Home»Uttar Pradesh» Nithari massacre: Gruesome killings in Noida’s house of horrors and the story behind it

Nithari massacre: The real story of India's 'house of horrors'

Daily Bhaskar.com | Last Modified - Jul 16, 2013, 10:19 AM IST

Here's the entire story of India's most gruesome killings - Nithari massacre - in which most of the victims were minors.
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    Noida: D-5, Sector 31, Noida is the second last house on the street. The white building is abandoned. The drain-turned-road at the back of the house leads to Nithari, an urban village in Noida. There was nothing noticeable about that house unless two Nithari residents, in December 2006, claimed that they have seen the remains of the children in the drain behind the house, who had been missing since many days.

    Reports of some children missing from Nithari turned into the most gruesome serial killings in India. While a number of reports were filed by anxious parents whose children have been missing from the village, many residents claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities. So what if child after child went missing? They were poor, they belonged to that no-man’s-land called Nithari, where eking out a minimal living is hard enough and getting past a police stonewall is something superhuman.

    On December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed that they suspect Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances of the children that went missing in two years. They sought help of former RWA President SC Mishra. Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Residents alleged that the police were corrupt. Moninder Singh Pandher, owner of the house, offered the police everything the parents of the missing children never could. He had wealth, powerful connections and free gifts to hand out. Some policemen, in turn, had powerful ‘Yadav’ connections.

    Demands were made for an independent probe into the matter. One of the residents asserted that the police were claiming credit for discovering the bodies when it was the residents who dug them up. The police denied having found fifteen bodies. The victims’ identities and number could only be established with DNA tests. The police then sealed the house and did not allow news media anywhere near the scene of crime. The central government tried to ascertain the facts behind the discovery of the skeletal remains and whether it had ‘inter-state ramifications’.

    December 30, 2006 - Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli were detained for questioning in connection with the missing case of 20-year-old Payal. Payal went missing on May 7 and she was not the only one but many such cases had rocked the village in two years. After Koli's confession of having killed Payal after sexually assaulting her, police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children’s bodies.

    Notably, a FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006 about the missing 20-year-old Payal. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. A rickshaw cart puller affirmed that the phone belonged to someone from the Pandher residence. After the affirmation of the facts by the witness, Moninder Singh was called for interrogation, which subsequently revealed nothing. His aide and servant, Surender Koli was also picked up when he confessed killing the woman and dumping her body behind the house. The police started digging and henceforth recovered the skeletal remains of the missing children instead of Payal.

    Nand Lal, the father of the girl – Deepika alias Payal, alleged that the police had threatened and harassed him. He stated that it was because of the court intervention that the police officers registered the FIR.

    December 31, 2006 - Two policemen were suspended in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind Pandher. The constables were suspended for dereliction of duty in the wake of the allegations by the locals that the police had refused to take any action when they were informed about huge number of children missing from Nithari.

    The situation at Nithari went worse after agitated mob fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police had also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman.

    During primary investigations

    January 1, 2007 - The remand magistrate granted the police custody of the two until January 10, 2007 as the investigators said that further interrogation was required to complete recovery of victims' remains. Police also conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. However, there were reports that their relationship with him was ‘strained’, which were later found to be untrue.

    January 2, 2007 – Fifteen out of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene. Police had said that there were at least 31 child victims. There were also speculations doing rounds in media that motivation of the killings can also be organ trade.

    During the preliminary investigations, neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved.

    The central government, however, had constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that he would await the report of the committee looking into the issue before making the decision whether there should be a CBI probe into the matter. The inquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The reports were incriminating and claimed that the local police failed in their duty to respond to complaints over the past two years.

    After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

    January 12, 2007 - The two accused were taken to the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the CBI. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings.

    Meanwhile, the investigators searched the drains outside the house and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones, and torso.

    January 20, 2007 – Uttar Pradesh government submitted a report to the National Human Rights Commission.

    February 8, 2007 – A special CBI court sent both the accused to 14 days custody of CBI.

