First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
On the night of 15 May 2008, Aarushi Talwar was murdered in her bed. She had sustained injuries from a possibly fatal blow to her forehead. Her throat was slit. 14-year-old Aarushi’s body was found by her parents the next morning. Two days later, the prime suspect, Hemraj Banjade, the Talwars’ domestic help, was found dead on the terrace.
On 12 October, the Allahabad High Court delivered its verdict in the case, acquitting the Talwars of murder charges. This interview was first published on 30 August 2015 and is being republished from The Quint’s archives in light of the verdict.
The Investigator Who Says the Talwars Are Innocent
Arun Kumar, a 1985 batch IPS officer from the Uttar Pradesh cadre, was repatriated to his parent cadre approximately 100 days into the Aarushi-Hemraj murder investigation. Kumar, who was then the Joint Director of CBI, directly led the investigation, after it was handed over to the agency - a fortnight following the murders in May 2008.
He believed that the Talwars were innocent. Those who succeeded him say there were “loopholes” in his investigation.
Kumar is currently Additional DG, CRPF. He is circumspect, but he knows what he knows.
Why Arun Kumar Believes the Talwars Are Innocent
In 2008, when Arun Kumar took over the investigation, Rajesh Talwar was given bail because of lack of evidence. Kumar then arrested Krishna, Vijay Mandal and Rajkumar, the Nepali servants, until then thought to be peripherally involved in the case. The CBI officer made it clear in the first CBI press conference that prima facie, the needle of suspicion was pointing towards the servants and not the Talwars.
It’s been clear that the UP police’s investigation was botched up, that evidence was trampled upon and forensic tests made virtually impossible in the first fortnight after the crime. Kumar describes the circumstances under which the case was handed over to the CBI.
Arun Kumar and his team were handed over a shoddy investigation. They conducted an experiment to check if sound could travel from Aarushi’s bedroom to the Talwars’ bedroom when both air conditioners were switched on and there was no traffic sound. They concluded that no sound could be heard from one room to the other.
This evidence was ignored in court.
Further, in May 2013, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar had filed a plea with the Ghaziabad court to allow Kumar to be produced as a defence witness. CBI countered this plea.
‘Aarushi Case Closure Report Read Like a Chargesheet’
Further, AP Singh who took charge of the CBI two years later said that there were ‘loopholes’ in the investigation carried out by Kumar and his team. When confronted with these allegations, Kumar reveals that AP Singh had sought his opinion before filing the closure report which clearly stated that there was no evidence to convict the Talwars.
AGL Kaul, the Investigating Officer in the case, sought the conviction of the Talwars. Tanveer Mir, the defence counsel, in an earlier interview to The Quint said Kaul had strong feelings about the Talwars.
So where did the honour killing and Aarushi-Hemraj affair theories crop up from? Was it all made up? Kumar has an interesting theory.
Is Sheena, 2015’s Aarushi?
There are many parallels being drawn between the current Sheena Bora case and the Aarushi Talwar case. They have both grabbed the limelight and every twist and turn is being keenly watched by the whole country.
(This article was first published on 30 August 2015. It is being reposted from The Quint’s archives ahead of the Allahabad HC hearing of the case on 31 August.)