The murder of 13-year-old Arushi Talwar: India's most talked-about killing remains unsolved, 11 years later

The school girl was found murdered in her home on the night of May 15, 2008, in northern Indian city of Noida


                            The murder of 13-year-old Arushi Talwar: India's most talked-about killing remains unsolved, 11 years later

Who killed Aarushi Talwar?  A question that haunts India to date. The case has been able to generate huge public anger and a lot of media of attention over the years due to the never-ending mystery and unanswered questions around it. 

The 13-year-old school girl was found murdered in her home on the night of May 15, 2008, in India's northern city of Noida. Although initially it was suspected the family's domestic servant -- Hemraj -- could be the teenager's killer, his bludgeoned body was found on the roof of the house a day later adding more drama to the murder case. 

The Background

Aarushi Talwar,  a student at the Delhi Public School, was the only daughter of a dentist couple, Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Nupur Talwar. The girl's parents were the first to discover her dead body in her bedroom on the morning of May 16, 2008. Both Aarushi and Hemraj had suffered blunt-force wounds to the head, and both of their throats were slit. According to reports, their throats were slit using a kukri knife. 

Arushi Talwar's throat was slit using a Kukri knife (This is a representative image. Wikipedia)

The list of suspects went from the initially missing Hemraj to the family's remaining house help, but due to lack of concrete evidence, all of them were ruled out. After several twists and turns, the Talwars were charged with murder, destruction of evidence and misleading the investigations in 2013 as they were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. They were, however, acquitted in 2017.

The Talwar family has always maintained that they are innocent and are in fact victims in the case given that they are being accused of such a heinous crime. 

However, there are still no answers as to what exactly happened to Aarushi or Hemraj. 

The evidence so far: 

1. The weapon used to cause blunt injury

In 2008, forensic scientists claimed Aarushi had been assaulted with "a heavy sharp-edged weapon". According to the size of the blood clot, the first hit on her forehead had resulted in her death within two minutes. When Arushi's parents were charged with her murder in 2013, the Special Investigating Team revealed that Dr. Rajesh Talwar brutally hit Aarushi's forehead and Hemraj's head with his golf club after finding them in a compromising position in his daughter's bedroom.

Arushi Talwar was found lying in a pool of blood in her room on May 16, 2008 (Facebook)

2. Aarushi's room 

Aarushi's body was found on her bed covered with a white flannel blanket while her face was covered with her schoolbag. There was a lot of blood on the pillow, the bed, the walls, the floor, and the front side of the bedroom. However, there was no blood found on the toys, the schoolbag and the pink pillow kept at the back of the bed. These items were well within the range of the splashed blood area which seems to indicate that they were placed there post the murder. 

3. Aarushi's body 

According to Doctor Sunil Dhore, who conducted the postmortem of Aarushi,  there was no sexual assault on Aarushi. The bed sheet had a wet circular mark just below the pelvic area which was not urine. The investigators had suspected that the pelvic area had been wiped clean. In 2012, Dr. Dohre had shared that the wide vaginal opening found on Aarushi's body could have happened only if it had been manipulated while the rigor mortis had started. He concluded that her private parts appeared to have been cleaned after she had died. 

4. The door and the key 

There were no signs of forced entry or break in into the Talwar apartment. According to Bharati Mandal, another housemaid working for the family,  the Talwars weren't locked in the flat from the outside, but instead, they had locked the room from the inside, thus leading to a clue of circumstantial evidence against the Talwars. On May 16, at around 6.01 am, when Mandal rang the bell nobody opened the door. She was usually let inside by Hemraj who was not present at the time. Mandal was then greeted by Aarushi's mother Nupur who was in the balcony which was unusual as the Talwars always slept in the morning as they worked the evening shifts at their office. 

Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were charged with their daughter Arushi's murder in 2013 but were acquitted in 2017 (Facebook)

When Bharati walked in, she noticed that Rajesh was awake too and both the parents were in Arushi's room crying. The door to Arushi's room would lock automatically when shut and could be opened from inside or by using a key. These keys were normally kept on Nupur's bedside table. There was no forced entry into Aarushi's bedroom either. 

5. Threats to Hemraj's life 

According to the police, Hemraj had shared with some of his friends that there was a threat to his life. A social worker Usha Thakur had informed the police that around five days before his murder, Hemraj had told her that he feared for "his life and that of some of his near and dear ones". Three years after the murder, Hemraj's wife Khumkala moved a plea alleging that she suspected the Talwars of murder.

She shared that Hemraj treated Aarushi like a daughter but did not have a good relationship with Rajesh.  She added that when Hemraj had visited home in Nepal in 2007, he had described Rajesh as a short-tempered person who had threatened to beat him up. Khumkala also shared that 15 days before the murder, Hemraj had claimed that Rajesh and Nupur suspected him of leaking family secrets and threatened to kill him. 

6. The internet router 

Around three hours after the estimated time of Aarushi's murder, the internet router in her room was switched off at 3:43 am. According to the investigators, a technical expert produced by them stated that the router can be switched off due to a power cut or by someone manually doing so.

There were no power cuts on the night when Aarushi was murdered, a fact that was attested by the electricity board. The router was switched back on at 6.01 am in the morning. This implies a possibility of whoever had walked into her bedroom to turn off the router didn't notice a dead girl lying in a blood-soaked bed or was the one responsible for it. 

7. The mess-up by the police

Constable Chunnilal Gautam had clicked the first few photographs of the gruesome crime scene and had also collected fingerprints on May 16. The police were able to collect around 26 fingerprints from the crime scene. However, according to India's Central Bureau of Investigation, 24 out of the 26 fingerprints had been gathered through wrong methods and could not be preserved. Only two were suitable for evidence but none of these matched the suspects. 

The police were also accused of not securing the crime scene immediately. By the time the police had arrived, there were already 15 people in the living room and five to six people in the Talwars' bedroom. 

Meanwhile, HBO is coming out with a two-part documentary over the much-hyped murder case. The documentary titled 'Behind Closed Doors' will premiere July 16 and 17 and here's what you need to know about the case before you decide to watch the show.  

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