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With the Allahabad High Court expected to deliver its verdict in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case on Thursday, the murders that took place nine years ago remain fresh in public memory not only because of the mystery surrounding the culprits but also because of the media frenzy the case had set off.
When 14-year-old Aarushi was found dead in her bed with her throat slit on May 16, 2008, the Talwars’ servant Hemraj, who was missing then, was considered as the main suspect. However, the next day, Hemraj’s body was discovered on the terrace of the Talwars’ Noida apartment. The Uttar Pradesh Police came in for heavy criticism for failing to secure the crime scene immediately, which led to the loss of many clues.
After ruling out the involvement of the family’s servants, the police began probing Aarushi’s parents—Dr Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar—as the prime suspects. The police suspected Rajesh murdered the two after finding them in an “objectionable” position. However, the possibility of a liaison between Aarushi and Hemraj has not been proved.
The Talwars and their friends accused the police of framing Rajesh to cover up the botched-up investigation. The Uttar Pradesh government then transferred the case to the CBI, which exonerated the parents and suspected the Talwars’ assistant Krishna along with two domestic servants — Rajkumar and Vijay.
Based on the narco tests conducted on the three men, the CBI suspected they had killed Aarushi after an attempted sexual assault. They then allegedly murdered Hemraj for being a witness. The CBI was then accused of using dubious methods to extract a confession, and all the three men were subsequently released for lack of solid evidence.
In 2009, the CBI handed over the investigation to a new team, which recommended closing the case due to gaps in the evidence. Based on circumstantial evidence, it named Rajesh Talwar as the sole suspect but refused to charge him. Subsequently, the special CBI court rejected the agency’s claim that there was not enough evidence in the case and ordered proceedings against the Talwars. In November 2013, the parents were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Talwars have challenged the decision in the Allahabad High Court.
While the Talwar couple were convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence, a slew of questions in the case beg for answers even now:
“The unanswered questions”
* The murder weapon: The CBI never seized any of the Talwars’ dental equipment – scalpel — that it claimed was used to slit Aarushi’s throat. As for Rajesh Talwar’s golf clubs – the one that had supposedly been ‘cleaned’ (and was, therefore, the weapon of offence) was not the one that the prosecution presented in court as the weapon.
Maid’s statement: Bharti Mandal, who worked as a maid at the residence of the Talwars and was the first to visit the house on that fateful day told the court that the main door of the house was not locked from outside, giving credence to the CBI’s theory that the murders were committed by an “insider”. She also said she was testifying exactly what was ‘explained’ to her.*
*Missing cellphone: The identity of the person who answered Hemraj’s phone in the morning after the murder when Nupur Talwar called, is still a mystery. Moreover, who all used Aarushi’s phone in the one year it was missing is still not known.
*Was the crime scene interfered with? Blood stains on the walls but spotless toys on Aarushi’s bed that was close to the wall pointed the crime scene had been interfered with. A wet patch on Aarushi’s bed indicated the sheet was cleaned with water. However, if the Talwars ‘dressed up’ the scene, why did they leave the bloodied whisky bottle, palm and shoe prints around?
* Differing post-mortem reports: Dr Sunil Dohre, who conducted Aarushi’s post-mortem on May 16, 2008, spoke in the court in July 2012 of a “prominent opening” of her private parts. There was, however, no mention of the same in the post-mortem report prepared by the doctor who wrote “NAD (no abnormality detected)” in the section on the teenager’s private parts. He did mention the presence of a whitish discharge. Likewise, Dr Naresh Raj, who conducted Hemraj’s post-mortem, talked about the victim’s swollen private part. He later said these were his “subjective findings”.
* CDFD’s U-turn on blood samples: The report of the Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnosis (CDFD) said the purple pillow cover discovered from Krishna’s room had Hemraj’s blood on it. This suggested Krishna’s possible involvement in the crime. However, in a sudden turn of events, CDFD on March 2011 told the CBI Krishna’s name had appeared as a “typographical error” in the document. The pillow cover, it said, was in fact from Hemraj’s room.
* Manipulated photos: Photographs of the crime scene were also manipulated – some of them showed that events that took place say, on a Friday, were shot by the photographer on Thursday
* Sound test: Why did the CBI ignore its own sound test which confirmed that nothing was heard in the parents’ room due to a malfunctioning AC.