In the opening scene of Indian Predator: Murder in a Courtroom, a group of women resolutely march on as saris hung on clotheslines flutter in the wind. The juxtaposition is fascinating, for unlike the gently swaying garments, there is no unsteadiness in the women who walk on armed with knives, sickles, hammers and stones.
The object of their anger is Bharat Kalicharan, better known as Akku Yadav, their neighbour in Kasturba Nagar slum, Nagpur. Yadav had allegedly raped 40 women, beaten up countless men and created terror in the area.
Yadav is bludgeoned to death in a court room in the first few minutes of the show. We see his bloodied body, but not his face. The defiant anger on his face is revealed only in the final minutes of the series.
Yadav’s reign of terror lasted from 1999 to 2004. One of his earliest victims was a woman who had donated blood to him. Yadav had paid her back by raping, murdering and mutilating her. It is a scene that the audience is not shown, but in its telling and re-telling it is harrowing. Just as is the description of his rape of a seven-months pregnant woman.
Yadav’s stories are told by his victims, witnesses, activists and journalists. The voice of the police is missing, but their ineptness is duly conveyed. No attention was paid to the first couple who dared to approach the police to report his crime. When the community mounted a vigil to nab him and requested the help of the police, they were told to “just catch him and we will do the rest”.
For those who have watched the earlier seasons of Indian Predator, specifically the second installment which featured serial killer Raja Kolander, the one gap in this series might be a sociopsychological explanation for Yadav’s deeds. In the case of Kolander, for instance, there is a fascinating insight about the loss of tribal identity and the search for a new one. And of course, Kolander himself gives his version of events. In Yadav’s case, we know nothing of his background (except that he dropped out of class 7) and motives.
The central question in the series is whether mob justice is the answer. But as one victim says, when one is oppressed, suppressed and helpless, there is no way out. “We slayed a demon,” says a woman. If not them, then who?