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The continuing saga of the Aarushi murder

Original Source: IBN LIVE: TUESDAY 10 JANUARY 2012
Tuesday , January 10, 2012 at 13 : 59
Brijesh Kalappa

Fourteen-year-old Aarushi Talwar, daughter of dentist parents, was found dead with her throat slit at the family's Noida residence on the intervening night of May 15-16, 2008, while the body of their domestic help, Hemraj, was found on the terrace the following day. The initial investigation in the case carried out by the Uttar Pradesh Police led to the arrest of Aarushi's father Rajesh Talwar on May 23, 2008. After frenzied media reporting and public outrage, the probe was handed over to the CBI and Rajesh Talwar was granted bail by the Ghaziabad court on July 11, 2008. 


The CBI, after probing the murder for over two-and-a-half years, had filed its closure report in the case in the Ghaziabad Special CBI court, saying it had been unable to find out any evidence to prosecute the Talwars. The Ghaziabad trial court, however, had rejected the CBI closure report, saying there was enough prima facie material in the agency's report to put the couple on trial for their alleged involvement in the twin murders and had issued summons to them to face trial. The magistrate took cognisance of the case and summoned the Talwars on February 9, 2011. 


Rajesh and Nupur Talwar went to the Allahabad High court, which had dismissed their pleas to quash the trial court summons and the proceedings initiated against them. They were then constrained to approach the Supreme Court of India which had on March 19 last year stayed the trial against them. The Supreme Court dismissed their petitions. The Talwars will now have to stand trial for the murder of their daughter. 


Two features which point to the complicity of the Talwars is the surgical precision causing the death of the two, as also the fact that the crime scene was 'dressed up' before policemen arrived on the scene. The spate of 'honour killings' by parents in and around North India gives rise too to some suspicion regarding the role of the Talwar couple. 


A year before the Aarushi murder, a three-year-old British girl, Madeleine McCann, whose parents were also doctors, went missing when the family holidayed in Portugal in 2007. The investigation appeared to focus more tightly on her parents. Portuguese police came close to charging parents Kate and Gerry McCann after demanding the mother's diary be seized as trial evidence. Madeleine disappeared from a room in a Portuguese holiday resort in May while she and her younger twin siblings were left unattended when her parents were dining with seven of their friends at a nearby restaurant 50 metres away. 


The Portuguese newspaper 'Correio da Manha' cited police sources as saying new tests on blood found in the car hired by the McCanns conclusively showed it was Madeleine's. "The definitive result of the tests leaves no doubts for the Policia Judiciaria. The blood found in the Mc Canns' car is that of Madeleine as well as those samples detected in the flat," the paper said. Portuguese newspapers had already published what they claim are extracts from Kate's journal and say the diary is fundamental to the belief that the 39-year-old GP and mother-of-three was involved in the death of her daughter. Passages are said to reveal a mother at her wits' end coping with three hysterical kids. Her twins, Sean and Amelie, were aged two when their sister vanished. Cardiologist Gerry, 39, is said to be portrayed as an absentee dad happy to leave his wife to shoulder the burden while he relaxed on holidays. 


Unsubstantiated claims in the Portuguese media said police believed that the child was killed in the apartment and her body moved in a car hired 25 days after she vanished. According to 'Correio Da Manha', the police case against the McCanns consisted of sniffer dogs and that traces of blood indicate the presence of the little girl's body behind a sofa and in the trunk of the car. The McCanns, though formally notified as 'suspects', were allowed to leave Portugal when the English Press thoroughly examined their rather shameful role in the sordid affair. The parents remain free even as the child remains untraced and reports recently emanated that a child resembling the missing one was seen in Leh in India sometime in July, 2011.


Seasoned investigators say that investigations alone cannot tell the complete story, some lucky breakthrough is often essential to solve a crime.  


Investigations fall short in certain cases where the motive is completely oblique. It is for this reason that the celebrated Judge Lord Denning said, "The devil himself knows not the thought of man." 


In a murder case in Chikamagalur District (Mrs Gandhi's constituency) in 1995-96, an attractive housewife, Smt. Aruna, was found strangled to death by an electric cord, in nude state. Her gold bangles were stolen but much of the valuables remained locked in her almirah. The needle of suspicion pointed towards her husband Dr Manjunath since their three-year-old daughter told the police during interrogation that her father, who had left for the clinic in the morning, had returned home for a brief while. Dr Manjunath was imprisoned without bail for as much as a year. Meanwhile, the trial went on. In the public eye and in the eyes of the press, Dr Manjunath turned into one of the worst kind of cold-blooded killers.



Two years later, in a stray incident, three travelling salesmen of a reputed company were arrested in Goa (about 600 km away from Chikamagalur) for strangling a lone woman to death. When interrogated, they provided a list of killings that they had been involved in, including that of Smt. Aruna. Dr Manjunath was forthwith absolved of all charges since a self-inculpatory confession had been made by the travelling salesmen.



This presents a lesson for the public who are baying for the blood of either the Talwars or Krishna in the Arushi murder case or even in that of Ruchika Girhotra's case. Ruchika's case is a stand-alone one, in which, if the facts as projected ultimately turn out to be true, Mr SPS Rathore deserves the worst kind of punishment.



However, the press or the public have not been invested with the powers to conduct trial. It reminds one of a lady teacher who was arrested for prostitution and for involving her students in the trade too. It turned out to be some journalist's idea of a great story. Trial by the media or by the people's court is dangerous. Civilisation has advanced far too much for popular trials where due process is not followed, nor the rule of law.


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