Her five-day-old baby boy sleeping in her lap, Shanti Devi spends days in her lower Himalayan village, in an image of stark irony hundreds of kilometers away, her husband Surender Koli faces charges of killing children.
Devi, 24, is convinced that her husband has been framed in the Nithari serial killings case, now investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Her mind wanders to the white mansion that has become familiar to millions of television viewers: the house of Koli’s employer and co-accused Moninder Singh Pandher in Noida’s Sector 31.
"For most of the time, I was in my room and I didn’t see anything happening in the house. I am sure there are more people involved in this.. my husband has been framed," she told the Hindustan Times, sitting at her secluded home in the squalid Mangrukhal village in Uttarakhand’s Kumaon hills.
Koli’s mother, wife, a younger brother and two children live in the village. The steep climb has not deterred journalists from reaching there.
But Koli’s wife is not willing to accept that her husband could have killed so many innocent people. She especially protests one theory that Noida Police gave publicly as a purported reason for the killings that her husband was impotent, and that he allegedly killed the children due to frustration.
They have two children, a three-year-old girl, Simran, and a baby boy, born a few days ago.
"I have lived with him for seven years and I know that he is not impotent. We had a baby boy five years back, but he died when he was only ten months old," Devi said tearfully, as her daughter played with her mischievously. "The police are only saying all this to frame him and divert attention."
Koli’s mother Kunti Devi said her son had left the village 14 years ago for the city, seeking a better life for the family. She spoke in the local dialect, Kumaoni, as her daughter-in-law translated the conversation to Hindi. "He left the village when he was only 13 years old. He had to leave school to earn money for us," Kunti Devi said.