They come to look at bones. They end up checking out bikes. Hundreds of people are streaming to the site of the worst-ever serial killing in decades, where the Khooni Kothi—killer mansion—has become a major centre of attraction. Shiv Prakash and Akhilesh Chauhan know what that means: customers.
They work for scooter and motorcycle maker Honda, promoting its products to people in several sectors of Noida in roadshows where they accompany models mounted on a mini-truck. Post-Nithari, instead of showcasing the motorcycles in different neighbourhoods, they have stationed their mobile showroom close to Pandher’s house.
The plan has worked. In the last 15 days, they say they have sold 15 motorcycles to people who come to see the home of main suspect Moninder Singh Pandher, who has been charged with sexual assault and murder of dozens of people, mainly children, along with his servant Surender Koli. They are now being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Others say they are making money as well in the aftermath of the tragedy.
"Many people stop by to catch a glimpse of D-5 (Pandher's house),” says Shakeel, a rickshawpuller, who ferries visitors to the murder spot every day. To some, he sounds like a tour guide.
The standard tariff from Noida's main Atta business district to Sector 31 on a cycle-rickshaw is about Rs 25. “An extra Rs 5 if you want to see the drain from where the CBI picked up torsos,” Shakeel said. “Mini-vans will only drop you near the Nithari police post,” which is a long walk away.
Like him, everyone from paan-sellers and peanut vendors to tea-stall owners are doing good business. “Business has been really good,” says Bula Haldar, who put up a tea stall opposite a police barricade near Pandher’s house.