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Recovery of skeletons of children sends shock waves

Staff Reporter

30-year-old domestic help confesses to sexual assault and killings in Noida, say police; employer also detained

PHOTO: R.V.MOORTHY.

SURFACING TRAGEDY: Relatives of the missing children outside the residence of a businessman where police found the remains of children in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, on Friday. (Right) Policemen carry the gunny bags containing the skeletons.

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NOIDA: The recovery of skeletons of young children from a dry gutter behind a businessman's house here on Friday has stunned the residents of this buzzing industrial town near the national capital.

The shocking discovery was made at the instance of a 30-year-old man, who allegedly confessed to killing half-a-dozen children and a grown-up girl after sexually assaulting them. The Noida police have arrested the man and also detained his employer.

Senior Superintendent R.K S. Rathore said the girl, in her 20s and resident of Nithari village in Noida, had gone missing in May. Investigations revealed that she used to visit the house of Mohinder Singh Pandher in Sector-31 in connection with some work, and she also knew his domestic help Surender alias Satish.

On being questioned on Thursday, Surender allegedly admitted that he killed the girl after criminally assaulting her. The police have recovered her cellphone from him.

Luring with sweets

"Some young children had gone missing this year from the same area and we suspected Surender's involvement. Following sustained interrogation, he confessed that he used to lure young children, offering them sweets or chocolates, assault them sexually and then strangle them to death," said Mr. Rathore.

At Surender's instance, the police recovered two gunny bags, which contained clothes and also some skeletons of children. Some other skeletons were found buried in the gutter. The police have deployed a bulldozer to dig it up fully.

Mr. Rathore said the skeletons were highly decomposed and it was difficult to ascertain the exact number recovered from the spot. While Surender allegedly confessed to having killed six children, the police have not ruled out the possibility of the skeletons revealing a higher number. These would be sent for DNA testing to establish identity.

As news of the recovery spread, Nithari residents gathered at the spot in the afternoon and began throwing stones at the businessman's house before being pacified by the police.

Parents rush to spot

Anxious parents of some of the missing children also reached the spot.

The father of a three-and-half-year-old boy, who went missing about a year ago, claimed that his son was playing on the very road from where the skeletons were recovered. The father of a 10-year-old girl said his daughter had gone missing a few months ago from the same locality.

According to the police, six children — four girls and two boys — went missing from Nithari in 2006, while two girls under 12 disappeared in 2005.

"We sent teams to Kolkata, Bharatpur and other places in a bid to trace them," said Mr. Rathore.

The police are questioning Mohinder, who was allegedlyinvolved in a kidney racket busted a decade ago. He owns spare parts factories in Noida and Chandigarh.

However, Mr. Rathore denied that a doctor, who lived in an adjacent house and was apparently involved in the racket, was detained for questioning on suspicion that the killings had to do with the illegal organ trade.

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