Aarushi Trial: Talwars question CBI's weapon theory

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 30, 2013 01:20 hrs

Every murder needs a weapon. The Aarushi-Hemraj murders had two: a blunt object that struck each victim twice on the head, probably fatally; a sharp object that was used to slit their throats to make sure thereafter. But what were these two objects?

They started out being a hammer and a knife. This is what the UP police speculated - no weapon was recovered on around the time the crime took place in May 2008. When the CBI took over, disclosures of the servants suspected led to their arrest and the recovery of a khukri from Krishna's room. (Krishna was also an employee of the Talwars). Doctors who had conducted the post-mortem on the two bodies endorsed the view that a khukri could have caused the injuries, so did a medical board.

But then, the investigating team of the CBI was changed. Under Additional SP, A.G.L. Kaul, who headed the new team, the khukri went back to the maalkhana and a fourth weapon was proposed: a golf club.

Dr Talwar was a novice (and occasional) golfer; he had a set of clubs at home. One of them must be the murder weapon. This is the CBI's thinking. And in fact it’s case.

On Tuesday, the Ghaziabad court where Aarushi's parents Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar are being tried heard the sordid story of how the golf clubs suddenly became a weapon of offence a year and a half after the murders.

Defence counsel Tanveer Ahmed Mir told the court it started with a forensic scientist writing a report as good as confirming the golf club as the weapon, and the Talwars the murderers. Just one point to note here: the scientist did this without ever seeing the weapon. He wrote his report on 26 October 2009, the CBI asked for the clubs on 29 October--exactly four years to the day when they came up in court. They were handed over by the Talwars on 30 October 2009.

Except the fact that there were some golf clubs in the house, Dr M.S. Dahiya, of the Forensic Science Laboratory Gandhinagar, could have known little else about the "murder weapons". In what must be first in the history of forensic science - a science dedicated to the minute inspection of objects and samples--he wrote with unblinking authority about how a golf club was the murder weapon, without ever having seen it. But then, he is also the man who claims to tell the source of blood merely by seeing photographs of the crime scene (as in this case). Dr Dahiya, in a line, is a genuine loss to the alternate disciplines--tasseography (reading tea leaves) or face reading, perhaps.

The events of October 2009, turned this case on its head and squarely against the Talwars. In the space of those thirty days, Dahiya "established" a motive (grave and sudden provocation in a matter of family honour). The servant and the teenager were placed in the same room--without proof. And a new weapon of offence was floated.

Dahiya met the lead investigator Kaul in early October. In two weeks, his report was ready, even though the weapon of offence was yet to be recovered. And the Talwars, their counsel pointed out, had received no communication from the CBI about the golf clubs at all from the time of the murders. They were asked only after Dahiya wrote his masterpiece.

But which club from the set of 12 was the weapon used? Everybody has the impression that the sleuths in the CBI are crack investigators, but how is this for competence: Kaul's team builds a case around a particular club (an iron with number 5 engraved on its head) being "cleaned" more than the others, in the opinion of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory. Who but a murderer would clean a golf club?

But then, Kaul and company get the clubs all mixed up. The scientist had actually said that the club with the number 4 engraved on it appeared cleaner. No. 5 was as dirty as the rest--it hadn't been cleaned. And this was the murder weapon? Something on which there were no traces of blood/DNA (tests confirmed this); no signs of cleaning, which was the "incriminating" circumstance in the first place?

And then, of course, there is the issue of the chain of custody of the clubs. An inspector who bundled the 12 clubs together seized them, leaving the operative parts - the head - totally exposed. The golf bag was sealed separately.

At the CFSL, the biology division and the physics division conducted tests on them and duly stamped their seals in exactly the same manner. The clubs eventually found their way to Kaul's office where the seals were broken for an "inspection parade" where Dr Talwar's driver was asked to identify the club used in the murder (four months before the murders he had taken two clubs out of the boot of Dr Talwar's car and placed them in Hemraj's room).

Umesh, the driver says the clubs were laid out across Kaul's table; Laxman Singh, a witness drafted by the CBI that day remembers them being in the golf bag. The bag and the clubs were sealed separately. How could the clubs have been in the bag if it was sealed?

Last year, at his deposition Laxman Singh said Umesh had identified No. 5 in Kaul's office. The defence asked him how he knew it was No. 5. Where was this number written?

Singh was stumped (he wasn't familiar with golf) but before he could answer, the court broke for lunch. The CBI counsel then pulled out the cheapest trick in the book: he pointed to the bottom of the club and told the witness to "tell them its there".

Rajesh Talwar's brother Dinesh was there in court that day and protested loudly. But the judge had left, all that took place was a bitter, heated argument. I watched the events with some dismay. And in a way, the incident was a slice of the intrigue surrounding one of the most crucial objects in a murder: the weapon.

Read more:

Aarushi Trial: Are the CBI's witnesses lying?

What is the integrity of the Aarushi case?

Aarushi Talwar case: The end is near

Aarushi case: How the CBI framed the Talwars

Why CBI is reluctant to handover DNA evidence to Talwars

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