Thug Behram was the king of the thug world. During the late 18th and early 19th century, Behram was the leader of the Thugee Cult which was active in Oudh in northern central India. He is often mentioned as one of the most dangerous serial killers in the world.
Thug Behram: The Most Dangerous Serious Killer
Thug Behram killed nearly 931 people by strangulation between 1790 and 1840. He performed all the murders by strangulating people with a ceremonial handkerchief which was also used by the other members of his cult as a weapon for strangulation. Behram at the age of 75 was put to death on January 1, 1840, by hanging.
Behram who was suspected of having committed 931 murders, quoted that he was present at all 931 murders, and “I may have strangled with my own hands about 125 men, and I may have seen strangled 150 more.”It was written in a Thugee manuscript by James Paton who was an East Indian Company officer working for the Thugee and Dacoity Office in the 1830s.
Behram was quite shy and introverted during his childhood. Later he met one of the notorious Thugs Syed Ameer Ali who was 25 years older than him, and they both became friends. Ameer Ali was the person who introduced Behram in Thugee’s world and made him the King of Thugee.
Sources stated that during his initial days of Thugee Behram was also accompanied by a female thug named Dolly, but later on, both got separated. By the young age of just 10, Behram had started committing killings and horrifying people with his crimes. He started thuggee as a profession at the age of 25.
Behram used his ceremonial handkerchief with a medallion sewn into it as a weapon to perform his killings. He used to strangle the handkerchief around the victim’s neck and the medallion used to tighten at Adam’s apple of his victim when he applied pressure which choked the victim to death.
The History Of The Thugs
Thugs were robbers and murderers by profession. They were very well organized. The act of thugs refers to thugee. They used to travel across the Indian subcontinent. There were numerous traditions about their origin. One of such origin was recorded by D.F. McLeod, who traced a Muslim cult formed from those who fled from Delhi after murdering a physician.
Indian Rajputs, Hindus, Lodhis, and Ahirs performed thugee after getting influenced by original Muslim Thugs. In other Thug traditions, they were Kanjars or descendants of Mughal workers. Others stated that thugs were people who served in the army of Indian rulers and became thugs after the British conquest. Thugs operated as gangs and performed robbery at highways by tricking them and later strangling their victims.
However, the first known thugs were associated with the same fraternity, rather than ordinary thieves. Following reference is found from the early 14th century when sultan Jalal-ud -din Khilji had arrested 1000 thugs and isolated them.
How Thugs Executed Killings
The group of thugs would use to dress up like travelers. At first instance, they would wear turbans and carried some sort of baggage with themselves to deceive the other travelers.
Thugs’ sole aim was to get maximum loot without getting caught. They used to travel with travelers for a few hours to win over the confidence of the travelers. They also used to do so in order to get the knowledge of the wealth the traveler posses. To avoid getting caught thugs did not commit crimes near the areas where the travelers lived. Thugs pretended to be Muslim or Hindu to fool their victims. Thugs were also called “Phansigar” because of the way they use to fool their victims.
Thugs mostly committed their crimes in the evening because it was easy for them to strangle their victims when there is no light. They did not carry more than one or 2 swords to avoid suspicion. Thugs used to disfigure the victims’ bodies or bury them. They did so so that the victim’s corpse should not get identified.
Weapons Used By Thugs
The head of thugs was known as “Jemadar”. They used a special language or slang known as “Ramasee” to hide their true intentions from their targets. The most common method of murder used by thugs was strangulating their target with their handkerchief which had a medallion that was used to tighten at the Adam’s Apple of the victim. In some early documentation, it was mentioned that thugs used ropes for strangulation murder.
Other proof reveals that thugs also used dagger called the “Katar” as their personal status weapon which they wear across their chest.
In some references, thugs used “Datura” a poison derived from a plant in the nightshade family to induce drowsiness which made strangulation easier.
The End Of Thug Behram
The Governor-General Of India, Lord William Bentinck, and his chief captain, William Henry Sleeman during the 1830s targeted for elimination of thugs which resulted in the gradual decrease of thugs. British administration started to take legal actions against the thugs. Later in 1835, the Thugge And Dacoity Department was created. Thugs who were captured gave information about other thug groups in exchange for security.
Thug cult was vanished by the 1870s but their history led to the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) of 1871 in India. The Central Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) replaced the Thugee and Dacoity Department in 1904.
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