were also rumours that he was complicit in financial forgeries and bank scams.
Whilst he received the death sentence in December 2013, Kumar continues to serve time in jail.
In this case, Karnataka police discovered the body parts of two ladies next to water canals in June 2022.
The women were disposed of about 25 kilometres apart.
Only the lower body parts of the victims were found; the higher torsos were gone.
Following several weeks of tracking down the family of a Chamrajnagar-based missing woman, the police managed to identify one of the victims.
Her phone records were used to find the culprits.
The 35-year-old T Siddalingappa and his girlfriend Chandrakala acknowledged killing three ladies.
They disclosed that five more women were on their list of targets because they were reportedly pressuring Chandrakala to become a prostitute.
Akku Yadav was a local gangster and outsider who used to kill and rape women in the neighbourhood.
It is reported that Yadav raped over 40 women and he and his associates gang-raped girls as young as 10 years old.
Whilst the exact number of his killings is unknown, he was a prolific criminal.
However, after a woman resisted Yadav and his gang, a mob returned to burn his house down.
Yadav ironically tried to seek police protection but was put on trial for his crimes.
As he entered the courtroom, he noticed a girl he previously raped to which he smirked and said he would do it again.
The police laughed with Yadav which ultimately led to his death.
Around 400 women stormed the courtroom, lynching the gangster, stabbing him over 70 times, and stoning him in the head. One woman even cut his penis off.
Every lady in the slum where Yadav worked requested to be arrested when the police attempted to apprehend members of the mob.
M. Jaishankar was charged with 30 rapes, 15 murders, and after his incarceration, he even added jailbreak to his list of offences.
Each of his victims was a woman, and he is said to have stabbed them with a machete.
He was apprehended again, serving a 10-year term and was awaiting trial in 20 more instances of crimes committed between 2006 and 2009 in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The killer tried to escape prison twice, with the second time leading to solitary confinement.
However, in 2018, he committed suicide by slashing his own throat with a shaving blade.
Although Devendra Sharma practised Ayurvedic medicine with some degree of success, he was not without controversy.
He didn’t mind the carnage that went along with his desire to boost autos quickly.
He killed and stole automobiles from several drivers in and around Rajasthan, Gurgaon, and Uttar Pradesh between 2002 and 2004.
By his admission, he killed between 30-40 individuals, all of them drivers. However, later it was reported that Sharma was involved in over 100 murders.
In 2008, he received a death sentence.
Renuka Shinde & Seema Gavit
Anjanabai, the mother of Renuka Shinde and her sister Seema Gavit, trained them as small-time robbers.
The sisters found that they could use kids as scapegoats or as a line of defence if they were apprehended.
They then began enslaving small children to steal. Those who began to cause trouble were eliminated.
Over six children were murdered by them between 1990 and 1996.
They also said, shockingly, that they couldn’t recall the entire number of children they had murdered before the 90s.
It has been reported that the duo kidnapped over 40 children and killed more than 10. Again, the exact figures are difficult to pinpoint.
When charged with their crimes, the pair were going to be the first women to be executed in India since 1955.
However, in 2022, their sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
The stories of these Indian serial killers serve as a haunting reminder of the depths of depravity that human beings are capable of descending into.
Each name represents a tragedy, lives extinguished prematurely, and a community left shattered.
As we confront the chilling reality of their actions, we must also acknowledge the resilience of the impacted families to continue with their lives and the memories of their lost loved ones.