Of all the circumstantial evidence presented in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial, the CBI’s allegation that the 14-year-old’s genitals were cleaned after her murder is the most important. The magistrate who sent the case to trial relied heavily on it when deciding there was enough prima facie evidence against Aarushi’s parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. No “outsider” would bother with this macabre ritual. On Tuesday, the prosecution produced a key witness: a man who repeated the accusation.
Dr Sunil Kumar Dohare, the medical officer who conducted the post-mortem on Aarushi’s body, told the special court that the unusual dilation of Aarushi’s vaginal cavity could have been caused if it was tampered after her death: either when rigor mortis had set in, or was about to.
The doctor went further, describing Aarushi’s wounds in some detail—and the kind of weapons that might have caused them. Aarushi was struck on her head twice by a blunt weapon; one of these blows cracked her skull. These possibly fatal injuries could have been dealt by a golf club.
Her throat was then slit with a sharp surgical knife. The spurting patterns suggest this may have happened in the final moments of Aarushi’s life—as she was “sinking”.
Dr Dohare’s testimony is exactly in line with what the CBI believes happened on the night of 15-16 May 2008. It was an “honour killing” that involved Dr Talwar’s golf clubs; his medical training; and the rage of parents who chanced upon the end of their beloved daughter’s innocence. The story was too lurid for their sensibilities. They had to clean Aarushi up. They had to “dress up the scene”. They had to invent another narrative.
Sunil Dohare has been involved in the case from the very beginning. But his story has undergone several revisions. It is now in sync with the CBI’s.
After conducting both an external and internal examination of Aarushi’s genitals, Dohare recorded the remark ‘NAD’ (nothing abnormal detected) in his post-mortem report on 16 May 2008, while also registering the fact that there was a “whitish discharge”. He took swabs and sent the slides for examination. The slides made the rounds of forensic labs, and no sperm was found in the samples.
In his first statement to the CBI on 18 July 2008, Dohare sticks by his post-mortem report. The first reference to Aarushi’s dilated vaginal cavity appears in a “further statement” on October 3. But no details or implications are provided.
Between recording his first and second statements, Dohare was part of a seven-member expert committee at AIIMS set up to provide an opinion on the case to the CBI. The committee submitted its findings on 9 September, with Dohare as a signatory. There is no mention of a dilated vagina in the 18-page report.
And what of the murder weapon? The committee says it could have been a khukri. (This is also the time when the involvement of Nepali servants who Hemraj knew was suspected.)
The report ends with the question:
‘Question: Any other relevant clue/s that experts may like to point out in the instant case?
Less than a month later, Dohare tells the CBI about the dilated vagina. About a year afterwards, on 30 September 2009, he gives the CBI’s new team a detailed description: “On external examination, the vaginal opening was found prominently wide open…” He also recalls a ruptured hymen.
And why did he not mention details about Aarushi’s private parts in his post-mortem report? He tells the CBI that these were left out because “the findings were non-specific and were very strange”. “Very strange” did not qualify as abnormal.
On 28 May 2010, Dohare records a further statement (his fourth). This is done in the presence of Rajesh’s brother, Dr Dinesh Talwar, and is in question-answer form.
Now, says, Dohare the precision of the cuts to Aarushi’s neck show that they were made by a “surgically trained person”. The head injury could have been caused by a golf club. And, crucially, the “wide opening (of Aarushi’s vagina) indicates that the private parts of Aarushi were manipulated after her death…”.
And what of the ‘whitish discharge’, the detail that had survived from the post-mortem report? Its presence only at the base of the vagina and the mouth of the cervix was not “normal” says Dohare. “Normally, any discharge…will spread evenly throughout the organ.”
“Nothing abnormal detected?”
Dohare’s cross-examination is due to take place on Wednesday.More on Aarushi trial: Complete Coverage - Aarushi Trial Special Articles -
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Currently a visiting fellow at INSEAD, France, 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