Some time after 3.30 pm on Monday afternoon, there was a chorus that echoed off every wall in the Ghaziabad court: 'Doshi karaar! Saza kal!
Five and a half years after Aarushi Talwar and the Talwars' servant Hemraj were murdered, a special CBI court had found Aarushi's parents guilty. 'Doshi karaar', said everyone emerging from the court, and that is how the news first spread: by word of mouth.
The electronic media appeared undistracted by the Tarun Tejpal affair for the day. Cameras, lined up like horses chomping at the bit, were restrained by a thick rope usually meant for convicts that the UP police had thoughtfully carried with them. Journalists climbed on to every available tree for better vantage; booked their slots on the tops of every strategic wall. And waited at a distance. For, today, the walled courtyard which houses the special CBI court was out of bounds.
The verdict was supposed to have come in the first half of the day, so there were many false alarms: bouts of whooping, running, climbing down from trees - and climbing back up. And finally, above the din of the perpetually playing circus, rose two words: 'Doshi karaar'.
The verdict itself was bare. The judge's reasoning will emerge in the 150-odd page judgement which becomes public on Tuesday.
On the faces of the Talwar family - Nupur's aged parents, Rajesh's brother Dinesh and many others who had negotiated their way through the wall of reporters at the court's entrance, there was bewilderment.
Inside the court, the Talwars had broken down as they heard the judge. They were taken into custody immediately. They released a brief statement saying they were disappointed - and innocent.
Not by the standards of the trial court.
While the court's logic for the conviction will only become apparent when the judgment is read in full, the defense did get the chance for a fleeting read.
Judge Shyam Lal appears to have relied heavily upon shifting the burden of proof onto the accused.
There were four people in the flat on the night of May 15-16 2008. Two died, so the two who lived must be guilty.
It sounds fairly simple, but it isn't.
For the two to be found guilty, the prosecution must first prove beyond reasonable doubt, that there was no one else in the flat at the time.
In the present instance, who drank the beer and wine in the servant Hemraj's room? Who left the blood stains on the glasses found there?
From the accounts of defense lawyers who have seen the text of the judgment, it takes particular notice of the wet spot on Aarushi's bed, going on to say that this was evidence that the parents cleaned Aarushi's genitals. And that, in turn, suggested the servant and the girl were having sex.
The CBI has been unable to provide any proof of this, however. The agency has failed to establish that Hemraj was in Aarushi's room at all. There is no blood, sperm or any trace of DNA that connects Hemraj to Aarushi. But it is evident from the verdict that the judge was convinced even without it.
Several people asked me today whether justice has "finally been done". I've responded with: a verdict has been delivered, the process of justice is far from done.
From early readings of the judgement, defense lawyers are convinced about a great case in appeal. The Talwars will take their fight to the Allahabad High Court in a month.
The Talwars: Killers or victims?
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org