2 murders and 3 mysteries: the Aarushi-Hemraj case
Investigators depend on a door, a pillow cover and a golf club to prove their charges against Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. The couple claims the items have been tampered with.india Updated: Nov 25, 2013 07:52 IST
Of the many mysteries in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case, two have been the subject of endless arguments and one rising out of errors has been the cause of much drama.
First, the mystery of the outermost grille-door of the Talwars’ flat
The CBI maintains a wrong impression was given that the grille-door was locked from outside.
The court statements of Talwars’ domestic help Bharti Mandal, who arrived at the flat around 6am on May 16, 2008 — the day Aarushi’s murder came to light — have been vital for the prosecution.
The outermost grille of the flat led to a passage and two more doors inside: an iron and a wooden one fixed on the same frame.
According to Mandal, the outermost grille did not open when she put a hand over it. She said Nupur opened the wooden door inside and told her Hemraj might have locked the grille while going out to fetch milk.
Nupur told her to go down and wait for her to throw the key. Mandal returned with the key. “I came to the main door and put a hand over the grille-door, it opened up.”
Once inside, she saw the Talwars crying and was shown Aarushi’s body. “Aunty (Nupur) told me, look what Hemraj has done.”
The CBI theory is the outermost grille was never closed from outside. The argument is in the time Mandal returned with the key, Nupur came to the passage from a door in Hemraj’s room and opened the grille, which was latched from inside. She went back inside and waited for Mandal.
Defence lawyers, however, have maintained the outer grille was never closed. They have argued Mandal was “tutored by the CBI” and made “fatal improvements by introducing her ‘hand on door’ theory”, which she never told the Uttar Pradesh Police in her statement on May 16, 2008.
Further, Rajesh’s driver Umesh stated the door in Hemraj’s room was not operable and a refrigerator was kept before it. Umesh was declared a hostile witness. A UP police investigator has maintained he did not see any refrigerator placed before the door in Hemraj’s room.
Second, the mystery of the ‘missing’ golf club
CBI special investigation team (SIT) investigating officer AGL Kaul told the court the golf club came to light when Rajesh was in CBI remand. The first CBI team had looked into a ‘khukhri’ being the murder weapon.
Rajesh had a set of 12 golf clubs. Kaul said two of the clubs were found “more clean than others” and dimensions of one of the two clubs matched the dimensions of blunt injuries inflicted on the two victims.
He added the two clubs were those kept in Hemraj’s room by Umesh before murders. Kaul told the court Rajesh picked up a club in Hemraj’s room and hit him and a blow also landed on Aarushi.
In a photograph of the crime scene, only one club was visible in Hemraj’s room, while the other went “missing.”
During investigations, forensics expert Dr Mohinder Singh Dahiya gave a “crime-scene analysis report” in which he opined the “triangular-shaped head injury suggests that the weapon of assault in all probability must have been a golf stick.”
The “missing” club was found by Nupur and Dr Ajay Chaddha, a family friend of the Talwars, from a loft inside the house, a couple of months before May, 2009, while they were cleaning the house.
Kaul told court that previously when Rajesh was asked about the missing club, he could not give a satisfactory reply.
He said when the CBI asked Rajesh how he could produce the entire set of clubs when one was “missing,” then Chaddha sent an email to him (Kaul) on behalf of Rajesh on June 1, 2010, mentioning the recovery of a club from the loft.
Kaul also produced the email (document) before the court. The email mentions: “I clearly remember, looking at the head of the golf-stick to see whether any blood or such stuff was there, but it did not appear as if there was anything…”
Although the CBI seized a set of 12 clubs from Rajesh on October 30, 2009, the email was sent only on June 1, 2010.
Defence lawyers have challenged the CBI’s golf club theory as “propounded by Dr Dahiya and also supported by two post-mortem doctors who previously opined ‘khukhri’ as a weapon”. They have also challenged the email.
“The email is inadmissible, although exhibited before the court, as Dr Chaddha was never produced as a witness to verify CBI’s claims,” defence lawyer Tanvir Ahmed Mir has told the court.
The lawyer has maintained that no witness could prove that the “missing” golf club was the murder weapon and the negligible soil over the two sticks (stated to have been found cleaner than the rest) may have occurred due to mishandling, transportation or tampering by the CBI.
Third, the pillow with cover and purple pillow cover drama
A pillow with cover seized from Hemraj’s room became one of the most highly debated exhibits due to errors that crept in.
A controversy over the pillow with cover erupted when a CBI official, in his report on June 4, 2008, erroneously stated it was seized from Aarushi’s room.
Another controversy broke out over a purple pillow cover seized from Rajesh’s assistant Krishna’s house on June 14, 2008. The pillow with cover and the purple pillow cover were sent for tests to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics (CDFD) at Hyderabad.
When the CDFD sent its initial report on November 6, 2008, it erroneously stated the presence of Hemraj’s DNA in the purple pillow cover, which brought Krishna under suspicion.
The report lay buried till the Talwars raised the issue before Allahabad high court in March, 2011.
Counsels for the CBI later termed the happening a “typographical error” and clarified that the description of the two exhibits had got interchanged.
After official back and forth, revised test results read Hemraj’s pillow with cover had his DNA.
The defence lawyers have alleged “tampering of evidence” by the CBI.
(Facts mentioned in the story are based on voluminous court proceedings. Omissions are not intended to cause any prejudice.)