K.K. Gautam, a retired UP police officer, took the stand as a prosecution witness in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial on Thursday. What impact his testimony will have on the outcome of the case remains to be seen. What his deposition and cross-examination laid bare was the internal politics of the CBI.
Two teams of the CBI have been on this case since 2008. The second has followed a different line of investigation, one that leads to the guilt of Aarushi's parents. But through the testimony of its witnesses, the second team has also questioned the integrity of its predecessor. On Thursday, K.K. Gautam told the court that the first CBI team attributed to him crucial things he did not say; it also left out vital information that he had provided.
Gautam came into the picture, according to the first statement he gave, on May 17 2008. He was instrumental in the discovery of Hemraj's body on the roof of the Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar's NOIDA flat. This statement was recorded by the first team of the CBI, led by joint director Arun Kumar, that had taken over the investigation within weeks of the murders.
Kumar's team had claimed it was close to cracking the case - it was working on the involvement of the other Nepali servants from the neighbourhood who knew Hemraj. But in September 2009, Kumar's team was replaced by one led by SP Nilabh Kishore, reportedly because evidence had been tampered with.
The case turned with this change, and so did many witnesses, including the former UP cop Gautam.
Gautam's statement to the first team of the CBI has him finding out about the murders on 17 May. He doesn't know the dentist couple, but his eye doctor - a friend of Rajesh's brother Dinesh - insists he visits and he goes to the flat. There, he notices, with his policeman's eye, depressions on Hemraj's bed that suggest three people have sat on it. That there are three glasses on the floor, and the servant's bathroom is dirty, as if several people have used it and haven't flushed.
In 2009, Gautam is summoned by the CBI once again. This time, A.G.L. Kaul, the new investigating officer in the case records a further statement.
Gautam now says he found out that Aarushi had been on the 16 May, not 17th as he had said earlier. His eye doctor, Sushil Chaudhari had called him and asked if he could use his influence to get the word rape left out of the post-mortem Aarushi's report. Gautam told Kaul that refused to help.
Gautam told the trial court that he told the first team of the CBI all of this, but does not know why it wasn't recorded. He also says that the officer recording his first statement included several things he did not say: the depressions on Hemraj's bed, for instance.
What Gautam effectively told the court, was that a CBI officer from the first team distorted several things he said, added things he did not, and produced a statement that suited the line of investigation at the time.
A couple of questions remain: Gautam says he read his earlier statement over as he gave his second, and wished to clarify "some points". In it, he does not mention that there were fabrications or embellishments by the CBI officer recording his first statement. In court, he accused the man from the first team of the CBI of doing exactly these things.Ask anyone in the CBI's current team what they think of the first, and they always say - and never without irony - "they did a wonderful job".
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