Two years after Nithari killings, first verdict awaited

December 28th, 2008 - 2:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Noida, Dec 28 (IANS) Two years after a businessman and his domestic help were accused of slaughtering several poor children and young women, a special court is set to pronounce the first verdict in the gruesome Nithari episode that shook India.Millions across the country and abroad were horrified as police on Dec 29, 2006, began uncovering the remains of 19 children and young women from a drain next to businessman Moninder Singh Pandher’s house in Nithari on the outskirts of the Indian capital.

Pandher and his help, Surinder Koli, have since been in jail. And the families of victims are desperately hoping that they will be brought to justice.

The first verdict to be pronounced by a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in the killings relates to the case of a 14-year-old victim, Rimpa Haldar.

“The arguments in the case of Rimpa Haldar will be completed in the first week of January. We (prosecution) have presented our case and now the defence is recording its final arguments,” Khalid Khan, advocate for families of the Nithari victims, told IANS.

“The judgement is expected by January end,” Khan added.

Rimpa was among 19 children and young women whose skeletal remains were first discovered from a sewer behind Pandher’s plush D-5 bungalow in Noida’s Sector 31.

The human skulls stuffed in 57 gunny bags containing almost 700 bone pieces kept tumbling out of the drain for the next few days.

After many twists and turns in two long years, the families of victims have faith in the judiciary but not in the CBI which is investigating the cases.

“I believe the court will certainly punish Pandher and give justice to my daughter. But the CBI has left no stone unturned in saving his skin,” said Anil, who vividly remembers Feb 8, 2005 - the day his daughter did not return home from work.

She used to work as a domestic help along with her mother in the bungalows near D-5. Her identity was established after the CBI recovered her clothes from Pandher’s house. A DNA test too was performed.

Soon after the discovery of the killings, Noida police arrested Pandher and his domestic aide Surider Koli on charges of rape, murder, abduction, immoral trafficking prevention act and criminal conspiracy.

Within a few days the case was transferred to India’s premier investigation agency CBI after Noida police was accused of accepting huge kickbacks from Pandher for not initiating any action against Koli and him.

The CBI, which conducted various scientific tests, including narco and polygraph tests, on both the accused and interrogated them for days, exonerated Pandher but said his servant Koli was a cannibal. Koli was charged with rape and manslaughter.

CBI joint director Arun Kumar had then described Koli as a necrophile, a person with an erotic fascination for corpses, who carried out all the murders when Pandher was away from his house in Noida.

Kumar said Koli killed all his victims by strangulation and then meticulously chopped off their body parts and organs and ate them.

Till date the CBI has filed 15 charge sheets in the sensational killings, exonerating Pandher from murder and rape charges. However, the special CBI court rapped the agency and Pandher was made a co-accused with Koli in at least six cases.

“Pandher and Koli face the same charges of abduction, rape, murder and criminal conspiracy in at least six cases, including the case of Rimpa Haldar. If the court convicts them, we will appeal for death penalty,” Khan said.

The first ever verdict in the Nithari killings are being awaited with baited breath.

“We are all waiting for judgement in Rimpa’s case. If Pandher is not convicted, we will approach the high court for fresh investigations in the killings,” said Pappu, the father of another victim.

The victims’ families say they will leave no stone unturned. Some are even willing to turn to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati as Nithari is located in the state.

Durga Prasad, the father of another victim, said: “If Pandher is not punished, we will approach Chief Minister Mayawati seeking a judicial inquiry. It all depends on the judgement in Rimpa’s case.”

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