Village elders in Mangrukhal, classmates and some old friends describe Surinder Koli — now a death row convict — as a nice, well-behaved man who never forgot to pay his respects to the elders whenever he visited the village.
“His entire family has lived here since he was born and they were like just another normal family. I still don’t believe that Surinder did all this,” said Kunwar Singh, an village elder.
Another one, Bhopal Singh, said even if Koli was involved in the crime, he was not alone. “If Surinder is involved, Pandher is responsible too. Why the employer is left out and a poor man jailed?” Singh told HT.
Koli’s classmates and some of his friends remembered him as nice young man. “We studied together in Class 8 and was a very sincere boy. I know him since childhood and know that he cannot even kill a rat. How can he kill children like this? Even after he got a job in Noida, he used to visit us,” said Chandan Negi, Koli’s school friend.Ranjeet Singh, another friend, said Koli took the blame on his head under “pressure”.
“Many people believed that he was paid to admit crime. He was made a scapegoat to protect influential people.