New Delhi: The main accused of the Kerala human sacrifice case, Mohammed Shafi or Rasheed has been described by police as a sexual pervert and a criminal with a habit of causing injury to the genitals of his female victims.
Firstpost has tried to get inside the mind of this alleged serial killer, who possibly also cannibalised his victims.
Renowned criminal psychologist, psychotherapist, author and speaker Dr Rajat Mitra, who featured in the OTT series ‘Indian Predator: The Diary of a Serial Killer’, sheds light into the dark recesses of Mohammed Shafi.
Dr Mitra holds a PhD in Psychology, is a social entrepreneur and is currently professor of forensic science and psychology at the Amity University. In the Netflix series ‘Indian Predator: The Diary of a Serial Killer’, Dr Mitra had deconstructed the criminal mind of the Raja Kolandar, one of the most dreaded serial killers of all times in India.
Out of sync with reality; enjoying the act
“It is very much possible for people like Shafi and Raja Kolandar, to some extent, to be out of touch with reality. To eat human flesh and do things as crazy as that, somewhere they reach almost the edge of reality and start believing in fantasy,” says Dr Mitra.
“The thing is that, for example, the cutting of the body parts and eating, becomes their bonafide signature in the crime. This is the specific way in which they, in their individual way, enjoyed the crime,” Dr Mitra adds.
Getting high on crime
“If you ask me why they did, I would say they enjoyed doing it. It was something that gave them a sense of high, a sense of purpose,” he said.
“So, that is the signature.”
What goes inside their mind?
Dr Mitra says such depraved criminals are detached from reality, otherwise, they could not have committed such a crime.
“Detachment for such people is something in philosophy called ‘praecox’: the person in front of you feels like a wall or an object, and you feel completely detached and stony,” Mitra says.
“‘Tantra’ is a very developed philosophy in itself. These people call themselves ‘tantrics’, but I don’t think they know anything even basic about ‘Tantra’ philosophy. What they do is, they advertise themselves as ‘tantrics’, they play with people’s feelings and the gullibility of it and take advantage of it,” Dr Mitra feels.
Dr Mitra says he has interrogated several ‘tantrics’ during his work with the police. “None of them I found who were in anyway aware of ‘Tantric’ philosophy. It is not like they do ‘tantra sadhna’ or have developed their expertise or anything. They are in my opinion criminals who exploit people.”
Trapping victims, clients through a different charm
“There are two qualities that characterise such criminals and predators: one, they are very seductive and charming; charming not in terms of looks, but in sense of being persuasive, influencing, and understanding your vulnerability. They are very good in that,” says Dr Mitra.
“Their second quality is that they form a bond with a vulnerable and gullible person very easily,” Says Dr Mitra.
The renowned criminal psychologist says these criminals are actually conning them, taking advantage of their vulnerability.
Parallels of Kerala human sacrifice case
Dr. Mitra recounts a West Delhi case of rape and murder of two minor girls by a so-called ‘tantric’. He says, there was a family that was going through financial trouble for which they consulted a ‘tantric’. The tantric allegedly assaulted their two girls sexually and later killed them. This happened in one room, while the parents performed a ‘havan’ in another.
After his arrest, Dr Mitra examined the accused. He confessed to have told the parents that the two girls are under influence of an evil ‘atma’ (soul) and in order to purify their souls, two ‘nishpaap’ (innocent) souls are required to perform a six-hour ‘havan’.
“The accused molded the parents mind in such a way that they handed over their 13-year-old and 11-year-old daughters to him. The tantric after raping and killing the girls absconded and the parents found dead bodies hours later after the ‘havan’ was finished,” says Dr Mitra.
After his arrest, Delhi Police had asked Dr Mitra to examine the accused in order to determine if he was psychotic.
“He was not psychotic, he was very much in touch with reality, and this wasn’t his first murder,” Dr Mitra reminisced.
He says serial killers are very organised in their crimes in the sense that they plan the crime very methodically and thoroughly.
Why Mohammed Shafi knifed women’s private parts, cut their breasts, probably ate them?
Another renowned criminal psychologist and victimologist Anuja Kapur told Firstpost she has a different take.
Anuja Kapur holds a diploma in victimology and forensic sciences, also founded NGO ‘Nirbhaya Ek Shakti’.
Kapur says that one has to understand that cannibalism is not a new phenomenon, it is a historical reality. There has been no time in history when cannibalism has not been there.
“Even in ice age remains, archaeologists saw signs of cannibalism after looking at the bones that were found”.
Paraphilia: abnormal sexual desires
Kapur maintains the criminal behaviour that leads to cannibalism originates from a psychological disorder called ‘paraphilia’ (a condition characterised by abnormal sexual desires). It is an abnormal behaviour.
To understand why a criminal such as Mohammed Shafi mutilates the private parts of a woman, we need to first see what he actually does.
Eating is owning
“I have seen many cases like Shafi’s. Generally, criminals who cannibalise their victims, target either brains, breasts or private parts. They eat it in an effort to make them their own, or to feel a sense of ownership on them,” she says.
“Such behaviour arises in those who have either been sexually harassed in childhood or witnessed violence done by an older person of the opposite gender,” says Kapur.
“Even in the Kerala human sacrifice case, we will realise that Shafi’s grievance was towards women. Apart from the two women, who he sacrificed for the couple, there was one more woman he killed on the same pattern with the help of his girlfriend,” says Kapur, adding Shafi or Rasheed must have been degraded by a particular gender in his childhood.