Did the Talwars place Aarushi's phone in the park?

Last Updated: Mon, Nov 12, 2012 19:16 hrs

Some time in the summer of 2008, perhaps weeks after Aarushi Talwar’s murder in the Delhi suburb of NOIDA, a domestic servant working in the general area found the teenager’s mobile phone. It lay, unconcealed, in a park. She picked up the instrument and took it home.

Four-and-a-half years after the incident, Kusum, the lady who found the phone, was in the witness box at the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial in Ghaziabad.

The phones used by the victims, Aarushi and the Talwars’ servant Hemraj were missing when their bodies were discovered in her parents flat on 16 and 17 May 2008. They are important pieces of evidence because the people who got rid of them were most likely the killers.

While making their case against Aarushi’s parents, the dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, the CBI has suggested that the Talwars were in possession of the phones. In Hemraj’s case, there was a call completed several hours after his death: someone picked up the phone in the Jalvayuvihar area where the Talwars lived.

The prosecution’s case is that the Talwars both made and received this particular call and then got rid of the phone in order to create the impression that it was with someone else.

Hemraj’s phone has not been recovered. All that the CBI has done is make the dubious claim that it was active somewhere in Punjab well after the murders. In the case of Aarushi’s phone, the recovery was made after a year and a half of police work. But the item itself has not been produced as evidence in the trial court.

Kusum took the phone home, and a few days later her brother arrived from Bulandhshahar and took it away for his use, little realizing what he was getting into. A year and a half later, while the phone was still active, the police traced it and came knocking at the brother’s door and picked him up. Kusum and her husband were taken into custody shortly thereafter. They told their simple story.

But it remains a story with many gaps — gaps that only a proper investigation could have filled. Kusum told the court that investigators never took her to the spot where she found the phone. And the man who actually used it, her brother Rambhool, is not even on the list of witnesses.

During cross-examination, Kusum was asked whether she remembered the model of the instrument — she said she could not. The prosecution’s purpose with today’s testimony seemed to be to suggest that someone placed (rather than dropped or disposed off) Aarushi’s phone in the park in a manner that would tempt a passer-by to pick it up. Kusum did, and finding the phone clean and undamaged, decided to keep it.

This is a fair enough premise, but Monday’s proceedings came nowhere close to answering the question that arose from it: did the Talwars place the phone in the park?

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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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