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The Aarushi-Hemraj Murder Case An

An explosive and detailed analysis of the countrys most famous murder trial

SHOMA CHAUDHURY | @shomachaudhury

Photo: Ishan Tankha

At this moment, in a CBI court in Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, events are unfolding that might
eventually go down as one of the most shameful scandals in Indias legal history.
This is a story that should frighten everybody. Its a story of colossal incompetence and prejudice;
a story about a wilful miscarriage of justice. Its a story that could happen to anyone in the
Heres how it unfolds. Until the intervening night of 15 and 16 May 2008, the Talwars were just
an ordinary middle-class Indian family. Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were dentists; their 13-year old
daughter Aarushi was a pretty, vivacious grade 9 student in Delhi Public School (DPS), Noida.
By all accounts, they were a happy, very close-knit family. On the night of 15 May, Dr Rajesh
Talwar had bought his daughter a camera: her birthday was coming up on the 24th; the venue for
a celebratory party with her friends had been booked for 18 May. Delighted with her present,
Aarushi took pictures of herself and her parents. The clock on the wall behind her showed 10.10

By the morning of 16 May, all of this had irrevocably and devastatingly changed. Aarushi was
found brutally murdered in her bed, her head bludgeoned, her throat slit. At first, the prime
suspect was the Talwars live-in house help, Hemraj, who was missing from the house. But a day
later, on 17 May, Hemrajs body was found on the terrace, his head similarly bludgeoned, his
throat slit.
Since that discovery, the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder has become the stuff of urban legend.
Everyone knows about it; everyone has an opinion. Its as if the facts no longer matter.
The discovery of Hemrajs body had another impact: it triggered a juggernaut that has not
stopped till this day. Soon after the find, before any investigation could bear fruit, the Noida
police called a press conference and began to spin a conjectural story that has grown and grown,
till it seems almost impossible to dislodge. The media fed on this story with an almost crazed
frenzy, throwing every modicum of journalistic propriety and fact-checking to the wind.
Suddenly, the Talwars found they were not human beings anymore. They were not parents who
had just suffered the most catastrophic tragedy. They were not even just ordinary suspects,
pending further inquiry and proof. They were merely ready meat.
Over the last five years, the media has mashed and cooked and masticated this story in any way
they choose. The Talwars have been completely stripped of their humanity: now you can mount
any story on them and it holds good. Nobody has to prove anything; no one has to be logical; no
one has to apply their mind.
They are their childs murderers. They are wife-swappers. Rajesh was having an affair. Aarushi
was not their real child. They didnt cry enough. They looked too composed. They had dressed
the scene of crime. They had acted on sudden and grave provocation. They had found their 13year-old daughter in a compromising position with their 45-year-old servant. The neck injuries
were made by a surgical scalpel, by surgically trained people. Rajesh used a golf club to bludgeon
his daughter and servant. No one else was present in the house that night. There was no forced
entry. Rajesh had seemed reluctant to open the terrace door for the police. They had interfered
with the post-mortem report. They had cleaned out the evidence.
Search your memory: chances are you wont have to search deep. If you think of the AarushiHemraj murder, all or some of these assumptions are sure to leap at you. Screaming headlines,
television reconstructions of dark silhouettes, a 13-year-old girl having sex with a naked man, a
father with a raised golf club, hysterical background music, incessant police and CBI theories put
out in the public domain. All of this has done the trick. This is now a closed case: the Talwars
have already been convicted in the public mind societys desire for vicarious spectacle. There are
enough accounts from family and friends of how Rajesh had banged his head on the wall and
been mad with grief, how Nupur had cried hysterically on the phone, how they both had been in
severe shock, how decisions were being made for them by everyone else around them those
fateful days. But the media grievance is, why didnt they do this for public consumption, why not
on TV debates?
Even so, ultimately, this unconscionable public trial would have been irrelevant if the judicial
process had stayed on the rails. But before you read whats happening in the trial court in
Ghaziabad, before you read what real evidence there is either against or in favour of the Talwars,
consider this:
For a brief period after Hemrajs body was found, the needle of suspicion had moved
towards Hemrajs friends three domestic staff and workers who lived in the area. Krishna, a

helper in Rajesh Talwars clinic; Raj Kumar, a house-help with Dr Praful and Anita Durrani, who
were the Talwars friends; and Vijay Mandal, who worked at another neighbours house.
During this time, both the Talwars and these aides were put through two sets each of polygraph
tests, brain mapping tests, lie detector tests, and narcoanalysis.
Mark this: both Nupur and Rajesh Talwar showed absolutely no deception in their tests. They also
showed no knowledge of the crime.
The aides, on the other hand, particularly Krishna and Rajkumar, showed deception in their lie
detector tests. Even more crucially, their narco tests pointed to their involvement in the crime.
They admitted to their presence in the house that night, described the sequence of the crime, the
murder weapon, and how Aarushi and Hemrajs phones were disposed of. Arun Kumar, the head
of the CBIteam investigating the murder, held a press conference on 11 July 2008, sharing
cautious details of these tests with the media.
This was a serious breakthrough. Narco tests are not admissible as legal evidence, but they are
important indicators of which way an investigation should head. Section 27 of the Indian
Evidence Act also says if any incriminatory discoveries are obtained pursuant to a voluntarily
administered narco test, then these discoveries become legally admissible. This, read with
a Supreme Court judgment in Selvi & Others vs State of Karnataka (2010), could have made the
beginnings of a strong case.
As things turned out, two major discoveries one of them absolutely explosive emerged
from Krishnas narco. But lets come to that a little later in this story.
Despite this breakthrough, things could not reach any logical end. In September 2009,
investigating officer Arun Kumar was taken off the case. A new CBI team took over, with AGL
Kaul as the investigating officer. With this change of team, the case suddenly took a new and
malicious twist. While it would have been fair to continue investigating both sets of suspects
the Talwars and the domestic aides inexplicably, after the new team took over, the leads on the
aides were allowed to go cold; the pursuit of the Talwars intensified.
Despite this, in December 2010, the CBI had to file a closure report on the case, citing critical
and substantial gaps in the evidence against the Talwars, an absence of a clear cut motive, and
an incomplete understanding of the sequence of events.
One would imagine this an absence of substantial evidence and motive, the two most
important markers of a murder would have been enough to absolve the parents of murdering
their only daughter. Yet, the CBI named the Talwars as the chief suspect while giving a complete
clean chit to the aides.
They also left the story about Hemraj and Aarushis liaison dangling in the report as a salacious
insinuation. Aghast at the violence being done to their daughters memory, aghast the perpetrators
would never be caught, aghast they had been left smeared as possible murderers, the Talwars
protested against the closure report and asked for the investigation to be reopened. They did not
want a premature clean chit, they pleaded; they just wanted the investigation to continue. Hardly
classic behaviour for people guilty of a crime.
In a bizarre twist, however, District Magistrate Priti Singh threw out their petition and ordered a
trial based on the same closure report that had said it did not have sufficient evidence to charge
them. From suspects, the Talwars were now the main and sole accused. The aides remained
completely out of the ambit of the case.

