Thursday, October 12, 2017

Aarushi Talwar murder case: Allahabad high court likely to deliver verdict today

The Allahabad high court is likely to pronounce its judgment on Thursday in the murder case of 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar in Noida, four years after her parents were convicted for the sensational killing that shook the country.

A high court bench comprising justice BK Narayana and justice AK Mishra reserved its verdict in September in the appeal filed by Aarushi’s parents, Rajesh and Nupur, who were sentenced to life in jail by a CBI court in Ghaziabad.

They were convicted for the double murder of Aarushi and their house help, Hemraj.

On May 16, 2008, Aarushi was found murdered inside her bedroom in the Talwar’s flat in Noida’s posh Jal Vayu Vihar – her throat slit with surgical precision. The police initially suspected the missing house help from Nepal, Hemraj, but his decomposed body was found a day later from inside a locked room in the terrace of the building.

The police then began to suspect the Talwars and said Rajesh, the father, had murdered the two after finding them in an “objectionable” position. The accusations enraged the Talwars and friends, who accused the police of framing the dentist couple in order to cover up a botched investigation.

In the high court, arguments have centered on the motive of the murder, and crucial pieces of evidence – such as the “suspicious activity” of an internet router the night of the murder, the missing keys of Aarushi’s room, the forensic test reports and the colour of the pillowcase of Hemraj.

The probe into the case hogged headlines for months, and sparked numerous conspiracy theories, a widely read book and a Bollywood film. Many accused the police of tampering with key pieces of evidence and bungling the probe.

After widespread outrage, the case was transferred from the Uttar Pradesh police to the Central Bureau of Investigation that exonerated the parents and suspected the Talwars’ assistant Krishna along with two domestic servants, Rajkumar Sharma and Vijay Mandal. But this theory did not last long.

In 2009, the CBI handed over the investigation to a new team, which recommended closing the case due to critical gaps in investigation. Based on circumstantial evidence, it named Rajesh Talwar as the sole suspect, but refused to charge him due to lack of evidence.

The parents opposed the closure, calling CBI’s suspicion of Rajesh as baseless. Subsequently, a court rejected the federal agency’s claim that there was not enough evidence, and ordered proceedings against the Talwars.

In a 208-page order on November 25, 2013, CBI judge Judge Shyam Lal (now retired) pronounced the Talwars guilty of both murders and destruction of evidence.

“The parents are the best protector of their own children and that is the order of the human nature, but they have been freaks in the history of mankind when the father and mother became the killer of their own progeny,” the judge wrote.

“They have extirpated their own daughter who has seen 14 summers of her life and the servant, without compunction from terrestrial terrain in breach of commandment that ‘thou shall not kill’ and the injunction of the holy Quran ‘take not life, which god has made sacred’.”

Over the past nine years, focus has remained on the Talwars, who were a well-to-do, respectable dentist couple with many friends in the neighbourhood and the profession.

Rajesh Talwar was first arrested by Uttar Pradesh police on May 23, 2008 after which he was lodged at Dasna jail and let off on July 11, 2008. Later on April 30, 2012, his wife Nupur surrendered before a Ghaziabad court before trial and was also sent to Dasna jail. Both are still in Dasna jail.

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