Delhi police on Tuesday finally lifted the lid off the 'monkey man' mystery when an expert committee's report on the phenomenon was made public.
The report, submitted to Joint Commissioner Police (New Delhi range) Suresh Roy, ruled out the involvement of a monkey or any animal in the 'monkey man' mystery.
The committee, which had among its members experts from the National Institute of Human Behaviour (NIHB) and Central Forensic Laboratory (CFL), analysed the personality, socio-economic and psychological profiles of the victims.
It concluded that the phenomenon could be attributed to stress, psychiatric disorders, alcohol-related illnesses and mental retardation of the people.
Most of the cases of 'monkey man' sightings and attacks were from areas housing people from the lower strata of society.
Dr Desai, a NIHB expert, noted in the report that 'people with high sensitivity were the victims of the hysteria'.
Roy said that the report ruled out the involvement of any gangsters or Pakistan's Inter Services
Intelligence (ISI). Initially, police suspected the 'monkey man' to be the handiwork of gangsters and the Commissioner of Police Ajay Raj Sharma had even announced a reward for catching them.
"We thought it was an orchestrated affair. A team was constituted under ACP Rajeev Ranjan on 17th May and policemen were deployed in the areas where the 'monkey man' had been sighted to gain the confidence of the people," Roy said.
Next, the police roped in doctors, psychiatrists and forensic experts to examine the victims and question them to understand the phenomenon. This revealed that the injuries were minor ones and not made by a monkey or any animal.
"Forensic experts who visited the sites where the attacks had allegedly taken place also failed to come up with any clues," Roy said.
The 'monkey menace' started in Sahibabad in Ghaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh. Two weeks later, on May 10th, the first incident of attack by a 'monkey man' was reported from Delhi.
Subsequently, the police received 379 calls about monkey man sightings and attacks out of which 303 turned out to be bogus.
In the hysteria that followed, 70 persons - 60 male and 10 female - were injured. In one case, Raghunath Pathak of north-east Delhi was bitten by his brother.
However, the expert committee's report states that 90% of the injuries were simple blunt injuries.
"People had started 'imagining things' and rumour mongering added fuel to fire. The number of phone calls came down drastically after the police started patrolling the affected areas. The last call the police received was on 20th of May," Roy said.
The media's extensive coverage of the alleged 'menace' partly contributed to the endurance of the hysteria, the committee noted.
It commended the police for putting the rumour mongers out of business and bringing the situation under control before things got out of hand.
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