Arushi murder case: The untold story

A disturbing sexual angle has emerged in the murder of Aarushi Talwar, 14. Crucial facts left out from her post-mortem report suggest that her private parts were "extraordinarily dilated". But there were no signs of rape. These facts, established by the CBI after they questioned the doctor who performed the post-mortem, give a new twist to the case."The vaginal orifice of the deceased was unduly large and mouth of cervix was visible," says the CBI's closure report.

Her private parts were cleaned. This caused water stains on the bedsheet. There was no semen on the bedsheet. But the pyjamas Aarushi wore did not have water stains on it. This shows that the crime scene was dressed up. The CBI believes Aarushi may have been killed elsewhere and the body placed on her bed.
 parallel investigation by Headlines Today reveals that the chairperson of the National Commission on Women (NCW) Girija Vyas allegedly scuttled a probe into the Aarushi's murder by a two-member NCW committee. Soon after the killing, this committee visited the Talwar house in Jalvayu Vihar, Noida, to investigate. Former NCW member Nirmala Venkatesh alleges that as soon as they stepped into Hemraj's room, she got five calls from Vyas, asking her to stop the probe. Vyas initially denied there was an inquiry and that a committee was formed. She later admitted that there was, but said the report was not made public because the CBI was about to investigate.

These sensational revelations fly in the face of the CBI's closure report. Last month, the CBI sought the special court's permission to close the double murder case because it could not solve it.

Though the CBI has been unable to nail the accused, its investigations have completely ruled out the possibility of outsiders having killed Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj Banjade. Circumstantial evidence points to the complicity of those inside. The crime scene was methodically "dressed up"or cleansed of all evidence which could implicate the Talwars. An expert from the forensic science laboratory, Gandhinagar, who inspected the crime scene, says that the crime had been committed by someone "very close to Aarushi".

Nobody except the killer or killers, of course, knows what exactly happened in the Talwar residence during the six crucial hours between 12 midnight and 6 a.m. on May 16, 2008, when both Hemraj and Aarushi were brutally murdered within an hour. Aarushi was bludgeoned on her forehead and her throat slit with a small, sharp object. So was Hemraj.

A reconstruction of the crime, however, increasingly points to an inside hand. The assailants had gained easy access to the flat because there were no signs of forced entry. They killed Aarushi and Hemraj, moved their bodies around the flat and even stayed behind for drinks. The parents of Aarushi, Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, seem to have slept through an incredible amount of activity in their small flat. They claimed their bedroom door was shut and the air-conditioner turned on.

The murderer dragged Hemraj's body to the terrace using a sheet. The body was cursorily covered with a cooler lid and a bedsheet on a clothesline. The murderers then locked the terrace door and re-entered the house. They even seemed to know where the Talwars' mini-bar was-behind a wooden panel near the dining table. They drank from a bottle of whiskey and left it on the dining table. The bottle had bloodstains of both victims.

At around 3.43 a.m., the Internet router in Aarushi's room was switched off. That means that somebody entered her room nearly three hours after her murder. Whoever it was, failed to raise the alarm or even spot her body.

At 6.01 a.m., housemaid Bharti arrived. She rang the doorbell four times. Normally, Hemraj, the domestic help, would open the door, but this time Nupur opened it. Rajesh was also awake. This was unusual because the couple were late risers. The iron grill door at the entrance was locked from outside, so Nupur threw the keys from the balcony to Bharti. Three minutes later, when Bharti entered, she found the couple sobbing. "Dekho Hemraj ne kya kar diya (look what Hemraj has done)". Aarushi was found on the bed in a pool of blood. Bharti rushed out to inform the neighbours. Hemraj's room had an independent entry and opened into the flat from inside.

Another strange incident happened around this time. Nupur called Hemraj's cellphone from her landline at 6.01 a.m. The call was immediately disconnected. This means the dead servant's phone was attended by someone near the crime scene. Inexplicably, both Hemraj's and Aarushi's cellphones disappeared. Hemraj's phone was never found but Aarushi's Nokia N72 was found on a dirt track by a housemaid near Noida's Sadarpur area a fortnight later. Its memory was wiped clean. The cellphone was a crucial piece of evidence.

