On August 13, 1969, officials in Bombay, India, announced that 40-year-old Raman Raghav had been sentenced to hang following his conviction of multiple murders.
According to sketchy reports, the defendant openly confessed to slaying forty-one men, women, and children, selected at random for the sheer pleasure of killing.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia
of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
Raman Raghav (1929–1995) was a psychopathic serial killer
who operated in the city of Mumbai (then Bombay), India in the
mid-1960s. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia after his arrest. Very
little is known about Raghav's early life or circumstances that led him
to commit the crimes.
A series of brutal murders in the outskirts of Mumbai
(then Bombay) rocked the city in August 1968. Pavement and hutment
dwellers were bludgeoned to death while they slept. All the murders took
place at night and were committed by using a hard and blunt object.
The Mumbai police and the media realised that a serial
killer was operating in the city. A similar series of murders had taken
some years earlier (1965-66) in the Eastern suburbs of Mumbai. In that
year, as many as 19 people had been attacked, out of whom 9 victims had
died. At the time a suspicious looking man found loitering in the area
had been picked up by the police.
His name was Raman Raghav, a homeless man, and he was
already in police files, having spent 5 years in prison for robbery.
However, as no hard evidence could be found against him (none of the
survivors had seen this man) the police let him go. When the killer
struck again in 1968 the police launched a manhunt for him. Ramakant
Kulkarni, then the Deputy Commissioner of Police CID (Crime) took over
the investigation and spearheaded a massive combing operation in the
This time the police not only managed to nab him, they
got him to confess. He admitted that he had killed 23 people in 1966
along the GIP (Great Indian Peninsular Railway as Southern Railway was
known then) line and almost a dozen in 1968 in the suburbs.
However, it is likely that he killed many more. It was
his casual approach to killing that led the police to suspect that he
did not remember the exact number of people he had killed. During the
time Raman Raghav was in operation, there was widespread public anxiety
and panic in Mumbai. Inhabitants of slums and apartments dreaded
sleeping out in the open or with open windows and balconies.
Sub-inspector of police Alex Fialho recognised Raman
Raghav from file photographs and descriptions provided by those who had
seen him. Fialho detained and searched him in the presence of two
respectable witnesses from the area. The suspect gave his name as Raman
Raghav, but old records disclosed that he had several aliases like
"Sindhi Dalwai", "Talwai", "Anna", "Thambi" and "Veluswami".
The suspect carried, on his person, a pair of spectacles,
two combs, a pair of scissors, a stand for burning incense, soap,
garlic, tea dust and two pieces of paper with some mathematical figures.
The bush shirt and khaki shorts which he was wearing had bloodstains and
his shoes were full of mud.
His fingerprints with those on record confirmed that the
suspect was indeed Raman Raghav alias Sindhi Dalwai. He was arrested
under section 302 IPC on charge of the murder of two persons, (1)
Lalchand Jagannat Yadav and (2) Dular Jaggi Yadav at Chinchawli village,
Malad, Greater Bombay. He was described as tall, well-built and
Investigation and Trial
The preliminary trial was held in the court of Additional
Chief Presidency Magistrate. For a long time, Raghav refused to answer
questions. However, he began to answer their questions after the police
fulfilled his request for dishes of chicken to eat. He then gave a
detailed testimony, describing his weapon, and his modus operandi.
After this the case was committed to Sessions court,
Mumbai. When the trial started in the court of Additional Session Judge,
Mumbai on 2 June 1969, the counsel for defense made an application that
the accused was incapable of defending himself on account of unsoundness
of mind and he also submitted that even at the time of committing the
alleged offenses the accused was of unsound mind and incapable of
knowing the nature of his acts or that they were contrary to the law.
The accused was therefore sent to the Police Surgeon,
Mumbai, who observed him from 28 June 1969 to 23 July 1969 and opined
that, "The accused is neither suffering from psychosis nor mentally
retarded. His memory is sound, his intelligence average and is aware of
the nature and purpose of his acts. He is able to understand the nature
and object of the proceedings against him and not certifiably insane."
With this medical opinion, the trial proceeded. The
accused pleaded guilty. During the trial a psychiatrist of Nair
Hospital, Mumbai was cited as a defense witness. He had interviewed the
accused in Arthur Road Prison on 5 August 1969 and gave evidence that
the accused was suffering from Chronic paranoid schizophrenia for a long
time and was therefore unable to understand that his actions were
contrary to law.
