On december 29 last year, the remains of missing children were recovered from a drain in Noida. A year later, fear still stalks the young in the nearby village of Nithari. Some of them see themselves being chopped into pieces in their dreams, a recent study has found.
A team of psychologists studied 38 children aged between nine and 12, and found that all of them feared that they too would become victims of serial killings: 97% felt “very frightened” in the presence of strangers, especially men, and 91% felt “extremely scared” suddenly for no reason, the study by Swanchetan, an NGO, found.
“Every night, I see a man chopping me up. But I can’t tell anyone about this — because my parents will scold me and my friends will laugh at me,” said a 10-year-old boy. Most of those interviewed for the study are children of Nithari’s migrant workers.
All the children said they couldn’t discuss the questions they had about the killings with adults. “They are growing up in extreme fear, with their sense of safety and trust totally gone,” said Swanchetan director Rajat Mitra.
A Class VI girl said she had nightmares in which she saw her sister, one of the victims, calling out to her. “This world doesn’t feel right anymore,” she said. Like 76% of the children, she too, often breaks down; 68% of them said they found it hard to walk or breathe while crossing the dreaded house, on their way to school. The owner of the house, Moninder Singh Pandher, and his cook Surinder Koli were arrested in the case that shook the nation. And finally, the children, most of whom live in shanties, said they feel angry when they see people “living in bungalows”.