Nithari muders: Car parked at convict’s bungalow catches fire
A Toyota Corolla parked in the garage of bungalow no. 5, owned by Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two convicts in the Nithari killings, in Sector 31 near Nithari village, was damaged in a fire Thursday noon. Neighbours informed the fire department and a fire tender reached the spot and doused the fire.
Arun Kumar Singh, chief fire safety officer, said the incident took place around noon. “The fire department received information that the fire had broke out in Pandher’s bungalow. The sealed premises has a lot of dry leaves. It appears that the fire started in the leaves and spread to the car,” he said.
Pandher and his help Surender Koli were arrested and convicted in a series of cases related to the sexual assault and murder of 19 children inside the bungalow in 2006. The case became infamous as the 2006 Nithari killings. The bungalow was sealed by the Uttar Pradesh Police on December 29, 2006.
“There was no damage to the building, which remains sealed,” Singh said.
Rajveer Singh Chauhan, SHO Sector 20 police station, said, “The premises was locked from outside. The reason for the fire is not known. We have not received any complaint in this regard,” he said.
In October 2014, a fire had broke out on the premises and partially damaged the building. In September 2018, thieves had ransacked the bungalow and decamped with valuables. The house has remained locked since December 29, 2006.
The duo was arrested on December 29, 2006, after the discovery of bones and skulls from the backyard of bungalow. Police had found the remains during an investigation after children and young women disappeared mysteriously from the area. The Nithari horror, in which victims were raped, killed and the corpses cannibalized, had sent shock waves across the country.
The Central Bureau of Investigation had chargesheeted Koli for rape attempt, abduction, murder and destruction of evidence in all 16 cases. Pandher was chargesheeted in a single case under the provisions of Immoral Trafficking Act. He was later summoned by the court as co-accused in five cases along with Koli.
The one-and-a-half storeyed bungalow is hidden with shrubs and has a thick undergrowth and is often referred to as a haunted house by residents of the area. The lock on the main gate, put in place by investigation agencies, has developed rust. Those who live nearby have not seen any official visiting the structure for its maintenance.