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Meerut murders: was it for money or sadism, wonder police

Author: (IANS)
Publication: Web India 123
Date: March 30, 2007
URL:      https://news.webindia123.com/news/articles/India/20070330/623000.html

Small built and deceptively normal-looking, Salim and his fellow cabbies would take on trusting passengers, including women and children, on a ride that would ultimately lead to their gory deaths along some lonely highway - all for some paltry valuables. Or, was it for sheer sadistic pleasure, wonder the police.

A stunned Uttar Pradesh Police Friday tried to piece together evidence to verify the claims of Salim that he and his gang of 35 cabbies had killed 250 people in almost five years, two days after the cabbie "confessed" to the murders.

Meerut Senior Superintendent of Police Dipesh Juneja said it would take a few days to probe how much of Salim's claims were actually true.

"Salim has confessed to the killing of 250 people by his gang in several districts of Uttar Pradesh. We are investigating several loose-ends and it may take us a few days before we are able to give a definite answer," Juneja told IANS.

"If what he has said is true then it would be among the most heinous serial killings so far. I have never come across such a crime in my life. They are sadists," the official added.

Salim, a middle-aged taxi driver, was picked up during the course of investigation of a dual murder that took place Feb 14. He confessed to the other killings, including of policemen, on Wednesday.

According to Juneja, lack of cooperation among the police forces of various districts was one of the reasons why the murderers were still moving scot-free after committing the crimes.

"It's pure inter-district lethargy on the part of police," he admitted.

"These cabbies are in the 25-35 age group. They would commit the crimes in groups of six-seven and kill people on lonely highways.

"Salim confessed that he had murdered five people, including a medical representative and an engineer, on the Meerut-Bulandsahar road in the second and third week of February," Juneja said.

The police official said Salim and his gang members looked very normal to outsiders. "They are from poor families, but have no history of estranged childhoods. They are merely cold-blooded sadists who would kill people for pleasure. Our investigations show that looting money cannot be the sole motive."

"On Feb 14, they killed two people. Their pickings were only Rs.1,750 and a mobile phone. This little amount of money cannot drive anyone to kill two people," he said.

According to police, the men would return to their villages after the murders. "They behaved normally after the murders."

Salim was a daily labourer who moved on to become a taxi driver, and finally morphed into a serial killer.

Juneja said Salim had told them about their "gang leader" Ahmad Ali. "Ali has a criminal history," he said, adding that police were working on the lead.

This is the third such case of serial killings to come to light around Delhi in the last six months. Meerut is 65 km from the Indian capital.

In November, police unearthed a gang of killer call centre cab drivers who had allegedly murdered around 35 people in Gurgaon, a satellite town of Delhi.

In December, businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his servant Surendra Koli were arrested for sexual abuse and murders of at least 19 people, mostly children, of Nithari village in Noida, near Delhi.
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