|Thursday, 20 November 2008 17:32|
Cause of death: Hanged by the British
Notable because: Thug may be the worlds most prolific serial killer.
Thug Behram of the Thuggee cult in India, has frequently been said to be the world's most prolific serial killer. According to numerous sources, he was believed to have murdered 931 victims by strangulation between 1790–1840 by means of the ceremonial cloth (or rumal, which in Hindi means handkerchief), used by his cult.
Thug Behram was a member of the notorious Thuggee cult which spread terror in India during the 17th-19th century period until they were eliminated during the British rule. This secret fraternity often befriended unsuspecting travellers before killing them, presumably to rob their belongings. You now know where the English word ‘thug’ came from.
Attribution of so many killings to this one murderer is, however, the product of confusion and mistaken reporting of unchecked statements. The original source for Behram's 'confession' is a manuscript on Thuggee written by James Paton, an East India Company officer working for the Thuggee and Dacoity Office in the 1830s. Paton's MS - now in the British Library - states that Behram had merely estimated that he had "been present" at 931 cases of murder, the killings themselves being committed by a gang of 25 to 50 men, at least half a dozen of whom, other than Behram himself, would have played an active role as stranglers.
In addition, Behram's statement is unverified and Thug never stood trial for any of the murders he confessed to, having turned King's Evidence and agreed to inform on his companions.
It should further be emphasised that this Thug gave a second, much less publicised, account, concerning the actual number of murders he committed. At another point in Paton's papers, Behram is quoted as saying: "I may have strangled with my own hands about 125 men, and I may have seen strangled 150 more".
Since Behram's alleged murders were committed in the course of a 40-year career, and since it was in Thug informers' interests to make themselves appear as important as possible to their British captors, it is not certain whether any specific total number of killings can be attributed to this one murderer.
Behram was executed in 1840 by hanging.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:25|