    February 12, 2007 – Human Rights Commission formed a committee to inquire the matter.

    May 22, 2007 – CBI filed its first chargesheet in a Ghaziabad court in which main charges of kidnap, rape and murder were on Surender Koli.

    May 1, 2008 – Family of three victims approached the court against CBI’s clean chit to Moninder Pandher.

    May 11, 2008 – The court directed the CBI to probe Pandher’s role in the killings.

    November 1, 2008 – The Supreme Court issued a notice to CBI after the complaint of relatives of one of the victims that CBI was trying to shield Pandher.

    December 13, 2008 – A special CBI court in Ghaziabad framed charges of rape of two minors against Pandher.

    February 12, 2009 - Both the accused—Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli—were found guilty of the February 8, 2005 murder of Rimpa Haldar, 14, by a special sessions court in Ghaziabad.

    February 13, 2009 - Pandher and Surender Koli were given the death sentence as the case was classified as ‘rarest of rare’.

    September 10, 2009 - The Allahabad high court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence. He was not named a main suspect by investigators initially, but was summoned as co-accused during the trial. Pandher faces trial in five cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings.

    May 4, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of October 25, 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later.

    September 27, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the April 10, 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.

    December 22, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the June 2006 murder of Deepali Sarkar, 12, and given a fourth death sentence.

    February 15, 2011 – The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli.

    December 24, 2012 - Koli was found guilty of the June 4, 2005 murder of Chhoti Kavita, 5, and given a fifth death sentence.

    Click the slides to read about different angles being probed during the investigations…

  • +5 See more slides

    Noida: D-5, Sector 31, Noida is the second last house on the street. The white building is abandoned. The drain-turned-road at the back of the house leads to Nithari, an urban village in Noida. There was nothing noticeable about that house unless two Nithari residents, in December 2006, claimed that they have seen the remains of the children in the drain behind the house, who had been missing since many days.

    Reports of some children missing from Nithari turned into the most gruesome serial killings in India. While a number of reports were filed by anxious parents whose children have been missing from the village, many residents claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities. So what if child after child went missing? They were poor, they belonged to that no-man’s-land called Nithari, where eking out a minimal living is hard enough and getting past a police stonewall is something superhuman.

    On December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed that they suspect Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances of the children that went missing in two years. They sought help of former RWA President SC Mishra. Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Residents alleged that the police were corrupt. Moninder Singh Pandher, owner of the house, offered the police everything the parents of the missing children never could. He had wealth, powerful connections and free gifts to hand out. Some policemen, in turn, had powerful ‘Yadav’ connections.

    Demands were made for an independent probe into the matter. One of the residents asserted that the police were claiming credit for discovering the bodies when it was the residents who dug them up. The police denied having found fifteen bodies. The victims’ identities and number could only be established with DNA tests. The police then sealed the house and did not allow news media anywhere near the scene of crime. The central government tried to ascertain the facts behind the discovery of the skeletal remains and whether it had ‘inter-state ramifications’.

    December 30, 2006 - Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli were detained for questioning in connection with the missing case of 20-year-old Payal. Payal went missing on May 7 and she was not the only one but many such cases had rocked the village in two years. After Koli's confession of having killed Payal after sexually assaulting her, police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children’s bodies.

    Notably, a FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006 about the missing 20-year-old Payal. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. A rickshaw cart puller affirmed that the phone belonged to someone from the Pandher residence. After the affirmation of the facts by the witness, Moninder Singh was called for interrogation, which subsequently revealed nothing. His aide and servant, Surender Koli was also picked up when he confessed killing the woman and dumping her body behind the house. The police started digging and henceforth recovered the skeletal remains of the missing children instead of Payal.

    Nand Lal, the father of the girl – Deepika alias Payal, alleged that the police had threatened and harassed him. He stated that it was because of the court intervention that the police officers registered the FIR.

    December 31, 2006 - Two policemen were suspended in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind Pandher. The constables were suspended for dereliction of duty in the wake of the allegations by the locals that the police had refused to take any action when they were informed about huge number of children missing from Nithari.

