Finally, the twin murder case of Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj has been cracked. Or so claims the Central Bureau of Investigation, which took over from the Noida police on May 31. As the police and the CBI battled it out over conflicting views, Aarushi's father, Dr Rajesh Talwar, was granted bail on July 12, after 50 days in jail. Special Magistrate Sapna Mishra Tripathi discharged Rajesh after the CBI moved an application seeking his release, as the evidence against him was insufficient.
Apparently, the Noida police had arrested Rajesh without any circumstantial, material or corroborative evidence. And now the police are receiving flak for giving the case an honour-killing twist and for dragging in Drs Praful and Anita Durrani, family friends of the Talwars.
The police had said that Rajesh had a liaison, and Aarushi and Hemraj, the Talwar's domestic help, knew about it, hence the killing. It was also said that Rajesh murdered them because the victims had a close relationship. Aarushi's mother, Dr Nupur Talwar, also came under the scanner, as she was present in the house when the murder took place.
The CBI named the possible killers—Rajesh's compounder Krishna, the Talwars' neighbour's domestic help Vijay Mandal and the Durranis' domestic help Rajkumar. But there is no material or corroborative evidence against the three. The 'evidence' is in the form of narco-analysis, psychoanalysis and polygraph tests. Krishna was arrested after it was found that he was enraged over Rajesh scolding him publicly. Rajkumar and Mandal were detained only because Krishna named them as accomplices. The tests largely support their confessional statement. Whether the confessions were made before the police or during narco-analysis is not known.
The CBI has not been able to find a strong motive for murder or trace the cell phones of Aarushi and Hemraj. Reportedly, Nupur had called Hemraj's number on the morning after the murder, but the call was disconnected. The CBI says the phone was with Krishna. Then why is it not being produced?
It is reliably learnt that the CBI did not bother to find the time taken to kill the two, the time of the murder and who was murdered first, which could have been found out after the postmortem examination. Senior advocate, R.K. Naseem says: "The evidence produced by the CBI is not even sufficient to file a charge-sheet. The entire investigation has been vague. The Noida police blundered by arresting Rajesh without probing into the case. The CBI also did not look for other clues. They were focused on finding evidence against Rajesh. When that became difficult, they started finding evidence against people close to the family."
The CBI's reconstruction of the incident, too, seems full of holes. According to it, on the night of May 15, the gang of three suspects and Hemraj had a drinking binge in the latter's room during which they talked about Rajesh slighting Krishna. The conversation drifted to Aarushi and eventually the four entered her room. When she woke up and tried to scream, she was gagged and hit on the head by a hard blunt object. They also tried to rape her. This led to an altercation between the three and Hemraj.
Fearing that the Talwars might wake up, the four went to the terrace where Rajkumar and Krishna had a scuffle with Hemraj that ended in his death. Krishna and Rajkumar then returned to Aarushi's room and killed her. The only forensic evidence is the presence of Hemraj's blood on Aarushi's pillow. But nothing has been said about how it appeared there. The postmortem report suggests that the blow to Aarushi's head was serious enough to make her unconscious, allowing the murderers to slit her throat without a tussle.
There seem to be quite a few coincidences, too. Aarushi usually locked the door from inside at night, but reportedly she left it open on the fatal night. And it is said that she had a sore throat, which effectively prevented her screams from being heard. Three glasses and a bottle of whisky, collected from the house and bagged as evidence, did not yield any evidence. A bloody handprint on the parapet wall of the Talwars has also not been identified.
The police did not preserve the crime scene well, either. Officials from the CBI and forensic experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences visited the Talwar home—L-32, Jal Vayu Vihar,1 Sector-25, Noida. What awaited them was a trampled mess. Apparently, the police had not stopped the media and neighbours from walking into the rooms and playing Poirot.
"Despite this all efforts were made to collect remaining forensic evidence," says Arun Kumar, the CBI investigating officer. He says that Rajesh, perhaps, could not have heard anything as a sound simulation test by the CFSL proved negative. Air-conditioners in both rooms were switched on during the test—CFSL listeners in Rajesh's room heard nothing.
Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi says: "The CBI should have never come up with evidence like the simulation exercise. They should not have committed the same blunders as the Noida police." Experts allege that all the CBI did was conduct tests on the suspects to corroborate its assumptions. Rajesh took two polygraph tests and Nupur one. They were put through psychoanalysis; nothing adverse was found.
Krishna was arrested on June 13 and put through psychological assessment and polygraph test. The polygraph allegedly revealed deception and he was subjected to brain-fingerprinting and narco-analysis. After narco-analysis he confessed his involvement in the crime and named accomplices. Rajkumar and Mandal were arrested and put through the same tests; they, too, confessed the crime.
However, legal experts are sceptical about the evidence collected. Says senior lawyer Indira Jaisingh: “The CBI cannot base its findings on confessions. The primary evidence is not forthcoming. Both the police and the CBI have botched up the case." Naseem says: "Interrogation involves intense procedures like narco-analysis and polygraph test. This triggers fear psychosis even in an innocent suspect. Naturally, his responses are bound to be deceptive."
Bedi says the CBI should have told the media that the investigation was on and would be made public when it went to court. "Everybody seems to be jumping the gun," says she. "When Rajesh was in jail, he was the murderer in the eyes of the media and the moment he is out, he has become innocent. The police need to be trained to deal with media pressure. The media is certainly at fault as they took over the investigations and the police could not cope with it."
Some suggest media reforms as a solution. But Jaisingh says: "It will only make a difference to the top brass. Even now the police have all the means to investigate in a foolproof manner. But they let the public, especially the media, trample the case and are left groping for answers and evidence."