THE COAST IS UNCLEAR
As you scan the report, you realise the idea that the murder was initiated ‘on the basis of a grave and sudden provocation’ is never substantiated. As the closure report itself admits, it is unable to actually establish a chain of events linking Rajesh Talwar or the domestic servants to the assault or its grave and sudden provocation. The plot is only lit by a suspicious eye seeking to join the dots in a mist.
Except, like the steady drip of the tap in water torture, the closure report tries to cast doubt on the Talwars. Once again, insinuating that Rajesh Talwar found his young daughter having sex with his manservant, took a golf club and killed his daughter. Then cleaned the golf club and left it in Hemraj’s room. Or maybe he left it in the loft. Or he cleaned the murder weapon and one more random golf club and left these extra clean ones in the garage.
The Talwars continue to demand Touch DNA testing to get justice for their child and to combat the lifelong smear the closure report casts on them through a sheer absence of evidence. Send the golf clubs for Touch DNA testing and establish them as the murder weapon, they have challenged the CBI.
Touch DNA — the tests the teenagers at the recent candlelight vigil were also demanding — is the popular name for LCN DNA testing, an advanced testing process that’s able to show results even 25 years after the crime. It would do more than establish the culprits. It could finally establish what happened that night. Here are only some of the objects in the crime scene waiting for a LCN DNA analysis: the key to Aarushi’s room, the whiskey bottle, the blood from the handprint on the wall, Aarushi’s school bag, Hemraj and Aarushi’s clothes, among other things. According to Dr GV Rao (the DNA forensics expert mentioned on page 46), this method could possibly show whether the golf clubs contain any DNA of the murderer. It would finally reveal if there were intruders in the house that night.
According to media reports, the CBI consulted J Nagaraju, a molecular genetics scientist (and director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, the agency that conducted the DNA testing for the Aarushi case) about LCN DNA analysis. Reports say Nagaraju dismissed the reliability of the LCN DNA technology and the possibility of it yielding any fresh evidence.
Dr Rao contradicts this strongly in an article on his blog, writing that “inappropriate advice and lack of ability from so-called DNA experts of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics or CDFD, Hyderabad has led CBI to get placed in such difficult state of affairs in the Aarushi Case. The foremost point of consideration is that the socalled experts were not experienced enough in Forensic DNA testing, but are qualified in Microbiology [CDFD director J Gowrishankar and CDFD scientist Madhusudan Reddy] and Silk Worm Genetics [Nagaraju] and they do not possess any Forensic Science qualifications.” Dr Rao told TEHELKA, “What I’ve seen from the press reports is false – in my experience, contaminated samples can also yield results with Touch DNA. Once you have the DNA in front of you, you can use many techniques. It’s not standard operating procedure to only do one testing. Touch DNA is the colloquial name for LCN DNA. Touch DNA is when many people have touched the object and LCN DNA is when you need very small starting DNA and then you replicate it many times for a conclusion. In this case, these techniques should definitely be applied before coming to a conclusion that nothing more can be done.”
UTSAV SHARMA, the man who attacked Rajesh Talwar, had also stabbed SPS Rathore (accused in the Ruchika case) a year ago. He slashed Rajesh because, he told police, he was frustrated that such cases go nowhere. Someone has to pay the cost for the media’s reckless frenzy.
In the week following the attack, Rajesh was in the ICU with six units of blood pumped into him and underwent multiple reconstructive surgeries. He’s out of danger now, though his face has sunk, his body contracted, his hands wrapped like a tender mummy. When he talks, the right side of his face stays immobile. He can’t shut his right eye.
In the kind of twisted narrative that defeats irony, the media reports that Utsav Sharma has been placed in the same Dasna jail, in the same hospital room as Moninder Singh Pandher. Pandher and his servant Surinder Kohli have been accused of the Nithari serial killings. So far, Kohli has been found guilty and Pandher has been acquitted. Both await trial in several cases. For the liberals viewing the case it is not an unreasonable suspicion that Pandher may be freed at the end of all the trials, leaving his servant to swing for the gruesome murders. Not an unreasonable thought but also one springing out of class guilt.
And because most of us don’t ask so many questions of the news we hear every night, most of us will not ask: where is the investigation related to the three servants — so strongly suspected by the CBI’s first team — in the closure report? The Talwars don’t point a finger at the servants since they can’t be sure what happened that night. If they did point a finger, it is likely that liberal Indians — those who can be trusted to follow the news and even occasionally protest injustice — will see the Talwars as another middle-class family trying to foist their troubles on the underclass. On the other hand, the Talwars’ driver Umesh’s testimony, which he sticks to, is likely to be dismissed by most of us because he is in the employ of the Talwars — because he is a servant and apparently has no mind of his own. And just how are we being ‘sensitive’ to the underclass by unquestioningly believing the police and CBI’s insinuations about Hemraj-the-grandfather and how he was in a sexual relationship with a child?
Class guilt. Class war. It’s an awkward business, trying to give the middle class a fair hearing. But should the awkwardness of it make us not give the Talwars a fair hearing?
The Talwars have been pulled through some of our society’s darkest anxieties. They never got a chance to finish the formal grieving period after Aarushi’s death since the police threw Rajesh in jail. Do they dare look outward to find hope again? In 2010, the Talwar family and their friends started Aarushi’s Legacy (www.theaarushilegacy.org), a social initiative to provide medical relief to sick and underprivileged children, support parents affected by crime against their children and to reduce crime against the girl child. So far, they’ve done two health check-up camps in Delhi for a few hundred children.
And yet. How to make life sonorous again? What black mourning bows, what minute of silence, what flags at half mast? And after that, what encore? The gleams of life’s miracle, missed. Is there a cure for the hankering for your child?
As this story goes to press, the special CBI court in Ghaziabad has, shockingly, made the Talwars accused in the case, charged them with destruction of evidence and asked the CBI to chargesheet them. While the closure report only put Rajesh as the suspect, the CBI court has gone even further and charged Nupur also with murder. Justice must not be carried out on the basis of a type or a class. Justice must be delivered upon an individual case. If in the unlikely event the murders of Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj Banjade never interested you or repulsed you with their pulp fiction narrative, turn instead to the gripping social document that is the CBI’s closure report. It may tell you far more about India than what you want to know. It may tell you what could happen to you — if your bubble burst.