Before you read further now about whats been happening inside the special CBIcourt, consider
just this fact and draw your own conclusion about whether it sounds like a fair trial.
So far, the CBI has produced 39 witnesses. Given how flimsy and mala fide some of them have
been, the Talwars wanted the prosecution to call 14 other witnesses most of them key officers
like Arun Kumar from the first CBI team, as well as from the Noida police who they could
cross-examine to demonstrate the correct sequence of events, as well as establish the mala fide of
the second CBI team. The court did not grant permission. The Talwars challenged this in the
Allahabad High Court. They were denied permission. They went to the Supreme Court: they were
After this, the Talwars asked permission to produce 13 of their own defence witnesses. They also
asked for the right to access key documents pertaining to their case: their own and the aides
narco tests as additional material; the call records of the aides; as well as forensic slides and post
mortem reports, etc, that their own expert could examine. Arguing against this, RK Saini, the
prosecution lawyer, said they should not be allowed to call any witnesses at all. The Talwars, he
said, were merely trying to waste the courts time.
So: two parents with no former history of dysfunctionality or rage are accused of butchering their
only child. There is admittedly no substantial evidence against them. Yet, the prosecution gets to
call 39 witnesses. They should be allowed zero.
Does this sound like a fair trial? (The slightly crazed irony of this is doubled when you know that
earlier, in July 2008, the same RK Saini had pleaded in court forRajesh Talwar to be released
from custody because his role in the crime had been thoroughly investigated, his tests showed
no deception, none of the crime scene clues matched with him, and his custody was not
required in the interest of justice.)
As this story goes to press, the court order on the Talwars plea has come in: they have been
denied access to all further documents related to their case. Of the 13 witnesses they wanted to
call in their defence, the judge has allowed only seven: no doctors, no pathologists, no people
with any objective standing in the case; only a few family members and friends. Four of these
have been ordered to be produced at one go on Thursday, 20 June 2013.
Unless one goes into the details of the case, its impossible to understand the extent of the
prejudice the Talwars are facing. The CBIs argument against even this basic norm of natural
justice that an accused should be allowed to present his defence is just the tip of the mala
fide against the Talwars.
At the heart of this, there is a question everyone finds hard to answer: why should the CBI go out
of its way to nail the Talwars? Its not as if either they or the domestic aides are powerful people.
So, why would the CBI gun for one and protect the other; why would it not just remain neutral in
its search for justice?
The answers can only be assumptive. From the way things have unfolded, two things seem clear.
One, the investigation has been frighteningly shoddy from the beginning, both by the Noida
police and the CBI. Two, AGL Kaul, the investigating officer of the second CBI team, seems to
have bought very deeply and zealously into the insinuations surrounding the Talwars. It drove his
line of enquiry; it explains why his closure report was full of irreconcilable gaps.
However, when Magistrate Priti Singh summarily ordered a trial on the basis of this report, things
got even more complicated. As Avirook Sen, a journalist who has been attending the trial
regularly, writing sharp reports for the Mumbai Mirror, says, According to me, the CBI never
intended to go for a trial. But when a trial was ordered, they just had to extemporise the evidence

along the way. Now, with each passing day in court, they are getting more and more invested in
their own story.
It is a clich to call something Kafkaesque. But what other word can one find for the chilling
situation the Talwars find themselves in. Amazingly, Javed Ahmed, Joint Director, CBI, under
whose aegis the second CBI team led by Kaul has been functioning, pretty much admits this.
When asked why the CBI was resisting the Talwars plea to produce witnesses in their own
defence, he said, We are within our rights by law to do so. There is nothing illegal about it.
It is wrong to insinuate we are being wilfully unfair to them. They can ask for as many witnesses
as they want, we can put up our objections. After that, its for the court to decide. Our duty is to
ensure there is a speedy trial and no one tries to prolong it. In a rather bewildering non sequitur,
he added, What would you have said if the Talwars had asked for 2,432 witnesses in their
Theyve asked for 13, not 2,000, you remind him. I was just giving that as an example, he said.
I then asked, was it not strange for the CBI to admit in its final report that it has insufficient
evidence against someone, suggest the case should be closed, and yet have to prosecute them in a
trial on the basis of that. Given this context, was it not strange too that they had argued
against Rajesh Talwars plea for furtherinvestigation before trial and were now stalling the
production of defence witnesses?
You are absolutely right, he said. It is a matter of stated record that we have insufficient
evidence. But once the judge has ordered a trial, who am I to argue against the judges decision?
It just becomes our duty to assist the court and we damn well have to do our job in whatever way
possible. Unfortunately, as this story will show, this assisting of the court has literally included
manipulating and cooking up evidence.
It is also depressing to hear the CBI say, who am I to argue against the judge? You are the premier
investigating agency in the country, you say, and you know you do not have evidence. In the
interest of justice, isnt it only fair that you argue against the judges decision and push for
further investigation before going to trial?
Now imagine the Talwars quandary. They are the sole accused in a case where there is no real
evidence against them. Yet when they approached the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme
Court pleading for an expanded investigation that could probe the possible involvement of
outsiders, as well commission advanced forensic tests like Touch DNA (which could even prove
their own guilt), their plea was rejected by both courts. The Supreme Court told them this seemed
a last ditch effort to salvage a lost situation. It also told Nupur Talwar that if she kept coming to
them every time she disagreed with orders by the trial court, she would attract exemplary costs.
Forget the constitutional provision that every citizen is innocent until proven guilty. In this case, it
seems the Talwars constitutional right to appeal the higher courts has also been foreclosed.
Javed Ahmed and RK Saini declined to answer any specific questions about the case. You will
appreciate my position, Ahmed said.
The key to the Aarushi-Hemraj murders lies in two lines of enquiry. One assumes that Hemrajs
friends the domestic aides had something to do with it. The other assumes Aarushis parents
Rajesh and Nupur did it.

