Netflix’s Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi sheds light on a string of murders that took place in West Delhi from 1998 to 2007. The investigative docuseries, via dramatic recreations and interviews, chronicles the entire case and explores its psychological and social implications.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi opens with interviews from Police officials explaining the first discovery of a dead body outside Tihar Jail on October 20, 2006.
It was butchered, tied up, wrapped and kept inside a basket that was left outside the prison’s gate no. 3 accompanied by a letter. The letter contained obscene language targeted at the police and contained a threat to send in more bodies.
The narrative further explains how two more bodies were discovered in April and May of 2007 which prompted a stringent investigation, leading to the arrest of the serial killer, Chandrakant Jha.
Over the course of its three episodes, the docuseries delves into the motives and mindset of Jha — a father of five daughters — who is a resident of Ghosai village in Bihar’s Madhepura district.
According to experts, his life experiences prompted him to turn into the monster who ended up murdering several people and was finally arrested in 2007.
He also developed a certain disdain for the police due to mistreatment in jail during the late ’90s and became a threat to anyone he interacted with.
Residents of his village also come up with shocking details in their accounts which have never been ousted before the authorities. Let’s dive deeper into the burning questions from the series that give this grueling case some well deserved lime light.
Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi explained in detail:
Why did Jha kill people?
As per information divulged in the series, Jha grew up with five brothers under the care of parents who weren’t much interested in looking after for their kids. He developed a sense of hatred towards them and moved to Delhi in search of work in 1990.
He worked as a labourer in Azadpur Mandi (Asia’s largest fruits and vegetables wholesale market) where he once got into a tussle with a supervisor who demanded a piece from the workers’ wages.
Jha refused to pay and during a confrontation, accidentally cut the superior’s hand with a knife used for chopping vegetables. He then had a false case filed against him which led to him and his wife (who was not even involved) being jailed.
This led to Jha actually murdering that supervisor (named Mangal) for which he was imprisoned in 1998. He was acquitted due to lack of evidence and set free in 2002.
Experts explain that his time in Tihar jail during those four years was torturous and led to him developing a fierce hatred for the police. Furthermore, a socially, economically, and emotionally deprived life triggered a thirst for violence inside him which led to more murders.
In his confession, Jha mentioned that the people he killed had certain habits or personality traits which he did not deem fit enough to exist. His convoluted view of the world was confirmed by his list of victims which featured close associates.
He did not go looking for people to murder, he just disposed off the ones in his circle who he thought did not deserve to live.
In addition, in one of the letters he sent with a body, he stated that if he didn’t kill seven to eight people in a year, he felt like he’s going insane.
With this twisted mindset, his aim was to sensationalize the incompetence of the authorities who had, according to him, done him wrong.
How did he taunt the police?
The cat & mouse game first began on October 20, 2006 after Jha called Tihar Jail from a phone booth and told them about dumping a corpse outside gate no. 3.
The body did not have a head, was tied up and completely covered inside a basket. The letter that accompanied it had several obscenities and threatened more killings. Jha also challenged the cops to try and catch them if they had the guts.
This related to another body that was found outside the jail in 2003, making the authorities wonder that it might be the same person who is responsible.
As no Missing Persons Report was found in the area’s police station, the case seemed difficult to crack because the body was unidentifiable. Jha called again and spoke to a senior officer, saying that he dumped the body outside that specific gate due to Head Constable Balbir being stationed there.
He added that Balbir tortured him during his stint in jail and he intends to torture him back. The initial investigations went cold after a while but another body was found outside the jail on April 25, 2007. This one too had its head missing along with all the limbs and genitals.
There was no letter but the authorities got more tips that various parts of the body have been found near Tis Hazari Court. The probe ramped up but Jha dumped another body within a month.
The third body was discovered on May 18, 2007. Another (longer) letter was attached to it and touched upon the previous two killings as well. Jha demanded a prize be put on his head and also confessed about his need to kill people to stay sane.
How was he arrested?
After the first body was discovered, the police traced Jha’s incoming phone calls to a nearby phone booth. The owner of that shop mentioned that only one person had called since morning and his skin was slightly darker in colour.
From the language used in the letter, they also deciphered that he is from Bihar. The investigations then became cold as there was complaint in nearby police stations.
The team did use Balbir’s old posting in jail no.3 as a reference to take out a list of convicts who he might have interacted with during his time and who fit the initial description of a young man from Bihar. Unfortunately, nothing came from it.
After the second body was found, the pressure mounted but still there were no concrete leads. It is when the third corpse was discovered in less than a month from the second, that the investigating team turned to their network of informers.
The investigators fortunately connected these string of murders to the one in 1998 in which the body’s limbs and head were chopped off as well. Furthermore, an informer’s tip about a man matching the police’s description led them to a doctor in Azadpur Mandi.
The doctor divulged information about the serial killer and revealed his name to the police. He also confessed that Jha had once threatened to kill his brother-in-law.
Jha was supposed to come for a doctor’s visit that day but the police asked him to postpone it to the next in hopes of nabbing him. However, he never showed up.
