It was a sight no mother should have to see, but this is the image seared into the mind of dentist Nupur Talwar — her 13-year-old daughter dead, neck sliced open, clotted blood around a crack on the skull and underpants pulled down.
Six hundred and nine days after Aarushi Talwar’s gruesome murder horrified India’s capital, it is now in danger of becoming part of a series of high-profile homicides where police have failed to find the killers.
Hindustan Times examined the crime files of India’s capital — and most prosperous — city and found 376 of 1970 murders, or 19 per cent, over the past four years unsolved.
In a special series starting today, we bring you the cases that once gripped popular imaginations but faded from public memory once investigations faltered.
Our reporters found distressed families alone with their grief, clues obliterated and sometimes evidence needing further pursuit.
In a city known for random violence, these unsolved cases also make us feel more insecure, a reminder that anyone, anywhere, anytime can be a victim.
“The fact that Aarushi’s killer or killers are still lurking around makes us feel powerless, helpless and makes us wonder, ‘Could I be the next victim?’” said Clinical Psychologist Rajat Mitra who has assisted the Delhi police with many unsolved crimes.
Evil stays alive in our minds if it isn’t dealt with, said Mitra, shuddering as he narrates how he’s still “haunted” by the pain of a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat raped seven years ago in her own car.
Former Delhi Police Commissioner (1999-2002) Ajai Raj Sharma said it was the media’s responsibility to analyse why high-profile crimes stay unsolved.
“It must be probed where the police and forensic probes faltered,” said Sharma. “How and why the crime scenes were not properly handled, including the Aarushi murder case; why they were not sealed, allowing onlookers and non-professionals to visit it at will often resulting in the destruction of crucial evidence.”