In defense, it was said, "The accused did commit the act
of killing with which he is charged. He knew the nature of the act, viz.
killing human beings, but did not know, wither it was wrong or contrary
to law". The Additional Sessions Judge, Mumbai, Held the accused guilty
of the charge of murder and sentenced him to death. Raman declined to
Before confirming the sentence, the High Court of Mumbai
ordered that the Surgeon General, Mumbai, should constitute a Special
Medical Board of three psychiatrists to determine whether the accused
was of unsound mind, and secondly, whether in consequence of his
unsoundness of mind, he was incapable of making his defense.
The members of the Special Medical Board interviewed
Raman on five different occasions for about two hours each time. In
their final interview when they bade him good bye and attempted to shake
hands with him, he refused to do so saying that he was a representative
of 'Kanoon' (God) who would not touch people belonging to this wicked
world. The examination report was as follows.
Details about childhood history are not available. No
reliable history about mental Illness in his family is obtainable.
According to the data available, He was always in the habit of stealing
ever since he was a child. He hardly had any school education. He was
known to be reclusive. Since his return from Pune in 1968 he had been
living in jungles outside the suburbs of Mumbai.
X-rays of skull, routine blood examination, serological
tests for syphilis, cerebrospinal fluid examination including tests for
syphilis, urine and stool examination and EEG examination were non
contributory. He was of average intelligence and there is no organic
disease to account for his mental condition.
Throughout the five interviews he showed ideas of
reference and fixed and systematized delusions of persecution and
grandeur. The delusions which the accused experienced were as follows:
* That there are two distinct worlds, the world of
'Kanoon' and this world in which he lived.
* A fixed and unshakable belief that people were trying
to change his sex, but that they are not successful, because he was a
representative of 'Kanoon'.
* A fixed and unshakable belief that he is a power or
* A firm belief that other people are trying to put
homosexual temptations in his way so that he may succumb and get
converted to a woman.
* That homosexual intercourse would convert him into a
* That he was "101 percent man". He kept on repeating
* A belief that the government brought him to Mumbai to
commit thefts and made him commit criminal acts.
* An unshakable belief that there are three governments
in the country - the Akbar Government, the British Government, and the
Congress Government and that these Governments are trying to persecute
him and put temptations before him.
The final verdict
Raman Raghav's sentence was reduced to
life imprisonment because he was found to be incurably mentally ill. He
was lodged at Yerwada jail, Pune, and was under treatment at the Central
Institute of Mental Health and Research. When a panel of doctors who
examined him at the directive of the High Court found that he would
never be cured, the High Court reduced his sentence to life imprisonment
in its judgement of 4th August 1987. A few months later Raghav died at
Sassoon Hospital. He had been suffering from kidney trouble.
Raman Raghav is thought to be India's worst and most
horrific serial killer. Indian filmmaker Sriram Raghavan produced a
45-minute short film on Raman Raghav, starring Raghuvir Yadav in the
lead role. In the mid-1980s, another serial killer emerged in Mumbai,
terrorising the population of Sion and neighbouring localities. Given
the nickname "Stoneman," he was not captured despite intensive efforts
Recalling Raman Raghav- Mumbai's
In August 1968, I took over as Deputy Commissioner of Police, CID (Crime),
the youngest officer until then, to shoulder the responsibilities
attached to that formidable post. Traditionally, veteran detectives had
held that post. My appointment, therefore, raised many eyebrows.
Hardly had I settled in when a series of murders reported from the
outskirts of the city, caught the public imagination. The victims in all
cases were poor people living in ramshackle huts and temporary
structures, who eked out their living rather precariously.
One common feature was that all the victims had head injuries
inflicted by a hard and blunt object while they were asleep. The
murders were apparently motiveless and even in cases that involved
petty gain, the violence inflicted on the victims was totally
disproportionate to the gain.
In that year, as many as nineteen persons had been attacked while
asleep and all of them had received head injuries. While nine of
them had succumbed to their injuries, none of the survivors,
unfortunately, could recollect anything useful enough to establish
the identity of the assailant. I learnt that most of the victims
were residents of hutments constructed along a municipal water pipe
line, popularly known as the ‘duct line’.
The local police had introduced round-the-clock patrolling along the
‘duct line’ and before long the police party had picked up a
suspicious character found prowling in that area. The suspect gave
his name as ‘Raman Raghav’, but old records disclosed that he had
several aliases like ‘Sindhi Dalwai’, ‘Talwai’, ‘Anna’, ‘Thambi’ and
His fingerprints were on record and his case history revealed that
he had as many as nine previous convictions, mostly for property
offences. He had suffered imprisonment for five years for robbery,
although the initial charge against him had been of murder coupled with
The proponents of environmental criminology talk of the ‘geometry of
crime’, according to which crimes usually occur at a safe distance
though not far from the place of residence or work of the culprit,
as he is familiar with the area.