This story does not assume either set to be guilty. However, it is important to understand and
remember what facts both theories hinge on, and how they have played out over the last five
Take the trail that is lying cold first: facts pointing to the involvement of Hemrajs friends in the
After Hemrajs body was found, the Talwars became the natural suspects because there had been
no forced entry into the house. The assumption was: there are four people in the house, two end
up dead. Clearly, the remaining two must prove their innocence.
But what if there had been outsiders in the house that night who did not need to force their way
in; who had friendly entry. According to the CBI officer Arun Kumars press conference, Krishna,
Raj Kumar and Vijay Mandal had admitted in their narco tests and confessions to
the CBI that Hemraj had called them and they had gathered late that night in his room. Krishna
(who had a recent grouse against the Talwars) came first and consumed alcohol, then Rajkumar,
then Vijay Mandal. They all consumed alcohol, discussed Aarushi, then entered her room. She
tried to scream but was gagged and hit by a hard, blunt object. They then tried to abuse her, which
led to a scuffle between them. After the scuffle, they went to the terrace and after a lot of
struggle, Hemraj was killed. They locked the terrace, came back into Aarushis room (presumably
to ensure she was dead) and fled.
Narco tests and statements to police may not be legally admissible, but here are physical facts that
supported this admission and made it a logical line ofinvestigation. Three bottles were found
in Hemrajs room: one Sprite, one Kingfisher beer, and one Sula wine. (Hemraj himself was a
teetotaller.) This certainly suggests he had two or more visitors that night. He used to have the
keys to the entrance of the house, and his own room opened into the house. So a friendly entry
was perfectly possible.
The sequence of events described by these men also matched the initial post mortem reports on
Aarushi and Hemraj. The reports said both had been stunned and probably almost entirely
killed by the blows on their heads by some hard blunt object; their necks were slit later.
A seven-member committee of scientists and doctors from AIIMS, who analysed the scene of
crime, also concluded that Aarushi was killed in her bed, whileHemraj was killed on the terrace.
In addition to this, after Krishnas confession and narco, a khukri with what seemed like tiny
blood spots was recovered from his room. On 31 July 2008, the post mortem doctors endorsed
that this could certainly have been the weapon of assault that landed the fatal blows. It was also
possible the khukri blade was responsible for the cuts on the throat, they said, though these could
also have been done by something sharper. The AIIMS committee also endorsed this view.
(Sources in the CBI say Rajkumar also distinctly mentioned another khukri they had thrown away
near a mall in Noida. This trail, however, was never actively followed.)
During their narcos, the men also mentioned particular Nepali songs that were playing on
television while they were in Hemrajs room. The CBI cross-checked this with journalistproducer Nalini Singh, who runs a Nepali channel, among others. She verified this to be accurate.
The most devastating piece of evidence though was the recovery of a purple pillow cover from
Krishnas room on 14 June 2008 with suspected blood spots on it. The hair-raising story of what
happened with this crucial piece of evidence exposes the dark heart of everything to do with this
murder trial: the terrifyingly shambolic status of our investigative and forensic agencies; and the
inconceivable lengths they can go to, to either frame someone or cover their own backs.

But first read what happened with the khukri. On 17 June 2008, SK Singla, a serologist with the
Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Delhi, said he could not identify any human blood
on the khukri. The weapon was then sent to BK Mahapatra, a DNA expert at CFSL. Mahapatra
said he could not extract any DNA. Even though this was considered the primary murder weapon,
the CBI failed to send this piece of evidence for further examination to the Centre for DNA
Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in Hyderabad. During the trial, when the Talwars
counsel cross-examined Singla about the blood marks on this khukri, he again reiterated it was
not human blood. Pressed further, he said it was not chicken, dog, cow, goat or buffalo blood
either. However, he could not explain any other alternate source for the blood spots on the
suspected murder weapon. And thats where the story of the khukri lies to this day.
Now read what happened to the purple pillow cover. And feel afraid. The purple pillow cover
recovered from Krishnas room was sent to CDFD, Hyderabad. On 6 November 2008, a report
came back from them with an absolutely explosive reading: the blood marks on Krishnas pillow
matched Hemrajs.
In ordinary circumstances, this would have been a bomb of a report. It seemed to blow the
mystery off the case. Logically speaking, there is no way Hemrajs blood could have been on
Krishnas pillow unless the latter had been at the crime site that fateful night. Combine this with
the recovery of the khukri, the narco admissions, the booze bottles in Hemrajs room and surely
one could say, to put it mildly, here was the contour of a case.
But read first about the bathos, and then the malice of what happened with this piece of evidence.
In an amazing breach of diligence, for almost two and a half years, everyone in the CBI missed
this detail in the 6 November CDFD report, even while Arun Kumar was still on the job.
Incredulously, cross-examined during the trial, MS Phartiyal, who was the investigating officer
from September 2008 to March 2009, said, I did not see this report because I was busy with
In December 2010, with this information about Krishnas pillow still lying undetected,
the CBI filed their closure report, exonerating Krishna and the others. Their oversight was bad
enough but the CBIs eventual reaction to the discovery of this damning evidence is positively
But before that, the closure report tells its own story. The CBI now led by investigating officer
AGL Kaul who was intensely convinced of the Talwars complicity listed several, one could
say flimsy, reasons why Krishna and the others could not be counted as suspects.
These men are certainly entitled to an assumption of innocence. But given theCBIs intense
pursuit of the Talwars often flying in the face of reason reading the CBIs rationale for
exonerating the servants alongside simple counter-rationales makes for interesting reading.
Here go some of the reasons cited in the closure report:
CBIs argument: The servants narcos were unreliable.
Counter-argument: This story has already shown why they could as equally be deemed reliable.
CBIs argument: Narco report of Krishna and Raj Kumar had mentioned that Aarushis mobile
was sent to Nepal while Hemrajs phone was destroyed. However, these revelations were found to
be incorrect because Aarushis mobile was recovered in Noida, while Hemrajs phone was found
active in Punjab.
Counter-argument: This is by no means a foolproof reason to imagine Hemrajs friends were
lying in their narcos. In fact, its again astounding that two such crucial pieces of evidence have
not been investigated more thoroughly by the CBI. Curiously, during cross-examination, MN

