Nine years after 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar was found murdered at her home in Noida, the Allahabad High Court has acquitted Rajesh Talwar and Nupur Talwar in the murder of their daughter. The High Court struck down a 2013 CBI court order which found the dentist couple guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Since 2008, the Aarushi and Hemraj murder case has captured the nation’s imagination, polarising public opinion with its botched police investigations, dramatic U-turns, media trials and a heart-wrenching urban tragedy. But at the heart of it is one question – who killed Aarushi? As the Talwars walk free and the case ostensibly returns to square one, here are some unanswered questions, the answers to which will be key to solving the double murder.
1. Where Is the Murder Weapon?
Khukri or golf club?
Initial CBI investigations into the murder assumed a ‘khukri’ as a murder weapon, but a subsequent CBI special investigation led by AGL Kaul proposed the ‘golf club’ theory. According to forensic experts, Aarushi’s “triangular shaped head injury” corresponded with the golf clubs owned by Rajesh Talwar. Kaul told the court that out of the set of 12 golf clubs owned by Talwar, two of the clubs were found to be “more clean than others”.
According to Kaul, Rajesh had used the golf club lying in Hemraj’s room to hit him and Aarushi. But the defence has challenged the ‘golf club theory’ and during the trial, the prosecution didn’t present the golf club as the murder weapon.
2. Was the Outermost Grille Locked or Not?
At six in the morning on 16 May 2008, Bharti Mandal, who worked as a maid at the Talwars’, arrived at the residence. According to Bharti, the outermost grille didn’t open when she first tried, which is when Nupur Talwar opened the wooden door from inside. She told her Hemraj might have locked the grille from the outside and asked her to go down and wait for the key.
Now, according to Bharti, when she returned, she “put a hand over the grille” and found it unlocked. When she went inside, she found the Talwars crying over Aarushi’s body.
Based on Bharti’s testimony, the CBI argues that the grille was never locked from the outside, but was latched from the inside. When Bharti went to fetch the key, she opened the grille and waited. The defence lawyers argue that the grille was never latched from the inside and that Bharti has been “tutored by the CBI” to add details to her initial testimony.
The question of the “outermost grille” is important since it establishes whether the murder was committed by people present in the house that night – or whether there was an outsider.
3. Who Answered Hemraj’s Cellphone?
Hemraj’s body was found a day after Aarushi’s murder was discovered on the morning of 16 May 2008. But when Nupur Talwar called his cell phone that morning, it was picked up by someone. The identity of that person is still unknown.
4. Why did CBI Ignore Its Own ‘Sound Test’?
On the night of the murder, the Talwars were sleeping a room adjacent to Aarushi’s. They claimed they hadn’t heard Aarushi being killed, so the CBI conducted a ‘sound test’ in their bedroom with the air-conditioner. The malfunctioning AC proved that the Talwars could hear nothing, but mystifyingly, the CBI chose to ignore this evidence.
5. Blood on the Pillow and a Typo?
On 14 June 2008, a purple pillow cover with blood on it was seized from Krishna’s house and was sent to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting & Diagnostics (CDFD) at Hyderabad. When the CDFD sent its report, it said that there was Hemraj’s DNA on the cover, which meant that Krishna was a potential suspect. When the defence counsel for the Talwars brought up this evidence in Allahabad High Court in 2011, the CDFD said that in a ‘typographical error’ it had put Krishna’s name in its report – and that the pillow came, in fact, from Hemraj’s room.
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