When you say the word “serial killer”, the first person that pops in your head might probably be someone like Jack the Ripper or Ted Bundy. But in reality, India was home to one of the world’s most ruthless serial killer.
During 1790-1841, which was the period of the East India Company, Thug Behram managed to kill over 900 people. His weapon of choice was a yellow piece of cloth. Doesn’t sound too deadly compared to a large knife or gun does it? But Behram modified his rumal or handkerchief to have a medallion sewn in the middle, which he used to place exactly over the Adam’s apple, adding extra pressure on the throats of his victim. The piece of cloth is now placed in a private museum.
Behram and his gang’s main aim was to loot traders. A popular label with what he was called was the ‘King of Thugs’. He was the leader of the Thuggee cult active in Oudh in northern central India during the late 18th and early 19th century.
Behram and his thugs were devoted followers of the Goddess Kali and they believed that all the murders they committed were merely a part of their religious duty. The members of the gang would converse in a specific sign language known as ‘Ramosi’ around their victims. They would imitate the cries of a jackal to warn the other members of the arrival of a convoy. Hearing the cry, Behram and his gang would arrive with the yellow handkerchief. After killing and looting them, the bodies would be dumped in a well nearby.
Realizing that important people and convoys were going missing, James Paton, an East India Company officer was put in charge to handle the case. Behram’s reign of terror came to an end when he was finally caught at the age of 75 and executed by hanging.
What’s interesting is that all of the gold, silver and precious stones he stole and buried have still never been recovered. The location of his priceless loot still remains a mystery.