Of the many grim aspects of the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial, the one that bothers me most is the deep-rooted sense of entitlement among India’s constabulary. An attitude that says: ‘because I say so’. A.G.L. Kaul, the CBI officer who spearheaded the investigation is a poster-boy of this attitude: he even brought it into the trial court.
Kaul’s statements can be summed up in three sentences: ‘I am certain Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar murdered their child and servant. I have no proof. But I say so.’
Kaul’s cross examination on Thursday threw up a very good reason why the CBI lacks evidence in this case: he and his crack team didn’t bother with an investigation.
Aarushi’s cellphone, for instance. It was found in a park nearby by a slum-dweller and eventually seized from one of her relatives by the Delhi police. The CBI claims that the phone had been tampered by the Talwars, left to be found, but with no data in it. Defence counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir asked Kaul the basis of the allegation: did the CBI ever seek the call records on that phone from the night of the murders, from when it was lost to any time till it was found? Kaul admitted this wasn’t done. But the CBI line still remains: the Talwars erased evidence from the phone. Because he says so.
A damaging allegation against Rajesh Talwar is that he refused to identify/tried to avoid identifying Hemraj’s body when it was discovered a day after the murders—in an attempt to buy time, hide guilt. The Noida police SP present at the scene is on record as saying Rajesh Talwar identified the body “from its hair”. As the highest-ranking officer of the scene at the time, he noted no hesitation.
Kaul claims the CBI came to its conclusion on the basis of the case diary, where someone, according to him had made a note to that effect. Who was this “someone”? Was his statement ever recorded? Kaul didn’t have any answers. And the case diary isn’t part of court record, so there is no opportunity for verification. So is the allegation true? It is, because the CBI says so.
You hear the phrase “dressing up of the crime scene” a lot from the CBI. It is a cornerstone of their case. One of the allegations is that the Talwars, in great haste, washed the whole house clean on the evening after Aarushi’s murder. The Talwars say they had conducted a havan that evening, and Aarushi’s bedroom was full of blood. The police came and seized whatever was necessary. Now all that remained, according to them, was a gory mess. The insinuation is that they cleaned up on the sly—as part of their cover-up.
The fact is that the house was crawling with cops at the time it was being cleaned. Sunita Rana, a U.P. police lady constable is on record as saying she was present when the cleaning took place. Kaul was asked is he had never asked Rana or any of the policemen present the reason for allowing the cleaning. .He said he had not. Neither were the premises ever seized/portions barricaded as case property. So did the Talwars clean up after the crime on the sly? Yes, because the CBI says so. It is therefore irrelevant that there was a posse of policemen present as the crime scene was being altered.
The ‘because we say so’ extends to the simplest of facts. The CBI has consistently given the trial judge the impression the Aarushi’s room was separated from the parents’ by a plywood partition. The judge expressed his surprise today when it emerged that there was actually a wall beneath the plywood. And only one protion, less than three feet—where a door had once been—was boarded up. Until now, the judge, and most of the media were under a totally different impression. Why? Because the CBI said so.
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Where is the common sense?
Convicted in one murder, cop witness in another 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