The skeletal remains of 15 children, who had mysteriously disappeared from Nithari village near Noida’s Sector 31 over the past two years, were recovered from a drain in the backyard of a businessman’s house on Friday.
The children were allegedly sexually abused before being killed. The prime suspect in the case, Satish, confessed to killing seven of them.
Villagers, who said over 30 children had gone missing, feared their bodies were all buried in the backyard of house number D-5.
had highlighted the case of the missing children on October 10 and November 20.
The bodies recovered had been stuffed in gunny bags. Senior Superintendent of Police RKS Rathore said they would be able to give a clear picture about the number of children killed after conducting a scientific examination of the skeletal remains, as the majority of the skeletons were not intact.
School bags, children’s slippers and other belongings were also recovered from the drain. The police found 15 knives, one revolver, 50 cartridges and one rifle in the house.
The owner of the house, Mahender Singh Pandher, who sells earth-moving equipment, was also arrested. Both Satish and Pandher have been charged with rape and murder.
"Pandher’s family - his wife and son - stays in a farmhouse in Ludhiana. He was living in Noida with his servant, Satish," said a police officer.
Ram Saran, the paternal uncle of three-year-old Harsh who went missing in February, said the parents of several children who had gone missing had suspected that Satish was responsible for the kidnappings. "But the police turned us away," he said.
The killings came to light when a few villagers noticed the clothes and slippers of some missing children dumped behind Pandher’s house, and informed the police.
The police officer said the recovery led to further suspicion. The house was put under surveillance. "Clinching evidence was obtained while investigating the kidnapping of a grown-up girl Payal, whose mobile phone was recovered from Satish," he said.
"When we started searching for Payal’s body after Satish confessed to the killing, we stumbled upon the other skeletons." Rathore said the police suspected Pandher’s involvement in the disappearance and murder of Payal.
"Pandher may even have sexually assaulted Payal," he said.
As news about the recovery of the skeletons spread, parents of some of the missing children rushed to the spot. Many carried photographs of their children, frantically searching for any clues.
"In Anant Gupta’s case, the police acted fast because his father was influential and rich," said Mukesh Kumar, whose five-year-old child went missing in June 2005. "But they flatly refused to hear our complaints."