At the same time, the area around his residence or place of work is
relatively free from his depredations, for the simple reason that he is
known in that locality and is likely to be identified. It was time now
to trace him, but tracing persons with no fixed place of residence, in a
sprawling and congested city like Bombay, is indeed a formidable task.
Soon, however, we had a major breakthrough. An alert sub-inspector
of police named Alex Fialho noticed during patrolling, a person
wearing khaki shorts, a blue bush shirt and a pair of canvas shoes.
He also carried an umbrella. Sub-inspector Fialho detained and
searched him in the presence of two respectable witnesses from the
area, as required by law.
The suspect carried, on his person, a pair of spectacles, two combs,
a pair of scissors, a stand for burning incense, soap, garlic, tea
dust and two pieces of paper with some mathematical figures. The
bush shirt and khaki shorts, which he was wearing had bloodstains
and the crevices in his shoes were full of mud.
A quick comparison of his fingerprints with those on record
confirmed that the suspect was indeed Raman Raghav alias Sindhi
Dalvai. The news of his arrest spread like wildfire and large crowds
gathered at Crawford Market, where the offices of the Commissioner
of Police and the Crime Branch (CID) are located. The Police
Commissioner, Mr Modak, felicitated Sub-inspector Fialo and
sanctioned him a spot reward of Rs 1,000.
The news of the arrest made headlines in all the evening papers that
day. The celebration, however, was short-lived and our real ordeal began
soon. If earlier experiences were any indication, the interrogation of
this suspect, however intensive or prolonged, was unlikely to yield any
There was no guarantee that things would be any different now. Two
days passed. The suspect continued to maintain a studied silence.
Confirmed cynics and a section of the press became more suspicious
by the hour and their biting criticism was sometimes unnerving.
Even the robust enthusiasm of some of our seasoned officers like
Basil Kane, Vakatkar, Pendse and Dalvi started showing signs of
flagging. In desperation, I sent up a fervent prayer and the Lord
answered it readily.
We were sitting in the interrogation room of the Crime Branch (CID)
when rather casually someone asked Raman Raghav whether there was
anything, which he wanted very much to have. Without a moment’s thought,
without even batting an eyelid, Raman Raghav said, “Murgi.”
A resourceful officer promptly fetched from a nearby restaurant, a
dish of chicken with gravy. Raman Raghav must have relished it
immensely for he licked his lips as he finished his repast. When
asked what else he would like to have he repeated murgi. In due
course, he had a second helping as well.
Next, he wanted hair oil, a comb and a mirror. “I would also have
liked a prostitute, but I guess, the law does not permit that, while one
is in custody,” he added, rather ruefully. Somebody brought him a bottle
of perfumed coconut oil, with which he massaged his entire body,
appreciating the fragrance of the oil.
After he had combed his hair, he looked admiringly at his own face
in the mirror for a long, long time. Then, he adopted a very erect
posture and with an air of supreme importance, asked us, ‘Now tell
me, what do you want?’ An impetuous officer standing close to him
piped up. ‘Of course, we want to know about the murders.’
‘Maardaars?’ he asked, with a strong, South Indian slang. ‘Well, I
shall tell you all about them,’ he added. ‘Get a vehicle, an armed guard
and two witnesses. The law requires that.’
‘We should like to know, at the outset, where you have hidden your
‘Yes, yes. I shall show you that too,’ he replied. ‘I will point out
the iron akada used for doing khatam, as also a jemmy, knives and other
things which I have concealed in the bushes at Aarey colony,’ he added.
Excerpted from Footprints on the Sands of Crime by Ramakant
Kulkarni, retired director general of police, Maharashtra state;
published by Macmillan India, Rs 245
India’s most notorious serial killer -
the madman Raman Raghav
January 1, 2007
With kid killers Surendra and Monindar
Singh being dubbed as the country’s
worst serial killers, another devilish
serial killer came to my mind. In fact
this serial killer (Raman Raghav) was so
coldblooded and unfeeling that I was
reminded of Saddam Hussain and his dead
eyes! Saddam was a serial killer alright,
though I don’t know whether he bloodied
his hands. One thing is for sure - he
was a man without a conscience, a man
for whom killing another was easier than
swatting a fly. And I could not help
wondering whether the mind of Raman
Raghav could offer a clue into the mind
the Sands of Crime
Some years earlier I
had bought a book called ‘The Footprints
on the Sands of Crime,’ by Ramakant
Kulkarni, the cop who had brought Raman
Raghav to book. Kulkarni was the Deputy
Commissioner of Police CID (Crime) at
the time. He was often referred to as
‘Sherlock Holmes’ by the media and later
rose to be the Director General of
Police, Maharashtra State. His book is a
simply written treatise with detailed
and well documented descriptions of his
various cases ranging from highway
murders, smuggling incidents, bomb
blasts to note counterfeiting and the
assasination of Indira Gandhi. (By the
way, he is not related to me though we
share the same name.)
