Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape - Necrophilia - Cannibalism
Number of victims: 19
Date of murders: 2005 - 2006
Date of arrest: December 29, 2006
Date of birth: 1972
Victims profile: Young children and women
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: New Delhi, India
Status: Sentenced to death February 13, 2009
2006 Noida serial murder investigation
The 2006 Noida serial murder investigation began in December 2006 when the skeletal remains of a number of missing children were discovered in the village of Nithari, India on the outskirts of Noida, a planned industrial township in Uttar Pradesh near New Delhi.
On December 26, 2006, a rich and politically connected Punjabi businessman, Moninder Singh Pandher, and his servant, Surender Koli, were arrested by the Delhi Police on the suspicion of murdering a call girl named "Payal". Charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code included rape, murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy. Pandher and Koli were sentenced to death on February 13, 2009.
Events leading to primary investigation
A view of a public place in NoidaOn December 29, 2006, two Nithari residents claimed they knew the location of remains belonging to children who had gone missing in the previous two years: the municipal water tank behind house D5.
Both had daughters who had disappeared, and they suspected Surender Koli, the domestic help at D5, had something to do with the disappearances. The residents claimed they had been repeatedly ignored by local authorities, therefore they sought the help of former Resident Welfare Association (RWA) President S C Mishra.
That morning, 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. By the time police arrived, local residents claimed they had found three partial skeletons in the drain.
Anxious parents of the missing children rushed to Nithari with photographs. Koli, under the alias Satish, later confessed to killing six children and a 20-year-old call girl known as "Payal" after sexually assaulting them.
The residents alleged that the police were corrupt and involved with the rich people. 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. They reiterated that they had discovered skulls, bones and other body parts, and said they were unable to give a figure for the number of victims. 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". Law and order is a state's subject but the Home ministry asked for details about the magnitude of the crime.
It was later revealed by the media that Pandher was picked up by the police on December 26 and Koli on December 27 in connection with the disappearance of "Payal". After Koli's confession, the police claimed to have started digging up the nearby land area and discovered the children's bodies.
Two policemen were suspended on December 31 in connection with the serial murders as angry residents charged the house of the alleged mastermind. The policemen 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 a number of children missing.
The situation at Nithari got aggravated as an irate mob of villagers fought pitched battles with the police, both pelting stones at each other, just outside the residence of the accused. The police also detained a maid named Maya whom they suspected had a hand in procuring women for the businessman. As more body parts were dug out from near the premises of the house, hundreds of local residents descended on the spot and alleged that there was an organ trade angle to the grisly killings of young children.
A doctor living close to the Pandher residence, Navin Choudhary, had been under police suspicion a few years prior in connection with an alleged kidney racket at his hospital. Searches were conducted throughout the properties owned by him, and the investigators could not derive any information to support the claim.
On 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 the recovery of victims' remains. The court also granted permission for Narco Analysis.
On the same evening, police conducted a raid on Pandher's Chandigarh residence. His wife and son were interrogated and questions were asked about Pandher's habits. Police sources disclosed that their relationship with him was "strained" but his behaviour was "normal". A senior police inspector revealed that there would be a series of searches conducted at Pandher's Ludhiana farmhouse and nearby places. The recent child kidnapping cases in Chandigarh—Pandher's hometown—were re-opened.
It was on the next day that 15 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. The torsos of the bodies were missing and the investigating team was looking into possibilities of the motivation of the killings to be that of organ trade. The police said that there were at least 31 child victims.
Security was increased as police expected more disturbance, following two days of violence near Pandher's residence. In a press statement, Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan asserted that the investigation was at a preliminary level, and neither the courts nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) were involved at that point.
The inquiry committee report
The Central Government, however, constituted a high-level inquiry committee to go into the police lapses, during the period of reporting and investigation.
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 committee is headed by the Joint Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry, Manjula Krishnan. Under the terms of the reference,
This committee would take stock of the efforts made by the Noida police in locating the children who went missing.
It would assess the level of cooperation and assistance provided by the local administration, to locate the missing children and unite them with their families.
It would go through the modus operandi and the motives of the accused.
The panel met the parents of the of the victims to record their statements even as the police determined that out of the 17 confirmed people killed, 10 were girls. Parents of eight of the sexually abused children were given compensation of Rs. 12 lakh. The DNA samples from the human remains were sent to forensic laboratory in Hyderabad for the identification of the victims while forensic samples were sent to the laboratory in Agra for determining the age, cause of death and other details. It was determined that Payal was the only victim identified as adult in this case, with all other 11 victims below the age of 10.
Seven of the eight families that had been provided compensation of Rs. 2 lakh on January 3, 2007 returned their cheques in protest. However, the cheques were soon returned back to them. They demanded houses and jobs in compensation.
After reeling under a lot of relentless pressure and public outcry, the Uttar Pradesh Government suspended two superintendents of police and dismissed six policemen for dereliction of duty. This action followed the report by the four-member committee.
On January 17, 2007 the inquiry committee submitted its reports severely indicting the Uttar Pradesh police for "gross negligence" in handling the cases of missing persons. The committee said that the local administration was negligent and irresponsible while dealing with the missing persons reports and did not rule out organ trade as a possible motive behind the killings.
The call girl angle
The two accused in the case were already in police custody while the skeletal remains of the young children were being unearthed at the Pandher residence. An FIR had been filed on October 7, 2006. Investigations revealed that Payal's cellphone was being used although the SIM card she owned remained inactive. Through digital surveillance, the investigators were able to track down a number of people and could finally reach the man who sold the phone. The 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 picked up the next day and 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.
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. Nand Lal said that he was accused of being a blackmailer and his daughter was called a woman of easy virtue.
Suspicions of child pornography racket
The investigating teams seized erotic literature along with a laptop computer connected to a webcam, which immediately raised the apprehensions of the presence of an international child pornography racket. The police also recovered some photographs of Pandher with nude children and foreigners, during his four international visits. It was apprehended that Pandher supplied such pictures abroad and could link him to paedophilia.
