She died a painful death four years ago, with the murder trial still underway. But many got a shock late Friday evening when a mail landed in their inbox from Aarushi Talwar, the 15-year-old who, along with the domestic help Hemraj, was found dead at her Noida home in 2008.
The mail, from the id firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject “Parents are innocent”, has been circulated by late Aarushi’s chachi (paternal aunt), Dr Vandana Talwar, an anesthesiologist at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. The body of the email is titled ‘Ashamed to be born an Indian’ and highlights facts, to say how the CBI investigation in the case is, allegedly, biased against Aarushi's parents Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, who were charged with murder and destruction of evidence in May this year. Interspersed with phrases such as ‘Satya Mev Jayate’ and ‘Yeh Kalyug Hai’, the mail ends with a warning: ‘REMEMBER, This could happen to any Indian, to you, to me or to anybody.’
Without getting into the merits of the sub-judice matter, we asked Dr Vandana Talwar if it was a desperate attempt to influence public opinion in the favour of the Talwars. “Justice has not been meted out to us. So, we are trying our best to raise public awareness, and social media is the best platform to do so,” she says. Adding that the mail is not targeting any specific group or person, she says, “We have sent it to our friends and as many people as possible, requesting them to help us by forwarding it.”
While it is unclear whether the mail id was ever used by Aarushi or created afresh, many recipients express surprise. Marketing professional Amit Trivedi did a double take on seeing the sender’s name. “It’s not everyday that you get a mail from a dead person, so I read it out of curiosity,” he says. Some assumed it to be spam. “Aarushi’s is a household name and could be misused by hackers. I thought it’s some virus-affected spam and instantly deleted it,” says media professional Sutapa Nag.
Some reject this attempt at evoking sympathy. “It’s unfair to raise one-sided public awareness. Even if I got this mail, I would not be influenced. Even Hemraj was killed, but who is talking about him? Just because he was poor and nobody from his side has the ability to use online media to garner sympathy, the entire focus is going to the Talwars as if they are the only ones affected,” says investment banker Rohit Kant.
When asked if it is legal to sway public opinion on a sub-judice matter, criminal lawyer Avirup Mitra says, “Only when the accused is directly involved in practices that may lead to influencing public opinion, the court may raise a question. There is no bar on the friends or relatives of the accused, and in this case of the deceased victim also, to influence public opinion through social media.”