Bhora-kalan maxi-cab killers
By Maxwell Pereira

What an irony! The village of Bhora-kalan off Manesar in India's Haryana state - home to the Om Shanti Retreat Centre, the Northern India complex of the Prajapita Brahma Kumari Ishwariya Vidyalaya famous for religious discourses preaching finer aspects of mind, body, medicine and meditation for life and living to make better human beings of people - is in the news for wrong reasons.

All nine accused arrested for committing an unimaginable number of about 35 murders since January 2006 in and around Gurgaon - India's new Megapolis, hail from Bhora-kalan. A village, former Haryana Director General of Police BR Lall tells me, whose people enjoyed a reputation for being peace loving and law abiding for the past over 50 years! The killers' modus operandi was simple. They targeted people seeking lifts at night - offering a free ride to a person who looked like an outsider, strangled him, stole his cash and valuables, and then dumped his body in a manhole or an open drain.

According to Gurgaon SSP Haneef Qureshi the killers who owned vehicles, operated a maxi-cab service during the day - and at night moved around the city looking for their prey. While 12 of these killings were committed in October alone, one of the killers has spoken of an estimated 35 or more killings of which, after a while, they "lost count".

The arrests and recovery of bodies followed a lead the police got while investigating the latest body found - of Ashish Bhagoria, a 23-year-old MBA from Gwalior whose decomposed body was recovered from a manhole in Gurgaon on October 29. The miscreants slipped up when they used Ashish's mobile to talk to a friend in a neighbouring town, and the police grabbed this slender clue to lead them to the gang. Initially five were picked up - Rohtash alias Langoor, Lalit alias Kaloo, Mukesh alias Ghassar, Pramod alias Bhuria and Ravi, and eventually the rest - Vikram alias Vicky alias Kanchi and Harkesh alias Julfi, Dalchand alias Danny (25) and Bhudhu alias Budhram (23) - all belonging to Bhora-kalan.

The quick succession with which actual bodies kept tumbling out of wayside drains, pits and shrubs, posed a problem for investigators to keep pace and link them to actual registered cases with the identity of victims established. The police claim to have linked so far 28 of the confessed crimes to actual registered cases - 14 of murder and three others registered as accident cases in police stations of Gurgaon, and the rest elsewhere in neighbouring districts including one in Delhi.

Poor public transport facilities and no government control on taxis plying in Gurgaon worked to the advantage of the serial killers to offer lifts to unsuspecting victims. All victims they murdered were looking for transport during late hours to get to their destinations.

Alarmingly, members of the gang have told the police there are others similarly engaged in the business of murdering and looting commuters. Police admit they have little control on cabs that ply on highways and even internal roads, as many do not have commercial permit, and are difficult to track down even though they ply openly without proper number plates and with drivers perhaps previously involved in crime.

What amazes all is the ease with which the nine miscreants went about snuffing out lives of innocent wayside strangers - ostensibly for peanuts, as they killed first and looked for spoils later. In some cases for gains as low as Rs.20 from the victim's pocket.

Amidst public outcry to hang these killers, there is shock and awe in the killers' village, with disbelief writ large on faces of the villagers and especially the families involved. The very families of the killers are said to be leading the rest of the villagers in disowning them. In the face of all this, there are reports also of deep remorse expressed with a death wish by a majority of the gang, themselves asking for the extreme penalty to be imposed on them.

For experts studying these crimes the situation is intriguingly incomprehensible. While the sheer numbers may tend to categorise these as serial murders, the killers do not exactly fit into the mould of psychopaths who are the hallmark in most serial killings. Neither are these murders for gain, as gain as the primary motive is still a question mark. The chilling manner in which the killers matter-of-factly shrug and admit that after a while it became just a compulsive habit to kill once the initial fear and queasiness following the first killing was overcome, speaks volumes of the strange circumstances and mental frame of the killers. This renders them fit material for criminologists, psychoanalysts and social scientists to study.

13.11.2006: Copyright © Maxwell Pereira; 3725 Sector 23, Gurgaon-122002; tel: 0124-5111026; Available at or & http:/www.


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