The mystery of the Talwars' clean stairs

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 31, 2013 02:40 hrs

The man in charge of the Noida police for exactly two days after Aarushi Talwar's murder testified in the special court where the teenager's parents are being tried on Wednesday. Mahesh Mishra was SP, Gautam Budh Nagar, on 16 May 2008, when Aarushi was found murdered. The next day, he oversaw the initial investigations after the discovery of Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwars' manservant Hemraj's body on the terrace of their flat. By night the same day, Mishra had received transfer orders.

In the two days that he was on the case, Mishra got to the scene of the double murders fairly early. But he left fairly quickly as well. The Prime

Minister was scheduled to visit Noida on 18 May, the SP rushed off to meetings regarding security arrangements.

Mishra described to the court what he saw, or oversaw, during his brief involvement in the case. And he was, predictably, asked the one question that the prosecution counsel never forgets to ask his witness: how did the dentist couple behave when the SP met them?

The policeman's answer fits the pattern followed by every witness in the case who holds a government job: there were no signs of grief on the
parents faces, said Mishra, but they were nervous when he questioned them.

Last week, another policeman had described the behaviour of the Talwars as "normal but tense".

Wednesday's witness didn't volunteer a description of the Talwars' demeanour. The CBI counsel asked him a specific question. Neither had
Mishra mentioned the point in the statement he gave the CBI in 2008; a statement he considered carefully, read over, and corrected, he told the

The statement, however, fit the CBI case very well. As did almost everything else that Mishra said, down to the untied strings on Aarushi's

But Mishra deviated on one crucial point: he told the court, of his own volition, that there were no blood marks on the stairs leading up to the
terrace from the Talwars' flat. The lock on the door of the terrace was blood-stained, said Mishra, as if was handled by the murderer, but as far
as the stairs were concerned, they were clean.

Mishra is the seniormost police official to have testified in the case. He was also one of the first policemen on the scene. If he didn't see any
stains on the stairs, what happens to the theory that a fatally injured and bleeding Hemraj was wrapped in a sheet and dragged to the terrace to be finished off with a scalpel?

Earlier this month, forensic experts took great pains to explain how this macabre event was reenacted "scientifically" to work out that the trails

The weight of Mishra's statement must now be borne by the prosecution. It is likely that a "correction" will be made on Thursday. But this can only happpen during his cross-examination. The defence may well choose not to ask any questions at all about the absence of blood stains. That way, the Talwars' stairs stay clean.

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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

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