Indian serial killers sentenced to death

After a wait of two painful years, an Indian court has sentenced a businessman and his domestic help to death Friday for the murder of a young girl one of 19 victims in a case that also involved cannibalism.

This was the first verdict in the killings that came to light in December 2006 and shocked the nation for their barbarity.

Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli were sentenced to death by a special court on Friday for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl Rimpa Halder, one of the 19 victims in the sensational Nithari serial killings.

The Special Central Bureau of Investigation judge Rama Jain held the crimes committed by 55-year-old Pandher and 38-year-old Koli to be the “rarest of rare” – and deserve capital punishment.

Nithari made international news headlines in December 2006 when the skeletons of a number of women and children, presumed to have been murdered, were unearthed in the village. Local businessman Pandher, along with his servant Koli, was arrested on suspicion of murder.

The case shocked the entire nation after police found the body parts of 19 children and young women packed in 57 plastic bags and buried in the backyard and drains around Pandher's home in Noida.

The case was handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that put the entire blame of the killings on Koli. While the victims' families were sure Pandher was also guilty, he initially faced only minor charges, including being involved in prostitution rackets and pressuring witnesses.

However, a special CBI court then extended Pandher's charges to include the rape and murder of one of the victims after he helped them recover some human body parts.

While Pandher has been charged with the killing of one girl, the CBI had filed charges against Koli in 16 of the 19 murders.

Pandher Breaks Down

Pandher broke down on hearing the verdict and started weeping. The judgment came despite the CBI giving Pandher a clean chit. The counsel of the victims’ family Khalid Khan deemed the verdict as a “slap on the face of the CBI.”

His son Karandeep Singh said his father was innocent and he would appeal against the judgement in the Allahabad High Court.

Cannibalism

Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police Bua Singh said that during earlier investigations, Koli had confessed that he consumed human flesh. The DGP told the media that Koli confessed before his interrogators that he tried to eat human flesh, but it resulted in him vomiting.

Koli also admitted that he sexually abused and strangled the victims before disposing of their bodies in the drain.

About Nithari

Nithari is a village in the western part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, bordering on New Delhi. Nithari forms part of the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority's planned industrial city, Noida, located in Sector 31.

Over the last two years 38 children have gone missing from Nithari, home to over 25,000 people, most of which are migrants from West Bengal, who earn their livelihood doing meagre jobs like pulling rickshaws, working as daily labourers or as domestic help in the upscale residential colonies nearby.

Their complaints to the police about their missing children were unheard until the skeletal remains were found.

Residents Rejoice

The residents of Nithari erupted with joy on Friday afternoon after hearing the death sentence. A number of residents, some of them who even fasted, exchanged sweets and danced before TV cameras celebrating the moment.

Jhabbu Lal, father of one of the child victims, Jyoti, told the media that he was “happy with the sentencing” but will “feel vindicated after these two are actually hanged”.

Jhabbu’s 10-year-old daughter Jyoti and another factory worker Pappu’s eight-year-old girl Rachana had gone missing earlier in 2006 and the two said they suspected Koli had a hand in the disappearance.

Ram Kishan, father of one of the four-year-old victims, told local media that he “finally have some hope of getting justice” but added the actual celebration will take place “the day these two butchers are actually hanged.” .

Dil Bahadur’s, whose wife Nanda Devi’s skull was also recovered from the same drain where the skeletons of the other victims were found, said his case was quietened when the CBI tool over. After losing all hope he returned to Nepal but returned for some work.

After the death sentence Bhadur said he “could finally sleep with some peace”. India has not carried out an execution since 2004, even though the sentences are still handed down.

Nidhi Sharma for RT