The Aarushi-Hemraj double murders or the Noida double murders was one of the most famous crimes in recent times in India. The subject of an enormous amount of media gaze, the investigation in the case was unprofessional, to put it mildly. The truth is, the investigation was shoddy, incoherent and provided very little answers. In the end, after multiple twists and turns, the court found Dr Rajesh Talwar and Dr Nupur Talwar guilty of the most sacrilegious of crimes. That of the murder of their own daughter. Before getting to that, here’s a quick recap of the incident itself.

14 year old Aarushi Talwar was found dead in her bedroom in the morning of the 16th of may, 2008. Her parents suspected their domestic help, 45 year old Hemraj, who was missing and filed a complaint with the police. Police started the investigation in the case and collected evidence from the scene. Among those, was a bloodstained bottle of scotch on the dining table. The door to the terrace was locked and Dr Rajesh Talwar, Aarushi’s father, told the police that the key was lost.They found that the lock to aarushi’s bedroom door was self locking, meaning that once closed, it could only be opened from the inside. The only way to open it from the outside was with the key which was usually with her mother, dentist, Nupur Talwar.
The next day, after the post mortem was conducted and the cremation ceremony was done, a shocking discovery was made. Hemraj’s body was found lying on the terrace of the Talwar’s house.

The suspects now, were Krishna, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal, men who used to work for the Talwars.
The case was transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the three were arrested. They were made to undergo narco-analysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests.
The case was then transferred to to another CBI team. After further investigation, they came to the conclusion that the murders were not committed by the three suspects but by Dr Rajesh and Dr Nupur Talwar. The Narco analysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests are not admissible evidence in court because the responses of the person being tested are not when he is fully conscious. They can only be used by the investigation team to gather other evidence to substantiate their case. Since they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute, a closure report was filed. But the court took cognizance of the matter and asked the accused to stand for trial.
The result was a conviction on circumstantial evidence and the sentence, Life imprisonment.

The ruling has become the reason for much debate. Were the parents the victims of a miscarriage of justice? Was the court wrong? Did the parents really do it?

One thing must be made absolutely clear. The court was not wrong. A patient reading of the 210 page judgement will tell you that on that basis of the evidence presented to the court, there was no doubt that the parents were responsible for the crime. The facts are as follows :
1) There were 4 people in the house on that fateful night. Aarushi, her parents and Hemraj. Two of them were found dead.
2) There were no signs of forced entry. Even if there was, the intruder wouldn’t have had a drink at the dining table after committing two murders and then proceeded to open the locked terrace door, dragged a body up the stairs, left it in the terrace, put a bedsheet on the adjacent grill and then come back inside the house and locked the terrace door instead of just running away. Stranger things have happened but this was unlikely.
3) Aarushi’s bedroom door was self locking and the key was with her parents.
4) The terrace door was locked and the key was “lost” and yet, on the other side of the door was a deadbody. The police say that Dr Rajesh Talwar didn’t let them open the door on the first day, asking them to go search for Hemraj instead.

The motive? Dr Rajesh Talwar found Aarushi and Hemraj in a “compromising position” and killed them both in a fit of rage.
The court ruled out any other possibilities that the defense lawyers suggested on the basis of evidence they cited (or the lack of it). It would be wrong on our part to doubt the judgement of the court, given that these were the facts.

You can’t disagree with the facts. As the judge points out, it is possible to convict on the basis of circumstantial evidence if the evidence points to the guilt of the accused. It is also possible that the prosecution can’t prove a motive but if the circumstances of the murder are proved beyond doubt it would be sufficient for a conviction. Also, the court does not have to consider the opinions that medical experts give as evidence because they are, well, opinions.

True. But that’s where my first question is. If you don’t need to prove a motive, why make up the most scandalous of theories? Remember that you’re accusing a 14 year old girl of having a sexual affair with the 45 year old domestic help and you can’t even prove it. Since you’re just making up a theory that doesn’t have to be proved, make up a slightly more respectable one. One that doesn’t stab a poor 14 year old after she’s dead. Disgusting. Unfair. Perverted.

In public opinion, the conviction of the parents might be a great miscarriage of justice. Why? Is it because it is inconvenient for us to convince ourselves that parents would harm their own daughter? You’re outraged when you hear of the “honour killings” in rural UP, aren’t you? Why the sympathy for the murders in noida?
It is entirely possible that they did, in fact, do it.

The question then is, did they really do it?
Our criminal justice system relies on evidence. The Talwars weren’t able to prove their innocence or anyone else’s guilt. That was the main reason they were convicted. When they appeal this order in a higher court they might be able to prove that they didn’t do it and be acquitted. That would leave one very important question unanswered. If they didn’t do it, Who killed Aarushi Talwar?

While that seems to be a very very tough question to answer and one that looks like it will never be answered, there are other people who are guilty. They are not responsible for the murders. But they are responsible for making sure, possibly inadvertently, that we’ll never know who actually did.

  • The UP Police. 

1) To not collect crucial evidence by mistake is one thing. To not find a dead body on the roof of the crime scene is quite another. How did they miss that! A locked (apparently bloodstained) terrace door would raise suspicion in the mind of a 5 year old playing blues clues.

2) One of the first things to do at a crime scene, is to cordon it off. Instead, this crime scene turned into a mela for camera persons from media houses, jostling for space to film the house. Only god knows what evidence was trampled upon and lost.

  • The Camera men from TV channels and therefore the media itself.

It is certainly the police’s fault that they didn’t cordon off the crime scene. But it is a matter of common sense that you shouldn’t enter one even if it wasn’t cordoned off!
That was a year of great learning for the media in terms of exercising self restraint while reporting. This was one incident and the other was the great blunder of filming NSG commandos while they were taking positions to rescue hostages during 26/11. Hopefully, they wont goof up like that ever again.

For humanity’s sake, I hope the parents didn’t do it. I don’t believe they did. If they did, they must be criminal masterminds for the way they’ve conducted themselves in public, generated sympathy rather than outrage in the minds of the people, caused so much confusion in the investigation and left close to no real evidence behind. In that case, hats off to the CBI for seeing through it.The couple deserve every bit of punishment they get. That isn’t the tragedy of this story.

Aarushi, we’re sorry. We’ll probably never know who cut short your life. Our investigators have doubted your character, our judiciary seems to have agreed with them. And that, is the real tragedy of this case.

2 responses to “Aarushi, we’re sorry”

  1. VS Pavan Kumar Avatar
    VS Pavan Kumar

    I don't understand why the media, or the public for that matter, is sensationalising this case to this extent. Considering the fact that we, the public, do not know the facts of the case other than those that the media wants us to know, there is no reason to suppose that either of the parties has been victimised. For instance how do you say with certainty that the fact that the CBI doubted Arushi's character, and that the court agreed with them, is 'the real tragedy'? Also, the special CBI court is not a true representative of the judiciary per se. If they felt that the evidence was sufficient to award a life sentence, surely there must be some substance in the CBI's case? The appeal in the high court will probably bring to light all that is dark.

  2. Dudurudh Avatar

    The pdf version of the 210 page judgement is available on the internet. Every single piece of evidence, both accepted and rejected, have been explained in great detail. The motive too has been given there. It is on that basis, and not the media's version, that I have based my opinions.

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