Despite simmering anger at police over their inaction and subsequent assault on them, an eerie quiet descended on Nithari village in Noida on Tuesday, four days after the uncovering of gruesome murders of poor children by two sex fiends who later dumped their severed bodies in a drain.
Police said they were not ruling out organ trade as one of the motives for the killings that would inarguably figure in the chronicles of the worst crimes in India.
"Even though we have not found any concrete evidence, we are not ruling out organ trade as one of the motives behind the mass killing," said RKS Rathore, senior superintendent of police of Noida.
"We have also sought medical opinion to ascertain as to what has been the exact cause of these deaths. As of now, 17 bodies have been recovered and we have identified 12 of them," Rathore said.
Police officials said three more people had been detained on Tuesday in connection with the murders but declined to disclose their identifies.
For the families of the victims and residents - who were still in shock over the ghastly crimes in their own backyard - a sense of fear also seeped in after the incident on Monday when they were beaten up after a clash with police.
"Police came inside our house and beat us mercilessly. I and my son have sustained injuries," said 57-year old Tulsi, showing her bruised hands. "We were already scared and now we don't know who to go to for justice."
Subhash, who pulls a rickshaw, said that he did not dare to move out of his home on Tuesday, leaving behind his wife and two small kids. "After police beat us up on Monday, I decided not to work for a couple of days."
In an apparent bid to soothe frayed tempers of villagers, Uttar Pradesh authorities quickly moved in and distributed Rs 200,000 to each of the eight families of the 12 identified victims, along with a blanket and 10 kg sack of wheat flour.
The remains of the victims that were recovered from the drain have been sent to the forensic labs in Agra and Hyderabad, and the two main accused would be taken to Ahmedabad for narco-analysis where interrogators would question them after administering them with specified drugs, officials added.
The residents in Noida had gone on the rampage on Monday, mainly directed at the two-storey house of businessman and main accused Moninder Singh Pandher, where he and his servant Surendra apparently carried out the crimes for the past 20 months.
The victims were lured one by one from the village and, at times, after raping them, the bodies were dumped into a drain just behind the villa in an affluent Noida neighbourhood at the edge of Nithari village, police said.