Seven cold questions Aarushi book leaves us with
Avirook Sen’s book cries for a fresh analysis of a case that has failed not just a teenager, but the entire concept of justice.
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The nation woke up to a sensational murder case in May 2008. A 14-year old girl, Aarushi Talwar, was found dead in her apartment at Noida’s Jalvayu Vihar. After a five-year long ordeal, the court pinned the "guilty" tag on the Talwars – Aarushi’s parents. Currently, the couple serves their term in Dasna jail.
Despite the haste and drama that accompanied this trial, there were many layers and edges to the murder that has left one of the most intriguing cases of its times "unsolved" till date. Avirook Sen’s book, Aarushi, is an attempt to lay bare the narrative that went unnoticed, or perhaps was deliberately ignored.
Here are a few questions the book raises, which must stir the conscience of someone somewhere – the legal system, society, police and/or the media:
1. The story that charges the Talwars guilty is rife with contradictions – loopholes that have been systematically ignored. Take, for instance, the assertion that Aarushi was raped. Initial medical reports claimed that nothing abnormal was indicated in her sexual organs. By the time the case was closed, her "cervix was found wide open". What is baffling is that no one – neither the media, which seemed to be engaged in a close scrutiny of the case, nor the legal system – raised questions over this extremely contradictory situation. And in the event of this development, the next question is, what was the reason for an apex body like the CBI to seek the help of either this erroneous declaration or the callousness with which they handled this case to establish something as basic as "Who killed Aarushi"?
2. Continuing with the line of many "misjudgements" and "misunderstandings" on the basis of which the case was established, is the equally baffling case of Hemraj’s blood-soaked purple pillow cover. While the CBI claims that the pillow cover was found in Aarushi’s bedroom, the reality is that it was discovered from Hemraj’s own room. It is frustrating and infuriating to see that such carelessness punctuated the narrative around the whereabouts of the pillow case. Even in the end, the CBI’s final version, touted as the "true version", went unquestioned by the various onlookers and custodians of justice.
3. Bharti Mandal, the househelp who worked for the Talwars, gave her first statement to the effect that the door was locked and "I never touched the door". Later, her version changed to "I tried to open the door but the door did not open", peppered by "I am saying what I have been taught to say". All logical construction of the case required a closer look into this departure of statements from something to the other. Unfortunately, no attempt to investigate was made.
4. KK Gautam, the UP police officer who was involved with the case, on being asked if there was any pressure on him, replied, “It is best we do not discuss this… you already know everything already. Please let us not discuss this anymore.”
5. There was no blood on the stairs that led to the terrace. Blood was found only on the railings and the terrace. Hemraj’s blood soaked pillow case was found in his room. The CBI established that he was killed in Aarushi’s room. Why was the opinion that he could have been killed on the terrace not considered at all?
6. Narco analyses of Krishna, Raj Kumar (other servants linked with the case) and the Talwar couple reveal that the former two are guilty and the latter innocent. If scientific analyses are rendered invalid in the court of law, by what supreme logic was the infuriating, sexist and misogynist "story" - the sensational coverage that Aarushi was a serial flirt, that Talwars were a couple with "loose sexual morals" (stereotyped as becoming of all upper middle class households) - given so much weight that the Talwars were pronounced guilty after a humiliating process of character assassination?
Dr Dahiya’s insinuation that Hemraj and Aarushi were involved in a sexual intercourse (not rape, as the later post mortem suggests) on the day of the crime was touted as a prima facie conclusion that led to other interpretations in the case. It is unbecoming of the legal system and the media to not raise any hue and cry over how this was a confident assertion without any evidence.
7. The most astonishing and infuriating information that the book uncovers is that the verdict in the case was written a month prior to the actual announcement of the sentence on the Talwars, even before the defence could conclude its argument. As Judge Shyam Lal’s team revealed, because there were no good scribes available in the area they worked in and because language (English) had to be perfect in putting across a historic judgement, the "writing" had to be done prior to the actual announcement – before Lal retired!
These questions, and many other ignored facts, uncovered by Avirook Sen’s book cry for a fresh and objective analysis of the case that failed not just a teenager, but the entire concept of justice.