Aarushi case: How the CBI framed the Talwars

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 17, 2013 16:28 hrs

The CBI closed its evidence in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial on Thursday in almost exactly the way it concluded its closure report on the case almost three years ago. That document had put down in writing the reasons why the case against Aarushi's parents, Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar should not be pursued, but it also insinuated that no one else could have been responsible for the murders. While closing evidence, the CBI counsel repeated what was in the closure report, only this time his plea to the court was that the Talwars be convicted.

The case has now entered its final stages: the only business left in the special CBI court in Ghaziabad, is the hearing of the defence evidence and the verdict. In about a month's time, we should know.

The CBI's closing arguments dwelt mainly on the conduct of the Talwars. Its plinth constructed on the question: 'how could parents who had just lost their only child behave this way?'

But for a murder, one needs a motive. The CBI has used the term "grave and sudden provocation" as a motive for the murders. The provocation, in documents submitted to court was this: the father saw a his teenage daughter in a compromising position with the family's servant, Hemraj on the night of 15 May 2008.

Here is how the case was argued with regard to the three principal issues of concern.

The motive:

Although the CBI has filed a number of documents (and given countless press briefings) to say that this was an honour killing that took place because Dr Rajesh Talwar discovered his daughter in a compromising position with the servant--a situation which no North Indian can deal with rationally--the words 'compromising position were never actually used in the closing arguments.

Instead, there was the familiar hum of insinuation. The girl's vagina was dilated abnormally, said the CBI counsel. Hemraj's penis was swollen when his body was discovered. Judge-saab could come to his own conclusions about what was going on...

That is if you don't take into account the following: the dilated vagina isn't recorded in the original postmortem. In fact, the vagina appears to dilate with each new version of the postmortem doctor's statements to the CBI - there were five.

Science has a thing or two to say about the erection carried forward postmortem (for 48 hours): it is absurd. But such were the arguments regarding the motive.

The Talwars' conduct:

From day one in this trial, the CBI has attempted to show that the Talwars showed no grief at their daughter's death. The low point of these attempts came when the agency convinced a government officer to testify that when he visited the Talwar household the morning after the murders (he was neither invited nor instructed) he found that they weren't weeping. This man claimed that he took morning walks in the area, but admitted that he lived about 30 km away. Not much more needs to be said.

The CBI also argued that the Talwars' behaviour post the murders was very suspicious. They made off towards Hardwar to perform Aarushi's last rites, even as Hemraj's body was being discovered on the terrace. They had earlier avoided handing the police the keys to the terrace, and when they were called back, Dr Talwar was hesitant to identify Hemraj's body. These were clear signs of guilt.

Except that, people deal with grief in different ways, and in any case, other witnesses did see the Talwars weep; exhibit shock. As for the identification of the body, prosecution witnesses have come and told the trial court Dr Talwar did this without hesitation.

There was the delicate matter of whether the Talwars tried to influence the police not to use the word 'rape' in the postmortem report--so that their 'motive' may be hidden. The prosecution referred to some calls that the Talwars allegedly made to an eye doctor with connections to accomplish this. But here's the thing: in a plea to the Supreme Court, the CBI had listed this man as a witness who they desperately wanted to examine. But they never called him.

The weapon:

One of the most puzzling aspects of this case is the ever-changing murder weapon. There are two involved: one that struck the fatal blunt blows on the victims' skulls, and another that slit their throats to make sure. At first, a khukri recovered from one of the servants' rooms was thought to be the weapon. When the CBI discovered Dr Talwar was a novice golfer, it became a golf club. But the CBI hasn't yet been able to decide which club from Dr Talwars's set was used.

Since the couple were both doctors, and therefore 'surgically trained', the CBI argued that the throat wounds came from a scalpel. On Thursday, however, a 'kitchen knife' entered the picture. So what were the murder weapons?

Perhaps the answer to that lies in the narco analysis tests done on the servants:

Hemraj's friends Krishna, Rajkumar and Vijay Mandal.

The tests that showed that the Talwars weren't the only people in the house that night. The tests that revealed how they were listening to a Nepali songs 11.45 pm onwards on the night of the murders in Hemraj's room in the Talwars's flat.

Tests whose transcripts the Supreme Court wont allow in evidence.

Read more:

Why CBI is reluctant to handover DNA evidence to Talwars
CBI counsel's questions baffle even the judge

Aarushi's neck was likely cut using khukri: Expert

Avirook Sen has been a journalist and writer for over 20 years. A former resident editor of Hindustan Times (Mumbai) and editor of Mid-Day, he has written with passion and insight on subjects as varied as sport and terrorism for top publications across the world. His first book, Looking for America, was published in 2010 to enthusiastic reviews. You can write to him at avirook@gmail.com

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