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Why Avirook Sen believes Aarushi's parents didn't kill her

Rajesh (right) and Nupur Talwar during a court hearing (AFP)

By Sneha May Francis

It was in May 2008 that the Indian media reported the shocking murder of a 14-year-old girl in a Noida apartment, while her parents slept in the next room. Their domestic help, who was presumed to be the perpetrator of the crime, was discovered lifeless and covered in blood two days later on the apartment terrace.
The local (Uttar Pradesh) police reportedly left the crime scene open, allowing the public to trample and botch valid evidence. A press conference was called within days of the double murder, with a police chief dramatizing the events and declaring the parents guilty.
The case was later handed to the Indian agency CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), who followed a different line of investigation. They shifted the focus on three Nepali boys, who were known to Hemraj and worked in nearby buildings. Their nacro-analysis tests also hinted foul play. But, the case abruptly shifted hands of power within the CBI, and the blame shifted back to the father. The Nepali boys were subsequently let off.
Many media houses blatantly played up the Talwar’s guilt and writers like Shobha De quickly branded them as “monster parents”.
The investigation, stretched over the next few years, and the CBI filed a closure report stating only circumstantial evidence pointed to the Talwars. The parents objected, and insisted the killers be found. The case was reopened, and in 2013, the Talwars were convicted by a lower court in Ghaziabad.
Pending appeal in a higher court, the Talwars are now in Dasna jail and have set up a temporary dental clinic to help inmates.
Journalist Avirook Sen, who was extensively reporting on the case, has now released a book titled 'Aarushi' exploring why there weren’t adequate evidences to show the parents are guilty. The book divided into three parts – investigation, trial and Dasna diaries, explores how the media and the public were quick to blame the parents.
We look at seven points Avirook has raised in his book.
The judgment was written even before the final argument had begun
When Avirook interviews the judge and his son, they admitted to working really hard on the judgment and looking at “good English words”. The lack of an English typist in Ghaziabad courts meant the son had to go there, and help out in the typing. We had to start work a month ahead, because we wanted it to read right, the son casually admits to Avirook.
No evidence suggesting Hemraj was in Aarushi’s room
The CBI’s theory that the Talwar’s allegedly killed their daughter and Hemraj revolves around how the two were caught in an objectionable position in her room. And, the father, in a fit of rage, killed them both, and then dragged Hemraj’s body (along with Nupur) up a flight of stairs to the terrace. However, there has been no trace of Hemraj’s DNA, blood stain or hair in Aarushi’s room. Even the pillow cover, with traces of Hemraj’s blood, was discovered in his room, and not Aarushi’s, a detail that was revealed when the actual item was displayed in the court.
CBI using a macabre e-mail for official communication with the Talwars
Avirook talks about how the investigating officer used a macabre e-mail-id ‘hemraj.jalvayuvihar@gmail.com’ (the name of the domestic help) for official communication with the Talwars, when they usually use official ids that end with ‘@cbi.gov.in’. In an interview, a top official reluctantly accepts it was done.
The suggested murder weapon – a dental scalpel was never traced
According to the judgment, the murder was committed using a scalpel, similar to what was used in a dental clinic. However, the suggested murder weapon was never discovered, and the CBI never asked for a sample scalpel to check if the injuries caused on the bodies could be made using it.
The second suggested murder weapon was changed in the final verdict
According to the court, and the CBI, the Talwars also used one of the two golf clubs that was lying around in Hemraj’s room. No traces of DNA/blood were found on either, and the agency claimed the parents had cleaned them well. But, during investigation, the CBI said it was another club, which was found in the attic with no evidence of being cleaned.
The door was locked from the outside, suggesting the entry of a third person
The housemaid (Bharati Mandal), who was the first one to enter the murder scene, claimed it was Nupur and not Hemraj (as was the norm) who opened the front door. She was, however, unable to open the second door and told her that she would drop the key from the balcony. In court, she altered it, and said when she had tried to push the door, it did open, quashing the theory they were locked in by a third person. When Avirook later interviewed her, she confessed to never having touched the door because “servants have to wait to be let in”. She also admitted to being coached.
Complete disregard for scientific evidence
The CBI investigation did not rely on scientific evidence. Several pieces of evidences (pillow cover, golf club, medical tests) were compromised. Investigations were based entirely on theories about the parent’s lack of grief (and tears), their corrupt social life or how they cleaned up the crime scene. Even Aarushi’s personal e-mails and mobile text messages were scrutinized to suggest she had a deep interest in boys/men.
Avirook’s book explores many more key points of the case, and why he believes it is a miscarriage of justice.