Nithari villagers rue the fact that when three-year-old Anant Gupta, son of Adobe CEO Naresh Gupta, was kidnapped on his way to school from his house in Noida's Sector 15-A, the Special Task Force (STF) was flown in from Lucknow to take over the case from the local police the very next day and assistance of the Delhi Police was sought.
In sharp contrast, it took the police six days to form a team to investigate into the multiple murders of Nithari's children. "The police didn't make any concrete progress in the case despite many complaints," Bikram Pradhan, the village headman says.
Villagers say it was mere coincidence that led the police to the victims' skeletons in the drain near D5, Sector 31, Noida - main accused Moninder Singh Pandher's house -- where the murders were allegedly committed. "All we got from the police was lathis when we lodged a protest. Innocent villagers who did not even protest were caught and beaten up," said M Appanna, 35, a rickshaw-puller who lives in Nithari.
National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Venkatesh agrees with the villagers that the police operated in the matter with a class bias. She said the police did not "purposefully act on the directions of the NCW". She adds, "This is a major instance of police not listening to the poor. If the rich are aggrieved they can attack the government. This is a classic case of injustice to the downtrodden."
Former Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, Prakash Singh, says the UP government and Noida police acted differently in the Anant Gupta kidnapping case and the Nithari killings. "The rich and the powerful generally get prompt attention. In rural areas like Nithari the pleas of the poor are seldom heard," he says. "In UP and Bihar, policing has been on a downward slope in the last 10 years. While we hear that the decline has been arrested in Bihar, in UP it continues," he adds.
Singh says that the state police are under constant pressure to play down the crime figures. He added, "When the crime figures go up, the government and politicians in power are questioned. There is debate in the Legislative Assembly. To avoid all that the police are under constant pressure to manage the crime figures."
So while the rich and the powerful get a hearing, the poor bear the brunt of the police's attempts to keep the number of cases registered low.