Mysterious serial killings of beggars on Guwahati streets have left the city police in a tizzy. Four beggars have been killed since the first week of January.

Police are now exploring all angles - whether the killer is a psychopath or if the killings were carried out at the behest of a larger network whose motive is to create terror among beggars and force them to form an association to exploit them for profit.

Additional Superintendent of Police Debojit Deuri told The Hindu that the modus operandi in all the cases was similar. An inquest of the bodies revealed that the killer used a hard object when they were asleep on streets.

"It [the weapon] could be a grinding stone or a hard metallic object that can be easily gripped. The inquest also indicated that it was a single blow in all the cases and the victims did not get a chance to resist," he said. The investigation also revealed that all the four killings occurred between 3.30 a.m. and 5 a.m. He said the police have so far picked up three persons for questioning but their interrogation has not revealed much.

Moreover, it appeared to Mr. Deuri and other officials investigating the crime that in all the cases the victims were alone and sleeping in isolated locations. There are about 1,000 beggars in the city, about 500 of whom are concentrated in Panbazaar locality in the heart of the city. However, the number of people sleeping on streets is much more. They include rickshaw-pullers, street vendors and homeless people.

As a preventive measure, the police are asking beggars to sleep in groups. Many terrified beggars are now sleeping on railway platforms.