The ques­tion is back. Who killed Aarushi?

Over nine years af­ter the sen­sa­tional mur­ders of Aarushi and Hem­raj, in­ves­ti­ga­tion comes a full cir­cle

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - SPOTLIGHT - Ra­jesh Ahuja htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­

NEW DELHI: Nearly a decade af­ter one of the most sen­sa­tional mur­ders in In­dia, no one knows for sure who killed Aarushi Tal­war.

Nei­ther does there is clar­ity on the death of Hem­raj, the do­mes­tic help em­ployed in the Noida res­i­dence of Aarushi’s den­tist par­ents, Ra­jesh and Nupur Tal­war.

Con­spir­acy the­o­ries have swirled around the twin mur­ders – the bodies re­cov­ered a day apart from the same house – a book­selling book writ­ten and even a Bol­ly­wood film made on the in­ci­dent that grabbed head­lines for months and riv­eted the na­tion.

On Thurs­day, the Al­la­habad high court ac­quit­ted the Tal­wars in the mur­der of their 14-year-old teenage daugh­ter and Hem­raj, bring­ing the spot­light back on the same old ques­tion: who killed Aarushi?

The Delhi Pub­lic School stu­dent was found with her throat slit and stab wounds to her head, in her bed­room on May 14, 2008. The im­me­di­ate sus­pect was Hem­raj, from Nepal, who was miss­ing.

But a day later, his body was found on the ter­race of the Tal­war’s apart­ment block.

Ut­tar Pradesh po­lice, which probed the crime ini­tially, then shifted fo­cus to the Tal­wars, the only other peo­ple present in the house on the night of the in­ci­dent.

Po­lice were ac­cused of shoddy in­ves­ti­ga­tion as they re­port­edly failed to col­lect cru­cial ev­i­dence and did not even seal the crime scene, the Tal­wars’ home.

Po­lice then ar­rested Ra­jesh on charges of killing his daugh­ter in a fit of rage when he al­legedly saw her in an “ob­jec­tion­able po­si­tion” with Hem­raj.

“This is a classic ex­am­ple of a case where the crime scene, which pro­vides vi­tal clues to take the in­ves­ti­ga­tion for­ward, was tram­pled with,” said for­mer CBI of­fi­cial NR Wasan.

The CBI’s first in­ves­ti­ga­tion team, led by UP cadre IPS of­fi­cer Arun Ku­mar, how­ever, gave Ra­jesh a clean chit and ac­cused the Tal­wars’ as­sis­tant Kr­ishna and two ser­vants -- Raj Ku­mar and Vi­jay Man­dal.

It, how­ever, failed to prove its case and there were ac­cu­sa­tions the agency was try­ing to frame them by forc­ing con­fes­sions.

The sec­ond twist came when Ash­wani Ku­mar took over as the CBI di­rec­tor in July, 2008.

Sources said he was not con­vinced with the first team’s as­sess­ment re­con­sti­tuted the team with a man­date to look afresh at ev­ery as­pect of the case.

The new probe led by AGL Kaul com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2010 and con­cluded that Tal­war and wife should be chargesheeted in the case.

The agency’s lawyers also con­curred with it, but still the top of­fi­cials were not con­vinced that they had enough ev­i­dence to prove charges in court.

The probe team’s ar­gu­ment was, no out­sider vis­ited the Tal­wars when the mur­ders hap­pened and the oth­ers were in­no­cent. It, how­ever, claimed the crime scene was heav­ily dressed up, lead­ing to sus­pi­cion it was the do­ing of Aarushi’s par­ents.

“But still there was no clinch­ing ev­i­dence to show it were the Tal­wars who mur­dered their daugh­ter and Hem­raj,” said a for­mer CBI of­fi­cer want­ing to re­main anony­mous.

“But we had no eye­wit­ness. Mur­der weapon was also miss­ing. There was no vis­i­ble mo­tive in sight for the par­ents to kill their daugh­ter and ser­vant. There­fore de­spite, the par­ents be­ing prime sus­pect, the clo­sure re­port was filed.”

The clo­sure re­port was filed when AP Singh took over from Ash­wani Ku­mar as the CBI di­rec­tor in Novem­ber 2010.

But the Ghazi­abad court found enough ev­i­dence in the clo­sure re­port to con­vert it into a chargesheet and sum­moned the Tal­wars in the case.

Af­ter trial, the court found both of them guilty in the case on Novem­ber 25, 2013. A day later they were sen­tenced for life.

And nearly four years later, the higher court ac­quit­ted them , giv­ing the Tal­wars the “ben­e­fit of doubt” in the face of in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence.

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