Vijayan, a prosecution witness from Tata Telcom, said he could not remember if Hemrajs
number had ever been put under surveillance by CBI. If thats the truth, its unclear how officer
AGL Kaul knows it was being used in Punjab. Whats more, if its true the phone was in use in
Punjab, Kaul does not seem to have deemed it fit to investigate something as important as who
was using the dead mans phone in Punjab or how he came to possess it. The same goes for
Aarushis phone. Kusum, the maid who claims to have found it on a footpath in Noida, passed it
on to a relative Rambhool. It came into CBI possession soon after officer Kaul took over
the investigation. Kaul claims the data card was cleaned of all its memory and has blamed the
Talwars for this. However, he did not produce Rambhool to explain the condition in which the
phone was found; he admitted he had not taken any statement from the police officer who gave
the phone to him; and he was unable to explain when Aarushis phone was first used after the
crime, or its location at the time.
CBIs argument: Krishna was found asleep in his garage room with his family the morning after
the crime so he cannot be a suspect. His family said he had been there all night; there were no
phone calls or physical interaction between any of the servants on that day.
Counter-argument: Being found at home does not necessarily discount one from being a
suspect. Several of the infamous Delhi gangrape suspects, for instance, were finally arrested from
their homes. To hide or run away would have been to draw greater attention. The familys claim
that Krishna was there all night can be read as a protective gesture. There is no proof that there
were no calls between the aides on that fatal day. In fact, it was part of the Talwars recent plea to
have access to the servants call records on that day.
CBI argument: The servants would not have the guts to assemble in the house while both
doctors were present.
Counter-argument: This is a particularly preposterous argument going by the fact that the CBIs
position in the closure report is that Hemraj was having consensual sex with Aarushi right next to
the sleeping parents. Why is it believable that he would have the guts to do that, while these
men wouldnt have had the guts to even gather in Hemrajs room on the other side of the house?
CBI argument: Raj Kumar had gone to the railway station with Praful Durrani to fetch his wife
Anita Durrani. They apparently reached home at around 10.30 pm after which Raj Kumar
prepared a meal for Anita, who ate it around 12 midnight. The Durranis apparently went to sleep
around 12.30 am. The amount of time needed to cycle from the Durranis house to the Talwars
was about 20 minutes. The CBI deduces it was therefore impossible for Raj Kumar to reach the
scene of crime within the estimated time of assault. The post mortem assesses that Aarushi was
killed between midnight and 1 am. Dr Durrani also locked the house from inside himself so it
would have been difficult for Raj Kumar to get out.
Counter-argument: This assumes a clockwork precision to every action that evening. Going by
the generally appalling standard of forensics in this case, it seems extremely credulous to imagine
Aarushis murder could not have happened a little after 1 am as well; or that the Durranis turned
in a little earlier or later than the CBI claims. Raj Kumar also had a key to the house so he could
have let himself out even after the Durranis retired for the night.
To reiterate again, this is not meant to take away the servants right to an assumption of
innocence. It is merely to cast a hard eye on the facts as they stand. It is also to expose the CBIs
contrasting approach to the Talwars, under investigating officer AGL Kaul.
And now, to return to the discovery of the time bomb: Hemrajs blood on Krishnas pillow cover.
When magistrate Priti Singh ordered trial, Nupur was suddenly made a co-accused along with
Rajesh. In February 2011, she went to the Allahabad High Court challenging this summoning
order. While this was underway, the Talwars were given the 6 November 2008 report as part of
case material. Chancing upon the explosive description of Hemrajs blood marks on Krishnas

pillow, Nupur filed a supplementary petition, arguing that as this new evidence clearly pointed to
someone elses involvement in the crime, the case against them should now be dropped
and investigation reopened.
The CBI was caught off-guard. Still, had it been neutral, it should have welcomed the discovery
of this fresh and solid lead. Instead, in a mischievous move that beggars the imagination, on 8
March 2011, officer AGL Kaul argued in the high court that the description of Krishnas pillow
was a typographical error on the part of the CDFD expert in Hyderabad. According to him, the
description of two objects Hemrajs pillow and Krishnas pillow had been interchanged.
Set aside for a moment what this says about the competence of that institution, consider only the
preposterousness of the assertion. Anyone who reads the 6 November report will see it is
impossible for the expert to have made any typographical error in describing Krishnas pillow.
The description about it runs over a couple of pages and each time it is referred to by its exhibit
number, there is also a bracket describing it as being a purple pillow cover. There is no
disagreement even by Kaul that the purple pillow cover belonged to Krishna. Yet, in a
bizarre leap, his contention is that when the experts say Hemrajs blood was found on Krishnas
pillow cover what they are really referring to is Hemrajs own pillow. On 8 March, while arguing
his theory in the high court, Kaul flashed two photographs at the judge that showed the pillows
with different tag marks. However, he failed to submit these pictures to the court or file an
affidavit about it. On 18 March, the high court dismissed Nupurs plea.
Lets assume for a moment this is true: the moot question is how could Kaul by merely
looking at a report come to the conclusion that such an error had occurred even before he had
communicated with the CDFD about it? How did he even think there had been an error? Was it
because this piece blew his own theory about the Talwars being the murderers? If they had
killed Hemraj, what was his blood doing on Krishnas pillow? CDFD expert SPR Prasads crossexamination in the trial court shoots the lid right off Kauls mala fide. According to Prasad, the
CDFD received a letter from Kaul on 17 March a full 10 days after Kaul had already made his
argument about a typographical error in the high court. The phrasing of his letter is itself
scandalous. According to Prasad, in what seems almost a form of auto- suggestion, Kaul wrote to
them saying, There seems to be a typographical error in describing this item, please check from
your records whether there is such an error.
Prasad also admitted that for two and a half years prior to Kauls letter, no one at CDFD had felt
there was any such error in their description. He also made one more explosive admission. When
he had given the pillow covers to the CBI, they had been sealed and stamped by the CDFD.
When they were returned, these seals had been opened. He had no clue when, why or by whom
these had been opened. Yet, on 28 March 2011, as Kaul had requested, the CDFD sent a letter
back to theCBI saying there had been such an error. Arguments over this typographical error
had continued between the Talwars and CBI in the Supreme Court for several months. After Kaul
got this letter from the CDFD, he submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court with the
photographs of the pillow covers labelled in a way to suit his theory. The Talwars eventually lost
their appeal.
However, in an untenable move, Kaul has consistently refused to submit these same photographs
in the trial court and subject them to cross-examination. In fact, when the Talwars counsel
confronted him with a genuine certified copy of his Supreme Court affidavit about these
photographs, he refused to recognise his own affidavit. This is not mine, he said. I cannot
comment on the matter. The trial judge, in his wisdom, refused to let the Talwars place this
affidavit on record.