Suspicions of organ trade and cannibalism
The police initially suspected an organ trade angle as to the motive behind the murders and raided the house of a doctor who lived in the neighbourhood of the prime accused. A team of officials was accompanied by a team of forensic experts to pick up probable evidence for tests. The police revealed that the doctor had been accused of similar crime in the year 1998, although the court had later absolved him in the same year. This was a second raid in a few days.
The police was however, cautious with the news reports indicting the accused of cannibalism even before the polygraph tests had barely begun. They were left aghast when they learned that one of the accused had even confessed to the consumption of the victims' livers and other body parts. Such a possibility was, however, not completely ruled out by the investigating team, considering the amount of brutality the duo had allegedly committed on the victims.
Brain mapping and narco analysis
The accused duo were brought to the Directorate of Forensic Sciences, Gandhinagar city for undergoing a series of medical tests. Brain mapping and polygraph tests were conducted on January 4, 2007 and narco analysis five days later. The police director told the scribes that both the accused had been cooperative during the tests and examinations. The directorate officials did not make any revelations to the public media.
A senior director of the institute announced the conclusion of the extensive tests and declared that no conclusion had been drawn. The police sources said that during the first day of the tests, Moninder Singh revealed a number of his high-profile connections with the ministers and others who frequented his residence in Noida.
The CBI investigation
After four days of discourse and mounting pressure from the Centre, the Uttar Pradesh government decided to hand over the inquiry to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The notification came after the Department of Personnel and Training, which governs the CBI sent a letter to the state government about making a proper request for a probe by the agency in line with the prescribed norms.
The two accused were taken away to an undisclosed location on the night of January 11, 2007, a day before the investigation was to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI continued its investigation and discovered three more skulls and human remains at the site of the serial killings. The investigators searched the drains and found three skulls, believed to be of the children and several body parts, including parts of legs, bones and torso. Several objects were found that are believed to belong to the victims. The exhibits were sealed and forwarded to forensic labs.
The Central enquiry committee that investigated the serial killings discovered serious lapses on the part of the police in handling the cases of missing persons. The published report was provided to the CBI to aid the agency in its probe. The reports were incriminating and proclaimed that the local police failed in their duty to admit their complaints over the past two years.
The discovery of several gunny bags containing parts of human torsos led the investigators to believe that it was unlikely that the accused had links to illegal organ trade. The CBI team discovered the bags in the drains outside the Pandher residence. After interrogating Surinder Koli, they came to a prima facie conclusion that "he is a psychopath who used to carry out the killings". Interrogators also said that it was possible that Pandher had no role to play in the murders.
The seized materials were sent to laboratory for post-mortem, individualisation and DNA extraction. The materials received from the Uttar Pradesh police were also forwarded for forensic examination. Some liquor bottles, a double-barrel gun, cartridges, mobile phones, photographs, photo albums and a blood-stained grill were handed over to the CBI for extensive examination. Preliminary investigations revealed that the bones were not more than two years old. The CBI also revealed that only fifteen skulls had been found thus far, and not seventeen as claimed by the state police.
A three-member CBI team questioned the kin members of Surendra Koli in the Almora district.
In November 2007, the Supreme Court issued notice to CBI in case on the allegation by a relative of the victim that the investigating agency was trying to shield Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the key accused in the case.
The call girl was the only adult victim in the string of serial murders. Young girls constituted the majority of victims. Post mortem reports of the 17 sets of skulls and bones recovered showed that 11 of the killed were girls. The top doctors of the Noida Government Hospital revealed that there was a "butcher-like precision" in the chopping of the bodies. The post mortem reports revealed that there had been a pattern in the killings. A gory revelation was made by the AIIMS on February 06, 2007. It was also concluded that there were 19 skulls in all, 16 complete and 3 damaged. The bodies had been cut into three pieces before being disposed off by the servant Surender Koli. The CBI sources said that the manservant, after strangulating the victims, used to sever their head and throw it in the drain behind the house of his employer. Sources also revealed that he used to keep the viscera in a polythene bag before disposing it off in a drain, so as to prevent detection. The skulls and the other bio-material remains were forwarded to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad for further profiling.
Surender Koli and Moninder Singh Pandher
Pandher is an industrialist who studied from 1963-73 at the prestigious Bishop Cotton School in Shimla and graduated from St. Stephen's College, Delhi.
On 12 Feb 2009, both the accused Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surinder Koli were found guilty of their crimes, by a special sessions court in Gaziabad. This verdict left the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) red faced, as the CBI had earlier given a clean chit to Moninder Singh Pandher in all its chargesheets. Both the accused Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surinder Koli were given death sentence on 13 Feb 2009, as the case was classified as "rarest of rare".
On 4 May 2010, Koli was found guilty of the 25 October 2006 murder of Arti Prasad, 7, and given a second death sentence eight days later. On 27 September 2010, Koli was found guilty of the 10 April 2006 murder of Rachna Lal, 8 or 9, and given a third death sentence the following day.
Nithari killings timeline
The Times of India
Following is the chronology of events in the gruesome Nithari serial killing of children:
Dec 29, 2006: Nithari killings came to light with the discovery of eight skeletal remains of children from the drain of a house in Nithari, Noida. Two suspects- owner of the house Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surinder Koli arrested.
Dec 30: More skeletons tumble out of the drainage
Dec 31: Two beat constables suspended as political pressure starts building up.
Jan 05, 2007: The accused taken to Gandhinagar for extensive narco-analysis test by Uttar Pradesh police
Jan 10: CBI takes over investigations in the case.
Jan 11: First CBI team visits Nithari to initiate probe in the case. 30 more bones found near the house
Jan 12: Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli quizzed by CBI
Jan 20: UP government files report to National Human Rights Commission
Feb 8: Special CBI court sends Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli to 14 days of CBI custody
Feb 12: National Human Rights Commission forms a committee to study the matter.