    The situation at Nithari went worse after agitated mob fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police had also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman.

    During primary investigations

    January 1, 2007 - The remand magistrate granted the police custody of the two until January 10, 2007 as the investigators said that further interrogation was required to complete recovery of victims' remains. Police also conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. However, there were reports that their relationship with him was ‘strained’, which were later found to be untrue.

    January 2, 2007 – Fifteen out of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene. Police had said that there were at least 31 child victims. There were also speculations doing rounds in media that motivation of the killings can also be organ trade.

    During the preliminary investigations, neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved.

    The central government, however, had constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that he would await the report of the committee looking into the issue before making the decision whether there should be a CBI probe into the matter. The inquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The reports were incriminating and claimed that the local police failed in their duty to respond to complaints over the past two years.

    After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

    January 12, 2007 - The two accused were taken to the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the CBI. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings.

    Meanwhile, the investigators searched the drains outside the house and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones, and torso.

    January 20, 2007 – Uttar Pradesh government submitted a report to the National Human Rights Commission.

    February 8, 2007 – A special CBI court sent both the accused to 14 days custody of CBI.

    February 12, 2007 – Human Rights Commission formed a committee to inquire the matter.

    May 22, 2007 – CBI filed its first chargesheet in a Ghaziabad court in which main charges of kidnap, rape and murder were on Surender Koli.

    May 1, 2008 – Family of three victims approached the court against CBI’s clean chit to Moninder Pandher.

    May 11, 2008 – The court directed the CBI to probe Pandher’s role in the killings.

    November 1, 2008 – The Supreme Court issued a notice to CBI after the complaint of relatives of one of the victims that CBI was trying to shield Pandher.

    December 13, 2008 – A special CBI court in Ghaziabad framed charges of rape of two minors against Pandher.

    February 12, 2009 - Both the accused—Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli—were found guilty of the February 8, 2005 murder of Rimpa Haldar, 14, by a special sessions court in Ghaziabad.

    February 13, 2009 - Pandher and Surender Koli were given the death sentence as the case was classified as ‘rarest of rare’.

    September 10, 2009 - The Allahabad high court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence. He was not named a main suspect by investigators initially, but was summoned as co-accused during the trial. Pandher faces trial in five cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings.

    May 4, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of October 25, 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later.

    September 27, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the April 10, 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.

    December 22, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the June 2006 murder of Deepali Sarkar, 12, and given a fourth death sentence.

    February 15, 2011 – The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli.

    December 24, 2012 - Koli was found guilty of the June 4, 2005 murder of Chhoti Kavita, 5, and given a fifth death sentence.

    Click the slides to read about different angles being probed during the investigations…

  • +5 See more slides

    Noida: D-5, Sector 31, Noida is the second last house on the street. The white building is abandoned. The drain-turned-road at the back of the house leads to Nithari, an urban village in Noida. There was nothing noticeable about that house unless two Nithari residents, in December 2006, claimed that they have seen the remains of the children in the drain behind the house, who had been missing since many days.

    Reports of some children missing from Nithari turned into the most gruesome serial killings in India. While a number of reports were filed by anxious parents whose children have been missing from the village, many residents claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities. So what if child after child went missing? They were poor, they belonged to that no-man’s-land called Nithari, where eking out a minimal living is hard enough and getting past a police stonewall is something superhuman.

    On December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed that they suspect Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances of the children that went missing in two years. They sought help of former RWA President SC Mishra. Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Residents alleged that the police were corrupt. Moninder Singh Pandher, owner of the house, offered the police everything the parents of the missing children never could. He had wealth, powerful connections and free gifts to hand out. Some policemen, in turn, had powerful ‘Yadav’ connections.

    Demands were made for an independent probe into the matter. One of the residents asserted that the police were claiming credit for discovering the bodies when it was the residents who dug them up. The police denied having found fifteen bodies. The victims’ identities and number could only be established with DNA tests. The police then sealed the house and did not allow news media anywhere near the scene of crime. The central government tried to ascertain the facts behind the discovery of the skeletal remains and whether it had ‘inter-state ramifications’.

