Urban murders: In India, there’s little understanding of the psychology of killers

This is the second in a two-part series about the rising incidence of urban murders, which looks at the psychological perspective. Read part one here. Death came at midnight. A nurse at St Stephen’s Hospital in north Delhi sounded the emergency alarm in the morning after she saw through a half glass door, the bloodied frame of Shashwat Pandey, a third-year Radiology intern. At the same time, the clock in the corridor sounded the 7 am bell. It was 25 August 2017. Pandey’s throat had been slit with a surgical blade, there were three stab wounds to his heart. Doctors who checked the body agreed death had been instantaneous. What was horrifying were the slit marks on Pandey's face, as if someone had carefully used a scalpel to make thin wounds to draw blood, an act described by Steven Griffiths in his debut novel, Diary of a Psychopath. The protagonist of the novel, a serial killer called Kevin Mason sliced the faces of his victims and watched them bleed to death. Pandey’s mother, on a visit to Delhi to meet her son, suffered a cardiac arrest when told about his murder. Investigators found the Griffiths novel mentioned repeatedly on the Facebook profile of Dr Suyash Gupta, the suspected killer, who had been threatening and harassing the victim. Gupta was seen on CCTV camera, entering the CT Scan room where Pandey was on duty and then leaving after an hour in a different set of clothes. He had earlier fought with Pandey, even attacked him with a knife because he felt the latter was 'ignoring' him. Gupta's obsession for Pandey, cops said, hovered towards the homosexual, with one of his numerous text messages to the victim reading: 'I want to be your slave, you my master'. “Dr Gupta’s Facebook profile had details about the book, and the way the killer attacked and murdered his victims. He stalked Dr Pandey for more than a year-and-a-half; numerous complaints were made and the hospital was on the verge of sacking him. But the murder took place before he could be sacked,” said Dr Shubhra Phillips, Dr Pandey's aunt. Gupta, a resident of Etah in Uttar Pradesh, is currently absconding. The police have issued look out notices, and also shared them on social media. Gupta’s parents, who run a clinic in Agra, were called for interrogation by the cops and they admitted wiring Rs 5,00,000 into their son’s account days before the crime took place. “We suspect he knew he had to escape after the murder. He withdrew Rs 4,50,000 from his account hours after the cash was wired by his father,” says Dr Phillips. Cops investigating the case say they are looking into the psychological state of a man's mind, as he commits a murder. They also agree the murder could have been averted if the hospital authorities had heeded the complaint lodged by the deceased's family, regarding Dr Gupta's threats to Dr Pandey. Worse, the police have now found that hospital authorities had forced Dr Pandey's family to withdraw the complaint against Dr Gupta, saying it would tarnish the name of the institution. “We are probing how Dr Gupta managed to enter the hospital if he was twice suspended from the department,” says Ranbir Singh, SHO of Subzi Mandi Police Station in north Delhi. In another recent incident, a woman in Kolkata was found hanged to death on the night of her first wedding anniversary. Just hours before, she had been out for dinner with her husband. Cops arrested the husband, Tanmay, after WhatsApp messages from the woman, Nandita, sent to a cousin surfaced. They included a photo of Nandita's bruised face, after she had been beaten by her husband. And what was the trigger? A washing machine, high-end television, Macbook, and an Apple watch that Tanmay wanted, and which Nandita's parents hadn't provided. He said he was 'stressed out' and 'under pressure' because unlike his colleagues, he didn't have these products. “In India, we are still in the dark about where this (behaviour) comes from,” said Dr Devlina Chakravarty, referring to the Nandita case. Psychologist Dr Suparna Sengupta agrees, saying India lags in research into urban murders, even mass or serial killers: “There have been some cases of MRIs and high levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and plunging levels of serotonin (being recorded). Now research has started into the limbic system, a primitive part of the brain that controls emotions and behaviour. But India, unlike in the West, has not worked on new medications which, in turn, would revolutionise psychiatric care for depression, even psychotics.” “Rarely is the psychology of such murders analysed and that is not good news,” says Dr Sengupta. In cases where the killer is also killed, cops and psychologists don't get a chance to analyse their behaviour. In some big cases in Delhi and Mumbai, however, cops — with help from doctors — have been developing the profiles of killers after they have been arrested, tried in the courts, and convicted for their crimes. Credit : FirstPost