Do dentists know the basics of surgery? And therefore, can that fillings and root canal guy also use a knife to slit a throat? These were the deep questions that prosecution witness number 30, Dr Dinesh Kumar, was brought to court to answer in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial.
Dr Kumar teaches anatomy at Delhi's Maulana Medical College (MAMC). Students at the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences (MIDS), which the accused couple, Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar attended, are taught general surgery and anatomy by MAMC faculty.
In June 2010, the CBI had written to the MAMC asking them for a copy of the syllabus MIDS students were expected to follow--and how much surgery and general anatomy they learned. The lengthy syllabus was duly sent to the CBI.
A section of it says in order to lay the "scientific foundation of making a better doctor", throughout the course, particular emphasis is placed on "integration with teaching in other bio-dental dsiciplines". And yes, this means that dentists are taught how to dissect a cadaver and are familiar with general anatomy.Dr Kumar came to court on Friday to emphasise this somewhat obvious point.
But where is the sharp weapon that was used to finish off the victims by slitting their throats once the fatal (or near fatal) injuries had been inflicted on their heads? That weapon hasn't been found. A khukri, belonging to Krishna, an employee of the Talwars was once the suspected murder weapon, and though it had traces of blood on it, forensic scientists were unable to establish whether it was of human origin. (In fact, they could not identify whether it was from any known species of animal either.)
The idea that a scalpel might have been used crystallised sometime in late 2009, about year and a half after the murders, when a new team of CBI investigators took over the case. The idea is recorded in a "crime scene analysis" done by a Dr M.S. Dahiya of the Directorate of Forensic Science, Gujarat. Dahiya never visted the crime scene he analysed, and it has become evident through the trial that several of his conclusions are based on faulty inputs. But Dahiya concluded his report saying that the Talwars had easy access to surgical instrument by virtue of their profession.
The doctor who played golf, would thus have access to both club and scalpel.
The CBI believes this circumstance proves murder, much the same way as it believes that if you don't show grief publicly, and specially before policemen, you must be guilty.
Dummy tests conducted by dummies?
Is the CBI taking lessons from TV's CID?
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