Dharapani: Khumkala Banjade, the widow of Hemraj — the domestic help who was killed in the Aarushi Talwar murder — has no doubt that the Talwars would be acquitted in the case. She says she is not surprised but rather saddened that the court let the Talwars walk free and cancelled their life sentence for lack of material evidence. The Allahabad High Court on 12 October overturned the verdict of the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court that convicted the Talwars in 2013 , acquitted Dr Rajesh and Dr Nupur Talwar in the murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj.
Khumkala says that she heard about the 12 October verdict from her neighbours. "They are rich and powerful," she says, stating that no one paid attention to the death of her husband, except for a couple of journalists who reached out every now and then after the May 2008 incident that tore her life apart. "The focus has always been the death of Aarushi," she adds.
"Who cares about the death of an innocent man?" asks Khumkala, breaking down during the course of her conversation with Firstpost. Her family has also filed a case against the Talwars in a Ghaziabad court with the help of a lawyer (Naresh Yadav) in India. In November 2013, the couple was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment following which the Talwars had challenged the decision in the Allahabad High Court.
Khumkala lives with her 19-year-old son Prajwal and Hemraj’s 80-year-old mother. She also has a 29-year-old daughter who is married and lives with her in-laws. Even today, Khumkala refuses to believe Hemraj was killed because he was found in a compromising situation with Aarushi. "Hemraj's name has been taken in vain. We are praying for a miracle because we have no options left to get justice for my late husband," says Khumkala.
"Hemraj used to complain that Rajesh was a short-tempered man," recalls Khumkala, pointing out how she had talked her husband into ignoring it and focussing on work, "Little did I know that I would lose my husband in the process."
According to her, Hemraj used to send home Rs 3,000 every month from his salary of Rs 5,000 and was the sole bread earner of the family. She notes that in the six months prior to his death, he had not sent home any money. The family was left in a shambles after his death and is still reliant on relatives and friends. The Talwars, she says, offered no concern or support and added, "No one really talks about giving justice to my dead husband, there is indeed no value for a poor man or his family."
While Khumkala believes Rajesh is guilty of the double murder, she claims to be unsure of whether or not Nupur was also responsible. "Hemraj knew his dirty secrets and it is likely the daughter knew about it too and that is the reason both of them got killed," alleges Hemraj's widow, "Both of them knew something he did not want others to know."
"My husband became a casualty of Indian upper class vices," she says, pointing out how life has changed for her and her son after his death. Their son Prajwal has been depressed since his father's death and has been unable to continue with education, given the prolonged treatment he has been undergoing. This required him to be taken to Varanasi on six occasions. Now, Prajwal, who was 10 years old when his father died, is undergoing treatment for chronic pneumonia.
"We are struggling to continue with his treatment and thus far, it's only been possible with help of relatives and neighbours," says Khumkala, "My son's health is deteriorating and he could not even continue education after Class 12 given our financial crisis."
Prajwal did not wish to speak about his father.
Hemraj's village still mourning his death
Hemraj would have been home for Diwali if he was alive, says his family and even after nine long years, his friends in Dharapani remember his humble and caring nature. Hemraj was known as being smart, popular and the go-to person in the village.
He left the village and came to India when he was 18 to make a living given the difficult life in the villages. He would often visit friends during festivals and actively engage in celebrations and made selroti (a local delicacy) for friends and family. However, with his death, his family and friends have resorted to quiet Diwali celebrations.
His family now lives in Bhumikasthan Nagarpalika in Aghakhachi district that has a population of over 12,000 people, of whom 30 percent travel to India or different parts of Nepal for work.
Updated Date: Oct 24, 2017 13:10 PM