    December 30, 2006 - Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli were detained for questioning in connection with the missing case of 20-year-old Payal. Payal went missing on May 7 and she was not the only one but many such cases had rocked the village in two years. After Koli's confession of having killed Payal after sexually assaulting her, police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children’s bodies.

    Notably, a FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006 about the missing 20-year-old Payal. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. A rickshaw cart puller affirmed that the phone belonged to someone from the Pandher residence. After the affirmation of the facts by the witness, Moninder Singh was called for interrogation, which subsequently revealed nothing. His aide and servant, Surender Koli was also picked up when he confessed killing the woman and dumping her body behind the house. The police started digging and henceforth recovered the skeletal remains of the missing children instead of Payal.

    Nand Lal, the father of the girl – Deepika alias Payal, alleged that the police had threatened and harassed him. He stated that it was because of the court intervention that the police officers registered the FIR.

    December 31, 2006 - Two policemen were suspended in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind Pandher. The constables were suspended for dereliction of duty in the wake of the allegations by the locals that the police had refused to take any action when they were informed about huge number of children missing from Nithari.

    The situation at Nithari went worse after agitated mob fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police had also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman.

    During primary investigations

    January 1, 2007 - The remand magistrate granted the police custody of the two until January 10, 2007 as the investigators said that further interrogation was required to complete recovery of victims' remains. Police also conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. However, there were reports that their relationship with him was ‘strained’, which were later found to be untrue.

    January 2, 2007 – Fifteen out of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene. Police had said that there were at least 31 child victims. There were also speculations doing rounds in media that motivation of the killings can also be organ trade.

    During the preliminary investigations, neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved.

    The central government, however, had constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that he would await the report of the committee looking into the issue before making the decision whether there should be a CBI probe into the matter. The inquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The reports were incriminating and claimed that the local police failed in their duty to respond to complaints over the past two years.

    After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

    January 12, 2007 - The two accused were taken to the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the CBI. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings.

    Meanwhile, the investigators searched the drains outside the house and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones, and torso.

    January 20, 2007 – Uttar Pradesh government submitted a report to the National Human Rights Commission.

    February 8, 2007 – A special CBI court sent both the accused to 14 days custody of CBI.

    February 12, 2007 – Human Rights Commission formed a committee to inquire the matter.

    May 22, 2007 – CBI filed its first chargesheet in a Ghaziabad court in which main charges of kidnap, rape and murder were on Surender Koli.

    May 1, 2008 – Family of three victims approached the court against CBI’s clean chit to Moninder Pandher.

    May 11, 2008 – The court directed the CBI to probe Pandher’s role in the killings.

    November 1, 2008 – The Supreme Court issued a notice to CBI after the complaint of relatives of one of the victims that CBI was trying to shield Pandher.

    December 13, 2008 – A special CBI court in Ghaziabad framed charges of rape of two minors against Pandher.

    February 12, 2009 - Both the accused—Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli—were found guilty of the February 8, 2005 murder of Rimpa Haldar, 14, by a special sessions court in Ghaziabad.

    February 13, 2009 - Pandher and Surender Koli were given the death sentence as the case was classified as ‘rarest of rare’.

    September 10, 2009 - The Allahabad high court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence. He was not named a main suspect by investigators initially, but was summoned as co-accused during the trial. Pandher faces trial in five cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings.

    May 4, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of October 25, 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later.

    September 27, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the April 10, 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.

    December 22, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the June 2006 murder of Deepali Sarkar, 12, and given a fourth death sentence.

    February 15, 2011 – The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli.

    December 24, 2012 - Koli was found guilty of the June 4, 2005 murder of Chhoti Kavita, 5, and given a fifth death sentence.

