Authors: Avirook Sen
Tags: #Non-Fiction, #True Crime, #Essays, #India
Avirook Sen is a journalist. This is his second book.
For my mother, Gouri Sen (1935–2014)
Cast of Characters
Dr Rajesh Talwar, Dr Nupur Talwar: Successful dentists who lived in Noida. In their late forties. Both convicted for the 2008 murder of their only daughter Aarushi and their manservant Hemraj.
Dr Dinesh Talwar, Dr Vandana Talwar: Rajesh’s elder brother and his wife.
Group Captain (retd) Bhalachandra Chitnis, his wife Lata: Nupur’s parents. Live in the same housing complex as Rajesh and Nupur in an identical flat.
Ajay Chaddha: A businessman and close family friend.
Drs Praful and Anita Durrani: Close family friends, also live in Noida. They would go on holidays together with the Talwars. They employed Rajkumar, one of the suspects.
Vidushi Durrani, Fiza Jha: Aarushi’s friends and schoolmates. Vidushi is Praful and Anita’s daughter.
Preeti Singh: Ghaziabad magistrate who rejected the CBI’s closure report and sent the case to trial.
Judge Shyam Lal: Trial judge in the CBI’s fast-track court in Ghaziabad. Retired five days after delivering his judgement. Now practises law in Allahabad.
Tanveer Ahmed Mir: Delhi criminal lawyer. Came into the case a few months after the trial had begun. Remains the Talwars’ lawyer in the appeal stage.
R.K. Saini: Public prosecutor for the CBI.
Satyaketu Singh, Manoj Sisodia: Ghaziabad lawyers retained by the Talwars.
Rebecca John: Senior advocate. Advised the Talwars from 2011. Appeared for the Talwars in the Allahabad High Court.
Harish Salve, U. Lalit, K.V. Vishwanathan: Appeared for the Talwars in the Supreme Court at various stages.
Sidharth Luthra: Additional Solicitor General. Appeared for the CBI in the Supreme Court.
Krishna: Rajesh Talwar’s assistant at his dental clinic. Originally from Nepal. Lived with a relative in L-14 Jalvayu Vihar, a few houses away from the Talwars. Knew Hemraj well.
Rajkumar: Worked in the Durranis’ home. Knew the Talwars very well because of the closeness between the families.
Vijay Mandal: Worked for Puneesh Tandon, the Talwars’ neighbour. Lived in the garage below the Talwars’ flat.
Arun Kumar: Deputy inspector general who headed the first CBI team. Returned to his home state, Uttar Pradesh, in 2009.
A.G.L. Kaul: Additional superintendent of police. Became investigating officer after Kumar left. Reported to Superintendent of Police Neelabh Kishore.
Inspector Arvind Jaitley: Kaul’s man Friday.
Vijay Shanker: CBI director when the case broke. Retired in July 2008.
Ashwani Kumar: Took over from Shanker. Handed over to A.P. Singh in late 2010.
Dr M.S. Dahiya: Deputy director, Forensic Science Laboratory, Gandhinagar. Reconstructed the crime; introduced the idea of ‘dressing up’ of the crime scene; believed the Talwars committed an honour killing and that Aarushi was engaged in intercourse when she was murdered.
Dr S.L. Vaya: Dahiya’s former colleague. The behavioural scientist oversaw the scientific tests done on the Talwars and one of the servants. Believed that the Talwars were innocent.
Dr Sunil Dohare: Aarushi’s post-mortem doctor. Made six changes to his original report over three years.
Dr Naresh Raj: Hemraj’s post-mortem doctor. Claimed a surgical instrument may have been the murder weapon two years after his post-mortem report.
Dr B.K. Mohapatra: Forensic scientist at CFSL, the CBI’s forensics department. Insisted that Hemraj’s pillow cover was seized from Aarushi’s room, suggesting Hemraj was killed there. Eventually admitted this wasn’t the case.
Bharti Mandal: The Talwars’ temporary servant. It was her testimony that helped establish that the Talwars weren’t locked in their flat from the outside but instead had locked the flat from the inside—and were therefore the killers.
Umesh Sharma: The Talwars’ driver. Listed as a prosecution witness who was supposed to identify the golf club that allegedly delivered the fatal blows. He turned hostile, testifying for the Talwars, alleging he was beaten in the CBI office. Remains in the Talwars’ employ.
K.K. Gautam: Retired deputy superintendent in Noida police. Was responsible for the discovery of Hemraj’s body. His CBI testimony in 2008 claimed that Hemraj had visitors in his room. In 2010 his new testimony to the CBI denied the earlier statement. He established the honour killing motive in the trial court when he testified that the Talwars had asked him to manipulate the post-mortem report so that it didn’t record rape. Post-retirement, he entered the field of education. He runs Invertis University in Bareilly.
