In the year 2020, the people of our country were shocked when images of millions of laborers and workers surfaced on social media, and every news channel covered the story. The laborers and the daily wagers were leaving the cities and going back to their villages, as due to the pandemic, they had lost their livelihood. Suddenly, we all became aware of the migration crisis. These daily wagers, hailing from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, etc., didn’t know how to survive if they weren’t allowed to work, as they didn’t have enough resources to even sustain themselves for a week, let alone sustain a 3-month lockdown. They were ready to walk on foot for thousands of kilometers and reach their hometown. At least by doing that, they were giving themselves a chance to survive, because staying in the soulless metro cities meant that they were signing in for an adverse fate by choice. But this migration crisis has always been present in our country. We have overlooked it because, till now, it hasn’t had any effect on our perfect lives. These people do not have any identity and are a part of a faceless crowd, seldom making it to the news when they disturb the delicate balance of our society. “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi,” directed by Ayesha Sood, is a story about one such faceless person who reigned havoc in the capital city of Delhi in the early 2000s. Those few who unfortunately came in his contact and happened to know him during the time he was active, still get petrified by the mere mention of his name. So let’s see what made this serial killer into one of the most sensationalized criminals in the country, and more importantly, let’s try to understand whether the socio-political circumstances had any role to play in nurturing his sensibilities.
What Is Docuseries ‘Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi’ About?
On October 20, 2006, a mutilated body was found in front of the Tihar Jail. They had been informed about it by an anonymous caller. With the properly packed mutilated body, there was also a letter, in which the killer had hurled abuses at the Delhi police and challenged them to catch him if they could. Two more bodies were found on April 25th and May 18th, 2007. Sub-inspector Narendra Pehalwan, by seeing the pattern of the murders, got reminded of a case that he investigated in 1998. He alerted his informer network and came to know that a man matching the description of the accused in the current case used to visit a clinic in the Azadpur area. Sunder Singh and his team went to meet the doctor who owned the clinic and came to know that the name of the accused was Chandrakant Jha and that he had been visiting the doctor for quite some time now. Through the doctor, they got hold of the murderer, and to their surprise, he confessed to his crimes. He had only one condition: he would tell them everything honestly only if they promised to not beat him.
Chandrakant confessed to having committed more than three murders. He had killed a local union leader called Pandit in 1998, whose case had been investigated by Narendra Pehalwan. In 2003 he killed a person named Shekhar, and in the same year itself, he murdered another guy named Umesh. Then, in 2005, he murdered a guy named Guddu. But the police could only get incriminating evidence for the 3 murders that were committed in and after 2006. Chandrakant told them that he used to mutilate the body and throw different parts in different places, but always flushed the head in the Yamuna river, as he believed that by doing so, he would help them attain a transcendent state after death. Chandrakant hailed from Ghosai Village in Bihar, and after hearing what the other residents had to say about him, you realize that the number of people that he had murdered was much more than what was accounted for officially by the authorities.
‘Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi’ Explained: Why Did Chandrakant Jha Become A Killer?
The migration crisis has a direct link to the situation of Chandrakant Jha. When a person migrates to a metro city, there are a lot of changes that happen in their lives and in their environment. Firstly, you leave your village, where you have abundant open space, and come to stay in a single room, together with 5 to 6 people (sometimes even more). Spaces are more claustrophobic, expenses start leaching you out, you work for 12 to 14 hours in deplorable circumstances to earn your daily bread, and more than anything, there is a complete loss of identity. To add to that, the authorities make your life even more difficult. There are unions that you have to be a part of, even if you don’t wish to be, and you pay them on a weekly or monthly basis. Even the poorest of daily wage earners have to bribe the police and the municipal corporations in order to go about their business without any unnecessary hassle.
