Notorious Indian thugs of the 19th century killed people in milliosns for livilihood!! a recap

19th century Indian thuggees, colonial India.
Above image:   Three Thugs strangling a traveller; one holds his feet, another his hands and a third tightens the ligature around his neck. The would kill only men, not women or children. Death only by strangulation. No sharp instruments are used. If there is intrusion, the man who is guarding the crime scene will signal by way of humming, etc.  Created in Lucknow, based on descriptions from imprisoned Thug leaders (Dash, 2005) Watercolour (1837) by unknown artist..........................................

Thuggee Hindi:  ṭhaggī;  Odia: thaka;   Kannada: thakka; Bengali: ṭhogī; Punjabi: ṭhagee ) - all these Indian words refer to Thugs who operated in northern states   in the early colonial period and before. This term ''thug'' is popular in the northern parts of Indian subcontinent.  Like modern day  mafiosi of Palermo, Sicily or American Mafia, commonly called ''Thuggee'', was a well  organised gang of professional robbers and killers. Their victims were mostly long distance travellers from one town to another. Their main livelihood was robbing of rich men and killing them. They would share the bounty after the dirty work. Most of them were operating close to the main  caravan routes. These highwaymen never worked alone as thieves, but rather  as a highly organised network of criminals, who managed to evade police and village security for decades. Thanks to their secretive and highly effective modus operandi.
Indian thug.
Indian Thug.
These hardcore criminals acted under different  gangs and were  secretively active for more than 400 years and  responsible for killing several millions of innocent people. Surprisingly, their killing spree continued undetected  all those years  and there was nothing to stop them. Between 1740 and 1840 alone Thuggees, it is estimated,  had  left a million plus  corpses in remote regions buried deep underground.  According to The Guinness Book of Records, they were responsible for the killing of  a total 2 million people. 
William Henry Sleeman,en. wikipedia. org
Above image : William Henry Sleeman, superintendent of the Thuggee and Dacoity Department, 1835. He developed elaborate detective methods to catch the thugs. It was a painstaking work and successfully put an end to the menace; leader Behram became crown's (prosecution) witness  in return for less punishment.................................... 
Notorious serial killer Behram more than 900 victims
It was this gang  that produced the  most prolific serial killer  ever to walk on this planet  and also an accomplice in hundreds of killings. The leader's name is Behram, the notorious serial killer who stands as a Goliath  before  American serial killers like Rodney Alcala (50 to 100 victims; put to death)  John  Gacy   (rapist; killed 33 teenage boys; executed in 1994)  David Berkovitz  alias Son of Sam (life imprisonment), Ted Bundy (executed in 1989), Brailey Bros (executed 1984 -85), et al. This is not figment of some body's imagination  and it is all recorded by the Special Task force  during the early colonial period in the 1800s.  Behram  is said to have killed 931 people in forty years. Figures are unsubstantiated, however, he might have killed several hundred people just for personal gain. 

How come they remained uncaught ? How did they manage to  evade justice for  centuries? They never used the mafiosi method of operation ''Omerta'' (code of silence). Thanks to their strict adherence to  secretive  and highly effective Modus Operandi.  Because they would  engage in criminal activity collectively with full coordination, using code language or signs they were not caught by the public or police.  

Their modus operandi is simple and won't raise any suspicion. The Thuggee would befriend travelers on long journeys and join them for portions of their  journey. Feigning to be  friendly, amiable and helpful, they will earn their  chosen victim’s trust. On occasions,  they would travel  log distance and  when the right spot is chosen, they will take the victim into the secluded wooded  area with one man guarding the area for any intrusion, while  the others will strangle the victim in a flash, not allowing him to shout or mumble. A nice and clean job, no fuss and no fumble. After removing the valuables - jewels, etc, victim will be buried in a suitable place far removed as if the ground is not disturbed. Some time they will throw the body in an abandoned well. Mostly killing will be done close to the caravan route  so that they can individually get back to the group of travelers  without raising any suspicion. Perfect time and right coordination will help them make this heinous crime free from evidences. 
 Their hallmark is they never left any traces or evidences of their  criminal acts, No killing by sharp traces of blood. Using sharp instrument would cause pain and blood shed and a  wrong move meant disaster for the gang. The shouting or yelling by victims would get the attention of co-travelers. So, to avoid such risk to life they  would execute  the targeted victim only  by strangulation, using a long scarf. 

01. The English word thug traces its roots to Hindi (thug), which means 'swindler' or 'deceiver'. 

02.  With limited police force then,  the thuggee  menace was seen as a blemish on the colonial rule rule by the British.

03. The British ‘ran into  dangerous criminals Phansigars and thugs  almost simultaneously in 1807 and 1809 respectively. 

04. Dr. Sherwood of  the Madras Presidency is the first to point out  a religious element in the phenomenon of cult killing. According to him, thuggee  were highly superstitious and though some were Muslims, their tutelary deity was the Hindu goddess ''Kali'' or Mariatta’. The credit goes to William Sleeman, who got to the bottom of Thuggee problem and, at last, rounded them up. The  worst menace was routed out for good after a methodical approach by the English officers. Indeed, a  tough  job methodically well-finished and saved thousands of Indian heads!!