New Delhi: As the investigation into the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case proceeded along the time, there were evidence (admissible, non-admissible) which hinted at possible complicity of others; but CBI has been hell-bent in proving the Talwars as the only culprits in this case.
Since beginning, it has been a case of ifs and buts, leaps and bounds and institutional incompetence where “innocent until proven guilty” couple face charges of “honour killing” their own daughter even though the CBI told the court in its closure report that “it did not have sufficient evidence to charge them.”
Aarushi-Hemraj murder or Noida double murder case has become an urban legend. Everyone knows about it; everyone has an opinion about it. With media (along with CBI and police theory) already holding him guilty; facts do not matter any further. Talwars have been doomed in the public eye.
But away from the media frenzy and without holding reports as gospel truth, if one applies mind and question the very basis of charges against the Talwars, one would come to realise how the CBI has been hell bent in proving by hook or by crook that the dentist couple are the culprits even though investigation into the case, the narco tests of people questioned, their confessions of possible reported involvement, their presence at the crime scene minutes before the crime happened, evidence gathered from the crime scene, contradictory statements of officers, doctors, analysts hint at the possibilities of others being involved in the case.
Even though the event became a high-profile criminal case demanding fair trial in the interest of justice, the CBI seems to have done everything possible in its might to prove them guilty even though one of its officers had pleaded in court for Rajesh Talwar to be released from custody because his role in the crime had been “thoroughly investigated”, his tests showed “no deception”, none of the crime scene clues matched with him, and his custody was not required “in the interest of justice”.
15 points to judge whether the Talwars really killed Aarushi-Hemraj
1. After Aarushi and Hemraj were found murdered at Talwars' place, the needle of suspicion had moved towards Hemraj's friends - three domestic staff and workers who lived in the area. Krishna, a helper in Rajesh Talwar’s clinic; Raj Kumar, a house-help with Dr Praful and Anita Durrani, who were the Talwars’ friends; and Vijay Mandal, who worked at another neighbour’s house. But after initial interrogation, the leads on the aides were allowed to go cold; the pursuit of the Talwars intensified.
2. Both the Talwars and these aides were put through two sets each of polygraph tests, brain mapping tests, lie detector tests, and narcoanalysis.
Krishna, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal had admitted in their narco tests and confessions to the CBI that Hemraj had called them and they had gathered late that night in his room. Krishna (who had a recent grouse against the Talwars) came first and consumed alcohol, then Rajkumar, then Vijay Mandal. They all consumed alcohol, discussed Aarushi, then entered her room. She tried to scream but was gagged and hit by a hard, blunt object. They then tried to abuse her, which led to a scuffle between them. After the scuffle, they went to the terrace and after a lot of struggle, Hemraj was killed. They locked the terrace, came back into Aarushi’s room (presumably to ensure she was dead) and fled. They described the sequence of the crime, the murder weapon, and how Aarushi and Hemraj’s phones were disposed of, according to an investigation report by Tehelka.
3. Contrary to aides, both Nupur and Rajesh Talwar showed absolutely no deception in their tests. They also showed no knowledge of the crime.
4. This was a serious breakthrough. Even though Narco tests are not admissible as legal evidence, but they are important indicators of which way an investigation should head. Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act also says if any incriminatory discoveries are obtained pursuant to a voluntarily administered narco test, then these discoveries become legally admissible. This could have made the beginnings of a strong case.
5. Despite this breakthrough, things could not reach any logical end as the case suddenly took a new and malicious twist. While it would have been fair to continue investigating both sets of suspects — the Talwars and the domestic aides — inexplicably, the leads on the aides were allowed to go cold; the pursuit of the Talwars intensified.
6. Despite this, in December 2010, the CBI had to file a closure report on the case, citing “critical and substantial gaps” in the evidence against the Talwars, an “absence of a clear cut motive”, and an “incomplete understanding of the sequence of events”, but later this closure report became the basis of Talwars becoming the sole accused in Aarushi-Hemraj murder case.
9. Why do Raj Kumar’s former employers Dr Praful and Dr Anita Durrani claim that the CBI is misrepresenting their testimony about Kumar’s alibi the night of the murders? They claim that Kumar was free of all duties by before midnight on the night of the murders, and that his bathroom was outside their house’s main back door so he could come and go whenever he wanted.
