The Nithari murders are turning out to be a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces are just not falling in place. Four days of investigations have yielded precious little except theories.
Doctors nix organ trade angle
Missing torsos might have triggered speculation about organ trade but transplant specialists from hospitals in Noida are sceptical. “A person cannot murder someone and take the torso to the doctor within a few minutes and ensure a successful transplant. This can only be possible if the kidnapped child was killed after proper testing. And that is possible only if an entire hospital connives in murdering a person for his organs, which is again highly unlikely. This is a case of sexual perversion and killings,” said Dr Anil Goyal, Noida chapter of Indian Medical Association.
The doctors, however, do concede that it is too much of a coincidence that two psychopath killers, both with similar mental disorders, got together and started killing. It rarely happens, but that does not mean that the two killed with the motive of selling organs,” said Dr Vijay Khare, nephrologist, Fortis Hospitals. The police are noncommittal. “We are investigating this angle, although at present we have not found any evidence which points to that. We had raided Dr Naveen Chowdhury’s residence and Noida Medical Centre. But nothing was found,” said SSP RKS Rathore.
Noida Medical Centre, the hospital that was allegedly involved in a kidney racket in 1998, has fuelled the organ trade theory. The hospital is tense —the hospital staff is edgy and so are the patients. Pandher’s neighbour and managing director Dr Naveen Chowdhury has been on leave since December 22. “We stood a trial and faced all the charges against us. We were given a clean chit in the kidney racket 1998. It is unfortunate the Naveen’s name is dragged in this,” said Saddhana Sood, Chief Executive Officer , NMC.
Cause of death?
Piecing together the gruesome tales has been made more difficult by the nature of the evidence. As the police have found only skeletal remains of the victims, the post-mortem report could not establish the cause of death, type of injuries or even the age or sex of the victims. “Of the 206 bones, only 20–odd bones and the skulls were sent to us. Most of the skulls were of young children and 11 of the heads had long hair, so we are assuming that they must be girls. But these are just assumptions, as we cannot ascertain anything with just skulls and a limbs,” said Dr Vinod Kumar, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Noida district hospital. Forensic experts believe that DNA tests will also not be of much help. “DNA can ascertain the victims’ parentage and identify the child. Approximate age can be determined only by post-mortem,” Dr Anupama Raina, DNA finger printing expert, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
One of the possible theories floating around is that Pandher and Surendra ran a sex racket. The police had earlier claimed that 26-year-old Payal, the latest victim, was a prostitute. “She visited D-5 regularly to meet Pandher. It seems that on May 7, Koli called her in Pandher’s absence. The two had a confrontation over the money offered by Koli. In anger, Koli strangled her to death,” said Rathore.