Aarushi Trial: What happened in the flat?

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 03, 2012 08:23 hrs

The security guard at the NOIDA residential complex where the Aarushi-Hemraj murders took place in 2008, testified before the trial court in Ghaziabad on Friday. Virendra Singh had been on duty on the night of the murders at the main gate of the complex, and came to the Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar's flat early next morning. From him, the court heard the following:

@ That there were several entries and exits to the Jalvayuvihar complex, of which the one he was at was open for vehicles at night, but no records were made on comings and goings. Pedestrians/cyclists could use this, as well the other exits.

@ That when he visited the Talwars' flat the next morning, Rajesh Talwar told him that the servant had murdered his daughter and fled. The watchman found many people in the flat, and noticed that while Nupur Talwar sat on the floor and was being given water, neither she nor Rajesh Talwar were weeping.

The first claim has been made in support of the CBI's case that that this was an ‘inside job' carried out by the accused couple. Singh saw no "suspicious" outsiders entering or exiting the complex when he was on duty that night. The complex has 1886 flats and houses something like 10,000 people. Singh said he didn't know all of them. Also, he says, there were 6-7 other guards on duty around the complex that night.

This part of Singh's testimony makes a few things clear: on foot, there were several ways of getting in and out of the complex without encountering him at the main gate. If the assailant lived in Jalvayuvihar—as the Talwars and one-time suspect Krishna, did—they didn't need to pass Singh, or any of the other guards on duty that night, at all. The question the court will decide is whether this rules out everyone but the Talwars as the killers.

The second part of the guard's testimony is by far the more interesting. It supports the CBI's theory that bereaved parents must weep in public; this is the correct "natural" reaction. Not showing grief is an indication of guilt. Let us leave this postulate aside for the moment.

In fact, the guard had told the agency in an earlier statement that both Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were in tears when he met them that morning. This was recorded by the CBI on 25 July 2008.

On Friday, Singh denied he ever made any such statement, and said he did not know why the investigator had recorded these details. He also said that he was in the Talwars' flat "very briefly" and that Nupur's "face was covered".

CBI counsel R.K. Saini told reporters that the guard's statement corroborated what an earlier witness, Sanjay Chauhan, had said about the lack of grief on the parent's faces. Chauhan, incidentally, is the U.P. government officer who told the court that he drove 28 km each way from his home in Greater NOIDA, to take his daily morning walks in the vicinity of the Talwars' home. Chauhan had purportedly arrived at the flat some time after the guard had left. He played no official role in the investigation.

The guard and the morning-walker's testimonies throw up the following suggestion: if you have lost a loved one in a violent crime and do not weep at the exact times future witnesses for the prosecution arrive at your home, then you must be guilty. This is one of the pieces of circumstantial evidence that the CBI is relying upon to establish the Talwars' guilt.

The reasonable mind of the court will no doubt dwell on this theory and come to its own conclusion.

The guard's testimony was important in another respect. For the second day running, a witness for the prosecution effectively accused officers of the first CBI team that had investigated murders of fabricating statements attributed to them. The present team of the CBI took over investigations in September 2009, and revived the ‘honour killing' theory first floated by the U.P. Police to explain the murders. Every significant witness to have deposed so far, has made several changes to what they had told the earlier team. Some, like the post-mortem doctor, Sunil Dohare, went through five versions, before he gave the court a sixth.

Another prosecution witness also took the stand on Friday. A painter called Shorat testified that he had painted parts of the Talwars' home and removed some grills at Rajesh Talwar's instance, eighteen months after the murder.

This is one of the grounds on which the Talwars have been charged with tampering of evidence. The CBI stressed the point in the Supreme Court when it argued against bail for Nupur last month: the agency said she would "tamper" witnesses who were yet to testify if she was at large. The painter and the guard were in a list of 13 that the CBI had fears about.

The Talwars' flat had been inspected multiple times by forensic and CBI teams and was empty when the painter was called. When asked whether the accused had been told not to carry out any work on the flat, CBI counsel R.K. Saini said that this "was implied".

The Talwars left NOIDA after the murders, and had planned to rent out the flat. They had written to the CBI in late October 2009 seeking permission—and from the account of the painter, several weeks before he began work—but received no reply. In April 2010, they wrote once again.

This time, they got a reply from Nilabh Kishore, head of the CBI's second team, writing from the specially created ID ‘hemraj.jalvayuvihar.com'. Kishore (alias Hemraj Singh) wrote to them saying the agency had no problems if they rented the flat out, but that they should keep his office informed on any changes they wished to make to the premises.

The Talwars agreed. The flat is now on rent.

More on Aarushi trial:

Complete Coverage -

Aarushi Trial Special

Articles -

CBI 1.0 versus CBI 2.0

CBI’s (pillow) cover blown

Suspicious servants, blood stains and a reckless typo

The forgetful forensics man

Screaming advocates and a media-friendly lawyer!

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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