    Click the slides to read about different angles being probed during the investigations…

  • +5 See more slides

    Noida: D-5, Sector 31, Noida is the second last house on the street. The white building is abandoned. The drain-turned-road at the back of the house leads to Nithari, an urban village in Noida. There was nothing noticeable about that house unless two Nithari residents, in December 2006, claimed that they have seen the remains of the children in the drain behind the house, who had been missing since many days.

    Reports of some children missing from Nithari turned into the most gruesome serial killings in India. While a number of reports were filed by anxious parents whose children have been missing from the village, many residents claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities. So what if child after child went missing? They were poor, they belonged to that no-man’s-land called Nithari, where eking out a minimal living is hard enough and getting past a police stonewall is something superhuman.

    On December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed that they suspect Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances of the children that went missing in two years. They sought help of former RWA President SC Mishra. Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Residents alleged that the police were corrupt. Moninder Singh Pandher, owner of the house, offered the police everything the parents of the missing children never could. He had wealth, powerful connections and free gifts to hand out. Some policemen, in turn, had powerful ‘Yadav’ connections.

    Demands were made for an independent probe into the matter. One of the residents asserted that the police were claiming credit for discovering the bodies when it was the residents who dug them up. The police denied having found fifteen bodies. The victims’ identities and number could only be established with DNA tests. The police then sealed the house and did not allow news media anywhere near the scene of crime. The central government tried to ascertain the facts behind the discovery of the skeletal remains and whether it had ‘inter-state ramifications’.

    December 30, 2006 - Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli were detained for questioning in connection with the missing case of 20-year-old Payal. Payal went missing on May 7 and she was not the only one but many such cases had rocked the village in two years. After Koli's confession of having killed Payal after sexually assaulting her, police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children’s bodies.

    Notably, a FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006 about the missing 20-year-old Payal. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. A rickshaw cart puller affirmed that the phone belonged to someone from the Pandher residence. After the affirmation of the facts by the witness, Moninder Singh was called for interrogation, which subsequently revealed nothing. His aide and servant, Surender Koli was also picked up when he confessed killing the woman and dumping her body behind the house. The police started digging and henceforth recovered the skeletal remains of the missing children instead of Payal.

    Nand Lal, the father of the girl – Deepika alias Payal, alleged that the police had threatened and harassed him. He stated that it was because of the court intervention that the police officers registered the FIR.

    December 31, 2006 - Two policemen were suspended in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind Pandher. The constables were suspended for dereliction of duty in the wake of the allegations by the locals that the police had refused to take any action when they were informed about huge number of children missing from Nithari.

    The situation at Nithari went worse after agitated mob fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police had also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman.

    During primary investigations

    January 1, 2007 - The remand magistrate granted the police custody of the two until January 10, 2007 as the investigators said that further interrogation was required to complete recovery of victims' remains. Police also conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. However, there were reports that their relationship with him was ‘strained’, which were later found to be untrue.

    January 2, 2007 – Fifteen out of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene. Police had said that there were at least 31 child victims. There were also speculations doing rounds in media that motivation of the killings can also be organ trade.

    During the preliminary investigations, neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved.

    The central government, however, had constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that he would await the report of the committee looking into the issue before making the decision whether there should be a CBI probe into the matter. The inquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The reports were incriminating and claimed that the local police failed in their duty to respond to complaints over the past two years.

    After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

    January 12, 2007 - The two accused were taken to the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the CBI. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings.

    Meanwhile, the investigators searched the drains outside the house and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones, and torso.

    January 20, 2007 – Uttar Pradesh government submitted a report to the National Human Rights Commission.

    February 8, 2007 – A special CBI court sent both the accused to 14 days custody of CBI.

    February 12, 2007 – Human Rights Commission formed a committee to inquire the matter.

    May 22, 2007 – CBI filed its first chargesheet in a Ghaziabad court in which main charges of kidnap, rape and murder were on Surender Koli.

    May 1, 2008 – Family of three victims approached the court against CBI’s clean chit to Moninder Pandher.

    May 11, 2008 – The court directed the CBI to probe Pandher’s role in the killings.