When Chandrakant came to Delhi, according to Dr. S.L. Vaya (a clinical forensics scientist), he felt lost in the crowd, and he didn’t have any kind of social standing. There were millions like him who came to the city and were put in a beleaguered situation due to the failure of the system. For a petty issue, Chandrakant Jha stood against a local goon, which led to a violent clash between the two. The goon stabbed him, and Chandrakant lay there in agonizing pain. He covered his wound with a piece of cloth and somehow managed to go to a hospital all by himself. That was how he was welcomed in Delhi. Incidents like these have the potential to stir up things inside any individual. It sowed the seed for revenge, and maybe Chandrakant realized that there are two kinds of people that exist in this world: the weak and the powerful. Whatever he did after this incident was just an attempt from his end to stay in control and feel the power that he exercised over others. But Chandrakant’s nightmare didn’t stop there. He had an argument with a local union leader of the hawkers, named Mangal alias Pandit. According to Chandrakant’s testimony, he, by mistake, grazed Pandit’s hand with a knife that he was carrying, which resulted in a minor cut. Pandit had his contacts, and he made sure that fake charges were put on Chandrakant, and he was sent to prison.
What hurt him, even more, was that his wife, who wasn’t involved in any way, was also sent to prison. In prison, he was subjected to police brutality. According to him, a police constable named Balbir used to torture him. He had cut down on his meals and often stripped him naked in front of the other prisoners. There was deep-rooted resentment and vengeance in Chandrakant that was evident through his testimonies. Dr. Vaya says that an element of that violence might have been genetically inherited by him through his parents and the environment he was brought up in. The circumstances in Delhi just triggered it and brought out the worst from his own subconscious. The most amusing thing was that Chandrakant didn’t feel any remorse. The answer as to why he didn’t feel so lies in his experiences. He had been subjected to brutality in the past, which he now inflicted upon his victims. He knew that fear, that pain, and that traumatic aftermath, and that is why he didn’t feel any kind of sympathy towards his victims. He often used to eat in the same room in which the dead bodies of his victims were lying. He didn’t get scandalized by seeing that puddle of blood, and it spoke volumes about his mental state. There is nothing more addictive than power. Once Chandrakant got a taste of that, it was hard for him to give it up.
Bhidu Jadhav, a resident of Ghosai village, recounts the horrifying experience that he had with the butcher of Delhi. When a 67-year-old man still cries in fear and trauma while narrating the instance, then you know the kind of terror Chandrakant was able to induce in others. He used to click pictures as souvenirs of all his victims. In one of the pictures, you see that 3 men are sitting handcuffed in his room, and you can’t help but wonder how it is possible for one man to overpower 3 men. Apart from learning martial arts, after his scuffle with the goon, Chandrakant had instilled fear in the minds of the people and they felt paralyzed by it. Chandrakant never used to go in search of his targets but vetted whoever came to him. He had this inflated belief of infallibility, and he loved exercising control over his target and being in the position of command. If the victims departed from the expected behavior, then they were given two chances before Chandrakant killed them. It was a game for him. He had turned the horrors of his past into a horrific pastime.
Apart from being victimized and triggered by the system, these violent murders were also a projection of his deprived past. His parents were negligent, and he always felt a void in his childhood. He had this psychological urge to kill, which he himself testified to in front of the police officers, where he said that his brain became muddled if he didn’t kill anyone for an extended period of time. It cannot be said that Chandrakant Jha, the Butcher of Delhi, was solely a result of a failed system, but surely the socio-political situations contributed to and triggered that violent and psychotic behavior. It is an undeniable fact that he was not only mentally unstable, but he also had a lot of indignation against the system.
Where Is Chandrakant Jha Now?
In 2013, Chandrakant Jha was given capital punishment that was later reduced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court. Though, according to the people of his village, he had killed more than 40 people, the police could only prove that he had murdered three people: Anil Mandal on October 20, 2006; Upendra on April 25, 2007; and Dalip on May 18, 2007. This case is long forgotten by the media, but the people who had successfully escaped from his captivity are still scared about the fact that what if he is released on parole and comes back to take revenge from them, for speaking against him in the media. On February 7th, 2022, Chandrakant’s request for parole, for a period of three months, was denied by the Delhi high court.
This case also puts light on the importance of mental health and how important it is that the government machinery should build research facilities where professionals could study the behavioral aspects of such criminals and treat them in the process. The documentary, “Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi,” speaks volumes about a corrupt system, an inept economic machinery, the vice of unemployment, police brutality, and most importantly, about the need to cater to one’s mental health and be treated fairly and with dignity, irrespective of the financial and social status of a person in society.
“Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi” is a 2022 Crime Documentary Series directed by Ayesha Sood.