10. As the CBI says, Rajesh committed the murders under sudden provocation, why didn’t his clothes from that evening have either of the victims’ blood on them? A strong thread of the discourse around this case has been one of class bias. Critics ask, with just cause, whether those who believe the Talwars innocent, do so because they are ‘People Like Us’. With this in mind, the question to ask is: why is the CBI biased against the testimonies of the underclass?
The CBI claimed that two days before the murder, Krishna was infuriated with Rajesh Talwar because the latter had scolded him for making an incorrect dental cast. The Talwars’ driver Umesh Sharma has told the authorities that Krishna later exclaimed to him that he would deal with Rajesh Talwar. Umesh Sharma has also said that he found Rajesh to be in the same clothes on the morning of 16 May as he’d been on the evening of 15. The Talwars’ maid’s description to the authorities of Rajesh’s clothes on the 16th morning also matches driver Umesh’s description of what Rajesh was wearing on the 15th night, which were without any bloodstains.
11. If the Talwars had tampered with the crime scene, why would they have left the biggest clue — the Ballantine’s whiskey bottle with many fingerprints and both victims’ bloodstains — sitting in plain view on their dining table for the police to find the next morning? If they were guilty, why did they protest the CBI’s move to close the case and insist that investigations continue? If they have something to hide, why are they agitating for advanced forensics to be applied such as touch DNA? Touch DNA is a technique that’s been used in criminal cases worldwide since it can analyse evidence even after years of contamination. Why is the CBI refusing to simply put all speculation to rest once and for all and get touch DNA testing on the evidence it has gathered, such as the whiskey bottle with still-unidentified fingerprints?
12. Why do experts at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) completely contradict the CBI’s latest theories about the murder weapon? The authorities first claimed that the murder weapon was a khukri (a curved Nepali knife), then they shifted to a scalpel, then to a golf club (or perhaps a combination of golf club and scalpel). The CBI finds Krishna’s khukri to be clean of any human blood, and its only evidence for the golf club theory is that two of Rajesh’s clubs in his golf set were cleaner than the others — disregarding these two inconclusive accounts leaves you with the experts’ opinion presented in a report in The Indian Express on 7 June 2008, which said that AIIMS experts concluded that Aarushi was murdered with a sharp-edged knife, given the deep cut on her throat (with probably a wooden handle to administer the blunt injuries) — rather than a surgical instrument like a scalpel, which “is so small it can only cut the skin layer by layer”.
13. Why do the post-mortem doctor Sunil Dohre and his assistants’ statements to the CBI rubbish their own original report? How credible is it that they somehow remembered radical new facts for the CBI about Aarushi’s body that are not present in their original post-mortem report — drastic facts such as her hymen was “ruptured”, had “an old tear”, “the vaginal orifice... was unduly large”, “mouth of cervix was visible”, her private parts were extraordinarily dilated and cleaned after the murder. These new facts are not only radical but contradict the original report, since extraordinary dilation and cleaning is inconsistent with the post-mortem report’s claim about presence of whitish discharge from Vagina.
14. How ‘sensitive’ it is to ignore the testimonies of the maid and driver Umesh Sharma and unquestioningly believe the police and CBI’s insinuations that Hemraj was in a sexual relationship with a child?
15. Why was the CBI’s first investigation team on this case replaced by a second one, especially since the first team had announced it was about to chargesheet the culprits? Why does the CBI now not mention the first team’s investigations — such as its sound reconstruction test at the Talwars’ house in June 2008 that concluded that sound from Aarushi’s room couldn’t be heard in her parents’ room; or its UV Light Testing on 1 June 2008 that apparently didn’t pick up any bloodstains to indicate that Hemraj was killed anywhere except the terrace?
Was it not strange for the CBI to admit in its final report that it has insufficient evidence against someone, suggest the case should be closed, and yet have to prosecute them in a trial on the basis of that. Given this context, was it not strange too that they had argued against Rajesh Talwar’s plea for further investigation before trial and were now stalling the production of defence witnesses?
