Khadur Sahib road is a small town situated in the golden state of India, Punjab. On 18th April 2004, nine-year-old girls Diksha and Asha went missing. Diksha along with her cousin Asha was last seen playing with the rest of the children near their home at Khador Sahib road.
When the other kids were asked about their whereabouts, they did not seem to know anything, other than a man taking both of them with a promise of buying them a shuttlecock and racket. The children belonged to a migrant worker’s family.
A few weeks later, a dog sniffs out a decomposing human body next to the Sahib road bridge! Pedestrians were shocked and immediately informed the police. What awaited the police was not just one decomposing body, but three decomposing bodies of children. On further examination, it was revealed that the bodies belonged to Satish(male), Gudiya(female), and Diksha.
Just like Diksha, the Ranchore siblings, Satish Ranchore and Gudiya Ranchore went missing from the outskirts of Punjab on the same day. They were playing with their neighbor kid Shankar, who was missing too but the body was not found yet. The kids who died were nine years old. The Ranchore siblings too were migrant non-Punjabi kids.
Discovering three bodies from two different cases at the same location helped police confirm that there is a serial killer on the loose.
Post mortem report of Diksha revealed that she had died due to heavy ”neurogenic shock” because of injuries to her private parts. Satish and Gudiya however was a subject of the murderer’s necrophilic act. Satish was pretty fair when it comes to gender equality because irrespective of the gender he was raped as well.
The state, in fact, the whole country, was in a panic. With serial killers and rapists out there parents were worried to send their children to school alone. However, it did not stop with the three of them. Within days, three more bodies were recovered from Amritsar, including two girls and a boy.
All of them were below ten years and migrants from different states. Two of them were raped to death and the boy was sodomized post-death and the series continued. As the months passed more children went missing or ended up dead.
The Missing Kids
It was two months since the death of the Diksha and Ranchore siblings, but they still did not find Asha and Shankar. After a week in Haryana, a construction worker found a girl who was starving to death. He took her to a hotel, got her food and water, and dropped her at Haryana police station.
The constable in charge found her and immediately informed Punjab police that Asha was found. After a lot of questioning and counseling sessions, the police could not get many details about the killer. However, as per the information on his appearance and character traits given by her, a special investigation team(SIT) analyzed the modus operandi and prepared a sketch of the killer including his traits.
Within seven months, 23 non-Punjabi children were missing from Punjab. Imposing a mere question of safety of migrant families. The case terrorized everybody.
On 29th, October 2004, police identified a bicyclist who resembled the sketch created by SIT and cornered him. He had a bag of toffees with him strangled on the bicycle handle. They took him in for questioning. However, upon reaching the police station he confessed to having committed all the twenty-three murders.
The Criminal Mind Behind an Innocent Face
Darbara Singh is believed to be born around the year 1940 or 1960, in Jallupur Khera, Amritsar district in India(Now Amritsar district in Punjab, India). He grew up to be an intelligent child but he faced discrimination related to caste and migrant exceptions under Indian educational law while enrolling for college.
Somehow in every phase of his life, he constantly got into trouble due to a non-Punjabi or more precisely a migrant worker, as a result of which he developed an intense hatred towards migrants.
In his late twenties, he joined Mechanical Engineering Services(MES), which was a unit of the Indian Armed Forces at Kapurthala. He was a disciplined person who was accidentally pulled into politics created by his senior officer who unfortunately was a migrant too. Singh was arrested within two months for throwing a hand grenade at the senior officer’s house starting a never-ending crime career.
Modus Operandi of Darbara Singh’s Crimes
With his innocent and pseudo-genuine-looking face, Singh managed to grab the attention of children. He would lure them by offering sweets, samosas, sugarcane juice, crackers, and toys or sports goods to play with.
The kids who seemed interested in whatever he was offering would be taken to any secluded place nearby and they were further killed, usually by slitting their throats. Most of the time he preferred to rape them after killing them as they won’t be able to shriek or make noises. He preferred to lure kids between 10 am-12:30 Pm when migrant workers used to go to work.
Arrest and Trial
Darbara Singh confessed to having targeted twenty-three children, most of them below the age of ten. However, he could successfully kill only seventeen of them as he was arrested by then. Without the slightest remorse, he stated that “I was in my complete senses while I killed them, I was not drunk. However I did celebrate my killings with enough liquor and good food”.
Singh soon was charged with 18 cases of abduction, rape, and murder. By the end of 2007, he was acquitted in three cases due to a lack of sufficient evidence to prove his direct connection to the crime. During the trial, Asha and two other cousins of hers identified him at the court.
On January 7, 2008, Judge awarded him with a death sentence for the murder of Diksha and Khushdeep conducted in February and August 2004 respectively. A day after the death sentence was given, he was shifted from Jalandhar jail to Patiala jail for hanging,
The End of Darbara Singh
In the year 2018, Darbara Singh was moved to Government Rajendra Hospital in Patiala on 2 June, due to lung disease. He died on 6 June 2018. His family refused to claim his body due to the immense amount of crime he had committed, hence the police cremated him in the public cremation ground in Amritsar.