Aarushi trial: A 'witness' who wasn't even there at the crime scene

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 16:47 hrs

That the initial investigation into the Aarushi-Hemraj murders was full of monumental blunders is a widely held belief. And each time a policeman appears in court during the trial of Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, he seems to offer more proof not of the guilt of the accused, but his force’s myriad bunglings.

Bachu Singh, the cop who claimed he couldn’t smell a putrid body (he said he didn’t have a sense of smell), was no different during Friday’s proceedings. He was probably the policeman who spent the most time at the crime scene. He was the man who had written out the panchnamas for both murders.

He was supposed to have carried out instructions passed on by superiors on things like engaging a dog squad and breaking open the lock on the terrace door, behind which Hemraj’s body lay undiscovered for more than 36 hours. He was expected to put on record his “observations” about the Talwars’ “nervousness”, their uncooperative attitude and, of course, the prosecution’s refrain through this trial: the “absence of grief” on the parents’ faces immediately after the murders.

Which of these things did Bachu Singh actually do?

Starting with recording the absence of grief and so on, the sub-inspector said that he did not put anything down on paper. He told CBI officers about his observations a couple of weeks after the murders, but they did not record this evidence either.

NOIDA’s then city SP, Mahesh Mishra, told the trial court last month that he had left explicit instructions with his team to call in the dog squad and break open the lock to the terrace. Bachu Singh, who had hovered around his big boss and his immediate superior, investigating officer Dataram Nanoria, claims that he received no instructions at all while at the scene—about anything.

As for the two contentious panchnamas that Singh wrote out — the first official reports of the crimes — the one on Aarushi’s murder has dubious written all over it. This is a result of amateurish alterations to the document — to fit in afterthoughts that dawned on investigators possibly years after the original was written.

The panchnama for Hemraj’s killing may not have been written on the scene of the crime at all, despite Bachu Singh’s claim that it was. One of the ‘witnesses’ to the document — a Nepali friend of Hemraj who was asked to identify the body — said in a recorded statement to the CBI that he saw Hemraj’s corpse not on the terrace of the Talwars’ flat, but in the mortuary, where he was summoned by police in the evening. He became, in effect, the witness who wasn’t there.

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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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