Thuggee – Mass Murdering Thieves Of India

The Thuggee gave us the English word “thug” and it’s easy to see why: They strangled and robbed millions of people and seemed unstoppable.

The eventual downfall of these terrifying gangs was thanks to the British who finally dissected their methods. They recorded times, locations, routes and circumstances and built up an accurate picture of how the Thuggee conducted business. One of the main players in their downfall was William Henry-Sleeman (pictured below) a Cornish civil servant who was based in India at the time. (As an aside Sleeman was also the earliest discoverer of dinosaur fossils in Asia and bang in to phrenology. Interesting chap.)

Thuggee - India - William-Henry-Sleeman

The Brits disseminated reports country-wide, and once people were aware of the Thuggee’s methods, their reliance on surprise was destroyed. Travellers were now much more vigilant to strangers en route. A police force and tribunals were implemented to help track and condemn criminals and something called the King’s evidence was set up which was basically a programme to encourage Thuggee to snitch on their colleagues for cash.

It took a few long years to finally stamp out the Thuggee’s reign of hidden terror. The British claimed their victory and used the eradication of the gangs to further tighten their strangle hold on the infrastructure of India. Trust the Brits to turn something positive into a weapon. Oh well, at least travellers were more safe I guess.

☛ More History: Geronimo — The Man, The Legend, The Warrior

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