Exactly four years ago, on May 16, 2008, around 6am, dentist Nupur Talwar had discovered her daughter Aarushi’s body, draped in a white sheet.
Hours ago, in the intervening night of May 15 and 16, Aarushi and her family’s domestic help Hemraj Banjade had been butchered in an identical manner — their necks slit and heads smashed with a blunt object. Banjade’s body was recovered a day later from the terrace.
Now fast forward to the present. The case’s trial is set to begin in a special Ghaziabad sessions court but yet there are no clear answers about who committed the murders and why. The probe agency CBI and Aarushi’s parents — also the main accused in the crime — Nupur and Rajesh Talwar have been exchanging claims and counter-claims since long.
There is a lack of clinching and direct evidence against the parents, who were charged for the duo’s murder and destruction of evidence last February. Since then, the case has become a legal battleground between the CBI and Talwars over issues ranging from sharing of probe documents to shifting of the trial to Delhi. In December 2010, CBI had submitted its case closure report before the Ghaziabad CBI court. It had listed an exhaustive range of allegedly crucial circumstantial evidence, suggesting Talwars as the main accused.
Establishing that no “outsider” had entered the flat that fateful night, the CBI had cited forensic evidence that showed striking similarity in the dimensions of Rajesh’s golf stick and the injuries on the heads of the two victims. Also, the crime scene was found to be “heavily dressed up”, which again brought the couple under scanner.
The CBI, however, could not recover the sharp weapon used in the crime. The Ghaziabad court, however, rejected the report, saying there was enough prima facie material to put them on trial for their alleged involvement in the case and had issued them summons to face trial.
The case’s probe itself has seen many twists. Till four months after the murders, CBI’s first SIT had suspected three others: Krishna Thadarai, a medical assistant who had worked for Rajesh; Raj Kumar, a domestic help of one of Talwar’s friends; and another help who worked with their next-door neighbour. Their narco analysis were later deemed unreliable and inadmissible evidence in courts.
The team was on the verge of chargesheeting them when the then CBI Director Ashwani Kumar nixed the move, citing “grossly inadequate the evidence against the then suspects”, said a CBI source.
Uttar Pradesh’s Noida Police had been the first investigating agency. In the first fortnight of the murder, they had zeroed in on Rajesh as the main suspect and had arrested him on May 23, 2008.