Police in India have discovered the decomposing bodies of a number of children buried behind a house outside Delhi and arrested two men, one of whom is said to have confessed to sexually abusing and killing at least seven children.
The arrests sparked an angry response from locals who claim there are dozens of children missing in the area.
Surendra Kohli, known locally as Satish, was arrested yesterday and allegedly confessed to sexually abusing and murdering at least seven children after police found the skeletons following a tip off. Mr Kohli, who police say is mentally ill, was said to be carrying the mobile phone of a girl who had recently gone missing at the time of his arrest.
The remains were found buried in plastic bags behind a water tank in the house of a businessman for whom Mr Kohli worked in Noida, one of the many working class suburbs that ring the sprawling capital.
The businessman, Mohinder Singh, and a medical store owner were also arrested but police refused to say whether they had any direct involvement in the killings. The police chief for the area, R K S Rathore, said that after the bodies, many of them in parts, were found, the alleged killer, a domestic servant at the house, confessed to luring at least seven children to the home and killing them. "Now we're investigating further and in due course we'll come to know more details, including the number of bodies," Mr Rathore told the Associated Press news agency.
Despite police statements some confusion remained last night over exactly how many bodies had actually been found.
"We have recovered four skeletons on the basis of the information given by Satish but the actual figure of the total skeletons would be known only after medical investigations," said police inspector Jagmohan Yadav.
But angry residents, many of whom hurled stones at the house, told reporters that as many as 38 children, mostly young girls, had gone missing in the area over the past 21 months and they accused the police of failing to investigate the disappearances.
One woman, Sunita, whose daughter went missing 15 months ago, told The Times of India: "We have been complaining about this for the past so many months but police only want money from us. We only get abused and beaten by the cops every time we go to inquire about our missing children."
Hundreds of people descended upon the crime scene yesterday to see if any of the bodies could be identified but, according to the police, no remains recovered so far belong to any of the 38 missing children. Police called off the search as darkness descended yesterday evening and it will resume today.
India has a long history of serial killers preying on vulnerable children. In late 1988, a rickshaw driver, nicknamed Auto Shankar at his trial, was found guilty and eventually hanged for killing at least nine teenage girls in the southern city of Chennai over a period of six months. Another serial killer, Raman Raghav, preyed on street urchins and killed up to nine people in Mumbai during the 1960s.
As thousands of children go missing in India every year, police are rarely able to follow up every individual disappearance. One news channel last night reported that a mid-level commander in the neighbourhood had been suspended hours after the bodies were found.Reuse content