No reporter has followed the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case like Avirook Sen has.
In his best-selling book Aarushi and a series of reports also published on Sify.com, Sen raised important questions about the many holes in the CBI’s version of events, dubious witnesses, salacious slander, emails from a dead man and Ghaziabad court’s verdict sentencing Aarushi’s parents, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar.
After the Allahabad High Court acquitted the dentist couple of the double murder on Thursday, Avirook Sen spoke to Sify.com about the verdict, the botched investigation and how the case changed him.
Excerpts from an interview:
What are your views on the Allahabad High Court’s verdict in the Aarushi-Hemraj case?
The gross miscarriage of justice that was done in Ghaziabad has been corrected in Allahabad.
It took a lot of bravery on the part of the Talwars to suffer almost ten years of slander and unjust imprisonment. Personally, I am happy they can celebrate Diwali at home.
What happens next? Where do you think the case will go if the CBI appeals against the acquittal of the Talwars?
The Talwars don't need to do anything. The High Court judgement carefully breaks down why the case falls short.
The CBI can only make an appeal to the Supreme Court. To take it to the SC would be a challenge because the Supreme Court would only review or relook the case, just as the Allahabad High Court reviewed the Ghaziabad Court's verdict. There will not be a retrial. There is no scope to present new witnesses or evidence.
It's not the Court's mandate to investigate and find out who the killers are. It is the duty of the CBI to find who the murderers are.
I get the sense that the CBI is not likely to change their mind and will cling on to their fantasy on how the crime was committed.
Do you think anything can be done to compensate the Talwars for their years of suffering and trauma?
Two aspects of this bother me.
One, who will give the Talwars back their ten years? A large responsibility for what happened to them lies with the media. They went to town slandering the character of Aarushi, and by extension the parents'.
At the very least, the media owes them an apology. Considering the zeitgeist on TV today, even an apology looks highly unlikely.
The Talwars could sue for reparations, but again, that's close to impossible because I am quite certain they're tired. Their mistrust in the State is too deep now.
Second, there were a series of crimes committed during the investigation process and the trial process, as I have reported. There was tampering of evidence, tutoring of witnesses, perjury, swapping of forensic material. These are not schoolboy crimes. Do we just let them slide? Or does some retribution happen so that they're not repeated ever? If crime is part of the investigation process, what is the point of the team supposed up to deter crime?
To me, this is a good opportunity to set the system right.
What are the moments that have stayed with you from your coverage of the trial?
I have very strong visual memories of Ghaziabad court: The statue of Charan Singh, the rain running through court…
But the most painful of all was watching Nupur’s aged parents - Group Captain (retd) BG Chitnis and Lata Chitnis – who are in their 80s. They would struggle to get through a court day, but they attended every session. They would shake their heads every time their granddaughter (Aarushi) was slandered.
How has covering this case changed you? What are you working on
Reporting this has given shape to some of my beliefs, mainly presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This is something the mainstream media doesn’t seem to get.
Who in their right mind would have believed the fantasy the investigation agencies were spinning? The reporters seemed to have suspended their rationality then.
You can’t make a judgement and pronounce anyone guilty before the due process of law is over.
By watching this process so closely, things like a CBI report or an investigation procedure were no longer abstract. They came to life for me and I got a window to this world.
Right now, I am working on a documentary series on the book, Aarushi.