Despite the conviction in the Aarushi Talwar murder case on Monday, there remain a number of unanswered questions. Therefore, there is unlikely to be a sense of closure in one of the more sensational criminal cases to remain in public focus for over five years. Fourteen-year-old Aarushi, a Class Nine student, was found murdered in her home in NOIDA, a Delhi suburb in UP, in May 2008. Her throat was slit as she lay in her bed. A day later, it was found that the domestic servant of the Talwars too was killed the same night. His body was found on the terrace under a water-cooler. Aarushi’s parents had reported the murder of their daughter. They claimed that they had discovered her body when they both returned from work late that May evening. From the day the twin murders were first reported, the case acquired all the ingredients of a mind-boggling whodunit. The NOIDA police were shoddy in the extreme in handling the investigations. For instance, they did not seal the crime scene, themselves tampering with it and allowing hordes of reporters and television crews to do so. Again, they did not bother to follow the traces of blood on the inner staircase leading to the terrace where the domestic help Hemraj’s body lay. Also, they did not bother to trace Aarushi’s cell phone. Nor were they able to examine and explain the bloodstains on Hemraj’s pillow cover. Nor, for that matter, any satisfactory explanation was offered as to the consumption of a number of bottles of hard liquor and the blood stains on one of the whisky bottles. Worse, a senior UP Police official prejudged investigations by pronouncing publicly the most unlikely theory that the parents had found their daughter in a compromising position with the domestic servant and, therefore, in a fit of rage they had killed both. The fact that both parents had successfully undergone narco tests along with three other suspects, who were known to Hemraj, did not seem to weigh with the investigators. A further twist was added to the case by the CBI decision to close the case as unresolved, since it had failed to find clinching evidence to pin the blame for the twin murders on any of the suspects. It was only when a court declined to accept the closure report and asked the CBI to prosecute the parents for the murders that the CBI once again rehashed its inconclusive evidence. The conviction of Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, both well-respected dentists and covenanted members of the professional middle class in the national capital, has evoked a mixed response. Why would parents kill their own daughter, assuming, for the sake of argument, that she was in a relationship with Hemraj? Was there no difference between their mindset and that of the Khap Panchyats in Haryana and UP? If they were indeed the murderers, where was the weapon of crime?
The short point is that the conviction of the Talwars has not set at rest the whodunit mystery. The Talwars are bound to appeal in the Allahabad High Court. It is hoped that the higher courts will minutely examine if the conviction is based on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Yes, because the case had hogged national headlines, the anxiety of the police and judicial authorities to find some conclusion is greater than in many such cases of blind murders. The truth is that the police is ill-equipped, ill-trained, ill-motivated and under-provided to handle difficult crimes, which require a degree of mental and professional sophistication to be cracked convincingly. The Aarushi murder investigations, despite the conviction of her parents, has left many gaping holes and loose ends.