Timeline of Events
|16 May:||Aarushi found murdered in her bed.|
|At noon her post-mortem by Dr Sunil Dohare records that a fatal blow was delivered to her head and that her throat was slit. ‘Nothing abnormal’ is detected in her sexual organs.|
|17 May:||Hemraj’s body found on the terrace, when the lock is broken at the behest of the former Noida policeman K.K. Gautam. Hemraj’s body is in a state of decay.|
|At 9 p.m., Hemraj’s post-mortem by Dr Naresh Raj is conducted. His wounds are very similar to Aarushi’s.|
|23 May:||Noida police arrest Rajesh Talwar for the double murder.|
|31 May:||CBI takes over; Arun Kumar is the investigating officer.|
|12 June:||Rajesh Talwar’s assistant Krishna administered a narco analysis test.|
|13 June:||Krishna arrested.|
|14 June:||CBI raids Krishna’s room; recovers a khukri and a bloodstained pillow cover.|
|27 June:||Rajkumar arrested.|
|1 July:||K.K. Gautam gives his testimony to the CBI. He says that he had heard about the murders on the morning of 17 May when his eye doctor Sushil Choudhry (an acquaintance of the Talwars) asked him to accompany him to the Talwars’ flat. Gautam observed three depressions on Hemraj’s bed in the servant’s room and three glasses, two with some liquor in them.|
|11 July:||Vijay Mandal arrested.|
|11 July:||Rajesh Talwar released.|
|31 July:||Vijay Shanker retires as director, CBI.|
|August (No exact dates):||Arun Kumar readies to close the case with Krishna and Rajkumar as the suspects; Vijay Mandal would be approver. CBI director Ashwani Kumar does not grant permission to make Mandal approver.|
|4 Sept:||Vijay Mandal released on bail as the CBI was unable to file a charge sheet against the three suspects in custody.|
|9 Sept:||Eight-member AIIMS panel of experts, including post-mortem doctors Sunil Dohare and Naresh Raj, submits report saying a khukri is the likely murder weapon.|
|12 Sept:||Krishna and Rajkumar released on bail.|
|6 Nov:||Hyderabad forensics laboratory CDFD sends report which says Hemraj’s blood and DNA were found on the pillow cover seized from Krishna’s room. Krishna lived in another flat in the same complex.|
|7–8 Jan:||Rajesh and Nupur Talwar undergo brain-mapping test in FSL, Gandhinagar. Report says the test did not suggest their involvement in the crimes.|
|9 Sept:||New CBI team headed by SP Neelabh Kishore takes over; Additional Superintendent A.G.L. Kaul is the investigating officer.|
|25 Sept:||CBI sends an email to FSL, Gandhinagar, asking deputy director M.S. Dahiya to conduct a ‘crime scene reconstruction’.|
|30 Sept:||Dr Sunil Dohare, Aarushi’s post-mortem doctor, changes his testimony telling the CBI that Aarushi’s ‘vaginal opening was prominently wide open and the cervix was visible’. He also says that he hadn’t previously mentioned these facts in the post-mortem report because the ‘findings were non-specific and very strange’. He tells the CBI that Dinesh Talwar asked him to speak to Dr T.D. Dogra of AIIMS on his cellphone as he went in for the post-mortem.|
|9 Oct:||M.S. Dahiya is taken to the crime scene and holds discussions with Kaul in order to reconstruct the events of 15–16 May 2008.|
|12 Oct:||Dr Naresh Raj, Hemraj’s post-mortem doctor, changes his testimony and tells the CBI that a khukri could not have been the murder weapon; nature of injuries ‘clearly point towards a surgically trained person’ using a sharp-edged, light instrument.|
|13 Oct:||CBI sends Dahiya a formal questionnaire and photographs of the crime scene.|
|26 Oct:||Dahiya sends his report, suggesting that this was a case of honour killing, carried out by a father provoked by the misconduct of his child; that a golf club and surgical instrument were the likely murder weapons, both of which the Talwars had easy access to, and that the killers ‘dressed up’ the crime scene.|
|29 Oct:||CBI asks Rajesh Talwar for the golf kit.|
|30 Oct:||Talwars hand over the entire golf kit to CBI.|
|9 and 16 Feb:||Nupur Talwar and Rajesh Talwar undergo narco analysis test in Gandhinagar. Scientists conclude they were not involved in the crimes.|
|May (third week):||Talwars called to Dehradun by Neelabh Kishore for questioning. Nupur Talwar mentions she and Ajay Chaddha had found a golf club in a loft while cleaning the flat some months after the incident.|
|24 May:||Story appears in the|
quoting ‘top-ranking’ CBI sources who are all convinced the parents did it, using a golf club that was ‘missing’.
