Indian thugs, methods of operation - British India - Thugs 03

Thug  Behram, world’s most prolific serial killer in a 40 year period
The  Indian  thugs  in  the  colonial  era  were heartless, hereditary  criminals  and  followed various  methods  to  rob  thvictims and  dispose  of  the  dead  body  beyond  identification. They followed ''choose, follow,  isolate, rob  and  kill''  dictum. 

In   the  dark  jungles  of   Colonial India  in  the 18th and 19th  century, thousands  of  travelers  were killed  with  out  traces  and  the East  India  company  officials  were  baffled  and  confused  as the  menace continued  without  any  break. It was  a  roadblock  to  company's  operations  at  many places. They  wanted  to  get to  the bottom  of  this terrible  menace. At last, it  was discovered  that it  was  the  handiwork  of  notorious  Indian  robbers - thuggee   operating  on  the travel routes  for  several centuries. 

In today’s  city culture  people engaged  in  selling guns, drugs peddling, trafficking, extortion, prostitution, etc are referred to as thugs. The thugs of colonial era in India  formed  a ''cult'' and  for the members, murder  was  both a  way  of  life  and  a religious duty. They  believed  their  killings  were  a means of  worshiping  or  propitiating  the Hindu  goddess ''Kali.'' The 18th century  records of murders  are  vague  and  are  not  reliable. Different studies claim different  numbers  of casualty. A  few  studies  claim that  2,000,000  deaths  were  caused  by  these despicable  criminals  of  yore. That  is  50,000 people  in  a  year  over a period  of 150 years.  Some studies claim  nearly a million people who were put to death  by these heartless criminals. 

However, in  the  deposition  made  by  Behram, notorious  gang  leader  in the 19th century (who became King's evidence) admitted  his  presence during  the killing  of  931 people  and  he himself had  strangled  around 125 people for  personal gains.

The  total number  of  people (rather travelers) killed by  the  Indian  thugs  during  a period  of 150  years  is  still  a controversial  matter  and  it  is  difficult to come up with  a reasonable  data  without  evidence. Any way, the  crux of  the  matter  is  thuggee operations  along  the  caravan  routes  in  the colonial era  saw killings  that ran into several thousands. A mind-boggling  criminal  activities in the  remote areas  of  the  Indian subcontinent. 

In  the   olden  days  travelers  moved  from small towns  to  other  places  in  caravans  for safety  and  the  journey  would take  several  days  or  weeks through  the wooded areas - jungles. Like  western  bandits, Indian  thugs  operated  on  the  caravan routes  to  get  the  right targets.  Once  they  fixed a group of travelers, the thugs would  be divided into two groups. One group of  thugs  would  get  mixed  with  the travelers   and  earned their trust  slowly  after a  couple of days. The other group  of  thugs, as  planned  before, would  join  the  same  caravan as strangers. If their band  is  large  enough, after choosing  a  safe  place  they get  into  killing  of  a targeted  person or persons  (with valuables) at night  or during  long  rest  break at a suitable  place called  ''beles''. Two  or  thee  thugs  would  strangle the  victims  to  death,  while other travelers  were preoccupied with some work. This  method  was quick, quiet and  would  not  cause  suspicion.  Further, noisy  surrounding  would  drown  the  cries or  some  sound  made  during  the criminal act. Near the  the  crime scene, while  guarding  the  place against any  intrusion  of  co travelers,  they  would  sing  or  whistle  to  avoid  suspicion.  The thugs  would  dispose  the  body either  by  pushing  in  the   well  or  bury  it  deep  in the  ground  far away from  the  trails  or  travel  routes or country  roads because  disturbed  ground  would  invite  suspicion  and detection  of  burial  place. Some times, it is  believed, they  would cover  the  earthwork  on  the grave  to obscure  it  by  leaving  some  trash  or  some  evidence  of  fire. The place would be mistaken for a  former  campsite. British  used  to  call them noose-operators  implying  their  silent  method  of killing.

Thugs carrying the victim.
Several reasons  are offered  for  the  perfect operations of thuggee:

 01. Proper planning  far  before  choosing  the travel group. Familiarity  with  the  terrain and  the  areas  of  operations. 

02. A  perfect  team  work  with  good  coordination and  swift action  under the head - Jamedar, in  every stage of  criminal  activity.

03. Choosing  only long  distance travelers  far  from  home,  so  that in case  of  detection  or suspicion, it  will  be tough  for  the  other  travelers or  people  to  track  back  to  investigate  the  disappearance  as  the distance is  too far them  to  cover.

04. Thugs  used  another  method  of  killing  their victims. ''Rumal'' or  head  kerchief (long scarf). The thugs  used  to  wear it  around  their  neck It has been a  tradition  among  north  Indian  males  to  wear  a  headgear  called  a  ''turban''  worn  around a  kullah  and  draped  to  protect  the  back of the neck. As  it  is  a  long piece  of   nice  cloth, thugs of olden days used  this  piece  of  cloth  to  strangle  the victims.
The  thugs  used  to  wear it  around  their  neck  regularly  and  move  around.

05. Since  it  was  risky,  they  avoided  sharp items such as knife, dagger, etc  for  finishing  the chosen victim.  A  wrong  move  would  mean, they  would face danger.
06. Strangulation  was  the  only  method, the cult members  followed and  there  was  no bloody  attack. Nor was  there blood - shedding or fatal  wound  or severe  cut in vital  areas of  the body.

As  the  records  on  exact  mode  of  operations  of thuggee  are  not  clear, the  above  explanations given  by  the  studies  are  partly  mere  assumptions  and based  on  the  confessions  made by the  thugs  caught  by the police force in the 1800s.

 As  the  thuggee  operations and  the  scale of  their criminal  activities  in  remote  places, particularly in the  border  places  of  the British-held territories  reached   the  Himalayan  height,  the  British officials  made  a  firm  decision  to  suppress  them for good.
Pancho Villa,the bandit who became a guerrilla

01.Through  out the  world, particularly  in  some  parts  of India, greedy  people  are  using  God's name to make a  living  and  they  do  not  feel ashamed  of what they are doing.  The society has to put up with such filthy people who do not believe in hard work.

02. Regarding  the  cult  aspect  of  the  thugs of 18th and 19th centuries, the subjective  aspect  of Hindu  goddess  with many  hands with weapons is  that she  is  more  a  protector  than a destroyer. She will protect the good by  destroying evils, implying destroying the negativity in us. She is considered a personification of love and protection and is ever  blissful.

03. From  1790  till 1841, during  the  British India company rule, the leader of  the gang  of  thugs  Behram, it is believed, was  associated with the killing of 931 people.  Thug  Behram  used  his  cummerbund  as a rumal  to  execute  his  killings, with a large medallion sewn into it. (additional weight in the scarf or rumal - in Hindi Handkerchief will give extra pressure  against  or around Adam's apple while strangling the victim). Behram  improvised this method.

A second account of  Behram's confession:  ''I may have  strangled  with  my  own  hands  about 125 men, and I  may  have  strangled 150 more''

He never  went  to  trial  for his  murders  because he became  a  prime  prosecution  witness (in this case King's evidence) and  gave  useful information on his gangs and others.