The photographs of millions of labourers and workers that appeared on social media in 2020 stunned the citizens of our nation, and the story was covered by every news outlet. As a result of the pandemic, the daily wage earners and workers were leaving the cities and returning to their countryside. All of us were suddenly made aware of the migrant crisis. These daily wage earners, who came from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, and others, had insufficient finances to last even one week, much less a three-month lockdown, thus they had no idea how to subsist if they were prohibited from working. They were prepared to travel thousands of miles on foot just to get home. By leaving the soulless metropolises, they were voluntarily accepting a bad fate, so at least by doing that, they were giving themselves a chance to live. However, our nation has always experienced this migrant dilemma. We haven’t paid attention to it since, up until now, it hasn’t had any impact on our ideal lives. They belong to a faceless group and have no identification, so when they upset the delicate balance of our society, they hardly ever make the news. Ayesha Sood’s film Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi tells the tale of one such anonymous criminal who wreaked havoc in Delhi’s capital city in the early 2000s. A simple mention of his name still makes those unfortunate few who were in contact with him and knew him when he was active frightened. Let’s examine what led to this serial killer being one of the most sensationalised criminals in the nation and, more significantly, let’s consider whether his sensitivities were influenced in any way by the socio-political environment.
What Is Docuseries Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi About?
A dismembered body was discovered in front of the Tihar Jail on October 20, 2006. They had learned of it from a caller who had not given their name. A letter in which the murderer abused the Delhi police and dared them to apprehend him if they could was found with the well packed, dismembered body. In 2007, two additional bodies were discovered on April 25 and May 18. Sub-inspector Narendra Pehalwan was reminded of a case he looked into in 1998 after noticing the pattern of the murders. He informed his informant network after learning that a man who matched the accused’s description in the current case had previously frequented a clinic in the Azadpur region. When Sunder Singh and his team went to meet the clinic’s doctor, they learned that the accused was named Chandrakant Jha and that he had been going there for a while. They were able to contact the murderer through the doctor, and to their surprise, he admitted to the killings. His only stipulation was that they promise not to beat him in exchange for him telling them the truth.
Chandrakant acknowledged committing more than three homicides. In 1998, he assassinated Pandit, a local union leader whose death Narendra Pehalwan had looked into. Shekhar was one of the victims of his murder in 2003, and Umesh was another victim that year. Then in 2005, he killed a man by the name of Guddu. However, the three murders that took place in and after 2006 were the only ones for which the police were able to obtain evidence. In order to aid them in achieving a transcendent state after death, Chandrakant claimed that he used to mutilate the body and throw various body parts in various locations, but he would always flush the head in the Yamuna river. Chandrakant was a native of the Bihar village of Ghosai, and after hearing what the other locals had to say about him, you realise that the number of people he had killed was significantly higher than what had been reported to the authorities.
Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi Explained: Why Did Chandrakant Jha Become A Killer?
The predicament of Chandrakant Jha is directly related to the migration crisis. There are numerous changes that occur in a person’s life and environment when they move to a major metropolis. First, you depart from your town, where there is plenty of open space, and arrive to stay in a single room with 5–6 other people (sometimes even more). Spaces become more cramped, costs begin to drain you, you labour 12 to 14 hours a day in appalling conditions to make ends meet, and more than anything, there is a total loss of identity. Additionally, the authorities further complicate your life. Even if you don’t want to, there are unions you have to join and pay dues to on a weekly or monthly basis. Even those with the lowest daily wages must bribe the police and local government agencies in order to conduct their business without undue difficulty.