Mar 22: CBI files first chargesheet in the case in the Ghaziabad court. Slaps lesser charges on Moninder Singh Pandher. Surinder Koli, charged of committing all the murders besides rape and kidnap
May 1: Parents of three victims of the Nithari serial killings move court against the CBI for letting off main accused Pandher in connection with kidnapping and murder
May 11: Ghaziabad court asks CBI to probe Pandher's role in the killings
Sep 6: Body of Jatin Sarkar, father of one of the victims in the Nithari serial killings recovered from a river in West Bengal's Murshidabad district
Nov 01: The Supreme Court issues a notice to the CBI on the allegation by a relative of a victim that the investigating agency was trying to shield Pandher
Dec 13: Special CBI Court in Ghaziabad frames charges against Moninder Singh Pandher for the rape and murder of two teenagers
Feb 12, 2009: Special Judge of CBI pronounces Pandher and Koli guilty of rape and murder
Death for Pandher, Koli in Nithari case
The Times of India
February 14, 2009
The death sentence is reserved for "the rarest of rare cases". But in the first of the sensational Nithari serial murder cases to be decided, the verdict itself has turned out to be the rarest of rare.
For, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher was awarded death sentence on Friday, along with his servant Surender Koli, as the trial court disregarded the prosecution's contention that he was not even in the country three years ago when Koli lured and killed 14-year-old girl Rimpa Halder from a nearby slum.
Special judge Rama Jain did not dispute that Pandher was out of the country when Rimpa was killed. But still, she held him guilty of conspiring with Koli to rape and murder the young girl on the premise that the businessman had planned the crime which was executed by his servant. The court's reasoning for ascribing "criminal conspiracy" to Pandher was that his "hedonistic lifestyle" was responsible for bringing out "criminal tendencies" in Koli.
This seems to be a deviation from the norm of invoking the charge of conspiracy only when there is "reasonable ground to believe" that the co-accused had conspired to commit the offence. In this case, it may be regarded as no more than an assumption.
The sensational case also saw an unusual situation in which one of the two death sentences was given without any prompting from the prosecution -- in this case, the CBI. Having not named him as an accused in its charge sheet, CBI did not argue on the quantum of sentence to be given to Pandher. In fact, the agency could not establish that he had any knowledge of Rimpa's existence.
After the sentence, CBI issued a statement clarifying that it was not soft on Pandher and that it had gone purely by "legally admissible evidence". It added that its probe was "thorough" and examined from "all angles".
Pandher's wife and son said they would challenge the verdict before the Allahabad High Court, while the counsel for Rimpa's father, Khaled Khan, saw it as "a slap on the face of CBI." CBI had given a clean chit to Pandher on the basis of his wife's statement and his passport, which showed that he was away in Australia at the time of Rimpa's murder.
Relying extensively on Koli's confessional statement recorded before a magistrate under section 164 CrPC, the judge noted, "before joining Pandher's house as a servant, Koli had earlier worked with several other households but he committed this gruesome crime because Pandher brought call girls home and slept with more than two or three of them occasionally. Koli used to cook for all of them while Pandher would drink alcohol, all this brought out worst criminal tendencies and sexual depravity of Koli goading him to commit murders."
Koli in his statement before the magistrate had admitted he was more at peace in Pandher's absence as these tendencies remained at bay. The judge also zeroed in on circumstantial evidence to nail Pandher — that he lived in the house D-5 at Noida from 2004 until the serial killings came out in the open in December 2006 and that several murders occurred during this period; human bones and skulls in polythene bags were recovered from the front and back of the house; and finally, Koli's confession.
"Bones and skulls were recovered in such a mass scale from near a house which wasn't less than a slaughterhouse. The odour would have spread within a kilometre's radius," observed the court saying it was highly unlikely Pandher would have been unaware such mass crimes were happening inside his house.
Making shortwork of CBI's clean chit, the judge made it clear mere knowledge of the crime and circumstantial evidence in the form of recoveries squarely implicates the businessman. "The job of CBI prosecutors during this trial was to aid the working of criminal justice system not to go along with whatever the chargesheet said," was the judges' terse observation.
The court also set much store by the fact that a saw used in the crime had been recovered at the instance of Pandher. His lawyers had argued Koli's confession under section 164 also made it clear that Pandher had nothing to do with Rimpa's murder. But judge Jain held firm.
Pronouncing the sentence in a packed court room, judge Jain on Thursday held the crimes committed by 55-year-old Pandher and 38-year-old Koli to be "rarest of rare" deserving capital punishment.
"In the said case, a helpless, poor girl has been raped by the accused who resorted to extremely barbaric, inhuman and unkind act which has no precedence. The manner in which the horrendous act has been carried out even puts that era into shame when humanity wasn't civilised," the court noted, justifying the imposition of the maximum penalty.
The judge rejected any calls for leniency. She said, "This crime is against womanhood and a blot on society. The manner in which the crime has been done, death sentence can be the only justice because there was not an iota of indication that the convicts will mend their ways or reform their character in the future."
Earlier in the morning, the CBI had sought death penalty for Koli and left the quantum of punishment for Pandher for the court to decide as the agency had no charges against him in this case.
After the verdict, Pandher broke into tears while Koli remained unmoved.
Portraits of the ‘murderers’
February 13, 2009
A class VI dropout, Koli worked as a domestic help in businessman Moninder Singh Pandher’s house in Noida. He is alleged to have sexually assaulted and killed as many as 15 children and three women in Noida’s sector-31 house within a span of one-and-a half years. In first of the 19 cases in Nithari, Koli was convicted of raping and murdering 14-year-old Rimpa Halder.
He allegedly lured children — both girls and boys — to the house of his employer Moninder Singh Pandher. Pandher allegedly abused them sexually and handed them over to Koli who in turn abused the victims before killing them. He disposed the bodies in nearby drains after putting the chopped parts in different bags.
The law caught up with Koli on December 29, 2006, after numerous complaints by Nithari villagers whose children had disappeared. Police search led to recovery of fifteen human skulls, skeletal remains and fragments of clothes stuffed in gunny bags from the drain behind bungalow number D-5 where Koli worked.