Meanwhile, heaping brazen argument upon argument, Kaul also asserted in the trial court that he
had noticed the typographical error almost as soon as he had taken over the case in 2009. But,
incredulously, he says, for more than two and a half years he neither mentioned it in any case
diary, nor wrote to the CDFD enquiring about it, nor felt the need to discuss it with any of his
peers or even mention it in his closure report. Pressed to explain why, he said he thought he
would tell the expert about it if the need arose and the case ever came to trial.
So, with no substantial evidence against them and with some real evidence possibly pointing
guilt in a completely different direction the Talwars now stand in danger of being convicted
for the murder of their child on the basis of a typographical error that the countrys most
powerful investigative agency either dreamt up or failed to act on for two and a half years.
Surely this takes assisting the court and ensuring a speedy trial a little too far?
That was the story of the trail lying cold. Heres what happens when a trail is hot. The CBIs
belief in the Talwars guilt hinges on a theory. This theory, of course, was first articulated by the
Noida police and fanned by the media. But the man who gave it complete and lurid life is Dr MS
Dahiya, a forensic scientist from the Directorate of Forensic Sciences in Gandhinagar a month
after Kaul took over asCBI investigating officer.
Reading Dahiyas crime scene analysis report which is based mainly on some crime scene
photographs is like reading a Haryanvi Khap Panchayat elder on speed. It is full of the most
astonishing inconsistencies and offensive leaps of imagination. But more on that later.
An amalgam of all these theories is that on the night of 15-16 May 2008, soon after Rajesh and
Nupur left their 13-year-old daughter Aarushi in her room, Rajesh heard a sound in her room
which was adjacent to his own, so he went to his servant Hemrajs room at the far end of the
house, picked a golf club and went back to his daughters room. Inside, he found Hemraj and his
daughter in bed and, in a fit of insane rage, he instantly bludgeoned both to death. Hearing the
noise, his wife Nupur woke up. Seeing her only and hitherto beloved daughter dead, she
immediately swung into helping her husband complete the gory crime. They decided to slit both
their servant and daughters neck as part of a game plan to make it look like the handiwork of
others. Then they dragged their servants body up a flight of stairs to the terrace, concealed it with
a water-cooler panel, and came back down again. Subsequently, they undertook a massive
cleaning up operation, wiped out all evidence of their involvement in the crime, sneaked out at
twilight, threw all the bloody and soiled cleaning cloths away, then waited for daybreak.
For five years, this outlandish honour killing theory, first conjured by the Noida police then
perpetuated by CBI officer Kaul, has floated about untested in the public domain, seeping like
noxious gas into everyones brain, sedimenting there, unchallenged, into a settled truth.
Before you read further about the evidence this theory has been built on, test just the logic of its
The first question one should ask is, what sort of noise do the Noida police and theCBI imagine
the parents heard? It could not have been the screaming, struggling noise of rape because, by
every expert account including the post mortem report, there were no signs of struggle on
Aarushis body. She was killed as she lay. This means the only other way she could have been
found with Hemraj in a compromising position that night was voluntarily.
Break down the illogic of that: The Talwars were a happy, urban, cosmopolitan nuclear family;
Aarushi, a gregarious, affectionate teenager, popular in school and close to her parents. Her
teenage boyfriends phoned her home at midnight with no fear of offending the parents. Why

