Thuggery was a phenomenon very much in Vogue, both as a part of culture and livelihood in the India of the days prior to the British Raj. The Mughals and the Indian rulers who followed them were ineffectual in controlling this menace.
Thuggery involved waylaying and robbing passengers and travelers who traveled from Delhi to Calcutta. It was confined basically to the North and central part of India. The thugs were organized gangs who carried out their activities in the name of the Goddess Kali who is often referred to as the ‘dark mother’ and the Hindu triple goddess representing creation, preservation and destruction. It is a fact of history that these gangs also carried out ritual killings with the purported aim of pleasing the Goddess Kali. Thus they made the entire operation a complete travesty of Hindu thought and ethos. It is estimated that these gangs killed upwards of 30,000 travelers. It will not be wrong to say that no organized cult of killers has ever murdered as many people as the Thugs of Central India.