By Maxwell Pereira
killers are a neglected lot in India. They do not get attention
particularly as a diseased kind. They do not get picked up nor
listed for in-depth study by social scientists and the medical
fraternity – those specialising in fields for mental, psychological
and psychiatric disorders. So much so, the dubious distinction
for the highest number of psychopathic serial killers goes to
the United States of America which claims 85% of the world’s
reported and listed such. I do not believe this to be true. India
has its sizeable share of serial killers too. And they need the
attention, in addition, of both – our NCRB and the BPR&D
is like in Sikkim, when I went there immediately post merger,
it was supposed to be a crimeless state – a Shangrila! For
there was no infrastructure, nor organized system, to record,
investigate and prosecute the majority of social aberrations that
occurred outside towns. It was to my unfortunate lot to literally
‘bring’ crime to Sikkim, by recording incidents for
proper follow up. So by burying heads Ostrich-fashion in the sand
and believing we do not suffer from the chronic malaise of the
mentally sick who kill fellow beings compulsively in a repeated
fashion, we cannot wish away the fact of an abundance of unstudied
serial killers ‘midst us.
latest in the never-ending stream of serial-killer reportings
in India, is the gang of youngsters – 19-22 years, arrested
by West Delhi police ten days ago: Mukesh aka Saif, Tarachand
aka Khopri, and Ashwini aka Sanjay aka Judi already in police
custody, and two more – Ajju and Pawan aka Tori, still at
large. These specialised in sodomising poor roadside victims for
fun, then killing them for whatever pittance they possessed. Unknown
vagabonds, labour, rickshaw-pullers, even an old woman –
listed as their victims in the ongoing investigations… Whose
bodies with multiple stab wounds on the neck, chest and abdomen,
were invariably recovered nude, indicating sexual assault.
most apt of descriptions clubs ‘serial killers’ as
individuals who have a history of multiple slayings of victims
who were usually unknown to them beforehand. Their crimes committed
as a result of a compulsion that, in many but not all cases, having
roots in the killer's (often dysfunctional) youth, as opposed
to those motivated by financial gain (e.g. contract killers) or
ideological/political motivations (e.g. terrorists). Often, this
compulsion linked to the individual's sexual drive.
credit for the term "serial killer" is disputed –
coined by FBI agent Robert Ressler or by Dr. Robert Keppel in
the 1970s so that criminologists could distinguish those who claim
victims over a long period of time from those who claim multiple
victims at once (mass murderers), or the spree killer.
standardisation, the three types are defined: (i) Serial killer
– someone who commits three or more murders over an extended
period of time, with cooling-off periods and periods of normalcy
between crimes, a state described as the "mask of sanity"
by criminologists Hervey Checkley and Robert Hare. There is frequently,
but not always, a sexual element to the murders.
A mass murderer – an individual who kills three or more
people in a single event and in one location. The perpetrators
sometimes commit suicide, meaning knowledge of their state of
mind and what triggers their actions is often left to more speculation
than fact. Mass murderers caught have sometimes claimed they cannot
clearly remember the event.
(iii) a spree killer, who commits multiple-murders in different
locations over a period of time that may vary from a few hours
to several days. Unlike serial killers, these do not revert to
their normal behaviour in between slayings.
killings are mostly carried out by solitary individuals. There
are examples in all three categories, where two or more perpetrators
have acted together. The instant captures of West Delhi can be
cited as example too. Researchers have decided that multiple hands
happen in about a third of the cases. Then serial killers are
generally, but not always, male – though female exceptions
are not unknown.
have indicated that serial killers are specifically motivated
by a variety of psychological urges, primarily power and sexual
compulsion. They feel inadequate and worthless, often owing to
humiliation and abuse in childhood or the pressures of poverty
and low socio-economic status in adulthood, and their crimes give
them a feeling of power, both at the time of the actual killing
and also afterwards. The knowledge that their actions terrify
entire communities and often baffle police forces adds to this
sense of power. This motivational aspect separates them from contract
killers and other multiple murderers who are motivated by profit.
It is also true that people do things for multiple motivations
their cooling off period: After a murder, temporarily, they feel
satiated until their homicidal urges resurface. The time period
between murders can vary between a few days to several years and
will often decrease the longer the offender goes unapprehended.
killers frequently have extreme sadistic urges. Ones who lack
the ability to empathize with the suffering of others are frequently
called psychopathic or sociopathic, terms which have been renamed
among professional psychologists as antisocial personality disorder.
Some serial killers engage in lust and torture murder, loosely
defined terms involving, respectively, mutilation for sexual pleasure
and killing them slowly over a prolonged period of time.
killers are known to plead ‘not guilty’ by reason
of insanity in a court of law. The legal definition of insanity
is based on whether the defendant knows the difference between
right and wrong; the level of premeditation and the lack of any
obvious delusions or hallucinations necessary to successfully
commit multiple murders without getting caught make this defence
words: 13 .06.2005: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23,
Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http://
www.maxwellperira.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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