When Madhya Pradesh police arrested him from Bhopal last week, they thought they had detained a tailor-turned-petty criminal. But soon the man confessed to having killed at least 33 truck drivers over the past eight years in his quest to “make more money”, police claimed on Sunday.

Not just that Aadesh Khambra, 48, claimed he had carried out contract killings too and had worked with more than half a dozen inter-state gangs.

Khambra was arrested two weeks ago near Bhopal, police officer Rahul Kumar Lodha said Wednesday.

“On August 12, a truck laden with 50 tonnes of iron rods left the Mandideep industrial area for Bhopal but it was reported missing. A private company lodged a complaint in this regard. Later, police found the body of the truck driver Makhan Singh in Bilkhiriya area and also recovered the empty truck from Ayodhya Nagar in Bhopal on August 15. Police arrested seven people, who sold and purchased the iron rods. The arrested persons told the police about Jaikaran Prajapati who in turn named Khambra as the brain behind the crime. Police arrested Khambra from Mandideep,” said Lodha.

Khambra told police he would befriend drivers in roadside eateries and slip drugs into their food so they would fall asleep, Lodha said. He would then drive their trucks to isolated areas, strangle them and their helpers, and dump the bodies in forests.

He and his accomplices would then sell the trucks and their goods, Lodha said.

Bhopal police has written to its counterparts in the other three states to get information about blind murder cases involving truck drivers and cleaners.

The state police also sent teams to Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and other parts of MP to track down the gangs with which Khambra was involved.

According to police, Khambra started out as a tailor in the Mandideep Industrial area, 25 km from Bhopal. In 2010, he came in contact with a gang from Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, and joined them for earning more money. Initially, his work was just to befriend truck drivers and invite them to a roadside liquor party. Later, he started killing the drivers and cleaners by giving them sedatives. He was arrested by the Nagpur police in 2014 but was released on bail, police said.

“Khambra told police that he used to get Rs 50,000 for every case. When he joined the gang, his motive was to earn money but a few years ago his son met with an accident and he had to take loans for his treatment. He got involved in more crimes to repay the debt, as per his confession,” said Lodha.

Other than truck drivers and cleaners, he also killed a man from Hoshangabad at the behest of a contractor who paid him Rs 25,000, police said.

The SP said the police were cross-checking all his claims.

Khambra’s family, which lives in a shanty in Mandideep, did not visit him on coming to know about his arrest.

“Initially, we didn’t think that Khambra was a serial killer given his calm and composed nature. But later, his revelations were shocking to us. He has no regret for what he has done. We are interrogating him with the help of a psychologist,” Bhopal (south) superintendent of police Rahul Lodha said.
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