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A Perfect murder or a perfect botch-up?

| | New Delhi

It was on the night of May 15, 2008, Aarushi Talwar (14) and the family’s domestic help Hemraj Banjade (45) were killed inside L-32, Jalvayu Vihar (Noida), and what followed was a saga of flip-flops in prosecution’s account.

One of the most sensational murder mysteries of Independent India, it appeared as if it was a “perfect murder”. The myth was to be dismantled soon when AGL Kaul, the Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) with the Special Crime Unit-II of the CBI, was handed over the probe by then Director Ashwani Kumar. If the double murder appeared like a jigsaw puzzle, it was solely because of the shoddy investigation by the Noida police in the beginning and then by a CBI team, headed by an officer like Arun Kumar.

ASP Kaul conducted an extensive probe and found that crucial linking evidence was missing despite the fact that the Talwar couple was the prime suspect. He did a masterstroke by submitting the closure report before the special judge on January 3, 2011. Kaul knew if he chargesheeted the Talwars, the onus to prove them guilty will rest with the CBI. He, therefore, turned the tables on the Talwars as they were supposed to prove that they were innocent.

The Special CBI Judge, while rejecting the closure report, had then said there was enough prima facie material

in the CBI’s report to put the couple on trial for their alleged involvement in the twin murders.

If there was one villain who allowed material evidence to be destroyed from the crime scene, it was Data Rama Nanoria, the then Station House Officer (SO) of Sector 39 Police Station in Noida. Nanoria disregarded the basic norms of mapping a crime scene and did not requisition the services of forensic team and sniffer dogs.

He believed what Rajesh Talwar told him; so much so that he registered a case of murder against Hemraj and sent a team in his pursuit. Had he applied his mind and checked the exit and entry points of the Talwars’ flat, the murder mystery could have been solved then and there.

If that was not enough, he allowed Aarushi’s room to be thoroughly cleaned and even whitewashed to obliterate all the evidence. He also forgot to seize the clothes that Aarushi wore on the fateful night. Dr Dohre, who performed the autopsy, did mention white vaginal discharge but did not press for further forensic tests. There was another controversy involving the swab of Aarushi. It was changed with ulterior motive to benefit the murderers and subsequent tests proved that it belonged to a very mature woman.

Nanoria was in a tearing hurry as he handed over Aarushi’s body for cremation without obtaining the post-mortem examination report. He forgot to recover Aarushi’s camera gifted by her parents for her birthday. Aarushi and Hemraj’s mobile phones too were not recovered. Amidst the hue and cry, the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case was changed and Anil Samania was handed over the probe. Samania concluded that it is an “honour killing” and Rajesh Talwar had murdered his daughter, whom he had found in an “objectionable position” with help Hemraj. Rajesh Talwar was arrested and sent to Dasna Jail.

His arrest led to a clamour of justice for Aarushi and the case was transferred to the CBI. The CBI team, led by Joint Director Arun Kumar, turned the case upside down by debunking the Noida police theory and arrested three servants Krishna, Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal for the ghastly double murders. Despite his claims, the CBI failed to submit the charge sheet in the case and thus, allowing it to be reopened by the CBI chief.

AGL Kaul the Investigating Officer of the case carried out an in-depth probe. Kaul wrote in the closure report; “There is no direct evidence of what happened between 12.08 midnight and 6 AM next day but circumstantial evidence is available,  the probable sequence of events.”

“The investigation revealed several suspicious actions by the parents, but the circumstantial evidence collected during investigation has critical and substantial gaps. There is absence of a clear cut motive and incomplete understanding of the sequence of events and non-recovery of one weapon of offence and their link to either the servants or the parents”, Kaul wrote in the report.

“In view of the aforesaid shortcomings in the evidence, it is felt that sufficient evidence is not available to prove the offence U/s 302/201 IPC against accused Dr Rajesh Talwar beyond reasonable doubt. It is, therefore prayed that the case may be allowed to be closed due to insufficient evidence”, Kaul concluded in his closure report.

However, the then special CBI Judge of Ghaziabad Preeti Singh refused to accept the closure report and instead ruled there was enough evidence to put the Talwars on trial. The case was then transferred to the Sessions court for trial. The trial went on for four years and the Talwars were convicted by the Special Judge Shyam Lal on November 25, 2013.

“The parents are the best protector of their own children and that is the order of the human nature, but they have been freaks in the history of mankind when the father and mother became the killer of their own progeny,” wrote the judge.

They went into appeal before the Allahabad High Court. The High Court on Thursday ruled, “Can’t convict the Talwars on the basis of your ‘hypothesis’.” The judgment was pronounced by a two-member Allahabad High Court Bench, which said conviction can’t be based on suspicion and they have to be given benefit of doubt.

PS. AGL Kaul the CBI official investigated the case is dead and so are the leads in this case.



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