would she against logic, against nature, against culture voluntarily let her middle-aged
house help into her bed?
Other obvious questions leap up. While exonerating Hemrajs friends of the crime despite their
admitted involvement in it CBI officer Kaul had opined in his closure report that they could
not have had the guts to gather in Hemrajs room while the masters were in the house. Why
then does he find it so easy to believeHemraj and Aarushi would have had the guts to be in a
compromising position right next to her parents room? What noise does he believe the two
were making that could wake the father, if they were surreptitiously in bed? Then again, if at all
he did wake upon hearing some noise in his daughters room, why would he not open her door
immediately to find out what the noise is, or who the intruder could be, which would be the
natural instinct of any parent? Why would he walk all the way to his servants room at the further
end of the house to pick up a golf club first?
One could endlessly pick craters into the CBIs flimsy theories, but whats much more germane
and staggering is to examine the key pieces on which the allegation of honour killing rests.
Its a measure of the surreal hell the Talwars find themselves in, that logic is no more a provision
they can ask for in life. Consider this: For the allegation of honour killing which is the very
foundation of the case against them to hold, at the very least, Hemraj should have been killed
in Aarushis room. But hold your breath page 29 of the CBIs own closure report says there
is absolutely no evidence of Hemrajs blood on Aarushis bedsheet and pillow. In fact, it states,
there is no evidence to prove he was killed in her room at all.
In a just world, this should immediately have dissolved the accusation against them. But,
astonishingly, the trial against the Talwars continues. In fact, perversely, they are instead accused
of dressing the crime scene and cleaning out the evidence. But as Rajeshs lawyer Tanver Ahmed
Mir says, Was Hemrajs blood blue in colour so that the parents would be able to selectively
clean his blood from the bed and walls and floor of the room, while leaving Aarushis intact? His
logic is unassailable. And yet inadmissible, it seems.
This allegation of a massive clean-up by the Talwars is, in fact, itself a bewildering one. If the
Talwars really were such adept and cold-blooded killers, capable of a professional sweep
operation that removed every trace of their involvement in their daughters murder, why would
they leave a big, bloody palm print on the terrace wall, a footprint next to it, a bloodied lock on
the terraces outside door, a Ballantine whiskey bottle on the table, again with blood on it, and
three bottles with blood marks in Hemrajs room?
But still, the adamant pursuit of them continues, with contortionist twists and turns. At one point
in the trial, for instance, the Talwars were dismayed to find that Hemrajs pillow with his blood
was alleged to have been found in Aarushis room. Their hearts sank. If this was the case, there
was no way they could prove their innocence.
But as it turned out, Parcel 21 became yet another example of a kind of almost inexplicable
mala fide against the Talwars by some officers in the CBI. When this pillow cover Parcel 21
was produced in court, Kaul had tried to hustle it out of the room the moment the judge had
had a look. But then, in what seems an almost divine intervention for the Talwars, this time the
judge himself noticed a tag inside the parcel. Closer examination proved the pillow cover had
been seized from Hemrajs room itself and the seizure memo was signed by CBI Inspector Pankaj
There are other cardinal aspects of the case, for instance, that are completely confounding. Again,
if the allegation of an honour killing has to hold good against the Talwars, not only

should Hemraj have been killed in Aarushis room, there has to be some proof of a sexual liaison
between them as well. But though there was a written request from the police to Sunil Dohre, the
post mortem doctor from the district hospital in Ghaziabad who examined Aarushi, to check for
rape or sexual assault, Dohre reported there was absolutely no abnormality detected in the
physical aspect of her hymen, and noted only a slight whitish vaginal discharge (which any
gynaecologist will testify is highly common in young girls and women), and no sperms. After he
filed his report, Dohre stood by these initial findings in several more statements he gave to the
police and the CBI on 18 May, 18 July and 3 October 2008. He was also part of the AIIMS
committee report filed on 6 September 2008 that stated the same thing.
But suddenly, after Kaul took over the CBI investigation, Dohres post mortem analysis of
Aarushi changed wildly. In two statements he made to Kaul on 30 September 2009 and 28 May
2010, he said Aarushis vagina was so widely distended he could see her cervix and that her
hymen was ruptured and healed. He also said the white discharge was from an outside source
and the cut on her throat was done by a surgical scalpel by surgically trained people and not a
khukri as he had earlier maintained. The stun blow, he now felt, could have been done by a golf
Curiously, this segued perfectly with Dahiyas fervid and newly generated crime analysis report.
Both vastly contradicted the earlier seven-member AIIMS committee report, which had deemed a
khukri to be the possible murder weapon and noted that there had been no sexual abnormality in
Aarushis reports.
Bizarrely, the post mortem report of Hemraj, conducted by Naresh Raj, a senior paediatrician in
the district hospital at Gautam Budh Nagar, went through a similarly miraculous transformation
the moment Kaul took over the probe.
Naresh had earlier detected no abnormality or sexual activity in Hemraj. He too had felt the
murder weapon could have been a khukri. Like Dohre, he repeated these positions several times
in statements to the police and CBI officers. Like Dohre, he was part of the AIIMS team and had
put in no dissenting note to their findings. But after Kaul came on the scene, suddenly, he too felt
the cuts were by surgical weapons, by surgically trained people, and that Hemraj had been killed
in the middle of or just prior to intercourse.
Armed with this triangular piece of insinuated evidence, Kaul proceeded to build a case against
the Talwars by every zealous means at his disposal, as this story has earlier shown.
During the trial, however, Dohre and Naresh cut sorry figures, trying to explain why their
positions had shifted so wildly. Asked why he had failed to note these extreme features in
Aarushis private parts in his reports earlier, Dohre said he had not done so because the latter
were merely his subjective finding.
Naresh put himself in an even more jaw-dropping position. When Hemraj had been found a day
and half later on the terrace, he was already in an advanced state of putrefaction in the May heat.
During cross-examination, the Talwars counsel quoted Jaising P Modis A Textbook of Medical
Jurisprudence and Toxicology to him. Naresh accepted this to be an authoritative passage on
putrefaction but refused to accept it as an accurate description of Hemrajs body. The counsel then
suggested to him that Hemrajs swollen penis was in keeping with the rest of his swollen
putrefying body and not a sign of sexual activity prior to his murder. Naresh refused to accept this
position as well. On what then was he basing his interpretation of Hemrajs swollen penis, the
counsel asked. On personal experience from my marriage, Naresh answered.

