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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Thieves strip Nithari horror house of fans, ACs and TVs

Moninder Singh Pander, the owner and household help Surender Koli were arrested for the sexual assault and murder of 19 children inside the bungalow and as the skeletons were unearthed one after the other, a nation watched in shock and outrage. The case gained notoriety as the 2006 Nithari killings.

noida Updated: Sep 24, 2018 09:11 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The inside view of Moninder Singh Pandher’s house.
The inside view of Moninder Singh Pandher’s house.(Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo)
         

Nearly 12 years have passed since the morning human skeletons were found in a drain outside a two-storey bungalow near Noida’s Nithari village.

The nation watched in horror as over a dozen skeletons were unearthed one after the other in the weeks that followed, revealing gruesome details of what transpired inside the house for months. Moninder Singh Pander, the bungalow’s owner, and his household help Surender Koli were arrested for the sexual assault and murder of 19 children inside the bungalow. Investigative agencies claimed some of the children were cooked and eaten by Koli.

The case became infamous as the 2006 Nithari killings.

In government records, the bungalow was sealed by the Uttar Pradesh police since 2006. But today, the “sealed” house stands ransacked and almost every other item inside is missing.

The bungalow’s main gate was stolen sometime last year. The theft went undetected as thick undergrowth has taken over both the floors of the house. An inside gate on the ground floor of the bungalow, too, has been missing for years.

The bungalow’s main gate was stolen sometime last year. The theft went undetected as thick undergrowth has taken over both the bungalow’s floors.
The bungalow’s main gate was stolen sometime last year. The theft went undetected as thick undergrowth has taken over both the bungalow’s floors. ( Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo )

Children are playing outside, but none of them dares enter for fear of the “ghosts of the children that haunt the house.”

Unlocked yet unvisited, the bungalow stands aloof and desolate — a rare sight in Noida where property rates are soaring as high as the buildings.

What lies inside

For the first time in 12 years, HT correspondent Prawesh Lama and lensman Burhaan Kinu entered the building last week and found a house hollowed out. It had nothing but empty beer bottles, a 2006 calendar, torn clothes, burnt furniture, yellowing photographs and the stench of a place abandoned for over a decade.

The bungalow – D-5, Sector 31, Noida — has been stripped of every valuable item; empty holes remain where air-conditioners once were, gone are the television sets, fans, clothes and chandeliers. Even the bathtub is missing.

In government records, the D-5 bungalow was sealed by the UP Police in 2006, when the murders were uncovered. But today, it is ransacked and almost every valuable item inside is missing.
In government records, the D-5 bungalow was sealed by the UP Police in 2006, when the murders were uncovered. But today, it is ransacked and almost every valuable item inside is missing. ( Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo )

The children are the only ones back — playing outside the bungalow or what remains of it. Pandher and Koli were accused of luring children from nearby Nithari village, who played outside, into the bungalow and killing them.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said, “There used to be iron UP Police barricades around the bungalow earlier, but those too have been stolen. Nobody wants to enter the house. One morning, sometime in 2017, we realised the main gate was gone. There was also a fire in 2014; the place must have been used by thieves and drug addicts. Those addicts must have been the ones who made off with the valuables inside.”

The house has remained locked since December 29, 2006. At least eight skeletal remains were found on the first day. The CBI, in its final report, said 19 children were raped and killed there.

Inside the house, the thick overgrowth has taken over the first floor as well. The kitchen where investigators believe Koli chopped the bodies still has a few utensils and small jars of pulses, turmeric, and pepper among other items. The calendar on the wall is of December 2006 — the month the killings came to light.

On the floor there are undergarments and a child-sized left shoe – possibly belonging to one of the children killed inside. There is a bed with most of its wood missing, no mattress or clothes in sight. The lockers are empty — its wood missing too.

A Toyota Corolla parked in the garage is barely recognisable under years of dirt and rust. Plants have grown inside the sedan.

In the bedrooms, beds have most of their wood missing.
In the bedrooms, beds have most of their wood missing. ( Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO )

Even 12 years later, rumours still dominate all discussions about the house. An 11-year-old, who lives in the area, said his friends dare one another to enter the house alone.

He says, “We have decided that the one who enters the house alone is the bravest. No one has done it till date. I once crossed the main gate but heard sounds of children laughing and fled.”

No Takers

Pander’s son Karan said the family has approached court and police seeking the keys of the bungalow. The court had asked the district magistrate to reply on the Pander family’s claim to the bungalow. “The district magistrate wrote to us saying that there would be a law and order problem if they give us the bungalow. We do not know under which rule they have kept the bungalow,” he said.

Karan said his mother had also filed a police complaint about the thefts and the fire but till date police are yet to solve the case. “There is no electricity in that house. How could the house catch fire? Neither does the government maintain the property nor do they give it to us.”

The house has been stripped of every valuable item; empty holes remain where air-conditioners once were, gone are the TVs, fans and chandeliers. Only scraps remain.
The house has been stripped of every valuable item; empty holes remain where air-conditioners once were, gone are the TVs, fans and chandeliers. Only scraps remain. ( Burhaan Kinu/HT Photo )

A five-bedroom villa in the area costs somewhere over Rs 7 crore, according to Ranjit Wilson, a local real estate agent. In 2006, the land rates in the area were less than Rs 35,000 per square metre. Today it has nearly tripled and stands at over Rs 90,000 per square metre.

Most locals say the house is jinxed. “No one will buy this house. The locals are still angry... they will never let the Panders return. Most children here have grown hearing only stories about Pander and Koli. We don’t want their shadows anywhere near our children,” said Dilip, who lives in Nithari village.

A house of horrors, a house of ruins, a police case property or a haunted house — one could choose how to describe Pandher’s D-5 bungalow, but Karan says he still calls it home — one his father built brick-by-brick. “Yes the government has not returned our house. I don’t even know what it’s worth anymore. I don’t even care. I have bigger worries. I have a father who has been framed and has been in jail for 12 years.”

First Published: Sep 24, 2018 07:16 IST