Chandrakant felt lost in the crowd and had little social status when he first arrived in Delhi, according to Dr. S.L. Vaya (a clinical forensics scientist). Millions of people, like him, arrived in the city and found themselves in a precarious situation as a result of the system’s failure. Chandrakant Jha confronted a local goon over a minor matter, and as a result of his stand, the two engaged in a violent altercation. Chandrakant was stabbed by the thug and was left lying there in excruciating pain. He wrapped a piece of cloth around his wound and somehow made it alone to the hospital. He was greeted in Delhi in this manner. These kinds of incidents have the ability to elicit strong emotions in anyone. It planted the germ for retaliation, and perhaps Chandrakant came to the realisation that there are two classes of people in the world: the weak and the powerful. Whatever he did in the wake of the incident was simply an effort on his part to maintain control and feel in charge. However, Chandrakant’s nightmare persisted. He got into a fight with Mangal alias Pandit, the local hawkers’ union president. Chandrakant testified that he accidentally touched Pandit’s hand with a knife he was carrying, causing a small cut. With the help of his connections, Pandit saw to it that Chandrakant was falsely accused and imprisoned.
His wife, who was not implicated in any way, was also imprisoned, which pained him even more. He experienced violent police treatment while incarcerated. He claimed that a police officer by the name of Balbir used to torture him. In addition to skipping meals, he frequently stripped naked in front of the other inmates. Chandrakant’s testimonies revealed a deep-seated anger and desire for retribution. According to Dr. Vaya, he may have received some of that violence from his parents and the milieu in which he was raised. The events in Delhi merely served as a catalyst for it and brought out the worst aspects of his own psyche. What was most amusing was that Chandrakant had no regrets. His experiences provide the explanation for why he did not feel that way. He was now subjecting his victims to the same cruelty that he had experienced in the past. He was aware of the terror, the suffering, and the horrific aftermath, which is why he had no sympathy for his victims. He frequently ate in the same space where his victims’ bodies were lying dead. His lack of outrage at the sight of the blood puddle revealed much about his mental state. Power is the most addicting substance there is. Chandrakant found it difficult to give it up once he had a taste of it.
A inhabitant of the hamlet of Ghosai named Bhidu Jadhav describes his frightening encounter with a butcher in Delhi. When a 67-year-old guy recounts the incident while sobbing in despair and trauma, you can imagine the level of anxiety Chandrakant was able to instill in others. He liked to take photos of each of his victims as mementos. You can’t help but marvel how it is possible for one man to overpower three men when you see that three men are shackled and seated in his room in one of the photographs. In addition to studying martial arts, Chandrakant also paralysed the populace with terror following his altercation with the goon. Chandrakant used to screen everybody who came to him rather than going in search of his objectives. He loved controlling his target and being in a position of authority because of his exaggerated sense of infallibility. Before killing the victims, Chandrakant gave them two chances if they didn’t behave as planned. For him, it was a game. He had made a dreadful pastime out of the traumas of his background.
These brutal killings were not just the victim of the system and its triggers; they were also a projection of his impoverished history. Because of his parents’ carelessness, he never felt whole in his childhood. He admitted to having this psychological drive to kill in front of the police officers, saying that if he didn’t kill someone for a long time, his mind would become confused. Although Chandrakant Jha, the Butcher of Delhi, was not merely a product of a broken system, socio-political circumstances undoubtedly influenced and precipitated his violent and insane behaviour. It is beyond dispute that he was not just mentally ill, but also extremely incensed with the establishment.
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Where Is Chandrakant Jha Now?
Chandrakant Jha was granted the death penalty in 2013, however the Delhi High Court eventually commuted sentence to life in prison. The police could only establish that he had murdered three individuals: Anil Mandal on October 20, 2006; Upendra on April 25, 2007; and Dalip on May 18, 2007, despite the fact that the residents of his hamlet said he had slain more than 40 people. The public has long since forgotten about this case, but the individuals who were able to free him from captivity are still concerned about what might happen if he is granted parole and returns to exact revenge on them for speaking out against him in the media. The Delhi High Court rejected Chandrakant’s appeal for release on February 7th, 2022, for a three-month period.
This example also highlights the significance of mental health and the necessity for the government apparatus to construct research institutions where experts may examine the behavioural characteristics of such offenders and provide them with treatment. Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi is a documentary that speaks volumes about a corrupt system, an ineffective economic machine, the vice of unemployment, police brutality, and—most importantly—the need to care for one’s mental health and be treated fairly and with dignity, regardless of one’s financial or social standing.
Ayesha Sood is the director of the 2022 crime documentary series Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi.