As skeleton after skeleton emerged from the backyard of a businessman’s house in Noida’s Sector 31, gloom enveloped Nithari village, which has been missing over 30 children in two years now.
Families of the missing children fished out photographs and copies of police FIRs from their mud-thatched houses and reached the house to enquire if their children figured among the 15 skeletons recovered.
Though some villagers had for long suspected the occupants of house number D-35 of being involved in the kidnappings, they did not pursue the matter with the police.
“Most of the families here are illegal immigrants and when their children went missing, they did not pursue the matter for fear of inviting police action. Some of the immigrants have been staying here for the last 10 years, but prefer to keep a low-profile as they don’t have their papers in order,” said Ram Kishan, a villager.
The houses are cramped and have 4-5 people sharing the same room. Most people staying in the village are employed in nearby houses and colonies as domestic servants, drivers and rickshaw pullers. Many are daily wagers.
Some houses do not even have power supply. The villagers alleged the police never showed interest in the missing children.
“They used to dismiss us saying we drink alcohol and get involved in meaningless brawls. In fact, when I tried approached the police to lodge a complaint when my five-year-old daughter went missing, the cops said I was a drunk liar,” said Mukesh Kumar, a sweeper.
The raised platform near the water tank served as the only open recreational place for the children of these families.
“The children often collected at the tank and played cricket or foot ball. Since in most houses, both parents work, the children were left unattended,” said Nilesh Singh, a resident.
The children of these houses are left vulnerable as both the parents were working. Most of them reportedly went missing during the daytime. All of them were last seen around House number D-5.
"There were also occasions when the children came out on the main road while playing. It must have been then that the miscreant must have lured them inside the house," said Bhadra Sarkar, a resident of Nithari village.
Residents say that despite so many complaints the police did not come even once to investigate into the matter.
"Most of us are poor with a hand to mouth existence. We don't have enough money to carry on a legal battle on our own. The police should have helped us. The police is only for the rich," said Tarak Sarkar, whose 11-year old daughter went missing in July. Tarak was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis and had been admitted in a hospital when his daughter went missing.
The villagers say that on many occasions the police roughed them up. "I have running from pillar to post. No one listens to us at the police station," added Tarak.
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