Koli, Pandher get death for Nithari killing (Lead)

February 13th, 2009 - 5:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Ghaziabad, Feb 13 (IANS) Punjab businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surendra Koli were Friday sentenced to death for raping and killing 14-year-old Rimpa Haldar of Nithari village near here four years ago.
The courtroom was packed with relatives of the 19 victims of what have come to be known collectively as the Nithari killings, the series of gruesome murders, rapes and cannibalism that shocked the nation with their overtones of sexual abuse, when Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge Rama Jain pronounced her sentence.

Of the 19 cases of abduction, rape and murder of four women and 15 children, mostly girls, the CBI has filed chargesheets in 16 cases. All the cases are being heard separately and while Koli has been charged with rape, abduction and murder in all the cases, Pandher is co-accused in only six cases.

Pandher, 55, dressed in a front-open black and grey tartan sweater, looked dejected and resigned to his fate. It was behind his villa in suburban Noida, not far from national capital, that the body parts of the 19 victims were found in December 2006.

His wife Devinder Kaur and son Karandeep were present as the death sentence was pronounced. “Don’t worry, we’ll appeal to a higher court,” Devinder told her husband and tried to hug him before police whisked him away.

“Although my father said ‘let me die’, we will be filing an appeal in the high court,” Karandeep told reporters.

A monkey cap covered most of Koli’s face. However, the black cap was pulled down by police, probably for the cameras, and Koli seemed ready to burst into tears.

For Rimpa’s father Anil Haldar, an autorickshaw driver who has lived with the knowledge that his daughter was sexually abused and cannibalised, the ruling was some sort of vindication.

“I am really happy and both should be hanged. Other children in the country will be safe now,” Haldar said.

In the first verdict in the Nithari killings, the special judge had Thursday convicted Pandher and Koli.

On Friday, she awarded Koli and Pandher

capital punishment and Rs.50,000 penalty for murder; life imprisonment and Rs.20,000 for kidnapping; seven years in jail and Rs.20,000 each for sexual assault, tampering with evidence and attempt to commit an offence.

The CBI had earlier Friday asked the court to sentence Koli to death but were silent on Pandher.

The CBI in its chargesheet in the gruesome murder of Haldar in May 2007 had exonerated Pandher of abduction, rape and murder. The chargesheet stated that Haldar was strangled and then cut to pieces by Koli with two kitchen knives and an axe four years ago. It said also said Koli was suffering from necrophilia (urge to have sex with a corpse) and necrophagia (urge to eat the flesh of a body).

Two months later, however, the court reprimanded the investigating agency and Pandher was made co-accused with Koli, 38.

A jubilant Khalid Khan, who is representing the Nithari victims, said the verdict was a slap in the face of the CBI.

“It’s a big defeat for the CBI… The investigation agency tried to save Pandher. It needs to do self-introspection and change its investigation process,” he told reporters.

“We are very hopeful that in other cases Pandher will be awarded a similar sentence. Our faith in the Indian judiciary has strengthened.”

Koli and Pandher were arrested on Dec 29, 2006, after police found 15 skulls outside the businessman’s bungalow in Noida. The D-5 house in Sector 31, is next to Nithari village.

Subsequently, more bones were found in the drain behind the bungalow. Eventually, investigations revealed that the remains belonged to four women and 15 children who had been raped, killed and mutilated.

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