If you’re a fan of Monstrum Athenaeum then you know we love bringing you cryptid stories from around the world. It’s our own, personal version of Anthony Bordain’s Parts Unknown except instead of bizarre cuisine; we serve up bizarre yet unexplainable stories. If this next story was a meal then we’d have to classify it as junk food – you know it’s not good for you but you just can’t stop eating it! Almost 15 years ago was the beginning of a bizarre series of human attacks taking place in the Indian capital of New Delhi by a creature named… the Monkey Man. Although not the best name (like Funyuns), this, still, unidentified creature managed to terrorize enough people that stories of its attacks are etched permanently into popular culture today.
It all began in May 2001 when the first reports were received of a strange monkey-like creature mysteriously appearing at night and randomly attacking people. Although various eye witness reports varied in minor differences, the creature was predominantly described as around four feet in stature and covered with thick black hair. This is where the story gets really good – witnesses overwhelmingly claimed the Monkey Man wore a metal helmet, wielded metal claws, and had glowing red eyes with three buttons on its chest. Some eye witness accounts claimed the creature had a vulpine snout and a few reports said the creature was actually around eight feet tall, able to leap from one building to another.
Almost immediately, theories started circulating about what species this creature was but since monkeys are a familiar sight in India, there was little chance witnesses mistook a normal mammal for something seemingly fantastical. A popular theory in certain circles proposed the creature might have been an avatar from the Hindu god Hanuman. There was even a theory the creature may have been an Indian Bigfoot.
As the attacks continued, the situation eventually escalated into a death when at least one person died falling from a building, fleeing in fear from the creature. Up until then, victims had only suffered minor cuts and scrapes. Police officially began to search for the creature and circulated possible sketches of the Monkey Man but were ultimately unsuccessful.
In Kanpur, Monkey Man sightings and attacks continued until February 2002. However, in New Delhi, something even more bizarre than a killer monkey with a metal helmet occurred. A strange mechanical machine with red and blue lights was sighted which oddly resembled a monkey but definitely was not animal in nature.
As expected, the authorities released press statements claiming the events were not paranormal and were likely either misidentification or mass hysteria. However, the facts hint at something more than this. On May 14th, 2001, there were fifty attacks reported and documented in the May 17th edition of The Australian. Notably, earlier that month a pregnant woman fell down the stairs after fleeing in fear from the creature after her neighbours saw the beast and warned her. On May 16th the police received 13 additional reports of the Monkey Man from the New Usmanpur area. By May 17th, so many reports were coming in from across the city that it would be difficult to attribute all of them to mass hysteria; the creature was obviously travelling quickly and across a wide area.
Other explanations were more political in nature; people unhappy with foreign intrusion claimed the “superstitious immigrants” living in these highly populated areas were frightening everyone with imaginary monster stories caused by their seemingly claustrophobic conditions. Certain factions in power obviously felt threatened and put forward speculation that the ‘anti-social elements’ were testing the New Delhi police with false reports. Ironically, the conspiracy theorists balanced them out by blaming the Pakistani intelligence agencies for the attacks. At the end of the day, are these ideas any less farfetched than the possibility an unidentified cryptid made its way into New Delhi, perhaps lost and scared – lashing out at the people it encountered?
While the creature behind the reports has never been caught or adequately documented (so far as we know), it is interesting to note some similarities of the Monkey Man to the Spring Heeled Jack stories from England which started as early as 1837 and are still reported today. Whilst not a monkey, this was a frightening figure that wore a helmet, had red glowing eyes, metal claws and terrorized the residents of London and Liverpool and, to date, was never apprehended by the authorities.
Is this really a new, unidentified cryptid or perhaps just a poor monkey on the wrong end of an experiment? What do you think?
Artwork by Mario Teodosio