First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars

CBI & UP cops had no proof Rajesh & Nupur Talwar killed Aarushi but labelled them guilty: Arun K, former top CBI cop

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India
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 Clockwise from top left: Rajesh and Dinesh Talwar; Rajesh at the memorial service for Aarushi; the Talwars in happier times
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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.

Arun Kumar is currently Additional DG of the CRPF. (Photo: The Quint)
Arun Kumar is currently Additional DG of the CRPF. (Photo: The Quint)

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.

The Talwars requested for Arun Kumar to be called upon as a defence witness. The plea was turned down. (Photo: Reuters)
The Talwars requested for Arun Kumar to be called upon as a defence witness. The plea was turned down. (Photo: Reuters)

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.

First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"When the CBI took over from the UP police, there was no evidence that could be admissible in court. No senior officers of the UP police had even interrogated the Talwars. The UP police was at the time, under severe criticism for the way they had portrayed the Talwars and especially the victim. The fact that Nupur did not cry in a particular TV interview and the fact that the UP police could not understand the mentality and psychology of an urban upper middle class teenager fuelled the theories and perception."

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.

First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"We concluded that since it was impossible for awake and alert officers to hear sounds from Aarushi’s room, it would have been impossible for the Talwars to hear anything that night. Then the narco tests also proved they showed no deception. So there was no evidence to incriminate them."

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.

First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"You know how the courts acted in the case. They could do anything."

‘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.

First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"AP Singh may have said that, but he also consulted me when the closure report was filed, even though I was not with the CBI at the time. This closure report too, clearly stated what we had been saying, that there is no evidence to convict the Talwars. It is rare that a case goes to trial after a closure report is filed. But if you read that closure report, the investigating officer seems to have written it more like a charge sheet against 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.

First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"I don’t want to say anything about a man who is no more (AGL Kaul). It is all there in the book ['Aarushi' by Avirook Sen]."

So where did the honour killing and Aarushi-Hemraj affair theories crop up from? Was it all made up? Kumar has an interesting theory.

First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"In the first 24 hours of the probe, before the UP police discovered Hemraj’s body, Krishna was questioned. He sowed the seed that Hemraj had eyes for Aarushi and that he must have killed her. That Hemraj-Aarushi angle continued even after Hemraj’s body was found. We have records that Nupur Talwar called Hemraj that morning, the phone rang and then it was switched off. The phone call was traced to Jal Vayu Vihar, where Krishna lived."

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.

Aarushi Talwar (left) and Sheena Bora (right). (Photo: The Quint)
Aarushi Talwar (left) and Sheena Bora (right). (Photo: The Quint)
First on Record, CBI’s Arun Kumar: We Had No Proof Against Talwars
"Investigations should proceed from unknown to known. The accused must confess. Only then can a conclusion be made. Till then, it is conjecture. I don’t know about the Sheena Bora case, but in Aarushi’s case, the UP police and the CBI teams after us had already decided who the culprits were and then went on to collect evidence."

(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.)

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