    November 1, 2008 – The Supreme Court issued a notice to CBI after the complaint of relatives of one of the victims that CBI was trying to shield Pandher.

    December 13, 2008 – A special CBI court in Ghaziabad framed charges of rape of two minors against Pandher.

    February 12, 2009 - Both the accused—Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli—were found guilty of the February 8, 2005 murder of Rimpa Haldar, 14, by a special sessions court in Ghaziabad.

    February 13, 2009 - Pandher and Surender Koli were given the death sentence as the case was classified as ‘rarest of rare’.

    September 10, 2009 - The Allahabad high court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence. He was not named a main suspect by investigators initially, but was summoned as co-accused during the trial. Pandher faces trial in five cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings.

    May 4, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of October 25, 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later.

    September 27, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the April 10, 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.

    December 22, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the June 2006 murder of Deepali Sarkar, 12, and given a fourth death sentence.

    February 15, 2011 – The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli.

    December 24, 2012 - Koli was found guilty of the June 4, 2005 murder of Chhoti Kavita, 5, and given a fifth death sentence.

    Click the slides to read about different angles being probed during the investigations…

  • +5 See more slides

    Noida: D-5, Sector 31, Noida is the second last house on the street. The white building is abandoned. The drain-turned-road at the back of the house leads to Nithari, an urban village in Noida. There was nothing noticeable about that house unless two Nithari residents, in December 2006, claimed that they have seen the remains of the children in the drain behind the house, who had been missing since many days.

    Reports of some children missing from Nithari turned into the most gruesome serial killings in India. While a number of reports were filed by anxious parents whose children have been missing from the village, many residents claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities. So what if child after child went missing? They were poor, they belonged to that no-man’s-land called Nithari, where eking out a minimal living is hard enough and getting past a police stonewall is something superhuman.

    On December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed that they suspect Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances of the children that went missing in two years. They sought help of former RWA President SC Mishra. Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Residents alleged that the police were corrupt. Moninder Singh Pandher, owner of the house, offered the police everything the parents of the missing children never could. He had wealth, powerful connections and free gifts to hand out. Some policemen, in turn, had powerful ‘Yadav’ connections.

    Demands were made for an independent probe into the matter. One of the residents asserted that the police were claiming credit for discovering the bodies when it was the residents who dug them up. The police denied having found fifteen bodies. The victims’ identities and number could only be established with DNA tests. The police then sealed the house and did not allow news media anywhere near the scene of crime. The central government tried to ascertain the facts behind the discovery of the skeletal remains and whether it had ‘inter-state ramifications’.

    December 30, 2006 - Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli were detained for questioning in connection with the missing case of 20-year-old Payal. Payal went missing on May 7 and she was not the only one but many such cases had rocked the village in two years. After Koli's confession of having killed Payal after sexually assaulting her, police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children’s bodies.

    Notably, a FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006 about the missing 20-year-old Payal. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. A rickshaw cart puller affirmed that the phone belonged to someone from the Pandher residence. After the affirmation of the facts by the witness, Moninder Singh was called for interrogation, which subsequently revealed nothing. His aide and servant, Surender Koli was also picked up when he confessed killing the woman and dumping her body behind the house. The police started digging and henceforth recovered the skeletal remains of the missing children instead of Payal.

    Nand Lal, the father of the girl – Deepika alias Payal, alleged that the police had threatened and harassed him. He stated that it was because of the court intervention that the police officers registered the FIR.

    December 31, 2006 - Two policemen were suspended in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind Pandher. The constables were suspended for dereliction of duty in the wake of the allegations by the locals that the police had refused to take any action when they were informed about huge number of children missing from Nithari.

    The situation at Nithari went worse after agitated mob fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police had also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman.

    During primary investigations

    January 1, 2007 - The remand magistrate granted the police custody of the two until January 10, 2007 as the investigators said that further interrogation was required to complete recovery of victims' remains. Police also conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. However, there were reports that their relationship with him was ‘strained’, which were later found to be untrue.

