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Raman Raghav, the Notorious ‘Jack the Ripper’ of Mumbai

Ravi loves writing within the realm of relationships, history, and the bizarre—where boundaries are blurred and possibilities are immense.

Raman Raghav, India's most horrifying serial killer was rightly called the ‘Jack the Ripper’ of India

Raman Raghav, India's most horrifying serial killer was rightly called the ‘Jack the Ripper’ of India

A Nondescript Middle Class Person

He was like anyone in those millions of middle-class men going about eking a living in the busy metropolis of Mumbai.

Holding an umbrella to guard against the unpredictable Mumbai rains, well-groomed in a simple sort of way with hair neatly combed behind and the faint fragrance of coconut oil coming from his body, he also appeared a bit fastidious by carrying a mirror which he would look into every few minutes.

Except that he wasn’t an ordinary man. He was called ‘Raghav the Ripper’, India’s own version of ‘Jack the Ripper’.

Calling Raman Raghav India’s most notorious serial killer would be an understatement. He was the killer who singlehandedly brought a busy metropolis to its toes, casting a spell of fear and paranoia all over the city. In just three years in the 1960s, Raman’s killing spree forced the complete shutdown of a city with people preferring to stay indoors rather than being bludgeoned to death by him.

And his favorites were the poor people, the slum dwellers, and the pavement dwellers who slept in the open. He used a regular steel rod to break skulls and faces mercilessly.

Between 1965 and 1968 in two phases, Raman is believed to have killed at least 40 people at various locations in the city. His fear assumed such mammoth proportions that rumors started spreading that the killer possesses supernatural powers and can kill at ‘will’.

His character has been immortalized in the 2016 Bollywood movie Raman Raghav 2.0, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the bloodthirsty serial killer.

His character has been immortalized in the 2016 Bollywood movie Raman Raghav 2.0, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the bloodthirsty serial killer.

His character has been immortalized in the 2016 Bollywood movie Raman Raghav 2.0, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the bloodthirsty serial killer.

The Story of Raman Raghav

The Mumbai police first observed the killings in 1968. A series of murders had happened in the western suburbs of the city and all the murders were of slum-dwellers and the poor living in derelict hutments, isolated shanties, and pavements. All had been attacked by a ‘heavy and blunt instrument’ cracking their skulls and faces. The police knew they have a serial killer at hand.

The killer was messy as if taunting the police; there were blood spatters in the huts, beds covered with human brain matter, floors covered with blood, and even faces repeatedly disfigured into pulp. It was as if the killer was attacking in a frenzy of madness. As the killer reached his 20th victim, fear started enveloping the vibrant city.

Rumors about a serial killer with superhuman powers spread. Some said he could turn into any animal he wanted, some claimed to have seen him sleeping upside down from trees.

There were several incidents where panicky crowds started attacking suspicious-looking homeless people and beggars mistaking them for the killer. Fear was everywhere as the city went into lockdown mode with no one daring to step out after dark. The police were under immense pressure to find the killer fast.

Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Alex Fialho is credited for the arrest of dreaded serial killer Raman Raghav in Mumbai in 1968

Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Alex Fialho is credited for the arrest of dreaded serial killer Raman Raghav in Mumbai in 1968

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Mumbai Crime Chief Ramakant Kulkarni Starts the Investigation

In that very year, Mumbai police got a new young chief of crime branch Ramakant Kulkarni. The serial killer’s case came to him as he began to painstakingly examine any pattern emerging from past killings of this sort. His observations brought him to similar killings that took place 2 years ago in 1965-66 in the eastern suburbs of Bombay, where 19 people had been attacked.

At that time one homeless man named Raman Raghav had been arrested by the police for questioning. But the charges were never proved and he is released. Ramakant was sure that Raman is the killer and he is back again.

A 2000-strong police manhunt was launched across the city. Raman’s photo was given to every member of the task force who started to comb meticulously every nook and corner of the city. His photo was circulated in the press asking the public for help and information. It was a mammoth task in a mammoth city and chances of finding Raghav were bleak unless he makes a mistake.

And that was what he did. He carried a wet umbrella when it is not raining in South Mumbai raising the suspicions of sub-inspector Alex Fialho who says.

I don’t know what made me look at him. Those days I used to carry photographs of the serial killer, Raman Raghav, in my shirt pocket. As I was waiting for a bus, I saw this well-built man in khaki shorts and a long blue bush shirt walking in my direction. I noticed he was carrying a wet umbrella. As it had not rained in South Bombay, I asked him where he was coming from and he replied Malad (a place in western suburbs where killings had happened). This strengthened my doubt. He was also carrying half-rimmed spectacles and a thimble that belonged to a tailor who had been found killed in Malad a couple of days ago.”

He arrested him and brought him to the police station. Raghav was finally caught on 27 August 1968.

Raghav was finally caught on 27 August 1968.

Raghav was finally caught on 27 August 1968.

Raman Was Caught Finally

He was a tough nut crack and despite rigorous questioning and torture, he did not open his mouth. Then Ramakant hit upon an idea. He asked him what does he like the most.

Raghav asked for Chicken biryani, a comb, hair oil, and a mirror. All his items were given to him and finally, after having his fill, Raghav asked.

“Now tell me, what do you want?”

He confessed his crime and also gave the hiding place of his activities where the police found an iron rod covered with blood and hair, knives, a screwdriver, his ‘loot’ from the murders, a colored napkin, a torch, an umbrella, and a stove.

Raghav was sentenced to be hanged but later on, his sentence was changed to life imprisonment due to his mental condition of chronic paranoid schizophrenia. He was lodged at Yerwada Jail in Pune and died at Sasson hospital from kidney failure in 1987.

Raghav’s crime was declared by the three-member jury bench as ‘unparalleled and unsurpassed in the history of crime’.

Sources

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ravi Rajan

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