Aarushi trial: How the word 'rape' came into the case

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 23, 2012 00:41 hrs

About a dozen telephone calls between three people were at the centre of what the special court in Ghaziabad heard on Monday. The calls were made on the days the murders of Aarushi Talwar and the Talwars’ manservant Hemraj were discovered. The people in question: Dr Sushil Chowdhary, a senior opthalmologist; a patient of his, K.K. Gautam, a former U.P. cop; and Dr Dinesh Talwar, Rajesh Talwar’s elder brother.

These calls are seen as vital for the prosecution: the CBI believes that they are circumstantial evidence of the dentist couple’s role in the murders, and point to their motive. It is the investigators’ case that Dr Sushil Chowdhary made an unusual request to Gautam on behalf of the Talwars: he asked for the former deputy SP to try and prevent the word “rape” from appearing in Aarushi’s post-mortem report.

Telephone records from 16 May 2008, when Aarushi’s post-mortem was being conducted, show calls to Dr Chowdhary from Dinesh Talwar, and calls to Gautam from Chowdhary. There is no direct contact between the Talwars and Gautam — a man they did not know.

Dr Chowdhary and Dr Dinesh Talwar were acquainted with each other through the academic conference/lecture circuit. Dinesh Talwar describes him as a “senior, rather than a peer”. He says that he had been waiting for a long time at the post-mortem house and called Chowdhary, a well-respected and connected NOIDA doctor, to ask whether things could be expedited.

The question of the word “rape” arises only in K.K. Gautam’s testimony. He claimed that Chowdhary had made the request on the Talwars’ behalf, and that he declined to help.

In any event, Aarushi’s post-mortem showed no evidence of rape or sexual assault. The report is part of record.

Gautam is an interesting man. In his initial statement to the CBI recorded in 2008, he had told investigators he came to know about Aarushi’s murder only a day after the event. There is no mention of any phone calls from his eye doctor or any connection with a post-portem in this statement. About two years later, he told the CBI that he was actually aware of Aarushi’s murder on the day it was discovered — Dr Chowdhary had called him — and then, he made the startling claim on the removal of the word 'rape' from the post-mortem report.

The cell-phone records that the CBI relies on lists Gautam’s number as that of the “Invertis Institute”. The policeman is a patron/mentor at this state university (the status was acquired during the Mayawati government’s rule); his son is the vice-chancellor. A number of his relatives hold similarly high titles.

The university offers a wide range of courses — from management to engineering — and is built on a massive campus in Bareilly, attracting students from the surrounding areas. Gautam retired about five years ago, having achieved the rank of deputy superintendent of police.

Deepak Tomar, a nodal officer for Vodafone, testified on Monday. Tomar gave the records in question to the CBI in November 2010 in the form of a printout. They pertain to 2008 and Tomar said during his cross-examination that these logs are preserved in the system only for a year, unless there is a specific request from an investigating agency. In this case, there was none.

The defense questioned the integrity of the records. Tomar’s cross-examination will continue on 29 October.

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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 avirook@gmail.com

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