Aarushi would usually be up chatting with her friends until well past midnight. On the night of May 15, her cellphone was inactive after 9.10 p.m. At around midnight, her friend Anmol called on the Talwar landline because he could not get through her cellphone. There was no response. Anmol then sent an SMS to her cellphone at around 12.30. This SMS was not received by Aarushi's phone.

What were the Talwars doing before the murders? According to the CBI closure report, after reaching home at 9.30 p.m., they dined with Aarushi, then took a few pictures on a new digital camera they bought for Aarushi as a birthday gift and retired by around 11 p.m. Around this time, Nupur came to Aarushi's room to switch on the Internet router. Aarushi was reading a book.

The parents controlled access to Aarushi's room by locking it; the keys to her room would usually lie by Nupur's bedside. Nupur told the police that she was not sure whether she locked Aarushi's door the last time she went to her room. Rajesh received a call from the US on his landline at this time. This indicated that his ringer was not silent. He surfed the Internet, sent some emails, surveyed stock market sites and some dentistry sites. He sent his last email at 11.57 p.m. before presumably going to sleep.

The following morning, the bunch of keys to the flat and terrace were found on the bed in Hemraj's room by Nupur. Aarushi's bedroom keys were found in the living room. It was the only set of house keys, so it is still not clear how the Talwars were locked from the outside. The police arrived an hour later, at 7.15 a.m. They were met by a crowd inside. There were 15 people in the living room and five-six people in the Talwars' bedroom. Only Aarushi's room was empty. The crime scene was completely trampled upon.

The "Hemraj killed Aarushi" theory was gospel for a full day. Rajesh repeatedly told the police officers to pursue Hemraj and not to waste time in his flat. He dissuaded them from opening the locked terrace door and even offered the policemen Rs 25,000 to rush to Hemraj's village in Nepal.

The CBI and police mention they saw the concerted efforts by the Talwars to put the blame on Hemraj as a diversionary tactic. Meanwhile, doctors visiting the Talwars saw bloodstains on the handle of the locked terrace door. They also saw wiped bloody footmarks and blood stains on the upper staircase. Rajesh was asked for the keys but he went inside his residence after seeing the blood-stained door handle. The police failed to open the door for a full day.
Aarushi's body was taken for a post-mortem in Noida at about 9 a.m. and her last rites performed late in the evening. The Talwars' domestic staff showed undue haste in thoroughly cleaning up floors and walls of Aarushi's room with soap and water. Aarushi's blood-stained mattress was dumped on the terrace belonging to neighbour Puneet Tandon.

Meanwhile, when the post-mortem report was being written between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on May 16, a telephonic loop was created between Rajesh's elder brother Dinesh Talwar, family friend Dr Sushil Chaudhury, K.K. Gautam, a retired deputy superintendent of police, and an unidentified number. Dinesh would call Chaudhury who would call Gautam. The latter would dial an unidentified number. This sequence was then reversed. This loop was created six times that evening. The CBI claims that it was done to delete references to "rape" in Aarushi's post-mortem report.

Some 28 fingerprint samples were lifted from the scene of crime and handed over to the CBI on May 20. This was 10 days before the case was formally handed over to the CBI. Most of the fingerprints, especially those on the whiskey bottle, were smudged.

Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on May 17, this loop was repeated twice. Soon after these calls were made, Gautam arrived at the Talwar house and asked for the terrace door to be opened after examining the site of crime. Before calling the local police to open the door, he called a top Uttar Pradesh police officer and then his journalist friends so that the door is opened in media glare. Gautam told them that there was likely to be an interesting discovery.
When the local police arrived at the Talwar residence, the media was already there. The keys to the terrace were still missing, so the lock was broken to enter the terrace. Hemraj's body was discovered. However, vital clues were missing-the blood-soaked clothes of the perpetrators, the cloth used to clean the floor and the sheet on which Hemraj's body was dragged.

Was there a definite ploy to hide Hemraj's body? And why leave it on the terrace? CBI sleuths believe the body was hidden on the roof by the murderer for disposal later. But the media glare made it virtually impossible to spirit away the body, hence they changed the plan. It may prove as difficult for the CBI to walk away from one of India's most sensational whodunits.