    January 2, 2007 – Fifteen out of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene. Police had said that there were at least 31 child victims. There were also speculations doing rounds in media that motivation of the killings can also be organ trade.

    During the preliminary investigations, neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved.

    The central government, however, had constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that he would await the report of the committee looking into the issue before making the decision whether there should be a CBI probe into the matter. The inquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The reports were incriminating and claimed that the local police failed in their duty to respond to complaints over the past two years.

    After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

    January 12, 2007 - The two accused were taken to the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the CBI. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings.

    Meanwhile, the investigators searched the drains outside the house and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones, and torso.

    January 20, 2007 – Uttar Pradesh government submitted a report to the National Human Rights Commission.

    February 8, 2007 – A special CBI court sent both the accused to 14 days custody of CBI.

    February 12, 2007 – Human Rights Commission formed a committee to inquire the matter.

    May 22, 2007 – CBI filed its first chargesheet in a Ghaziabad court in which main charges of kidnap, rape and murder were on Surender Koli.

    May 1, 2008 – Family of three victims approached the court against CBI’s clean chit to Moninder Pandher.

    May 11, 2008 – The court directed the CBI to probe Pandher’s role in the killings.

    November 1, 2008 – The Supreme Court issued a notice to CBI after the complaint of relatives of one of the victims that CBI was trying to shield Pandher.

    December 13, 2008 – A special CBI court in Ghaziabad framed charges of rape of two minors against Pandher.

    February 12, 2009 - Both the accused—Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli—were found guilty of the February 8, 2005 murder of Rimpa Haldar, 14, by a special sessions court in Ghaziabad.

    February 13, 2009 - Pandher and Surender Koli were given the death sentence as the case was classified as ‘rarest of rare’.

    September 10, 2009 - The Allahabad high court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence. He was not named a main suspect by investigators initially, but was summoned as co-accused during the trial. Pandher faces trial in five cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings.

    May 4, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of October 25, 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later.

    September 27, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the April 10, 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.

    December 22, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the June 2006 murder of Deepali Sarkar, 12, and given a fourth death sentence.

    February 15, 2011 – The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli.

    December 24, 2012 - Koli was found guilty of the June 4, 2005 murder of Chhoti Kavita, 5, and given a fifth death sentence.

    Click the slides to read about different angles being probed during the investigations…

  • +5 See more slides

    Noida: D-5, Sector 31, Noida is the second last house on the street. The white building is abandoned. The drain-turned-road at the back of the house leads to Nithari, an urban village in Noida. There was nothing noticeable about that house unless two Nithari residents, in December 2006, claimed that they have seen the remains of the children in the drain behind the house, who had been missing since many days.

    Reports of some children missing from Nithari turned into the most gruesome serial killings in India. While a number of reports were filed by anxious parents whose children have been missing from the village, many residents claimed that they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities. So what if child after child went missing? They were poor, they belonged to that no-man’s-land called Nithari, where eking out a minimal living is hard enough and getting past a police stonewall is something superhuman.

    On December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed that they suspect Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances of the children that went missing in two years. They sought help of former RWA President SC Mishra. Mishra and the two residents searched the tank drain, and one of the residents claimed to have found a decomposed hand, after which they called the police. Residents alleged that the police were corrupt. Moninder Singh Pandher, owner of the house, offered the police everything the parents of the missing children never could. He had wealth, powerful connections and free gifts to hand out. Some policemen, in turn, had powerful ‘Yadav’ connections.

    Demands were made for an independent probe into the matter. One of the residents asserted that the police were claiming credit for discovering the bodies when it was the residents who dug them up. The police denied having found fifteen bodies. The victims’ identities and number could only be established with DNA tests. The police then sealed the house and did not allow news media anywhere near the scene of crime. The central government tried to ascertain the facts behind the discovery of the skeletal remains and whether it had ‘inter-state ramifications’.

    December 30, 2006 - Moninder Singh Pandher and Surender Koli were detained for questioning in connection with the missing case of 20-year-old Payal. Payal went missing on May 7 and she was not the only one but many such cases had rocked the village in two years. After Koli's confession of having killed Payal after sexually assaulting her, police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children’s bodies.

