A Special Series by Tarak Ghosh
India has had its fair share of serial killers. Most often, they were eventually apprehended, but there are cases where the wrong person was arrested (and then let go) and then there are some cases that still remain unsolved. Many serial killers who are caught usually do not see a prison cell, but are put in a mental facility instead.
A serial killer, as characteristically defined, is a person who has murdered three or more people over a period with a cooling off period between the murders. Some sources label serial killing as a series of two or more murders, committed in separate events, by one crime alone, or simply a minimum of at least two murders. The motive for killing is typically based on psychological gratification. Credit for coining the phrase “serial killer” is commonly given to former FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler, one of the founding members of the Bureau’s elite Behavioral Science Unit (aka the “Mind Hunters” or the “Psyche Squad”.
Some of serial killers are pedophiles and psychopaths who take their hatred out on young victims. Many serial killers take a profession and chose a place where access to children is all too easy. The most common denominator found in serial killers relates to childhood development and trauma. Many came from broken homes caused by divorce, separation, a lack of discipline or an absent parent. A number of them were victims of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse and neglect. Without support from others and positive relationships, a child is unlikely to recover from trauma in a positive way, but thankfully, most people who’ve experienced childhood trauma do not grow up to be serial killers.
An Army-man turns into a Serial Child-Killer
During a period of 7 months (April to October 2004), twenty three children of non-Punjabi migrants, most of them below the age of 10, went missing from Jalandhar City of Punjab, India. Many of these children were sexually assaulted and 17 of them were killed, six children managed to escape. He preferred time to kidnap the children was between 10 am and 12.30 pm, when most of migrant laborers were away in factories. His most common method of killing was slitting to death before finally having sex with them.
Darbara Singh was a native of Jallupur Khera village of Amritsar District, India. He joined the military at first chance and took out his aggression there. He was an employee of the Mechanical Engineering Services (MES) unit of the army at Kapurthala, Punjab. In 1975, he was accused of lobbing a hand grenade at the house of his senior officer Major V K Sharma, after having an altercation with him. The wife and teenage son of the officer were seriously injured in the attack. Singh was dismissed and arrested; however, he was acquitted after a trial. Singh had three children; his wife expelled him from their house, because of his “bad habits”.
In October, the police apprehended Darbara Singh, who had earlier been jailed for nearly a decade in another case involving sexual assault and attempted murder on a child. Singh allegedly confessed that he was behind all these abductions, sexual assaults and murders in 2004. He was convicted for 2 of the murders, and sentenced to life. He was also convicted for 2 more murders; in this case, he had led the police to dead bodies after his arrest. He was awarded a death sentence in this case, but was later acquitted by the High Court because of insufficient evidence. He was also acquitted in 4 more cases because of insufficient evidence. He died in 2018, while serving a life sentence, with some of the cases pending for trial.
Truck helper to serial Child killer
Another Child killer of recent India is Ravinder Kumar, a 28 years old young man, who embarked upon a 5-7 year raping and killing spree until his arrest on 19 July, 2015. He targeted the children of poor families in Delhi, Mundka Badli, Begampur and Vijay Vihar areas and confessed to killing more than 30. Police have mounted a massive operation to know if the cases of missing children filed in the past five years in Vijay Nagar, Bawana, Narela, Alipur, Begumpur, Kanjhawala, Samaypur Badli and other areas are related to this case.
His victims were primarily aged 4-6 years old. Police were able to link him with 15 of his confessed crimes. He would lure children with candies and kill them if they resisted. Worse, he would have sex with their bodies, making him suffer from necrophilia. His crimes commenced with the rape and murder of a laborer’s child from Samaypur Badli in 2008. A laborer’s girl child from a Delhi Metro construction site here was his first victim. He took her to an isolated spot, had sex with her and then dumped the body after killing her. Police, however, could not find a record of the crime as it was not reported.
Surinder Koli, Moninder Singh Pandher
Kings of horror.
As many as 50 children and young persons went missing in and around Nithari during the time, 2005- 2006.but the remains of only 19 have so far been discovered, that too after much prodding from the residents. Yet, the question of serial killing remains one of the most ill-understood aspects of violent crimes that have a pattern, but not enough motive.
Nithari killings are a testimony to the limits of criminal psychology, social anthropology as well as the forensic sciences to adequately comprehend what prompts human beings to resort to such heinous crimes again and again. Evidently, mere sociological explanation, or even establishing “without a doubt” the criminal responsibility of the perpetrators, fail to address the extremeness of the cruelties displayed, again and again. Though on multiple occasions, the Nithari serial killings have been dubbed “barbaric”, the distinction between what’s “civilized” and what’s not is really blurry and actually false.
During the period of 7 months (April to October 2004), twenty three children of non-Punjabi migrants, went missing from Jalandhar, India. Many of these children were sexually assaulted and 17 of them were killed by Darbara, six children managed to escape. Darbara also loved to rape the dead bodies. He was such a devilish killer that his family refused to claim his body after his death in 2018.
Birth of a criminal
There is no clear evidence that criminals are born vicious and cruel or grow up to learn such behavior; the most likely explanation is that both nature and nurture must be considered as interacting. Some early warning signs of possible later criminality and violence may include insensitivity to the feelings, needs, and safety of others; a lack of remorse or guilt over dangerous or violent actions; a history of problem behaviors including delinquency, antisocial behavior and a lack of emotional awareness of the moral nature of one’s actions. A question may be raised – was Darbara Sngh a born criminal or not? The answer was negative, but he had some criminal nature that revealed after 1995 when he was a middle aged man.
Superintendent of Police (Jalandhar, Punjab) Rakesh Kaushal, appointed as a nodal officer for handling cases pending against Darbara Singh, said that he first arrested the serial killer in 1996 at Kapurthala. “Darbara worked in the MES unit of the India Army there. He was facing at least 10 charges of child abuse. He would pick up young girls aged six to nine and sexually abuse them. He had not begun killing his victims then.”
In 1997, he was convicted in three cases of rape and attempt to murder. On his trial day he was very “apologetic”– he said that he found his mistakes and how the event made him realize that he needed to make changes in his life. At his trial, Darbara retracted his confession and maintained his innocence, stating his confession had been obtained under extreme duress. Despite his retraction, Darbara was sentenced to thirty years in prison. He was shifted From Kapurthala to the Jalandhar Central Jail, and then to the Ludhiana Central Jail.
On December 3, 2003, his mercy petition was accepted on the basis of his good conduct, and he was released after serving only six of those years and swore that he would never go back to prison again. By this time, he had developed a grudge against migrants, holding them responsible for wasting many years of his life.
After his release, he moved to the town of Jalandhar, where he started working in a factory in the Leather Complex area. He lived in a rented room in the Model Town locality. Everything appeared normal on the outside, but in his mind Darbara still maintained his fantasies of binding, torturing, and killing children. He was a mild-mannered employee; outside of work he randomly selected children to kill. He decided to act on his desires and calculated a plan. For this reason, he rented a house in the Model Town locality. He targeted the children of Model Town, Leather Complex, Basti Shiekh, Basti Peerdaad, Basti Mithu, Urban Estate Phase II, Jallowal Colony.
All of the children came from laborer-families. His want to kill wasn’t driven by the need for violence or sexual deviancy or any other abnormal drive or urge. His want to kill was to take his ‘revenge’ against the migrants. So, he started targeting their children around the area. After his arrest, he said that he had no remorse for killing the children of migrant labourers, as they were instrumental in sending him to jail. (To be continued….)/Copyright: Tarak Ghosh