Police said during interrogation Koli hardly ever showed any remorse, but he did turn emotional when questioned about his three-year-old daughter Simran.
Before landing in Delhi, Koli did odd jobs, skinned animals for a living and sometimes ate raw flesh. In Delhi, his first job was to wash utensils at a rundown hotel in New Delhi.
He then got a job as a cook at the house of a retired brigadier in Sector 29, Noida, and worked there from 1993 to 1998. In 1998, he returned to his village to get married. Within a month of his marriage, he again left home. He left his wife Shanti behind and landed in Noida.
He worked for six years at the house of a retired army major, who then introduced him to businessman Moninder Singh Pandher. Soon after, he left his job to work at Pandher’s mansion.
Moninder Singh Pandher
Appearances can be deceptive. Nobody would agree more with the adage than friends and relatives of nondescript-looking 55-year-old, Moninder Singh Pandher, the industrialist who along with his cook were charged with conspiracy behind the murder and attempted rape of Rimpa Halder.
Nothing about Pandher ever evoked suspicion from friends and family as to the horrific goings-on in his Noida home. News of Pandher’s crime came as a shock to schoolmates from alma mater Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. For them, “Goldy” as Pandher was lovingly called, had always been an amiable and wonderful chap. Pandher came from an affluent business family in Punjab, graduated from Delhi’s prestigious St. Stephen’s College and inherited a successful family business.
Investigators however have a different story to tell. They say Pandher had a disturbed childhood. His marriage too was a failure. For years he had been living alone at the D-5 house in Noida. His wife Devinder Kaur and son Karandeep lived separately at the family’s home in Chandigarh. Pandher would visit his family once in a while.
Police claimed Pandher lived a life of luxury. He loved his drink, played golf and in his spare time read up on nightmares. He had visited Los Angeles, Switzerland, Dubai, Canada and China. He lived on the ground floor of his double storey bunglow. And his servant, Surendra Kohli, lived on the first floor.
When policemen took mediapersons inside the D-5 house after Pandher’s arrest, they found vintage wine bottles in the cellar, golf clubs and fancy furniture. Police seized laptops and CDs from his house, which they alleged carried photographs of Pandher posing with nude children.
In fact, had Noida Police heeded to complaints of Nithari residents; many young lives could have been saved. Allegations have been levelled that Pandher kept the police happy during the time he lived in Noida.
He allegedly paid Rs 2.5 lakh to a gazetted rank officer after he was rounded up even before December 29, 2006, for his involvement in disappearance of children from the same area.
Indian investigators find 3 more skulls
January 15, 2007
Indian investigators recovered three more skulls near the home of a businessman suspected of killing up to 38 women and children, media reports said Sunday. The skulls were found in a drain outside the home in Noida, an industrial and software hub adjoining New Delhi, bringing to 20 the number uncovered so far, the Times of India newspaper reported.
India's top federal investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI, resumed searches near the home after taking over the case last week from local police who were slammed for failing to properly investigate dozens of reports of missing children from a nearby slum.
At least 38 children have gone missing from the slum in the past two years. The investigators also discovered a bag containing human body parts, bones and clothes from the drain, the Hindu newspaper reported. CBI officials were not immediately available for comment Sunday.
Police have arrested the businessman and his servant, who allegedly killed the children and women after sexually assaulting them. The two — businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic helper, Surender Kohli — have been charged with kidnapping, raping and killing the victims and then dumping their dismembered bodies into storm drains near Pandher's house. Angry protests and political rallies have erupted after skulls and other body parts were first found on Dec. 29.
Accused serial killer admits necrophilia
January 12, 2007
A suspect in the gruesome murders of 17 people, mostly children, near India's capital has told investigators he had sex with the dead bodies and ate their organs. The Times of India said Surender Koli admitted to carrying out the crimes alone and that his employer, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher, who was also arrested and charged, was unaware of the killing spree.
The grisly revelations emerged after the two accused were subjected to "narco-analysis" — including truth drugs, polygraph tests and brain mapping — at a national forensic laboratory. Results of the tests are not admissible as evidence in court, but are designed to help police with their investigation.
Residents say at least 38 people, mostly children, have disappeared from the area, and that police had ignored their complaints that the children were missing. The killings have dominated the front pages of all newspapers. The two were arrested on December 29 in New Delhi's affluent Noida suburb after an overwhelming stench led to the discovery of carefully chopped-up body parts in a drain next to Pandher's home. But Pandher was apparently unaware that his servant used sweets and chocolates to lure the victims to the house, before killing them and raping their bodies, the Times of India said.
Koli, who previously worked as a cook in a hotel, narrated how and when he killed his 17 victims with precision. He also remembered the names of 15 victims, the newspaper said, quoting unnamed investigators involved in the tests. "Sahab (master) did not know," Koli was quoted as telling investigators, adding the murders were committed when Pandher was away. Asked what he had done with the missing torsos of the victims, Koli disclosed that he ate some of the organs and cut up others and flushed them down the toilet. The dismembered parts were disposed of separately.
Koli said his first victim was a four-year-old girl. He admitted to trying to eat the child's liver, but said he vomited immediately. His co-accused, meanwhile, emerged from the tests as a womaniser who used Koli as a pimp to find him prostitutes.
Pandher's family said the reports of the narco-analysis test results were a relief. "I had always thought Surendra (Koli, the servant) was behind all this. My father used to be out of town for long periods on business," Pandher's 23-year-old son, Karan, told the newspaper. Police in Noida had been investigating whether organ trade was a motive for the killings because the torsos of the victims were not found and only their skulls, limb bones and clothes were recovered from the sewer near Pandher's house. But according to the Times of India, Koli might have been trying to cure his "impotency".
India's federal Central Bureau of Investigation said it would begin its probe into the case from Thursday. "Our director Vijay Shanker has said that we received a notification from the federal government asking us to begin a probe into the killings," a spokesman for the agency said. "Our office received the notification yesterday (Wednesday) evening," he said, adding the agency will attach the "highest priority to the case" and "probe its entire ramifications."