Legally admissible evidence Vs investigation defining confessions
Narco tests and statements to police may not be legally admissible, but there exist physical facts that supported this admission and made it a logical line of investigation. Three bottles were found in Hemraj’s room: one Sprite, one Kingfisher beer, and one Sula wine. (Hemraj himself was a teetotaller.) This certainly suggests he had two or more visitors that fateful night. He used to have the keys to the entrance of the house, and his own room opened into the house. So a friendly entry was perfectly possible.
The sequence of events described by these men also matched the initial post mortem reports on Aarushi and Hemraj. The reports said both had been stunned — and probably almost entirely killed — by the blows on their heads by some hard blunt object; their necks were slit later.
A seven-member committee of scientists and doctors from AIIMS, who analysed the scene of crime, also concluded that Aarushi was killed in her bed, while Hemraj was killed on the terrace. In addition to this, after Krishna’s confession and narco, a “khukri” with what seemed like tiny blood spots was recovered from his room. On 31 July 2008, the post mortem doctors endorsed that this could certainly have been the weapon of assault that landed the fatal blows. It was also possible the khukri blade was responsible for the cuts on the throat though these could also have been done by something sharper. The AIIMS committee had also endorsed this view. Without any convincing logic, CBI did not find it worthy to investigate about the possible use of khukri in slitting throat of Aarushi and Hemraj.
If the allegation of an honour killing has to hold good against the Talwars, not only should Hemraj have been killed in Aarushi’s room, there has to be some proof of a sexual liaison between them as well. But though there was a written request from the police to Sunil Dohre, the post mortem doctor from the district hospital in Ghaziabad who examined Aarushi, to check for rape or sexual assault, Dohre had initially reported that there was absolutely no abnormality detected in the physical aspect of her hymen, and noted only a slight whitish vaginal discharge (which any gynaecologist will testify is highly common in young girls and women), and no sperms. After he filed his report, Dohre stood by these initial findings in several more statements he gave to the police and the CBI on 18 May, 18 July and 3 October 2008. He was also part of the AIIMS committee report filed on 6 September 2008 that stated the report.
But suddenly, after AGL Kaul took over the CBI investigation from Arun Kumar, Dohre’s post mortem analysis of Aarushi changed wildly. In two statements he made to Kaul on 30 September 2009 and 28 May 2010, he said Aarushi’s vagina was so widely distended he could see her cervix and that her hymen was ruptured and healed. He also said the white discharge was from an “outside source” and the cut on her throat was done by a surgical scalpel by surgically trained people and not a khukri as he had earlier maintained. The stun blow, he now felt, could have been done by a golf club.
Curiously, this segued perfectly with Dahiya’s fervid and newly generated crime analysis report. Dr MS Dahiya was a forensic scientist from the Directorate of Forensic Sciences in Gandhinagar. Both vastly contradicted the earlier seven-member AIIMS committee report, which had deemed a khukri to be the possible murder weapon and noted that there had been no sexual abnormality in Aarushi’s reports.
Bizarrely, the post mortem report of Hemraj, conducted by Naresh Raj, a senior paediatrician in the district hospital at Gautam Budh Nagar, went through a similarly miraculous transformation the moment AGL Kaul took over the probe.
The most devastating piece of evidence though was the recovery of a purple pillow cover from Krishna’s room on 14 June 2008 with suspected blood spots on it.
What happened to the purple colour pillow?
The purple pillow cover recovered from Krishna’s room was sent to Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad. On 6 November 2008, a report came back from them with an absolutely explosive reading: the blood marks on Krishna’s pillow matched Hemraj’s.
Later, in a mischievous move that beggars the imagination, on 8 March 2011, officer AGL Kaul argued in the high court that the description of Krishna’s pillow was a “typographical error” on the part of the CDFD expert in Hyderabad. They contended that it was Hemraj's pillow only which the CDFD was referring as Krishna's pillow.
Logically speaking, there is no way Hemraj’s blood could have been on Krishna’s pillow unless the latter had been at the crime site that fateful night. This combined with the recovery of the khukri, the narco admissions, the booze bottles in Hemraj’s room; one would understand the lax attitude of CBI in Aarushi-Hemraj murder case.
Two parents with no former history of dysfunctionality or rage are accused of butchering their only child. There was admittedly no substantial evidence against them. Yet, the prosecution (CBI) gets to call 39 witnesses while they were denied any. Does this sound like a fair trial?
Photo courtesy: Tehelka & NDTV