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5 Feb 2017

‘FB killers’ the new threat in town- They live dual life- Psychiatrist


Priyanka Dasgupta | TNN | Feb 5, 2017, KOLKATA: How does a person guilty of murdering his beloved manage to keep her alive in the virtual world? Such a question has been raised ever since news broke of Bankura's Akansha Sharma being allegedly strangled and entombed by partner Udayan Das. 
Das had kept Sharma's phone active and would regularly WhatsApp her family months after he had allegedly killed her last year. His behaviour has also brought back memories of the controversial Sheena Bora case where she too was kept 'alive' online much after her murder. 
Criminological research has identified these murderers as 'Facebook killers'.



Psychiatrist Dr Jairanjan Ram points out that people who indulge in such behaviour are not "psychotic" and are perfectly capable of carrying on with their normal lives. "These people lead dual lives. They suffer from personality disorders that might make them incapable of empathy, compassion and remorse. When such people commit a crime of passion, they scheme to put up a facade in the virtual world to ensure that they are not caught."

Singapore-based forensic psychiatrist Jaydip Sarkar, who had written a detailed report on Nithari serial killer Surinder Koli for legal purposes, had worked on a case where a man had killed his partner out of sexual jealousy in 2010. This man had then sent messages from Facebook claiming his partner had left him and gone abroad to live elsewhere with another man. This helped defuse friends' suspicion of him as the perpetrator. Sarkar pointed out that criminological research has identified six types of 'Facebook killers' based on their communication styles on social networking sites. These are emotional reactors, homicide informers, antagonists, fantasists, predators and imposters.


According to Sarkar, Das appears to have features of various types — predator (created a fake profile, identity and lifestyle), imposter (took on the identity of the victim) and is likely to be a fantasist as well (seemingly acting according to a script wherein he befriends, lures, and kills the victim). "His online identity and lifestyle smacks of a psychopathic cold-hearted killer who appears to use others for money or lust," Sarkar said. On being asked about the common traits of such imposter killers, Sarkar said, "There is usually a close relationship between the victim and perpetrator in most killings. The majority of the murders are committed at home."





Social theorist Ashis Nandy says such incidents are common in the west. "Our society is changing and we're hearing of such cases. This is an outcome of society taking advantage of anonymity."



Earlier on, people would insist on direct contact. They would physically go over or call up to find out if a person wasn't visible for a period of time. "But today, parents are fine if children communicate only over social media," Nandy said, adding: "Today, the number of such cases is low. We might have to pay dearly if we continue this way."

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