With fresh FIRs CBI to question Nithari's serial killer
January 11, 2007
Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant Surender Koli alias Satish accused in the heinous serial killings of close to forty children in Nithari arrived in the national capital on Thursday morning.
The narco-analysis test, which was conducted on the duo in Gandhinagar's Central Forensic Laboratory for the past one week, was completed on Wednesday afternoon, the results of which will be completed in the next two days.
The duo were taken to Noida's Sector 20 police station at around seven in the morning, where he will be handed to the CBI later in the day, as the central investigative agency has already taken over the investigations. CBI on late Wednesday night confirmed of receiving the 19 FIRs that were filed by the Special Investigating team of the Uttar Pradesh police and has said that it will file fresh FIRs in the case. "We have received a notification from the Government that we are to take over the case from the UP Police," CBI Director Vijay Shankar told reporters.
The CBI has also called a special team of forensic experts from Gandhinagar and Hyderabad CFSL to analyse the evidence collected from Pandher's D-5 bungalow in Nithari, where the alleged killing took place. It is most likely that the forensic expert may visit the site again and would try to collect fresh evidence from the place.
The central investigative agency finally took over the investigations on Wednesday after it received the notifications from the State Government in the proper format. After much difference with the Centre over the formal modalities involved in seeking CBI probe, the Uttar Pradesh Government finally issued a notification to the Centre for a CBI probe into the Nithari killings case.
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh had merely asked the Centre to order a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe without issuing a notification. With the Centre pointing out the lacunae in the Uttar Pradesh government's move, the State issued the required notification enabling transfer of the case of recovery of skeletal remains from Nithari in Noida as well as the probe into the Meerut lecturer Kavita Rani murder case to the CBI.
The notification from UP's Home Secretary R M Srivastava came after the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which governs the CBI, sent a letter to the state's home department about making a proper notification under Section 5 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act in proper format.
Coming under pressure from all quarters of the state police's handling of the Nithari case, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had announced on January 5 that the State would seek a CBI inquiry into the matter.
The CBI is also slated to probe into the dereliction of duty by the police officers as till date two Superintendents of Police have been suspended and seven other policemen dismissed. 14-member team of the UP police till now has been investigating the incident but it has yet to make any headway into the case.
The police are pinning hope on the results of the narco-analysis test, brain mapping test and polygraph (lie detecting) test carried out on the accused to find new revelations and the motive behind the killings. Apart from this, a high-level inter-ministerial committee is already probing the incident.
The four-member Committee set up by the Centre is headed by Joint Secretary, Union Women and Child Development Manjula Krishnan and is expected to submit its report by January 18. The committee is looking into the alleged negligence of the police and would also go into the modus operandi and the motive of the accused persons involved in it.
CBI begins probe of Noida murders
January 10, 2007
The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday registered 19 cases in the serial killings in Noida. CBI Director Vijay Shankar said the cases will be given priority. "The government of India has issued notification, there are 19 cases and separate teams to investigate them". Psychiatrists will examine the two serial killers to check their mental health. The narco-analysis tests on them have been completed.
The police remand of Moninder Singh and Surender Koli, the main accused in the Noida serial killings, has been extended by two days. Meanwhile, major leads are emerging from the narco-analysis test on Surinder, one of the two accused in the case. Sources have told NDTV that during the narco test conducted on him at the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Gandhinagar on Monday, Surinder said that he killed the victims out of sexual frustration. He also said that he was a necrophiliac, which is one having sexual contact with or an erotic desire for dead bodies.
Surinder, while describing how he would dispose of the bodies, said he would cut the bodies into pieces, dump the bigger bodies in the back drain of their house in Nithari and the smaller bodies in the main drain. When asked whose idea it was to murder the victims after they were sexually assaulted, Surinder is understood to have said that Moninder told him to dump the bodies.
Inconsistencies in statement It could indicate that Moninder had some involvement in the actual murders. There are however, reports of inconsistencies in Surinder's statement on Moninder's involvement in the murders. Surinder has said that the police had earlier come to their house but did not know anything about the bodies and had come in connection with reports of call girls at the house.
He is also believed to have said that Moninder used to entertain VIPs, policemen and call girls and that a lot of cars would arrive at their house between 11 pm and 2 am. Asked about the role of Maya, the domestic help at Moninder's house, Surinder is believed to have said that she was not involved. And when asked whether there was an organ racket going on, Surinder said he did not know what an organ racket was. Meanwhile, Moninder, the main accused in the Noida serial killings, underwent a narco-analysis test at the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Gandhinagar on Tuesday.
One alleged serial killer undergoes narco analysis test
January 8, 2007
Forensic experts in Gandhinagar Monday conducted a narco analysis test on Surendra, one of the two men accused in the serial killings of at least 20 children in Noida, while police declared the other accused, Moninder Singh Pandher, medically fit to undergo the test. Surendra went through the test at the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Gandhinagar.
His businessman master, Moninder Singh, was not made to undergo the test after he complained of health problems late Sunday and had to be hospitalised. After checking Moninder Singh's blood sugar level and his complaint of minor chest pain, he was discharged Monday. 'As Moninder had health problems, Surendra underwent the narco test first. Moninder will under go the test soon,' said a top police official in Noida.
Both the men were flown to Ahmedabad Friday morning and were taken to the Forensic Sciences Laboratory for a lie-detection, brain mapping and narco-analysis tests as part of investigations into the gruesome killings of several children in Noida after they were allegedly first sexually molested. The brain mapping and lie detection tests have been done on both.
Meanwhile, police in Noida continued their interrogation of Moninder Singh's maid Maya Sarkar and her husband. Maya has been working in his Sector 31 house for over a year. 'We are interrogating both of them as we believe they can be prime witnesses in the case,' said a senior police official. He refused to divulge details of the investigations.
Police also sealed the D-5 bungalow of Moninder Singh ahead of handing over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). 'We are not allowing anyone except forensic experts from Agra inside the house,' police added. Since Dec 29, skeletal remains, slippers and tattered clothes of at least 20 children were dug out from a drain behind Moninder Singh's bungalow.