They checked the doctor’s call records and found a number that led them to a locality named Alipur. Also, the brother-in-law who had been threatened by Jha revealed that he owned a cart with a motor fitted underneath it.
One of the cops noticed this vehicle and found Jha inside the house it was parked in front of.
What all did Jha confess to?
Jha’s arrest was a major step in the case. After the investigation and arrest, the next step was a confession with conclusive evidence. It is well known that a statement recorded in front of the police is not admissible in court unless it leads to the discovery of discernable proof.
Firstly, he confirmed his name and the place of his birth — Ghosai village — and went on narrate the story leading up to Mangal’s murder in 1998. He added that he kept his children and wife separately and himself lived in Haiderpur where he killed more people.
He then told the police about his pattern of killing, stating that he befriended his victims, treated them like family until something about all of them ticked him off and he eliminated them.
The first body was of a man named Anil Mandal who used to spend Jha’s money and took his daughter out despite his rejection. So under the pretext of spending time at his place, Jha tied him up and killed him.
He then followed the murder by chopping up body parts and scattering them across the city. He mentioned that he beheaded the victims and tossed the head into the Yamuna river as a form of redemption.
The second body discovered was of a man named Upender who had lost his job and Jha tried to help him get back on his feet. However, due to his sleazy lifestyle, he ended becoming a victim too. The third man was Dalip who shattered Jha’s faith with his lies and the fact that he consumed meat.
The police managed to confirm a few other murders also that Jha admitted to have committed. These included Mangal’s murder in 1998, two killings in 2003 of men named Shekhar and Umesh, followed by a murder in 2005 of an associate named Guddu.
Finally, the police took him to the place where he disposed off the victims’ heads and found one skull. Then he also led them to his room in Haiderpur where knives, blood stains and more evidence was discovered.
What did residents of Ghosai village reveal?
Throughout the docuseries, various residents come on record to talk about Jha’s past and divulge stories that the police never knew. These include his violent past in the village which also involved some killings.
A few associates mention that Jha killed more than seven people before his imprisonment. He murdered an innocent man because of property disputes and even disposed off a gangster who attacked him in Delhi.
He was left for dead after being stabbed by the goon but managed to take himself to a doctor. He then took karate classes and hunted down the man who had tried to kill him.
Another resident reveals that during his early days in Delhi, a group of them used to rob stores to make a living. Jha was involved and tried to kill this man after he declined to rob more.
In addition, another Ghosai native, Bhidu Jadhav, reveals that he was invited by Jha to help him shift some furniture but found three men tied and gagged in his room in the early 2000s. There was a camera he owned which he used to click pictures of his victims.
Jadhav was about to be killed as well but asked Jha to feed him something first. As Jha left to get food, Jadhav freed the other men and they all ran for their lives as one of them grabbed the camera.
We also hear the account of a man named Ashok Shah, brother of the late Murli Shah (the man who had grabbed the camera). He explains that the album were never developed until his brother died and contains photos of all the people he killed or almost killed.
These photographs are new pieces of evidence in the case and according to experts, must be presented before the law to charge Jha with more crimes that were left unnoticed.
The residents also revealed that when Jha was being hunted, no one spoke up because they feared they’d be arrested too because of their presence in photographs or association with him.
What are the case’s conclusions?
The series features experts in law, sociology, journalism and psychology who discuss the causes and implications of this case. A major topic of discussion is the plight of migrant labourers who face deteriorating mental health and exploitation at the hands of the authorities due to their background.
This exploitation is touched upon in detail via interviews of the widow and son of Jha’s victim Anil Mandal. They share their plight as they talk about being mistreated by the police who did not reveal Mandal’s fate to them in hopes of getting bribes.
The son even goes on to say that he would have killed Jha in return had he known then he was responsible for his father’s death. This statement only cements the problem that creates more monsters out of victimhood.
Clinical Forensic Scientist, Dr. Shivarathna Lalit Vaya talks about the need to control the exploitative seeds of violence that people like Jha are imbued with.
It is planted in them due to their unfortunate bringing up but is nurtured only when they face extreme hardships and injustices.
After Jha was arrested there were no behavioural complaints against him. Furthermore, he even asked his appointed lawyer to give him Hindi law books as he wanted to study and prepare his own defense.
Dr. Vaya uses this development to discuss that people like Jha can turn overnight if they are helped in a controlled social environment.
She adds that this is possible by introducing a prosocial thinking, feeling, behaviour and value that can create a valid identity for him. Otherwise, even if such criminals are released, they won’t have any perspective or direction in life and end up committing crimes again.
Where is Jha now?
Out of all the murders Jha confessed to, he was only charged for the three bodies he dumped in front of Tihar Jail in ’06 and ’07. He was acquitted of all charges from the rest as his words weren’t conclusive proof.
He received a death penalty for two murders and life imprisonment for the third. However, after an appeal, his death penalty was converted into life imprisonment as well.
Due to his good behaviour, he did come out on parole for a while but is serving his sentence in Tihar Jail. Due to jail rules and restrictions, he does not appear in the documentary. An information note also reveals that his brother and nephew refused to comment.