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Thursday, January 04, 2007
Central govt sets up panel to probe Noida killings
Manjula Krishnan to focus on negligence on local police and administration.

Even as the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday declined to entertain a petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the macabre serial killings at Nithari village in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, the Central Government has set up a high-level committee to investigate the incident.

This was done apparently bowing to mounting pressure from various quarters.

The committee, headed by Manjula Krishnan, Joint Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry, will focus on the negligence by the local administration in investigating the issue and will submit its report within 15 days.

"We will suggest preventive measures to avoid such happenings in future,” said Manjula Krishnan.

Renuka Chaudhary, Union Minister for Woman and Child Welfare, said the inquiry committee said: “What was the Uttar Pradesh government doing when these children disappeared and were killed and buried? A higher probe would be ordered if there are lacunae in the report.”

It was five days ago that skeletons of children - who were sexually assaulted and butchered - were unearthed from the bungalow of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in Noida’s Sector 31.

The Noida police have confirmed that at least 22 dismembered skeletons - most of them with torsos missing - have been recovered so far.

Pandher and his domestic help Surendra alias Satish Koli - accused of raping and killing nearly 40 children and young women - confessed to the crime on Tuesday and were remanded to police custody till January 10.

They will undergo lie-detector and a narco-analysis tests in Ahmedabad on Friday.

The recovery of skulls, bones and skeletons without torsos has also sparked off speculation that an organ trade business was the cause of the ghastly killings. However, Noida police have not confirmed or denied it yet.

“We are not ruling out any angle. We are collecting evidence to probe all possible angles,” Shailendra Pratap Singh, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Meerut, said.

After facing severe criticism, the Noida police have also decided to record the statement of the accused in front of a magistrate under section 164 of the Indian PenalCode.

Police teams have also been dispatched to Pandher's Ludhiana farmhouse.

Child kidnapping cases have been reported from Chandigarh, Pandher's hometown.

Meanwhile, seven of the eight families of the victims - who were given a compensation of Rs 200,000 by the state government - on Tuesday returned their compensation cheques in protest.

However, the aggrieved families have now been returned their cheques. They are demanding that they be given jobs and houses as compensation.

The Chief Justice of India-designate Gopinathan Balakrishanan has expressed his concern over the incident, saying that the inquiry must be fair. “One would be shocked if all these revelations are true. So many skulls and body parts are being recovered,” he said.

The National Human Rights Commission also issued notices to the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh in connection with the bizarre incident.

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