Family says serial killer suspect is ‘no monster’
January 7, 2007
The wife and son of a businessman suspected of the rape and mass murder of children in a case that has sparked outrage in India said yesterday he was not a monster and claimed he had been framed.
Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant, Surender Kohli, were questioned by police using truth serum or sodium penthanol for a second day yesterday to try to discover the motive and exact number of killings.
Pandher’s son Karan told reporters that his father should not be deemed guilty before being given a fair trial. "Do not accuse him right now. He is just a suspect. He is not a monster. Come on, have a heart. He has a family. He has a son," Karan Pandher said. "If my father is found guilty — it’s hard for me to say this — he should get the highest punishment. He should get capital punishment," he told the private Zee News network in an interview.
"The people of Nithari, children and my father need justice. But my father has not got a fair trial yet," Karan said. He said because of the case, their family business had suffered. "Now no one wants to do business with us. I appeal to all that we are not bad people."
A woman identified as Moninder Pandher’s wife also defended the man and denied media reports that the couple lived separately because of differences. "He is not guilty, not at all. This thing about children, it’s rubbish. He is being framed. There’s no truth in it," Devinder Kaur told Zee network.
An autopsy report said the 17 bodies, mainly of young girls from poor families, found near Pandher’s house last week had been sliced with "butcher-like" precision. The victims lived in Nithari village in the affluent Noida township near New Delhi and had been missing for up to three years.
Residents say at least 38 people, mostly children, have disappeared from the area and that police had ignored their complaints the children were missing. The killings have dominated the front pages of all newspapers.
The Times of India newspaper yesterday said the accused Kohli had confessed to eating the livers of his victims and having sex with dead bodies, under the headline "Cannibal Surendra?" The report did not reveal the source for the information.
The Indian Express reported that police suspected Pandher may have been involved in an international pornography racket after they found photographs of nude children and evidence he had taken several foreign trips.
Police dismissed the news reports as speculative and declined to give details of investigations that were being handed over to the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). "The case has been transferred to the CBI. We can’t say anything now. The media reports are based on speculation," investigation official Dinesh Yadav said. "I fail to understand how the media has concluded this when the narco analysis test on the accused has barely started," Noida Senior Superintendent of Police R K S Rathore said. "It is rather early and premature to say anything right now. But considering the glaring perversion and brutalities, we do not rule out any possibility."
Police earlier said they were probing whether the victims were killed so that their organs, such as kidneys, could be sold. However, a medical expert here has ruled it out. "Removal of the kidneys from a human body is a very delicate process and has to be necessarily done on a person with a beating heart, so that the blood circulation process is on. You cannot remove the kidney of a dead person," Diwakar Dalela, head of the urology department at the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow said. "Well, unless the kids were first taken to a well-equipped operation theatre for removal of kidneys and then done to death, the question of organ transplant could not arise," he said. "In any case, organ transplant requires so many pre-requisites like blood and kidney matching between the donor and recipient. Besides no Indian hospital so far has facilities to preserve a kidney for more than three to four hours."
The accused will also undergo lie-detection tests and brain mapping — to find out their response to pictures of the victims — but those results, and the outcome of the truth serum tests, cannot be admitted as evidence in court. The tests will be used mainly to lead investigators to clues. Ruling Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi yesterday visited the village where most of the victims came from and met their families. Gandhi described the killings as "cruel" and "barbaric" and took swipes at the Uttar Pradesh state government, where elections are due later this year, saying "there is no law and order."
Golden boy turns serial child-killer
January 6, 2007
HE is an alumnus of one of the subcontinent's most prestigious and expensive schools, Bishop Cotton at Bangalore, which dates back more than 100 years to the days of the British Raj and has as its motto the noble injunction "Overcome Evil with Good".
Today, however, there is only evil in perceptions of Moninder Singh Pandher, the millionaire New Delhi businessman at the centre of what is emerging as oneof the world's most horrendous cases of sexual depravity and pedophile serial killing.
The Indian media has dubbed him the Butcher of Noida - in articles accompanied by school pictures of a neatly dressed and turbaned Bishop Cotton student, known to his mates as Goldy. He is accused with his manservant, Surendra Kohli, of as many as 40 cases of kidnapping young children, mainly little girls, raping and abusing them - in some instances after they had died - strangling them and then cutting up their bodies before disposing of the remains in a drain outside his house at Noida, on Delhi's outskirts.
Forensic experts said yesterday the bodies had been sliced precisely and systematically, as detailed in an autopsy report on the remains of 17 corpses dug out of the drain. The report said 11 of the victims were young girls. "Post-mortem tests reveal the bodies were cut with butcher-like precision," said surgeon Vinod Kumar. "Whoever did it, they cut through the bones very systematically."
The case has exposed the dark underbelly of life in the teeming Indian capital, even as the country races towards record economic growth and projected superpower status. Noida is not out in the sticks. It is one of Delhi's fastest-growing satellites, a place that is attracting much of the call-centre and IT investment pouring into the country, and the proposed site of what it is claimed will be the world's tallest building. But the reality is that as Pandher and Kohli allegedly went about the gruesome business of raping and murdering dozens of small children and at least one woman over one or two years, the pleas of parents whose children had gone missing were treated with contempt by the police.
The parents say they went to police dozens of times, and the first missing-person reports were lodged in 2005. But the police did nothing. For these were children of a lesser god - the children of dirt-poor people with neither money nor influence, humble and impoverished migrants from rural areas of India, rickshaw pullers, street sweepers and labourers. They are the people whose awful lot in life this week was to stand and watch as investigators dug up the fetid drain outside Pandher's house of horrors, uncovering cheap rubber sandals, little polka-dotted blouses, a faded blue shirt, plastic trinkets, even pieces of cloth from which they could identify their children as victims of the Butcher of Noida.
