FROM THE ARCHIVES

Closed Before Investigation?

Aarushi murder case Who killed her? A procession demanding justice for Aarushi in Delhi | Aravind Jain

The only thing the investigation into the Aarushi murder has established is: a girl and her servant were killed, the case was botched up and closed without tracing the killer.

Aarushi, 15, and her servant, Hemraj, were murdered at her home in Noida on Mav 16, 2008. After a
botched up investigation by the UP Police, the case was handed over to the CBI on May 31, 2008. Now the CBI has filed a closure report citing lack of evidence, even while naming Aarushi's father, Rajesh Talwar, as a suspect.

The closure report, which gives a clean chit to all the servants who were earlier interrogated, and subjected to narco tests, says, "The findings of the investigation reveal a number of circumstances that indicate the involvement of the parents in the crime and the cover-up." Senior lawyers are baffled. "Why this confusion?" asks Naresh Kumar Yadav, senior advocate, Ghaziabad court, where the case is being heard. "In the past the CBI has nailed people just on the basis of circumstantial evidence." Another lawyer says, "The CBI is being unjust both to the spirit of the poor girl and to the parents."

The report says that Aarushi's parents, both dentists, washed the scene of crime, cleaned Aarushi's private parts, apparently to cover up pre-mortem sexual activity (the sight of which could have provoked the father into hitting her with a golf club), and locked the staircase door on the night of the murder (apparently to prevent the discovery of Hemraj's body). It says that Rajesh's scotch bottle found on the dining table had marks of blood of the victims. "Under section 173, clause 8 of the CrPC, the CBI can ask the court to let it continue with the investigation," says Yadav. "They can arrest Talwar for tampering with evidence."

But the CBI lets off the parents saying "there are a number of critical and serious gaps in the circumstances which make it difficult to string together the sequence of events and motive behind the gruesome murder." Initially, it was the CBI that was in a hurry to let off the Talwars after the UP Police indicted them. Now the CBI agrees with the UP Police findings that Rajesh could be guilty, and yet would not charge him for destroying evidence.

The closure report recounts the events of May 16 and after. Rajesh and his wife, Nupur, found their daughter's body in her room that day. Rajesh alleged that Hemraj, then missing, had killed Aarushi. Some of Rajesh's friends noticed bloodstains on the terrace door handle and asked him for the key. Rajesh said the key was missing. When the police tried to open the door, Rajesh told them to look for Hemraj instead. When the police broke open the door, "there were blood marks on the roof." Hemraj's body was found on the terrace. But Talwar could not identify it, though Hemraj had been his domestic help for long.

The police botched up the investigation. They did not conduct a forensic examination of Aarushi's room. No fingerprints were taken. The postmortem report, which did not mention the time of death, was not questioned. The police assumed that Aarushi was killed before Hemraj. The CBI said it was the other way round. The police assumed that the missing cell phones of Aarushi and Hemraj were with the killers, but made no attempt to trace them.

The needle of suspicion swung towards the Talwars because soon after the girl's body was taken for cremation, their staff "showed undue haste in thoroughly cleaning the floor and walls of Aarushi's room." Also, Rajesh's brother Dinesh had asked the doctors that "rape should not be mentioned in the postmortem report." On May 23, the UP Police arrested Rajesh, alleging that he had killed his daughter on finding her in an objectionable position with Hemraj. It led to a hue and cry and the case was transferred to the CBI.

The Talwars had said that they used to lock Aarushi's room at night and admitted to having entered her room before the incident, which meant they had used the key. But the following morning, they said the key was untraceable. When Aarushi's body was found, it was covered with a white bed sheet. An outsider could not have done it. Also, there are indications the Talwars had entered Aarushi's room at 3.43 a.m., hours after her death. Their internet connection was on till the router, located in Aarushi's room, was switched off at 3.43 a.m.

The most shocking finding of the UP Police and the CBI was that "Aarushi's private parts had been cleaned before the postmortem." The closure report says that the presence of a Scotch bottle without glasses on Rajesh's dining table "indicates involvement of inmates as it was unlikely that an intruder would return to that flat to take liquor after two murders."

The postmortem report said the victims were hit with a blunt object and their necks slashed after death. Rajesh's golf club, which could have been the blunt weapon, was reported missing around the time of the murders. Rajesh could not explain the missing golf stick.

Experts measured the striking surface of the golf clubs. The report says that it helped establish that "the dimensions of the striking surface of golf club no. 5 seized from Rajesh are identical to the dimensions of the injury found on both victims." It says that "the murder was caused by a golf stick which indicates that the assault was initiated on the basis of a grave and sudden provocation." The slashes on the neck are mentioned as "caused by a small sharp instrument with surgical precision," pointing to the possible hand of the dentist parent.

Strangely, a year later the Talwars handed over the missing golf club to the investigators, saying that it was "discovered" while cleaning the loft. It also says that the golf club was "cleaner than the other golf sticks of the set."

The report lists the reasons to suspect the Talwars. One, the door to Aarushi's room could be opened from outside only with a key; "this could only be the parents." Two, Aarushi's mobile phone was recovered later with all call details erased; "a normal criminal would have no need to do so." Three, the parents diverted the police from the scene of crime to search for Hemraj. Four, Rajesh ignored the police request for the terrace key. Five, he did not identify the body of his long-time servant Hemraj. Six, the family requested the doctors not to mention rape in postmortem report. Lastly, Hemraj's body was not found accidentally. The closure report says, "The findings of the investigation reveal a number of circumstances that indicate the involvement of the parents in the crime and the cover up."

But Talwars' lawyer Rebecca John said, "If they [Talwars] wanted to, they could have removed the bloodstains from the room, the staircase, the handle, everywhere but they did not do any of that." She said the CBI's allegations "are based merely on the photographs clicked by the UP Police." She said the postmortem report did not mention any of the vulgar statements about Aarushi's body. Said she: "With no corroborative evidence, the CBI has done grave injustice and seems to have lost the sense of proportion."

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