Netflix’s Indian Predator: Diary of a Serial Killer true-crime docuseries opens with a news report about police finding the dead body of a young man. Authorities said that the victim’s “head and private parts were mutilated” and all of his clothing had been removed. The man they believed to be responsible was Raja Kolander (born Ram Niranjan), who they later accused of committing 14 murders, in addition to cannibalism. Speaking to the Indian Predator filmmakers more than 20 years later, however, Kolander maintained his innocence.
The case dates back to December 2000 when local journalist Dhirendra Singh went missing in Uttar Pradesh. During their investigation, police tracked Singh’s mobile phone and found a call was made to a landline owned by Kolander and his wife, Phoolan Devi. After their leads took them to a Naini farmhouse, authorities discovered a diary, which included graphic details of Kolander’s alleged cannibalism, in addition to various skulls and bones.
According to various reports, Kolander would shoot his victims and then cut their bodies into several pieces. He’s then said to have cooked and eaten some of the body parts, particularly the brains, as he reportedly believed he’d absorb their knowledge and would keep the skulls as trophies. (Multiple members of his family insisted in the Netflix doc that claims of Kolander boiling and consuming human brains were untrue.) Based on Kolander’s diary, police believed he was responsible for at least 14 murders.
While he was on trial, sufficient evidence was presented to convict Kolander and his brother-in-law, Vakshraj Kol, of Singh’s murder. The narrative the prosecution presented was that the two men killed the journalist to prevent him from reporting on Kolander’s illegal car trade. However, charges of cannibalism against Kolander were never proven in court. After more than a decade of incarceration, Kolander and Kol were eventually sentenced to life in prison in 2012.
“These people have pinned on me, not one, but 14 murders. All unsolved murders in Uttar Pradesh were heaped upon me,” Kolander, who was ultimately convicted of three homicides, claimed in Indian Predator. “I’ve been saying that I’m innocent. I never issued a statement. The police are twisting the facts as they see fit. But nobody listened. They conspired against me. They claimed I went on a killing spree and made the revelations so abruptly.”
The Netflix doc’s epilogue revealed that Kolander, his brother-in-law, and his wife are all serving life sentences in jail. He’s challenged his convictions in upper courts, however, and his appeals are still ongoing. “It doesn’t matter to me now whether I am released or not,” he said in the three-part series. “The allegations have been made, and when the verdict is finally reached [following appeals], I will get out. My spirituality is there for me anyway. It doesn’t make any difference to me whether I am released from prison or not.”