The parents believe that had the police acted on the first complaints, many lives could have been saved. Reacting to the growing public anger, authorities in Uttar Pradesh yesterday sacked six of the local police and suspended three others.
Sunil Biswas, a rickshaw puller from West Bengal, who tried to file a complaint about his 10-year-old daughter Pushpa, who went missing from the local school in April last year, said: "Policemen were reluctant to take the complaint and also misbehaved with me and my wife and showered abuses on us. "They told us: 'Why do you produce children if you cannot take care ofthem?"' The impoverished world of Mr Biswas and his fellow mourners is light years away from Goldy Pandher's life of money, flash cars, power and influence - a life in which he hunted tigers and leopards and collected fine spirits, boasting a well-stocked bar.
Pandher, now in his late 50s, grew up in an affluent family and built a fortune running a trucking company. According to reports yesterday, he has friends in high places and is well-known to a number of leading Punjabi politicians in India's dominant Congress party. He is the sort of person who, in India in 2007, can get away with murder.
Friends spoke yesterday of "a highly intelligent man with a good sense of humour". Deepak Kumar Thakur, a lawyer who was at school with him, declared: "I have known Pandher since 1964 when we were in class. I have no reason to believe he could be involved in such a crime, until the court proves him guilty." However, the police have no such reservations. They have charged Pandher and Kohli with offences ranging from kidnapping to rape and murder.
Only the number of offences is in doubt, according to police, with the search for human remains continuing. Parents say at least 38 children have gone missing in the area. Both men are under interrogation, the police say. Kohli has reportedly admitted enticing the children into the house, using lollies as bait. All the children were strangled. Their bodies were dismembered with a saw, and the remains dumped in the drain. Extraordinarily, the smell of decaying human flesh in the drain caused no suspicion. But that probably says as much as anything about what is taken for normal on some of India's streets.
Kohli admits his complicity, according to police, but says he was only obeying his master's orders. Under interrogation, Pandher gives little away. But investigators are sure of their case. What remains a mystery, however, is just what led Pandher to face the allegations now made against him. According to reports, he has been living separately from his wife, but is a devoted father to an only son who has been studying in Canada. Some friends talk of him going off the rails after a few drinks. Of dark moods. Of a penchant for prostitutes. But most find the odyssey from bright and shiny pupil at Bishop Cotton to accused serial killer hard to comprehend.
India is a country where, according to the National Human Rights Commission, more than 45,000 children go missing every year, and where the tragic helplessness of the Noida parents in the face of cruel police inaction is replicated many times over. Too often, neglect such as that seen in the case of the Butcher of Noida proves the antithesis of the Bishop Cotton motto, and evil triumphs over good.
Serial killer's Chandigarh house attracts curious eyes
December 31, 2006
A palatial bungalow in an elite part of Chandigarh's Sector 27 has become the centre of attraction for a shocked neighbourhood after its owner became an accused in the brutal serial killings of children in Noida.
The bungalow belongs to Moninder (rpt Moninder) Singh Pandher, who has been arrested in Uttar Pradesh and is said to be the kingpin of the serial killings along with two servants and then dumping their bodies in the backyard of his house in Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi.
The Chandigarh police, ever since Moninder's name figured in the killings, have stationed a police control room vehicle with three-four policemen to keep surveillance on the property and its residents. The police have so far not searched the premises because there has been no communication from their Noida counterparts. But they have questioned the family members and servants.
Moninder is a millionaire businessman with interests in transport, agricultural machines and property. He had his education in Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, and St Stephen's College, Delhi. The bungalow, a 2,000-square yard property in a posh locality, is valued at over Rs.100 million at present market prices. Leading industrialists, businessmen, politicians and other influential people have their bungalows in the locality where Moninder lives.
Residents said they had not been seeing Moninder often in this bungalow in the last two to three years though his family admitted that he had last come here 15 days ago, just for a day. One resident who requested anonymity said Moninder appeared to be a 'nice and normal man' with a good sense of humour. He said most residents were shocked he could do something so gruesome.
The only residents of the sprawling villa are Moninder's wife Devinder Kaur, 50, their Canada-educated son Karan, 23, and a couple of servants. Ever since Moninder's name figured in the Noida killings, the family has locked themselves inside the house. The main gate has been locked and even the cars inside have their number plates covered with cloth. Congress MP from Jalandhar, Rana Gurjit Singh, a distant relative of Devinder Kaur, visited her Saturday. 'I went to enquire about her after coming to know of her husband's arrest,' Rana Gurjit said.
Noida serial killer confesses to raping, strangling eight kids
December 30, 2006
In a horrific turn to numerous incidents of children disappearing in Nithari village of Sector 31 here, parts of 15 skeletons of girls and boys were recovered from a drain behind an industrialist's house in the village on Friday. The caretaker of the house, Subhash alias Surendra, told the cops he had been sexually abusing and strangling his victims before disposing of their bodies in the drain.
The house belongs to a Chandigarh-based industrialist, Mohinder Singh Kohli. While Subhash has been arrested, Kohli too has been taken into custody. A senior Noida police officer said that Kohli was 'definitely under suspicion'.
The villagers had been complaining to the cops for the past two years about their children going missing regularly, and if the cops had acted in time, the serial killer could have been nabbed much earlier. Subhash has so far confessed to killing two boys and six girls, between 4 and 12 years of age, besides a 26-year-old woman. "But, deranged as he seems to be, he may well have forgotten how many children he actually killed," said the officer.
In a scene straight out of a psychopath movie, cops found several knives, a licensed rifle and many live cartridges in the house. The police suspect that many more have been killed, particularly because the villagers said that often there were visitors from outside at the house. Among those killed could be some whose disappearance was never reported.
Noida police chief R K S Rathor said the breakthrough came when they took in Subhash for questioning after a 26-year-old woman, Payal, disappeared recently. Subhash was found to be in possession of Payal's mobile phone. The cops then stumbled on the bizarre serial murders. The villagers had been suspicious about the men in the house and often complained to the police. The drain behind Kohli's house had been giving out a foul stench for months. When the cops were called in to investigate, they laughed off the suspicion that there could be human bodies in the drain. One reportedly even found a bone but left saying it was of some animal.
