33 Murders in 8 Years: Kingpin of Truck Driver Killing Gang Held
Nine members of a gang were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police last week for allegedly looting and killing 33 truck drivers and cleaners in various states.
Nine members of a gang were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police last week for allegedly looting and killing 33 truck drivers and cleaners in various states.(Photo altered by The Quint)

33 Murders in 8 Years: Kingpin of Truck Driver Killing Gang Held

Nine members of a gang were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police last week for allegedly looting and killing 33 truck drivers and cleaners in various states since 2010, PTI reported.

The state police had recently busted the inter-state gang which had been operational in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Odisha since 2010.

WHO ARE THE KILLERS?

Jaykaran Prajapati (30) and Adesh Khambra (50) – both arrested – are the kingpins of the gang. Prajapati is a resident of Bhopal while Khambra belongs to Mandideep industrial town near Bhopal.

Khambra worked as a tailor during the day. According to The Times of India, Khambra belongs to a family of refugees from Pakistan. One of his sons is a civic body employee.

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE OF THE KILLINGS?

The arrested gang members have so far "confessed" to have killed 33 truck drivers and cleaners in the last eight years with robbery as the motive.

"They used to sell off the stolen trucks in grey markets after killing the truck drivers," DIG, Bhopal, Dharmendra Choudhary told PTI.

According to TOI, Prajapati told the police that whenever the gang asked Khambra about the motive behind the murders, he would laugh it off saying he was giving them salvation.

“They are leading hard lives. I am giving them mukti, freeing them from the pain,” Khambra would say, as quoted by TOI.

Khambra was most likely influenced by another serial killer – Ashok Khambra – whom he called uncle. Ashok, accused of killing over 100 truck drivers, was nabbed in 2010 by the police. Ashok, while being brought to Bhopal in a train, drugged his police escort and is absconding since then, TOI reported.

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HOW WERE THE VICTIMS MURDERED?

Explaining the modus operandi, Choudhary said the gang members used to identify and befriend their target truck drivers and cleaners in their respective areas of operation.

"The accused would then offer drinks laced with sedatives to the truck drivers and cleaners. Once their targets were asleep, they used to kill them," he said.

While his gang looted the trucks, Khambra would strangle the drivers with a rope.

He would then strip them of all their clothing to prevent their identification and dump their bodies.

The accused sold parts of stolen trucks and other looted goods in various states, including Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra.

HOW DID THE POLICE NAB THE GANG?

Khambra was arrested from the forests of Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh by a female cop after being chased for three days, TOI reported. SP Bittu Sharma – a Taekwondo black belt and Asian Games medalist in judo nabbed Khambra at gunpoint.

SP Lodha Rahul Kumar, was heading the investigation in the recent murders of two truck drivers while Khambra was arrested.

WHAT WAS RECOVERED FROM THE ACCUSED?

Police have so far recovered a truck, some iron bars, medicines, food items and other material from the accused. Police have also seized a diary in which Prajapati and Khambra noted down the mobile numbers of those targeted by the gang, the DIG said.

The crimes were committed in Bhopal, Mandideep, Misrod, Bilkhiria, Hoshangabad and Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Sambalpur in Odisha, police added.

KHAMBRA’S KIN SHOCKED

Khambra’s wife and children, who had no knowledge of his actions other than his tailoring job, were shocked after the revelation.

“The last we saw of him was on 15 August, when he set off to Nagpur for a court hearing in Nagpur in an old case. We don’t know what to say,” Khambra’s elder son, Shubham, told TOI.

“He was a quiet man, well behaved. There is no way anyone will accept he has the blood of so many on his hands,” said a neighbour, as quoted by TOI.

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

Police have managed to crack most of the crimes while efforts are on to collect evidences in rest of the cases. "We have dispatched police teams to various locations for collecting evidence," Choudhary said.

Choudhary said the Madhya Pradesh Police has informed their counterparts in other states about the arrests. Many cold cases relating to the murders have been opened in other states.

All the nine accused have been remanded in police custody till 14 September, the officer said.

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(With inputs from PTI and The Times of India)

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