In April 2001, in the Indian capital region of Delhi, a rash of attacks by a supposed monkey-man creature were reported.
What would quickly escalate into a widespread phenomenon began with an isolated incident on 5th April. Anil Gopal reported to police being attacked by a monkey whilst asleep on his terrace in the early hours of the morning. 1
For two weeks there were no further reports, then, on 18th April, a second report was made. Once again a resident complained of being attacked in the early morning whilst sleeping on their terrace.
From that point onwards, reports of people being viciously attacked in the same manner poured in. On 19th April, police were called to investigate the attack of yet another sleeping man, who spent three weeks incapacitated at home because of his injuries. Even the police themselves experienced the attacks, when a wireless operator was attacked at the police station. 2
Whatever the creature was it was vicious and could move quickly. One witness reported seeing the beast jump twenty feet across terraces with ease.3
The increasing number of reports and rising public panic prompted the police to start a separate register of monkey attacks in order to be better able to track the incidents.4
Hundreds of people came forward claiming to have seen the creature, and a variety of different descriptions emerged.
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According to one witness, the creature was gorilla-like with a “very big” back. Another described the attacker as having gleaming bulbs on his otherwise dark, black body. 5
In a different variant, the monkey man was described as being about four feet tall, covered in black hair, with glowing red eyes, a metal helmet, metal claws, and three buttons on its chest. According to some others, the monkey man even had the ability to turn into a cat after attacking. 6
Based on such reports, Delhi police released a sketch of the alleged attacker.
Whilst monkey man reports were numerous in April, it was in the month of May that attacks by the creature began to escalate. For many nights, hospitals were overwhelmed by dozens of patients claiming to be suffering from injuries inflicted by the monkey man. Terrified, local residents in the areas where these attacks were most prevalent organised night-time vigils, in an attempt to catch the elusive assailant. The police even put out a 50,000 rupee reward for any information on the monster.7
For all of this, on Monday 14th May the monkey man not only struck again, but with seeming vengeance. Over 50 places reported sightings of the monkey man at once, with 16 people injured. It was reported that east and north-east Delhi, where the attacks were concentrated, were placed under siege by a large police operation with the intention of capturing the assailant – to no avail. 8
If it had not been considered so already, the situation was by now out of control. Not only that, it was endangering lives, not just because of the supposed monkey man inflicted injuries, but by panic, with at least two people dying whilst attempting to flee during a perceived attack. 9
With many determined to put a name to the attacker, rational speculation began to circulate that eyewitnesses were merely describing a normal monkey and that there was nothing peculiar about the case. Yet, the director of the National Zoological Gardens told reporters that could not be possible.
“It cannot be a monkey as suspected, because they do not have the height attributed to the attacker by eyewitnesses,” 10
The repeated, unprovoked violence of the attacks also led many to conclude that an animal could not be responsible. 11
A victim with bite marks from the creature was examined by a dentist at the request of police, who determined that the bites were “not human”. 12
The only explanations left were trickery of some sort or a genuine mysterious creature attacking people. However, finding the truth of the matter proved to be impossible, with a concrete explanation never being attained. In time the mysterious attacks decreased and eventually faded away from Delhi altogether. Strangely, reports of the monkey man reappeared a year later in other parts of India. Yet, once again, an explanation proved elusive. Now, the incident has faded away altogether, relegated by sceptics to the realm of mass hysteria and legend.13
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