Mys­tery per­sists, many ques­tions unan­swered

Will killer ever be found? Judges point fin­gers at CBI, say it ‘failed’ to ‘fill in the gaps’

The Asian Age - - Front Page - PRAMOD KU­MAR NEW DELHI, OCT. 12

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-yearold 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 Finger­prin-ting 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.

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