Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli, the main suspects in the Nithari serial killings, were punched, kicked and verbally abused by a mob comprising both lawyers and onlookers at the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ghaziabad on Thursday. The melee left at least 17 people injured.
Pandher suffered minor head and hand injuries after he was pushed to the ground, the police and doctors said.
At least 12 CBI officers were also injured, as were some Uttar Pradesh policemen, said an officer at the Ghaziabad police control room.
Within hours, three police officers were suspended, and the Ghaziabad Police registered a case of attempt to murder and rioting against six lawyers.
Pandher and Koli were rushed to Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. While Koli was discharged after first aid and Pandher after being kept under observation for three hours, their presence in the hospital premises inadvertently led to the death of a two-year-old boy. The boy, who had severe burn injuries died before he could be taken inside the hospital, because the police had put up barricades around it.
Pandher and Koli had been taken to the court for a hearing to consider whether their police custody should be extended. CBI officers closed the doors of the courtroom and barred entry to all, including lawyers. Over an hour later, when the two were leaving the court, a waiting crowd assaulted them amid cries of "hit him". Pandher, in particular, was immediately identified and attacked.
The crowd dragged Pandher and Koli into a corridor of the courthouse, and continued beating them until the police pulled them away and shoved them into a waiting van. Many grabbed Pandher by his hair, punched his face repeatedly and hit him on his head. Pandher fainted, and policemen had to shield him from the furious crowd.