We forget crime too easily in India, even particularly brutal ones. Lessons aren’t learnt, systemic changes not brought, and public memory is too fickle to keep demanding justice. A little over six years ago, people of Nithari—a village of hutments in the midst of Noida’s towered cityscape—discovered that serial killers lived right outside their village, and had killed at least 19 women and children. The Nithari killings, in all their gory details, were big news then, and the government made the right noises, including handing over the investigation to the CBI.

However, the questions remain: How could murders on this scale go undetected for this long? How could body parts dumped in a drain, maintained by the local body, remain undiscovered for so long? And how could the local police be so indifferent, to repeated pleas for families of children who went missing?

Our cover story “Nailing the lies of Nithari?” answers these questions. Arpit Parashar who has been following the case since it broke in December 2006, writes that there were enough warnings about Nithari. Victims’ families were trying to get their cases registered for months only to be shooed away by the Noida police, and there were enough murmurs of unusually high numbers of missing children from the area. The first FIR could be registered only after a court ordered the police, and people who protested the police’s inaction were slapped with cases.

Our story, pieced together from thousands of pages of court records, RTI replies and interviews with families questions the way the police and CBI investigated the case, and how they seemed to go soft on one accused.

Syria has been going through a bloody war for overturning an oppressive regime, a war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives so far. We tell the story of the war through experiences of three people: how their lives changed, and how they’re playing a part in their country’s struggle.

Essays this month include those on Kashmir in the wake of Afzal Guru’s execution, and another on why Indian agriculture need not fear FDI in retail.

Don’t miss our photo story on Chhau performers, a form of acrobatic dance performed by tribals from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. Like most ancient art forms, it requires extensive training and is expensive with its requirements of elaborate make-up, costumes, and masks. It is under threat as more and more performers find it difficult to carry on in the light of nil to moderate earnings from the craft.


Saurav Kumar, Editor

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