On the afternoon of 5 August 2015, I waited outside the court of Vinod Yadav, the Additional Sessions Judge at the district court for north-west Delhi, in Rohini. The doors opened at around 1 pm, and out came a seven-year-old boy, with one hand held by his mother and a juice box in the other. He was about three-feet tall, and had a deep scar across his neck.
I was allowed to read the boy’s transcribed statement, according to which, on 3 June 2014, three men—identified as Ravinder Kumar, Dharmender, and a juvenile—abducted him from his house and took him to an abandoned building, where Kumar raped him. Then, they shoved a piece of brick up his anus, slit his throat with a blade, and dumped him in the septic tank outside the building before daylight. Prior to losing consciousness, the child managed to tie his shirt around his neck to try and stem the bleeding. Despite his condition, he survived until the police came looking for him later that night, with Kumar in custody.
Kumar, a 24-year-old from Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, was first arrested last June, along with the said accomplices for the abduction, rape, and attempted murder of this child in Jain Nagar. The accused were granted bail on 20 May this year. Less than two months later on, 16 July, Kumar was arrested from his house in Sukhbir Nagar for the alleged rape and murder of a six-year-old girl, also in Jain Nagar. Kumar’s family has since moved to the nearby Utsav Vihar.
In the second case, Kumar was arrested on the basis of a driver’s license and transport papers found at the crime scene that belonged to Sunny, a bus operator from Sukhbir Nagar. Upon interrogation, Sunny claimed that, on the evening of 13 July 2015, Kumar—who worked for him—Kumar’s brother Sunil, and another juvenile accomplice had attacked him in Utsav Vihar and stolen his motorcycle, papers, phone and Rs 2000.
By this time, Kumar has already garnered a reputation as one of Delhi’s most notorious serial killers with the number of murders attributed to him varying from 15 to 40. During the course of my reporting, I discovered that uncertainty would become integral to his story. While the police claimed that they had confirmed Kumar’s guilt in 12 out of the 28 cases he reportedly confessed to, the metropolitan magistrate of the north-west district, Sushil Anuj Tyagi, announced during a hearing on 19 August at Rohini district court that the police had marked 15 cases against Kumar. Meanwhile, Kumar’s lawyer, Abhishek Shrivastav claimed that there were only three ongoing matters against his client: two from Samaypur Badli and Begumpur police stations at Rohini district court, and one from Sarai Rohilla police station at Tis Hazari district court.