|28 May:||Dohare makes a further change saying that the wide opening of the vaginal canal and the absence of an even discharge indicate that Aarushi’s private parts were manipulated and cleaned. He also says that a golf club could have been the murder weapon.|
|16 Apr:||K.K. Gautam now tells the CBI that he had heard of the murders on 16 May, when he received a call from Sushil Choudhry. He says Choudhry told him Aarushi may have been raped but he did not want this reported in the post-mortem.|
|1 June:||Ajay Chaddha writes to Kaul confirming that Nupur and he had found the club in the loft, examined it and put it back in the kit.|
|Nov:||CBI gets a new chief, Amar Pratap Singh; within a fortnight the decision to file a closure report is taken. Charges cannot be framed against any of the suspects because of a lack of evidence.|
|29 Dec:||CBI files closure report. Authored by Kaul, the report says sufficient evidence isn’t available to prove Rajesh Talwar guilty.|
|25 Jan:||Talwars protest against the closure report and demand a proper investigation. Rajesh Talwar attacked with a meat cleaver in the Ghaziabad court premises the same day.|
|9 Feb:||CBI special judicial magistrate Preeti Singh rejects the closure report and the Talwars’ protest petition. Turns the closure report into a charge sheet and summons the Talwars to answer charges of murder and destruction of evidence. Nupur Talwar who was not one of the accused thus far becomes one.|
|27 Feb:||Preeti Singh rejects the Talwars’ plea to excuse them from appearing in person.|
|Feb–Mar:||Talwars challenge the summoning in Allahabad High Court. They draw the court’s attention to the November 2008 DNA report where there is direct evidence against Krishna. The CBI tells the court that this is a typographical error.|
|17 Mar:||CBI writes to CDFD, Hyderabad, suggesting there is a typo, asks for clarification.|
|18 Mar:||Court rejects the Talwars’ plea, upholds the Ghaziabad magistrate’s order. Says it is evident from photographs that there was a typo.|
|24 Mar:||CDFD sends a clarification, says there was a typo in the report. The Talwars prepare to approach the Supreme Court to quash Ghaziabad proceedings.|
|9 Jan:||The Supreme Court rejects the Talwars’ petition to quash the proceedings in Ghaziabad, but says Rajesh Talwar can remain on bail.|
|2 Mar:||The Supreme Court rejects the Talwars’ petition to transfer the case out of Ghaziabad. Asks them to appear in the lower court.|
|11 Apr:||Ghaziabad court issues non-bailable arrest warrant against Nupur Talwar for not appearing before it.|
|30 Apr:||Nupur Talwar surrenders to court; arrested. Moves for bail.|
|25 May:||Additional Sessions Judge Shyam Lal frames charges of murder.|
|4 June:||Trial begins with deposition from the CBI witnesses.|
|29 Aug:||CBI witness and CFSL scientist B.K. Mohapatra forced to admit that Hemraj’s pillow and pillow cover with his blood on it were not recovered from Aarushi’s room—a crucial part of the CBI’s argument that Hemraj was murdered in Aarushi’s room. As the item is displayed, he reads out the original tag which says it was seized from Hemraj’s room.|
|30 Aug:||K.K. Gautam testifies. Says Sushil Choudhry asked him to help omit the word ‘rape’ from the post-mortem report on behalf of the Talwars, implying an attempted cover-up.|
|3 & 4 Sept:||Bharti Mandal, the Talwars’ maid, testifies in trial court. Says the outermost door to the Talwars’ flat didn’t open. The inference that the flat was locked from the inside is drawn—meaning only the Talwars could have committed the crime. Bharti also tells the court that she has been taught to say this.|
|25 Sept:||Nupur Talwar released on bail by Supreme Court order.|
|9 Apr:||M.S. Dahiya testifies. Says Aarushi and Hemraj were engaged in intercourse.|
|16 Apr:||A.G.L. Kaul testifies. Describes graphically what, according to him, happened on the night of the murders. Admits breaking forensic lab seals without authority. CBI closes its evidence. The Talwars question why the CBI has dropped more than one hundred relied upon witnesses; seek the summoning of more than a dozen of them, without success.|
|14 May:||Judge Shyam Lal passes an order against the Talwars for trying to delay the case by challenging his orders in higher courts. Moves on with the trial, allowing only seven of the 13 defence witnesses to testify.|
|June 20:||Defence witnesses begin deposing.|
|7 Oct:||The Talwars seek the Supreme Court’s intervention in getting the CBI to comply with the Allahabad High Court order that grants the defence access to the raw data for all DNA testing done in the case. They want their own experts to assess the results. Court appears inclined to give them access.|
|8 Oct:||The Supreme Court rules that the Talwars are trying to delay the case by seeking the information. CBI’s Sidharth Luthra argues that the Talwars are trying to delay the case because Judge Shyam Lal retires in November.|
|24 Oct:||Tanveer Ahmed Mir begins final arguments for the defence.|
|6 Nov:||Judge Shyam Lal turns 60, retirement age.|
|25 Nov:||Judge Shyam Lal finds Talwars guilty. They are taken to Dasna jail, and sentenced to life imprisonment the next day.|
|26 Nov:||Judge Shyam Lal pronounces sentence; the Talwars prepare to go in appeal.|