There is another important piece that must be proved if the CBIs honour killing theory is to
prevail against the Talwars. Not only must it be proved that Hemrajwas killed in Aarushis room
but that it was dragged up to the terrace by them. The AIIMS committee had already averred
that Hemrajs murder actually took place on the terrace.
Despite this, there have been many versions and counter-versions from different witnesses on
whether there were any blood traces on the steps going up to the terrace on 16 May 2008, the day
before Hemrajs body was discovered. Some blood spots were discovered on the 17th but these
could have appeared when Hemrajs blood-soaked body was taken down the stairs by the police.
This piece of the puzzle could have gone badly for the Talwars, with different people holding
different positions, until it was discovered that sample numbers 9 and 10 actually pertained to
drops of blood on the stairs in front of their neighbours house, one floor below them. In a sense,
this closed the argument. If there were blood drops on the stairs below them, clearly the murderer
had either gone down the stairs and away from the Talwars house, or else, those were drops
from Hemrajs body being taken down by the police.
(Still, its a mark of how fiercely they wish to prove the Talwars guilty, that while this debate was
on, the CBI produced a witness a magistrate named Sanjay Chauhan in court who claimed
he drives 58 km every day to take a walk in the Talwars neighbourhood. He was there that
morning, he said, and had seen blood marks on the stairs. He had also noticed that the Talwars
were not crying very much. No one else seemed to remember him though.)
The argument over whether Hemraj was killed on the terrace or in Aarushis room now seems
almost definitely sealed, especially given that theres no third place he is deemed to have been
killed, and its certain from the CBIs own admission that he wasnt killed in Aarushis room.
As the trial proceeds further, to a neutral eye, it seems to be looping back to the findings in the
closure report: that there is no motive and no substantial evidence against the Talwars.
But this still leaves the two new alleged murder weapons: the golf clubs and the surgical scalpels.
In a sense, both tell a curious story. Ever since the theory about the surgical scalpel used by
surgically trained people first emerged in the public domain, it has mushroomed into one of
those clouds of dark insinuation that constantly hang above the Talwars.
But again, they can only make a plea for a little bit of reasoned attention. They are orthodontists
who tinker with gums, not surgeons who slice through muscle and stomach walls. Their tools of
trade an average dental scalpels blade is no longer than 6 mm. Its not really the kind of
weapon you slit your daughters neck with from one side to another to dress a scene of crime.
Having let this dark gnome out to tease the public mind, however, so far the CBIhas not sought to
either seize all of the Talwars scalpels or even produce one in court to establish it as a murder
The golf clubs, however, offer another view into the art of obfuscation. If you read Dahiyas
crime-analysis and the CBIs closure report, without a strong desire to get into the detail, chances
are you would come away absolutely convinced the Talwars are hiding many things. If evidence
is to fail, insinuation, they have realised, is the real stealth bomb. And sections of the media are
always at hand to carry its impact further.
If they search even their surface memory, most consumers of news will remember that theres
something about one of Rajesh Talwars golf clubs being cleaner than all the rest. The
(hardly) subliminal suggestion is, it was carefully cleaned by the Talwars after the gruesome

However, judge for yourself how much truth there is to that from the sequence of events.
Apparently, Rajesh, a novice golfer, often used to go for his practices with two of his clubs,
which lay in the boot of his car. A few days prior to the murders, his car needed servicing so
Umesh, his driver, put the two clubs irons 4 and 5 in Hemrajs room.
In his closure report, Kaul says there was a photo of Hemrajs room after the murders in which
only one club was visible. According to Kaul, Rajesh was asked about the missing club by his
predecessor but he could not explain where it was. Rajesh, on the other hand, says he does not
remember being asked but it could well have been lying hidden in the mess of things strewn
about in Hemrajs room, as the photograph shows.
For several months after that, there was absolutely no discussion about the clubs. As Rajesh says,
if indeed the CBI had begun to doubt them as murder weapons, why did they not seize the
remaining clubs and launch a search for the missing club in the house right away?
But none of that happened. Then on 29 October 2009 again after Kaul had taken over the case
the Talwars received a letter from the CBI asking for Rajeshs golf set. Rajesh willingly
produced the whole set immediately. Asked where the missing club had been, Nupur said one had
been found in a loft while they were clearing out the house but she says she isnt sure if this was
what had been deemed missing by the CBI from the photo of Hemrajs room. Soon after, iron
number 5 was declared the possible murder weapon. But confusingly, rather than irons 4 and 5,
Kaul said in his closure report that clubs 3 and 5 appeared to have been thoroughly cleaned.
When the expert report came back, it emerged that far from being visibly cleaner, the grooves
of the numbers on the underface of the clubs named Exhibits 3 and 5 were only negligibly
cleaner when seen under a microscope!
In a final stroke of absurdity, it then emerged that neither Exhibit 3 nor Exhibit 5 was pertinent to
the case. Iron number 5, which had been declared the suspected murder weapon, was actually
Exhibit 6 and was not even negligibly cleaner than the others! That apart, no blood, DNA or
fingerprints were found on any of the clubs.
This repeated Kafkaesque quality informs every aspect of the Talwars murder trial. Despite that,
it is difficult to explain the force of prejudice working against the Talwars. On the morning after
the murders, for instance, when the maid rang the doorbell and Hemraj was missing, the Talwars
had immediately believed he was linked with Aarushis death and kept urging the police to look
for him. It was a natural assumption. But the moment Hemrajs body was discovered on the
terrace the next day, the reverse suspicion on them spiralled crazily. Many believed their
suspicion of Hemraj had been a diversionary tactic.
Another question that has dogged Rajesh for five years is why couldnt he find the keys to the
terrace on the morning of 16 May? Why did he seem reluctant to open the terrace door? Was he
trying to prevent the police from discoveringHemrajs body?
What no one seems to stop and think is: Rajesh had just witnessed the bludgeoned body of his
daughter. He was in a severe state of shock, barely aware of what he was doing: natural responses
for any parent. The terrace keys, along with a set of house keys that used to be with Hemraj, have
never been found. (Whoever killedHemraj presumably threw the keys away.) But Rajesh has a
simple counter-question for anyone who will listen. The keys to the terrace may not have been
found by him that morning, but what stopped the police from breaking the lock or the door down?
When the local police SHO, Datta Ram Nanoria who had been tasked to search the terrace
was confronted with this question, he said he had simply forgotten to break the door despite the
blood stains on its lock. He was almost transferred out for his dereliction. Yet, two years later,