    Notably, a FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006 about the missing 20-year-old Payal. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. A rickshaw cart puller affirmed that the phone belonged to someone from the Pandher residence. After the affirmation of the facts by the witness, Moninder Singh was called for interrogation, which subsequently revealed nothing. His aide and servant, Surender Koli was also picked up when he confessed killing the woman and dumping her body behind the house. The police started digging and henceforth recovered the skeletal remains of the missing children instead of Payal.

    Nand Lal, the father of the girl – Deepika alias Payal, alleged that the police had threatened and harassed him. He stated that it was because of the court intervention that the police officers registered the FIR.

    December 31, 2006 - Two policemen were suspended in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind Pandher. The constables were suspended for dereliction of duty in the wake of the allegations by the locals that the police had refused to take any action when they were informed about huge number of children missing from Nithari.

    The situation at Nithari went worse after agitated mob fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police had also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman.

    During primary investigations

    January 1, 2007 - The remand magistrate granted the police custody of the two until January 10, 2007 as the investigators said that further interrogation was required to complete recovery of victims' remains. Police also conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. However, there were reports that their relationship with him was ‘strained’, which were later found to be untrue.

    January 2, 2007 – Fifteen out of the 17 skeletons discovered in the village were identified. Ten of them were identified by Koli when he was confronted with the photographs of the missing children. Five others were identified by family members after being shown belongings recovered from the scene. Police had said that there were at least 31 child victims. There were also speculations doing rounds in media that motivation of the killings can also be organ trade.

    During the preliminary investigations, neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved.

    The central government, however, had constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses. The then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that he would await the report of the committee looking into the issue before making the decision whether there should be a CBI probe into the matter. The inquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The reports were incriminating and claimed that the local police failed in their duty to respond to complaints over the past two years.

    After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the CBI.

    January 12, 2007 - The two accused were taken to the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the CBI. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings.

    Meanwhile, the investigators searched the drains outside the house and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones, and torso.

    January 20, 2007 – Uttar Pradesh government submitted a report to the National Human Rights Commission.

    February 8, 2007 – A special CBI court sent both the accused to 14 days custody of CBI.

    February 12, 2007 – Human Rights Commission formed a committee to inquire the matter.

    May 22, 2007 – CBI filed its first chargesheet in a Ghaziabad court in which main charges of kidnap, rape and murder were on Surender Koli.

    May 1, 2008 – Family of three victims approached the court against CBI’s clean chit to Moninder Pandher.

    May 11, 2008 – The court directed the CBI to probe Pandher’s role in the killings.

    November 1, 2008 – The Supreme Court issued a notice to CBI after the complaint of relatives of one of the victims that CBI was trying to shield Pandher.

    December 13, 2008 – A special CBI court in Ghaziabad framed charges of rape of two minors against Pandher.

    February 12, 2009 - Both the accused—Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic servant Surender Koli—were found guilty of the February 8, 2005 murder of Rimpa Haldar, 14, by a special sessions court in Ghaziabad.

    February 13, 2009 - Pandher and Surender Koli were given the death sentence as the case was classified as ‘rarest of rare’.

    September 10, 2009 - The Allahabad high court acquitted Moninder Singh Pandher and overturned his death sentence. He was not named a main suspect by investigators initially, but was summoned as co-accused during the trial. Pandher faces trial in five cases out of the remaining 12, and could be re-sentenced to death if found guilty in any of those killings.

    May 4, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of October 25, 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later.

    September 27, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the April 10, 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.

    December 22, 2010 - Koli was found guilty of the June 2006 murder of Deepali Sarkar, 12, and given a fourth death sentence.

    February 15, 2011 – The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence of Surender Koli.

    December 24, 2012 - Koli was found guilty of the June 4, 2005 murder of Chhoti Kavita, 5, and given a fifth death sentence.

    Click the slides to read about different angles being probed during the investigations…

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