THEY DRANK SOME WHISKEY
Hemraj never got to his dinner on his last night. After the Talwars had eaten, he’d rolled out chappatis and served dinner for himself in a plate around half past ten, but never ate it. Was he interrupted by someone? Or was he waiting for someone?
Approximately between midnight and 1 am on 16 May, 2008, one or more people drank whiskey in the Talwar house. Hemraj’s bed was still tidy in the morning. Someone came into Aarushi’s room, struck her with a heavy dull blow on her head. Someone laid Aarushi down on her back on the bed, covered her with a white flannel blanket and put her military-print schoolbag on the blanket over her face. They took her mobile phone, left her door ajar and hid her room key, in its shoe-shaped key ring, on top of a framed wall sculpture near the house entrance.
They also killed Hemraj in the terrace on the roof. They left a handprint on one of the terrace walls. They left a bloodied shoeprint on the terrace, size 8 or 9, which the police later photographed (Rajesh wears size 6). They locked the terrace door and came downstairs. They took Hemraj’s mobile phone and his set of keys to the house. They shut the main wooden door of the second floor apartment (which locked automatically when shut) and latched the house’s outer grill door, thus locking the Talwars into their house from the outside. Neither the terrace nor the house keys have ever been found till date.
They left the whiskey bottle — with blood smears and fingerprints — in plain sight on the dining table.
The next morning, on May 16th, Nupur was woken by the doorbell, but assumed Hemraj would open the door as usual. When the bell kept ringing, she emerged out of her room. She opened the wooden main door but couldn’t open the outer grill door. She called Hemraj’s mobile phone from the landline; the call was picked up and then cut. When Nupur tried the phone again it was switched off. Nupur says she couldn’t find Hemraj’s set of keys that would normally be on the sideboard and so threw the duplicate keys down to the maid so the latter could open the house. The CBI claims she took the keys from Hemraj’s room.
By now Rajesh had woken up and emerging from his room, noticed the whiskey bottle on the dining table and asked Nupur in alarm, “Yeh bottle yahan kisne rakh di? (Who placed this bottle here?)” He added, “Aarushi ko dekho (See to Aarushi)” and both parents rushed to her unlocked room, where they discovered her dead body under a blanket. By the time the maid entered the house, the couple were sobbing and pleading for help and, given Hemraj’s mysterious absence, accusing him of murdering their daughter. The maid peeked into Aarushi’s room and saw the dead body covered with a white bedsheet, and rushed out of the house to call for help. Nupur called her parents, her brother-in-law Dinesh and their close family friends the Durranis from the landline. The family members called the police.
The morning saw heavy traffic in the apartment, with the police, well-wishers, family and friends all milling through their respective functions in such a tragedy. The Noida police took Rajesh’s statement for him to file a FIR. On examining the body, the police suspected the injuries must have been caused by a khukri, a curved Nepali knife. The sub inspector was followed by senior officers, who were followed by the Noida Police Crime Team, all of whom examined Aarushi’s room and body that day. The Talwars claim Aarushi’s body was inspected several times by these successive teams.
The crime team’s photos later that day don’t reflect the quieter state of the room and body that the couple had originally found their child in that morning. The CBI’s conjectures about the state of the body and the room are based on these police photos.
The police did not secure the crime scene and allowed anyone who wished, including the media, into the apartment. They did not bring in sniffer dogs to pick up the scent of the killers. They could not identify the fingerprints on the most obvious piece of evidence — the whiskey bottle they seized that morning that had both Aarushi’s and Hemraj’s bloodstains. Most of the other forensic evidence was already compromised with the crowding in the house. Without a sense of how much they had bungled their leads and without any actual investigation, in between confident calls to Nupur for more cups of tea, the Noida police too assumed Hemraj was the culprit and was on the run — probably back to Nepal.