Aarushi-Hemraj murder: Rajesh and Nupur Talwar are free again, but case leaves behind a string of questions
The botched-up investigation in the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj double murder case has left behind a string of questions, which perhaps will never be answered
The botched-up investigation in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case has left behind a string of questions, which perhaps will never be answered.
Even as Rajesh and Nupur Talwar are set to be freed from the Dasna jail on Monday, the CBI is contemplating over appealing to the Supreme Court in the matter of benefit of doubt granted to them by the Allahabad High Court. But unless the questions which have been raised till now are answered, such an exercise is unlikely to bear any fruit.
The unprofessional method of collecting and preserving evidence followed by both the Noida Police and the CBI seems to have closed the path to finding the answers to solve the murder mystery forever.
Right from the beginning of the inquiry of the Aarushi-Hemraj murder mystery, the Noida Police and the CBI set a record for utter negligence. The Noida Police did not cordon off the crime scene and allowed wiping of possible crucial evidence, whereas, negligence on the part of the CBI allowed misplacing of the vaginal swab of the deceased Aarushi and a mismatch of information about pillowcases that had stains of Hemraj’s blood.
All the evidence mentioned above would have been crucial for any investigating agency to get close to the motive of the killer or the killers, which clearly did not happen and finally left us with the question as to 'who killed Aarushi-Hemraj'.
The crime scene
What botched-up the entire investigation at its early stage and let the judicial process suffer, was the Noida Police’s utter negligence in protecting the crime scene.
In any criminal case investigation, evidence collected from a crime scene is of utmost importance. But in this case, the Noida Police allowed people to trample the crime scene soon after the murder took place. On account of which possible vital information was lost.
The police also allowed cleaning and white-washing of the room where Aarushi was killed, thus allowing crucial evidence to be wiped off forever. The police did not even seize the clothes Aarushi was wearing that night.
The negligence on the part of Noida Police was reported in The Hindu as well where it is said that 90 percent of the evidence was lost due to the negligence of the Noida Police.
"The CBI team investigating the case had charged the UP Police, who had first probed the case, with having destroyed 90 percent of the evidence at the crime scene," the newspaper reported.
It further stated that the forensic scientist said that the UP police did not cordon off the crime scene and as such when they went to capture the fingerprints, they found many people including the media walking up and down all over them.
Such was the negligence of the Noida Police that it ended up registering a case accusing dead Hemraj of killing Aarushi. The police did not even care to search Talwar's house after Aarushi's death. Had they searched the house they would have found Hemraj's body. A day later his body was recovered on the terrace of Talwar’s house itself.
What has baffled many is the question as to why did the Noida Police fail to abide by the minimum norm of protecting a crime scene? Was it intentional? If, yes under whose influence did this happen?
Blood-stained pillow covers
The failure to protect evidence is not limited to Noida Police only. The CBI is also accused of tampering with vital evidence by none other than the Allahabad High Court itself. The High Court alleged that the premier investigating agency connived with Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) to remove a key evidence — a blood-stained pillowcase — seized from Krishna’s home, a servant of the Talwars.
In fact, two pillowcases were seized during the investigation process by the CBI. One from deceased Hemraj’s room and other from Krishna’s. Both were sent to the CDFD for DNA tests. The initial CDFD report filed on 6 November 2008 showed that the one recovered from Krishna’s room was stained with Hemraj’s blood.
Despite the CDFD having mentioned in its report in 2008 that the blood found in the pillow seized from Krishna’s room was of Hemraj’s, a CBI investigator named AGL Kaul visited the office of the CDFD in Hyderabad and submitted a letter asking if a "typographical error" had led to the mixing up of the reports on the two pillow covers and if Hemraj’s DNA was, in fact, found only on his own pillow cover.
The CDFD promptly replied in affirmative and admitted the error. The HC views this episode with suspicion and mentions that the aforesaid exercise on the part of CBI clearly puts the two photographs of the controversial exhibits — a clarification is sought from CDFD Hyderabad and ultimately the clarification is given as desired by the investigating officer — under a strong shadow of doubt, and gives rise to a very strong suspicion that the entire aforesaid exercise was undertaken by the investigating officer in connivance with CDFD Hyderabad to remove from the record any evidence which was in consonance with innocence of the Talwars.
The Allahabad High Court also said in its judgment that the CBI could offer "no satisfactory reply" on what led to Kaul (the official) to doubt the correctness of the 2008 CDFD report.
The HC observed that this was a clinching evidence in favour of the Talwar couple and proved that Krishna was present in their home when Hemraj was murdered. The HC also pointed out that the CBI never submitted this evidence to the trial court.
Now the question arises which one of the CDFD’s versions about the pillowcases were correct? Whether it was the initial one which submitted that the pillow cover which was recovered from Krishna’s room had blood stains of Hemraj was correct? Or whether it was later one which said that only the pillowcase which was recovered from Hemraj’s room had his blood stain?
What led the CBI official to believe that the initial report was incorrect? This question could be answered only by AGL Kaul himself. But he is no more in this world.
The Economic Times reported that the Allahabad High Court also noted the testimony of a CDFD scientific expert, SPR Prasad, before the trial court in which he said that the seals put by CDFD on all exhibits sent by the CBI seemed to be tampered with.
"He categorically deposed before the trial court that all his seals have been broken, all his envelopes have been torn open and he cannot say who broke these seals, who tore open the envelopes, when this was done and why this was done," the high court said.
Another string of questions which arise out of SPR Prasad’s submission is that who tampered with the evidence? And for whom?
The case of Aarushi’s vaginal swab also raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation process. The vaginal swab of the deceased teenager was sent to Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL). But the report which came was rather astounding.
In 2012, Sify reported that Dr BK Mohapatra of the CFSL, completed his deposition before the CBI special court in Ghaziabad where the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial was in progress. On the final day of his testimony, Dr Mohapatra made two intriguing claims: first, that the vaginal swabs he had examined, purportedly extracted from Aarushi, contained traces of more than one female DNA sequence. And that the clothes the accused wore on the night of the murders may have washed before CFSL examined them.
Now, the questions which arise here are: who mixed the evidence of vaginal swab of another woman with that of Aarushi? What was the intention behind it? Was it an attempt to conceal the sexual harassment that Aarushi went through?
These are crucial questions which need to be answered without which any further hearing is likely to get stuck in this maze.
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