Aarushi Talwar was a lively, teenage girl from an up-market section of New Delhi, India called Noida. Her parents were both dentists and they, like most Indians with means, had domestic servants. She was grotesquely murdered in 2008, between the hours of 10pm and 1am, along with one of her servants, Hemraj. The only survivors of the bloody encounter were her parents.
The Aarushi Talwar case ended in early December 2013, with her parents’ conviction in her murder. The case transfixed India during the last few years, both for its stunning brutality, the shock of its occurrence in that neighborhood and its never ending twists and turns. However, questions regarding the veracity of both the Noida police and the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) coupled with the media’s sensationalizing dogged this case from its onset.
For those unfamiliar with the case, read this or go here to get yourself up to speed. I am not sure who killed Aarushi and Hemraj, and there are plenty of questions in the case, that will remain forever unanswered.
However, from everything that I have read or watched about the case, the entire investigation was a farce. Do not try to pretend that this was an ‘open and shut case’, as the prosecutor would have you believe in his statement to the media after the convictions.
I find it hard to be a solid case against the parents, if for the first 24 hours after Aarushi’s body was found, the Noida police left the crime scene completely unsecured, making all forensic evidence impossible.
If authorities allow outsiders to traipse all through the scene of a murder taking personal photographs and gawking at the carnage, the police work was not serious.
Nothing about incompetence like that inspires a sense of fairness. Alternatively, the fact that it took another full day, before Hemraj was found on a terrace, by a retired officer, who happened to follow bloodstains. Seriously! What were the police on any level even doing? Do they receive no training? Are they completely incompetent?
Noida’s police botched this inquiry from the beginning, and the CBI followed their ineptitude by a joke of an investigation. Two years after the murder of the teen and Hemraj, the CBI considered closing the case, because of insufficient evidence. The Talwars themselves begged the CBI to re-open the case, to clear their name and their reputations. That idea backfired tremendously.
The most galling detail for me in this case is no serious acknowledgement that the servant Hemraj could have let someone into the house using a side door, without the family noticing. That person could have killed Aarushi, and then killed him as well. In fact, three acquaintances of Hemraj confessed to this very scenario, and claimed to have done so when talking in police custody. The murder weapon was even apparently at one of their houses, but the police refused to entertain such a logical scheme, the media did the same.
Instead, the media wanted to frame this as a murder by the parents, after reacting in horror to seeing their 14-year old daughter sexually engaged with the much older Hemraj. The Indian media feasted on this story. Indian society can barely discuss sex education in school and in general, but loves salacious tales, even if they are not true. Indian conservatives love to harp about keeping a ‘woman’s honor,’ but let facts fall by the wayside in criminal investigations that do not fit their pre-conceived narratives.
There was no evidence of Aarushi and Hemraj having an affair, but there was actual blood on a knife in the flat of one of the men who said Hemraj invited him to drink at the Talwars. This same man confessed to drinking too much and joining the other two sexual predators by entering Aarushi’s bedroom, intending to molest her. Nevertheless, the CBI dismissed their revelations of guilt and their lie-detector tests, instead focusing on the parents.
There are just too many questions left unanswered for me to feel like justice was done in this case. Again, I do not know who killed Aarushi. Her death is tragic and heartbreaking, but if this case showed me anything, it is this: India’s criminal justice system is as incompetent and awful as I guessed, and the media, as they do in the United States, rarely helps. Rather, they made the situation worse.