In this post I will
give a very short synopsis of his
chapter on the serial killer Raman
Raghav, who has till now been known as
India’s worst serial killer.
Raman Raghav was a
poor homeless man and his victims were
also poor. His modus operandi was simple
and also identical for all the murders.
He killed his victims when they were
sleeping by hitting them with a hard and
blunt object. As his victims either
lived on the pavements or in ‘ramshackle
huts’, it was not difficult for the
killer to approach the victims. What
made everyone’s skin crawl however was
that the killings did not appear to be
for gain. Even when some money was found
to be missing in some cases, it did not
warrant the gruesome killings. He just
seemed to want to kill anyone who got in
When DCP Kulkarni
took over the case (1968), several
murders had taken place in this manner.
This brought to light the fact that just
a few years earlier, in 1965-66, there
had been a similar string murders - as
many as 19 attacks in which 9 people had
been picked up by the police, but
allowed to go
At the time a
suspicious looking guy seen in the
vicinity had been picked up and
questioned by the police - a man by the
name of Raman Raghav. He was already a
felon, having served five years in
prison for robbery, although the initial
charge against him had been that of
robbery and murder. The murder charge
was never proved. Detective Inspector
Vakatkar, who had questioned Raman
Raghav at the time recalled that ‘he was
a hard nut to crack.’ Vakatkar also
mentioned a pocket diary had been
recovered from Raghav in which he had
penned words like Khatam and
Khallas, which means: Finished.
However, at the time no hard evidence
could be found against Raghav and the
police had let him go with the
admonition to get out of Bombay.
In his book, DCP Kulkarni mentions a
theory of ‘Environment Criminology’
about the ‘geometry of crime.’ The
theory suggests that crime ocurrs
‘within a safe distance’ from the
perpetrator’s home but at the same time
not too far away as he likes an area he
is familiar with. Thus, after the DCP
and his team got hold of Raghav’s old
file (which had his fingerprints,
photographs and names of acquaintences),
a massive manhunt was launched for the
man, with a special focus in the area
where the murders were being committed.
After weeks of a painstaking search, the
police finally managed to find an old
acquaintance of his called Manjulabai, a
maid. She told them that she had seen
Raghav recently in the area but had no
idea where he lived.
So, Raghav was back.
While this search was going on, the
police managed to match the fingerprints
of Raghav to the recent crime scenes.
However, finding Raghav was difficult in
the sprawling city like Mumbai. He had
no address. Finally however, an alert
sub-inspector of police, Alex Fialho,
spotted and arrested him. Raghav’s
clothes found to be blood-stained and a
fingerprint comparision revealed that
this man was indeed Raman Raghav alias
Raghav was reluctant to talk
However, as Ramakant Kulkarni writes,
the ordeal had just begun. The suspect
maintained a ’studied silence’
throughout the questioning and it looked
like they would never get him to talk.
The breakthrough came one day when one
of the offiicers casually asked Raghav
whether he needed anything. The
suspect’s immediately opened his mouth
and asked for Murgi (chicken).
After this was provided to him, he asked
for another dish of chicken curry and
rice. Then he demanded hair oil, a comb,
and a mirror! Then cheekily he added, ‘I
would also like a prostitute but I guess
the law will not allow that.’ After the
oil came he applied the perfumed coconut
oil to his whole body and then kept
staring at his reflection in the mirror.
Then after admiring himself for quite a
while, he at last turned to the
policemen and said, ‘Now tell me - what
do you want?’
‘We want to know all about the murders,’
said a young officer.
‘Maardaar?’ he asked. ‘Well, I shall
tell you all about them. Get a vehicle,
an armed guard and two witnesses. The
law requires that. And I shall show you
the iron akada I used to commit
the murders, knives and other things
which I have hidden in the bushes at
They got the proof
And indeed Raghav did lead the police to
a thorny bush from where he pulled out
an iron fulcrum jimmy which he had
referred to as an akada.
Ramakant Kulkarni describes it thus: ‘It
was an octagonal rod bent at one end and
tapering at another. The circumference
at the thicker end measured four inches.
