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The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Many will not feel safe until they know the monkeyman is securely behind bars"
 real 56k

Friday, 18 May, 2001, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Delhi vigilantes hunt 'monkey-man'
A woman shows her scratches
Many believe the 'monkeyman' is a case of mass self-delusion
Vigilante mobs have stepped up patrols in the Indian capital Delhi on the trail of a mysterious "monkey-man", whose fierce attacks have caused panic in the city.


To rid the people of Delhi from the menace of this mysterious monkey-man, we will hold a freedom-from-monkey-man prayer

Hindu priests
Residents and groups of young men armed with clubs, sticks and knives are walking the streets, flouting police orders against vigilante groups.

An extremist Hindu organisation, Shiv Sena, believes the "monkey-man" is a sinister plot hatched by Pakistan and has deployed scores of activists armed with swords and tridents.

A television news report said that in one case a frenzied mob of around 150 people caught and beat a man in the east of the city, only to discover that he was an innocent bystander.

Attacks

The attacker, which is described as part man, part monkey, has apparently struck in 65 locations and has led to the deaths of at least three people.


It could be a number of mischief-makers who have formed a small gang

Joint commissioner of Police
Police say they have been flooded with panic calls, not all of which are genuine.

The attacks have taken place at night, and have targeted people sleeping on the roofs of their houses to escape the summer heat.

The Delhi police have formed a special team to apprehend the shadowy attacker.

Prayers

They also offered a reward of 50,000 rupees ($1,063) for information leading to the capture of the "monkey-man", which they now believe is not an animal.

"It's definitely not one person," Joint Commissioner of Police Suresh Roy said.

"Events seem to be happening at different places at the same time so it could be a number of mischief-makers who have formed a small gang."

A child being allegedly attacked by a 'monkeyman'
Many Delhi residents are terrified
Meanwhile, a team of Hindu priests said it would organise special prayers on Saturday to appease the elusive creature.

"To rid the people of Delhi from the menace of this mysterious monkey-man, we will hold a freedom-from-monkey-man prayer," the group said in a statement.

The Indian Rationalists Association has dismissed the "monkey-man" as a case of a mass self-delusion.

The association said the bites and scratches could be self-inflicted.

"It is a well-known phenomenon in psychiatry that people with a pathological desire for attention inflict themselves with wounds or strange marks on their body," the association said in a statement.

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See also:

17 May 01 | South Asia
Monkey mystery baffles Delhi
15 May 01 | South Asia
Mysterious 'man-monkey' strikes Delhi
09 Jan 01 | South Asia
Monkeys invade Delhi government
14 Apr 00 | South Asia
Monkeys create havoc in Delhi
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