Months after the nationwide campaign on the roads, in television studios and through mobile phone SMS messages to bring justice to the killers of Jessica Lal, Nitish Katara and Priyadarshini Mattoo, a candlelight vigil was held for the children who died in Nithari.
Only ten people turned up.
“Then at another protest on Jantar Mantar on Sunday, just about 150 people reached. We had expected many more,” said Indu Jalali, one of the key campaigners who pushed for action against Mattoo’s murderer.
“People are slow to respond since there is no glamour attached to this case,” Jalali told the Hindustan Times. “But we will see it that it is taken to its logical conclusion,” she adds.
Middle class outrage is yet to spill onto New Delhi’s streets over the serial killings in Nithari, as it did when anger spread over the other deaths. Those campaigns forced authorities to move aggressively on the investigation and prosecution.
Some wonder if it is so because the victims were underprivileged. Dozens of people, mostly children, were sexually assaulted and killed allegedly by the main suspects — Noida businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant, Surendra Koli.
“The Nithari killings have shocked us. We must no longer watch from the sidelines. We have a moral responsibility,” says social activist L K Batra, a retired air force commodore who is seeking information from the government on the case, using the Right to Information.
Some steps, have, however, been taken by concerned citizens.
Small protests have taken place, campaigners are clamouring for more information on the case and alleged police lapses, and an internet web site —www.nithari.net — has been set up to help provide information about the missing people. The key figures in the other campaigns are also supporting the efforts to bring to justice the killers of the Nithari children.
“No one can relate better with them than me. My child was missing for four days and I didn’t know what to do and where to go? These families have been brave enough to withstand that feeling for not days or months but a couple of years,” said Neelam Katara, mother of Nitish Katara.
“My experience guides me to the fact that initial collection of evidence is utmost important as the court demands that,” she said. “In my opinion, a system should be formulated whereby the investigative officer should enter the site of crime with a mobile forensic lab to avoid any lapses so that we avoid future Nitharis from happening.”