The house we blew down

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THE CBI’S MYSTERIOUS MORSE CODE

The closure report is a peculiarly assertive document, a bureaucrat’s vision of the world outside the window. It’s filled with odd certainties about human behaviour: An intruder who’d just committed two murders wouldn’t have the gumption to have a drink in the same house, knowing the inhabitants were sleeping in the next room. Neighbourhood servants “wouldn’t have the guts” to assemble in the house when the owners were asleep. An intruder wouldn’t put a white sheet over Aarushi’s dead body. An intruder into a house wouldn’t bother to dress the scene of his crime. A “normal” criminal wouldn’t feel the need to delete the data on Aarushi’s phone before dumping it. A man who found his daughter in a ‘compromising’ position with his servant would kill them both.

It’s one thing that the CBI closure report isn’t able to present a sequence and motive for the crime. But the problem is that the evidence it does present is contradictory and sometimes incredible, given the first CBI team’s investigations.

Largely, the CBI seems to rely on short public memory and the hope that the public will read what it chooses into its mysterious Morse code. If you are inclined to suspect the Talwars you’d spot a pair of sentences such as these early on in the report: “The scene of crime was inspected by an expert from FSL Gandhinagar. He gave a detailed report in which he pointed out that the crime had been committed by someone very close to Aarushi.” The reasons for this conclusion are never explained. Dr GV Rao, (who has been a forensic DNA expert for prosecution and defence in 250 cases, including the Rajiv Gandhi assassination, the Naina Sahni case and the Priyadarshini Mattoo case and has developed forensics courses for the National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences), whom the Talwars consulted to look over the closure report, can be excused his light sarcasm when he says, “This statement is very conceptual. There needs to be more accuracy.”

The report elides some of the CBI’s own investigations which cleared the Talwars of suspicion. For instance, let us ask one question that has troubled everyone since the murders. How did the Talwars sleeping in the same flat not hear anything when their daughter was murdered?

A sound expert team on the CBI’s invitation visited the Talwar house in June 2008 and conducted a sound reconstruction of the night of the murder — at midnight with the air conditioners on in both the parents’ and Aarushi’s bedrooms. The team concluded that sound from Aarushi’s room couldn’t be heard in her parents’ room. So the parents are believable when they say they slept through the night of the murders. Today, though, the closure report states that a part of the common wall of Aarushi’s and her parents’ adjacent rooms is made of plywood partition (implying that sound would have travelled easily between the rooms). The Talwars reply that this is patently false since the rooms are separated by a brick wall that has a plywood lamination over it.

Let’s go on. Narco tests are widely disputed. One of the clinching leads for the CBI’s first team under Arun Kumar seems to have come from the narco tests on the servants. The narco tests seem to have clearly shown the servants’ guilt, but in its closure report the CBI’s second team contradicts the first team and states that such testing is “not reliable”. Then why did the same second CBI team push for and conduct narco tests on the Talwars in January 2010, a year and a half after the servants’ tests? In all, both Rajesh and Nupur have undergone nine tests each since the night of the murders:

2008 — Psychoanalysis and polygraph

2009 — Psychological, polygraph and brain mapping (the Talwars had been sent for narco analysis too but the doctors concluded narco was not required since they’d cleared the previous three tests)

2010 — Psychological, polygraph, brain mapping, narco analysis

None of these tests have been able to manufacture as much guilt as the skillful writing of the closure report has.

Another crucial elision in the report is its non-mention of how the CBI’s forensic team inspected the entire premises of the Talwars’ apartment on 1 June, 2008 and deployed UV Light Testing to pick up any bloodstains — they apparently didn’t pick up any stains to indicate that Hemraj was killed anywhere except the terrace. The forensic team also marked the bloodstains on the staircase that were made when Hemraj’s body was brought down by the police upon discovery. Today, though, the closure report says Hemraj’s body was dragged on the terrace in a sheet which left bloodstains on the staircase.

Some more basic things also don’t add up in the CBI’s bigger picture. Why would the Talwars push the CBI to keep investigating the case if they were guilty? Why would they leave the biggest trump of a clue in plain sight on their dining table — the Ballantine’s whiskey bottle with acres of fingerprints and both victims’ blood marks — if they had ‘dressed up’ the scene after committing the crime? Why won’t the CBI conduct touch DNA testing on the bottle and other evidence and simply put all the speculation to rest? Again, why would the Talwars agitate for such testing if they had something to hide?

The closure report is the first comprehensive peek into the second CBI team’s thinking on the case. And in their recent protest petition the Talwars have, for the first time, put on record their own version of how events unfolded in those crazed few days of May 2008. So now we can sift through both their and the CBI’s versions of the story and try to arrive at a more fluent narrative. This is the dizzying story of the Noida double murders.

1 COMMENT

  1. This chain of events, that the cops say proves the parents killed their daughter, would be laughed out of court & all the relevant investigative persons involved would lose their jobs in any civilized nation or society. When the cops, media, judiciary, even the common public cannot show even the slightest respect for a dead 14 year old girl & her grieving, devastated parents then India has lost the right to call itself a civilization or even a 19th century society.

    We should just dissolve the country into 30 or so countries, & call it a day.

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