New Delhi: There’s a murderer at large. With the acquittal of Rajesh Talwar and his wife Nupur in the 2008 double murder of their teenage daughter and domestic help Hemraj, the mystery deepens. Two questions lurk following the Allahabad high court’s rejection of the CBI report holding the couple guilty of the crime: Who killed 14-year-old Aarushi and will the killer ever be caught?
The high court pointed fingers at the CBI and observed that the investigating agency had “failed” to “fill in the gaps”.
The high court verdict and the CBI’s probe have left a few questions unanswered, including why couldn’t the CBI recover the murder weapons — suspected to be a golf club, scalpel or a Nepali knife or “khukri” — and how did the Noida police fail to spot the bloodstains on the stairs leading to the roof where Hemraj’s body was found.
There is also no explanation for how the walls in Aarushi’s room were splattered with blood but the toys on the bed near the wall were clean. Was the crime scene interfered with?
How did the mobile phones of Aarushi and Hemraj reach far-off places before being recovered by investigators? Who erased the smses and call details from the phones? Were samples sent to forensic labs tampered with?
This newspaper spoke to A.P. Singh, who once headed the CBI during the most crucial period of the double murder probe. “There were loopholes in our investigation and we could not connect all the missing links in the case,” said Mr Singh.
The former CBI chief tried to somewhat salvage his agency’s position by saying: “The court has not said they (Talwars) are innocent. The court gave them the benefit of the doubt.”
Aarushi was found dead inside her room in the Talwars’ Noida residence with her throat slit in May 2008. The suspicion, initially, fell on 45-year-old Hemraj, who at that time was missing. But his body was recovered from the terrace of the house a day later.
According to the CBI report, which was based on circumstantial evidence, the Talwars were present in the house when Aarushi and Hemral were killed. The main door was locked from inside. The maidservant came around 6 am, pressed the buzzer and it was Nupur who opened the door and went back to her bedroom. The maidservant went to Aarushi’s room and found
the girl in a pool of blood. On hearing the maidservant’s scream, Nurpur and her husband rushed to Aarushi’s room and found their daughter dead. The CBI report said there were no other entry or exit points.
The suspicion immediately fell on the domestic help, Hemraj, who was missing. The police launched a manhunt to track Hemraj. On the first day after the killing, when the Noida police team arrived to question and collect evidence, nobody bothered to check the roof. The following day, some visitors noticed bloodstains on the stairs leading to the roof. The door to the roof was locked and Rajesh Talwar claimed he had “lost” the keys. Some policemen who were present at the house broke open the door to the roof and found a body wrapped in a thick bedsheet. This was Hemraj’s body, for whom the Noida police had launched a massive manhunt.
At the end the Aarushi murder, some twists and turns that remain unanswered are:
* How did the Noida police team which was going through the house collecting evidence failed to spot bloodstains on the stairs leading to the roof on the day of the murder?
* The alleged weapons used to commit the murders were suspected to be a golf club to cause head injuries and a scalpel to slit the throat. How come the CBI could never trace either of the murder weapons?
* The walls in Aarushi’s room were splattered with blood. But the toys on the bed near the wall were clean. A wet patch was observed on Aarushi’s bed, suggesting that it had been cleaned. A whisky bottle with bloodstains of both Aarushi and Hemraj was found on the dining table. If the Talwars did allegedly clean up the crime scene, why did they leave the bloodied bottle at the scene?
* The forensic examination of the vaginal swabs, drawn from the victim (Aarushi) sent to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics in Hyderabad, had reportedly revealed it was not of the girl. If true, someone was clearly tampering with the evidence and pulling some strings. Who?
One of the CBI reports, based on circumstantial evidence, argued that on the fateful night Rajesh Talwar and Nupur had come home late and found Aarushi and Hemraj in a “compromising position”. In a fit of rage, Rajesh attacked picked up a golf club and hit Hemraj. The first blow allegedly killed Hemraj and the second reportedly aimed again at Hemraj struck Aarushi. The CBI alleged that both were killed instantaneously.
This report of the CBI was based on circumstances and there was no solid evidence to corroborate the claims. The CBI also failed to find the murder weapon with fingerprints (the golf club).
While Hemraj’s body was found at the roof top of Talwar’s Noida’s flat his mobile was recovered after a couple of days from Punjab. There is no explanation on how it reached Punjab.
The CBI also apparently did not bother to investigate how and why Aarushi’s phone was found in Sadarpur, nearly 20 km away from Noida, nearly 20 days after the murder. The memory card of her mobile and all smses and mmses were erased.
In 2010, the CBI filed a closure report which gave Talwars the crucial advantage since it failed to establish any evidence to connect them to the murders. This was the failure of the second CBI team probing the double murder.
The first CBI team which began probing the case in 2008 (after the murders) had concluded that three other servants Krishna, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal had been drinking in the room of Hemraj and had insisted on going to Aarushi’s room but Hemraj had objected. The first team claimed Hemraj was killed by the three when he stopped them from going to Aarushi’s room. The three men later went to Aarushi’s room and murdered her when she tried to raise an alarm. The Talwar couple who were sleeping in the adjoining room could not hear their daughter’s screams due to a noisy airconditioner.
A narco-test conducted on Krishna, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal had failed to establish their involvement in the double murder.