investigating officer Kaul still left this as an insinuation of Rajeshs suspicious behaviour in his
closure report, saying Rajesh had ignored the request for the terrace keys.
Ironically, the next day on 17 May, it was Dinesh Talwar Rajeshs brother who urged the
terrace lock to be broken in the presence of the police. But bewilderingly, Kaul listed even this
among suspicious activity related to the Talwars. Dineshs urgency, he wrote, showed the
detection of Hemrajs body was not a mere coincidence. Predictably though, he did not explain
what conspiracy could possibly lie behind Rajeshs brother getting the terrace lock broken in the
presence of the police.
Another insinuation that has tailed Rajesh is that he was awake the night of his daughters murder
because the internet router in their house kept switching on and off through the night. The most
obvious question is, why would a father who had just murdered his daughter keep switching his
internet connection on and off? But the internet router that night has continued to hang over
Rajesh like a miasma. Unfortunately, what is much less well known is that the same unexplained
activity on the internet router happened even the next morning, with police and visitors swarming
through the apartment, and it was finally deemed unreliable evidence in the closure report.
Examining and demystifying all the unfair prejudices around the Talwars, however, would take
too long. So heres the question: what is the evidence that makes the Talwars look so culpable in
peoples eyes?
This is what a quick laundry list answer would look like: they could not explain why the keys to
Aarushis room were not traceable the next morning (though apparently they were later found
near the entrance door); they could not find the keys to the terrace; they displayed undue haste
in cleaning the house; they allegedly made a call to influence the post mortem report; they did
not cry enough; Hemrajs body was found with a cooler panel on it; they seemed to have slept
through two gruesome murders in their house, and so on.
Set against the mountain of evidence analysed by this story, which seems to stack up in defence
of their innocence, this list of complaints looks truly small wood with which to crucify two
parents for the murder of their child.
They did not clean their flat with undue haste while Aarushi was taken for cremation, for
instance: their relatives and staff did, in the presence of and with the permission of policewomen.
It was hot, the flat was full of footmarks and a mess as it had not been cordoned off, there were
visitors everywhere and the police assured them they had taken what they needed for the probe.
The policewoman Sunita Rana who, the Talwars say, their relatives took permission from
has not been produced by the CBI as a witness. In any case, given that the Talwars did not
personally clean up with stealth in the dead of night, is it the CBIs assumption that all these
relatives and house staff are now conspirators to the murders?
For anyone keen to probe the truth, there are similar workaday and quotidian answers possible for
many of the questions that assail the Talwars. Perhaps there will be some for which they will have
none. The point is, ask yourself, after everything you have read, what do the weigh-scales look
like on them?
Theres one final allegation against the Talwars: that they compromised the vaginal smear and
somehow switched Aarushis slides. This brings one to the darkest heart of the story yet.
Strangely enough, writes Dahiya in his report, the vaginal smear alleged to be of the deceased
Ms Aarushi, failed the DNA test and hence must have been compromised/replaced probably with
a view to ensure that no male biological fluid could be traced to her.

This allegation is hogwash: stop for a moment and ask, how would they do that? Its a typical
Dahiya-type invention. His report is full of such argumentative pyrotechnics. Certitudes shot
through with probably and must have.
For him, by some strange twist in logic, the bloody palm print on the terrace is proof that after
the assassins returned to the house, the absence of blood stains in the flat shows the murderers
took full advantage of well-lit conditions inside the flat to carefully remove all chance prints. He
forgets, they left blood on the whiskey bottle and presumably fingerprints.
If vaginal smears dont match or there are no matching fingerprints in a house that has witnessed
two gruesome murders, it is not necessarily because the Talwars moved like phantom detectives,
making all traces of themselves or others in the house vanish. Its because the investigative and
forensic institutions in our country are themselves falling apart.
As Richa Saxena, the pathologist who examined Aarushis vaginal slides, told Kaul,
contamination of slides couldnt be ruled out (not, as Dahiya was suggesting, because the Talwars
had connived to replace it) but because such slides can get contaminated due to faulty handling
and storage of slides in unsealed conditions.
Sunil Dohre, in another statement to Kaul, also said, We have no procedure of collection of
swabs in our district in entire UP state.
The Aarushi-Hemraj murder story need not have become the nightmarish mystery it has, where
three blood-stained bottles should lie in a victims room, but the fingerprints on them dont match
any of the suspects; where a bloodstained shoe print should lie next to a putrefying body and that
should match no sizes. Ditto for the bloodied lock or the whiskey bottle.
The fact is, from day one, conclusive answers to these murders were doomed. The Noida police
did not cordon off the site of crime. Streams of inquisitive neighbours and relatives were allowed
to tramp through the house, touch objects and examine them. This is why out of the 24
fingerprints that were retrieved from the house, 22 are too smudged to count; two dont match
When Hemrajs body was found, there was a water-cooler panel over him: the assumption would
be its the murderer who last touched that. The panel should have been seized and taken for
forensics. But it was never even investigated. (When asked about it, the police said it was too
heavy). Similar carelessness criminal carelessness abounds throughout the story of the
Aarushi-Hemrajmurder. Krishnas pants were seized but not his shirts, Aarushis blanket was not
taken for forensics; neither were the Talwars. Only a portion of Aarushis mattress was cut; there
were no sniffer dogs brought to the site. A murdered man was not found on the terrace of a crime
site. The list goes on and on.
Yet, in a sense, the Talwars are being blamed for every piece of institutional incompetence. The
police dont seal a scene of crime; they are accused of botching evidence. The police dont break
a terrace door; they are accused of being uncooperative. The CBI does not seize golf clubs; they
are accused of being evasive.
Contrary to being obstructive, despite being the sole accused, Rajesh Talwar has written
repeatedly to the CBI urging them to get Touch DNA an advanced form of forensics abroad
done to get at the truth. But, inexplicably, despite being the investigator, Kaul has been stalling
him. Rajesh wanted the big palm print sent abroad for Touch DNA, for instance. That would be a
clear lead to the murderer. But Kaul argued in the Supreme Court that it had been consumed
while being analysed in Hyderabad. However, he has been forced to produce it in the trial court.

Trapped in an indescribable world of impossible loss and grief, heaped with insult and suspicion,
chained like a performing bear to the incompetence of others, its little wonder that Rajesh
Talwar says, if he and his wife ever walk free of the labyrinth they are trapped in, he would like
to open a world-class forensic sciences centre in India in Aarushis name. Perhaps it would help
shield others from the cataclysmic tragedy of losing a child, and then being labelled her
murderers: nailed not by evidence; but by the lack of it.