National

Women’s groups oppose death for Koli

Women’s groups across the country have started a campaign against the death penalty awarded to Surinder Koli for the Nithari killings.

In a petition to be submitted to the President, they have said that the death sentence would mean injustice to the families of victims of the Nithari killings, one of the worst crimes in modern India.

Koli, an allegedly self-confessed cannibal, has been accused of brutally killing 18 women and children in Nithari village of Noida. His review petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court last month. The President has rejected his mercy plea.

“Nithari killings are mainly about violence against women and girls. It is important for the women’s groups to say that Koli’s execution will be a travesty of justice. Crucial evidence has been overlooked in the matter. The families of all the victims and Koli himself are entitled to justice,” Kavita Krishnan, secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association, told The Hindu from Delhi.

The appeal has been signed by women’s and social activists from Delhi, Mumbai, Meghalaya and other parts of the country. Those who have endorsed it include Uma Chakravarti, a feminist historian and former Delhi University Professor; Pratiksha Baxi, a feminist and scholar at the Centre for Law and Governance in Jawaharlal Nehru University; Vani Subramanian from Saheli Women’s Resource Centre; Rohini Hensman, writer and scholar; and senior advocate Rebecca John.

“The poverty of the accused, poor trial representation, lacunae in investigation, torture and tutoring and glaring gaps in forensic examination furnish strong grounds for this petition for mercy,” says the appeal adding that there was no evidence against Koli, apart from his “tutored confession, which was procured by torture.”

Glaring omissions

The appeal says the courts and the police failed to look into critical evidence, which debunks the “cannibal of Nithari theory.” The Union government’s own expert committee (set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development), said the police failed to investigate the possibility of organ trade as the motive behind the crime. This observation is crucial in the background of the statement of the autopsy surgeon who had examined the bodies of the victims. His evidence, which was not brought on record, has discounted cannibalism, but suspected organ trade to be the motive.

“The committee also stressed the need to investigate whether some of Koli’s supposed victims were actually alive and trafficked elsewhere,” the appeal said adding that the sole case of Rimpa Haldar, in which Koli was convicted, needs ample verification.

The petition has now been put out on various platforms for endorsement by different groups and prominent personalities in the national and international human rights circuits. Women’s groups have appealed for wide support to their plea.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2020 8:18:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/womens-groups-oppose-death-for-koli/article6641430.ece

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