On Friday, the anger of the villagers boiled over and they stoned the house, smashing flower pots and damaging anything in sight. And when a large police contingent tried to drive them away, the mob turned on the cops. A woman, whose son is missing, slapped a sub-inspector, saying, Tumhari vajah se hamare bachche mare hain. Tum to report bhi darj nahin karte unke khone ki. Ab batao in haddiyon mein kaun sa mera beta hai . (Our children have died because of you. You didn't even file a report. Now tell me where is my son in these bones.). She then collapsed, weeping bitterly.
Organ scam suspected in serial killer bust
December 30, 2006
The discovery in NOIDA has reinforced a suspicion harboured by some residents that an organ racket was thriving in their midst. “The children kidnapped were both boys and girls and we have been saying that an organ scam could be behind the kidnappings,” said Usha Thakur, a social activist. She pointed to the way the bodies had been cut up, and said foul sexual leanings did not seem to have spurred the crimes. Thakur, who has taken up the issue on behalf of Nithari residents, said they had always suspected Mohinder Singh of involvement in the disappearance of so many children. “His house lies at the end of the village and his servant Satish frequented the village,” she said. Whatever the motive, the killings have galvanised residents’ ire against police. Thakur said police inaction was visible since the day 12-year-old Rimpa Haldar, first of the many still missing, disappeared two years ago.
Noida serial killer sent to 2 days' custody
December 30, 2006
Mohinder Singh Pandher, a factory owner, and his servant Satish were today remanded to two days' police custody in connection with the alleged killing of at least 15 children. They were produced before the duty magistrate in a local court, who remanded them to police custody to enable further interrogation of the two suspects. Police had asked for five days' custody. A case has been registered against the two under various sections of IPC, including rape, murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy, SSP R. K. S. Rahore told reporters.
Families of missing children lose hope
December 29, 2006
Pappu Lal spent the whole of last year hoping that his missing seven-year-old girl would one day come back home. But on Friday, Pappu says all hopes were dashed when sacks of skeletons were recovered by Noida police in a bungalow in Sector 31. "I saw it all. They found bones and 18 skulls," says the distressed man. But the police say skeletal remains of only eight children aged between three and 15 years were recovered.
According to the police, the bodies will be sent for DNA testing, but for the aggrieved families this delayed investigation means nothing. Parents of the missing children say they had been suspecting Satish for a long time. "I don't have any faith in the police. We have been telling them again and again that we suspected this man," says James, whose child has been missing for some time now. The DNA tests will confirm the identities of the children, but for parents who have lost their little ones, there is little hope left.
Serial killer held, skeletons of four kids found in Noida
December 29, 2006
A nearly two-year-long mystery over 38 missing children, mostly girls, was finally resolved on Friday when police recovered skeletal remains of at least four children from a working class neighbourhood on the edges of this booming suburban town New Delhi.
Police believe that this chance discovery could lead to the remains of the remaining children who may have been sexually abused and brutally murdered by a psychopathic serial killer.
After failing to solve the mysterious disappearance of children since March 2005, the breakthrough finally came when police arrested Surendra Kohli, alias Satish, who is believed to be mentally ill, while investigating the murder of a 16-year-old girl, Payal.
"We have recovered four skeletons on the basis of the information given by Satish but the actual figure of the total skeletons would be known only after medical investigations. The bodies were found buried in a two-and a-half-feet deep ditch behind the house of a businessman," said Jagmohan Yadav, inspector general of police (IGP) Meerut Range.
"We have also found the mobile phone of Payal which we had managed to track on the basis of technical surveillance. The girl had gone missing in May but Satish was using her phone since then," added Yadav. Satish, a resident of Almora in Uttaranchal, was working as a domestic help in businessman Sardar Mohinder Singh's house in Nithari, near here. "The man (Satish) seems to be mentally ill."
"The bodies were kept in bags and buried near a drain behind the house. We have also recovered some clothes of children," he said. "We have also found weapons while searching the house," added the officer. "We have also arrested Mohinder Singh after a detailed questioning. We have sealed the house and a thorough search is being carried out. We have also called two excavators to help the police in the search operations," Yadav said.
Police added that they were also questioning P. Chaudhary, a medical storeowner. "We suspect that he was also involved in the crime. He has a past record and he was arrested in 1999 for being involved in an organ transplant racket," said Rajesh Kumar Singh Rathore, senior superintendent of police.
In the past 21 months of investigation when the first case of abduction was reported to the police, villagers have alleged that 38 children, mostly minor girls, have gone missing while playing near the water tank. "We suspected the skeletons are those of the children who were kidnapped from the village. We will reach a conclusion only after carrying out the forensic tests, it is too early to comment," said Rathore None of the 38 children, who were allegedly kidnapped, has been recovered so far.
Police said most of the missing children, in the age group of 3-11 years, were girls. A majority of the inhabitants of Nithari village are migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. They earn their livelihood as domestic helps, drivers and fruit and vegetable vendors.
The semi-rural village has a population of around 25,000 people mostly those who have come to Noida in search of work in the capital and the satellite town in its periphery. Kidnappings do not make news any more in much of the rural belt of Noida as for the past few months every month around two children were being abducted while playing outside their homes. "We have been complaining about this for the past so many months but police only want money from us," said Sunita, tears rolling down her eyes as she remembered the last time she saw her daughter who was also kidnapped 15 months while playing outside her house. "We only get abused and beaten by the cops every time we go to enquire about our missing children," she said while sitting in her makeshift laundry shop at the corner of the main road.
Another person whose 8-year-old daughter was kidnapped said, "Our worst fears have come true today. We always suspected that something had happened to our children," Pappu Lal. His daughter, Rachna Kumari, 8, went missing April 10 while playing outside her house. "I have gone to far off places like Jaipur, Mumbai, Bharatpur, Ajmer, Lucknow, Varanasi and Allahabad in search of our children," Pappu Lal added.