There were what looked like bloodstains
near the bend of the jimmy.’ Raghav also
produced knives, a screwdriver, an iron
jimmy, a coloured napkin and a torch.
The napkin was his ‘loot’ from a double
A guy called Michael who had made the
akada for Raghav told the police that he
came from the same district at Raghav in
Tamil Nadu and knew him as Tambi.
He remembered that Tambi’s roommate had
been found dead, but had not suspected
his friend. Therefore when Tambi asked
for the crowbar he gave it to him. Tambi
turned up three days later but refused
the cup of tea that Michael offered him,
saying that he had an objection to
drinking tea ‘in the house of a
Christian’! Michael then asked him to
return the crowbar, but Tambi flew into
a rage and walked out.
Raghav took the cops on a tour of the
Borivili (suburb of Mumbai) hills and
produced items like a stove, an umbrella
etc which he had stolen from his victims.
And over the next few days Raghav gave
the gory details of the murders he had
committed. He agreed to make a full
confession in the presence of a
magistrate. When asked by the magistrate
as to why he wanted to confess, he said
it was God’s directive.
The DCP says that he puzzled over
Raghav’s confession for several years,
not quite understanding why he had
confessed. Until he read a book called
‘Criminal Investigation’ by Aubry and
Caputo. In this book, the authors said:
‘The key to sucessful interrogation of
psychopaths lies within the personality
structure of the individual himself. For
some, conscience does not matter and the
ability to distinguish between right and
wrong is missing. Therefore the
classical approach to interrogation
which depends on the repetition of the
theme of good and bad, right and wrong
will have little effect on such a mind.
Simply agreeing with such an individual
can be an effective technique.’ Once
friendliness and understanding is
offered, the individual might wish to
‘repay’ this kindness by giving the
interrogator what he wants.
A few excerpts from Raghav’s
The following excerpts gives us a peek
into this serial killer’s mind:
“At Poisar, off the Ahmedabad road, I
saw a woman and child sleeping inside a
hut, where a man was sleeping outside. I
hit the man on the head, and he got up
shouting. I hit him again till he died.
The girl also started shouting and I ran
“On the Malad side of the Ahmedabad road,
I saw a hamlet and some stables. A
bearded Muslim was sleeping on a cot.
The door of the hamlet was not locked. I
hit him on the way in and he died on the
spot. I took his wristwatch and when I
saw some money in his jhabba
which was hanging inside, I put the
jhabba in my bag. I also took some
groundnuts in a bottle, an umbrella, and
a torch. Once home, I removed the money
from the jhabba and tore it to
“A few days later I saw a hut in the
same area. I peeped inside and saw a
woman, and a child. She was wearing a
gold necklace. I kept watch until one
day I found her sleeping and her husband
beside her. I cut the string which
fastened the front door and then hit the
man with an iron rod until he died. The
woman and child were shouting and I hit
them both and killed them. I was
thinking of sleeping with the woman but
someone came and I ran away. The gold
necklace turned out to be imitation gold.
“I found a woman and two children
sleeping in a hut. I hit her twice or
thrice until she died. I removed her
cover and found that she was nude….”
This is too disturbing for me to pen
Raghav was suspected to be mad
Raman Raghav was examined by a Dr.
Patkar, a psychiatrist, who diagnosed
him as suffering from ‘chronic paranoid
schizophrenia.’ Dr. Master who had also
examined Raghav concluded that Raghav
After weighing all the pros and cons,
the additional sessions judge found
Raghav guilty of murder and because this
case was ‘unparalleled and unsurpassed
in the history of crime’, the penalty
given was death. Even though Raghav
himself did not appeal against this
sentence, this sentence had to be
‘confirmed’ by the High Court as per the
law. The High Court directed a panel of
three psychiatrists to examine the
convict. The psychiatrists found him of
‘unsound mind’ and thus Raghav’s death
sentence was held in abeyance. In the
meantime he was sent to Yerwada prison
and he remained under treatment at the
Central Institute of Mental Health and
Finally, under their judgement of 4th
August 1987, the court set aside the
death penalty and sentenced Raman Raghav
to imprisonment for life as they
believed that Raghav (who was showing no
signs of improvement under treatment)
Ramakant Kulkarni ends this interesting
14 page chapter with a news item that he
came across a few years after this
judgement: Raman Raghav, the dreaded
maniac who had terrorised Bombay by his
cold blooded nocturnal killings of
hutment dwellers twenty years ago, died
at Sassoon hospital. He had been
suffering from kidney trouble.’