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On the night of May 16, 2008, when Aarushi Talwar was murdered, there were a total of four people in the house including Aarushi; her parents, and housekeeper, Hemraj. When Aarushi’s body was found the next day, the parents said that they were sleeping in their room and had no idea what happened until they discovered the body in the morning. A day later, their housekeeper’s body was found on the terrace. The authorities turned to her parents for answers; 13 years later, the case remains unsolved.

Aarushi Talwar

The prime suspect was Hemraj, whom Rajesh and Nupur hired as their cook and housekeeper – until his body was discovered partially decomposed on their house’s terrace, just one day after Aarushi’s body was discovered.

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With two murders in one house, the Talwars were clearly the murderers in everyone’s eyes, on the other hand, the crime scene was not secured, and many people visited the crime scene after Aarushi’s death made headlines, so police and CBI found nothing conclusive from the scene of the crime.

Aarushi Talwar, a 13-year-old girl, was the daughter of a dentist couple Dr. Rajesh and Dr. Nupur Talwar. Rajesh was the head of Fortis Hospital’s dental department, and Nupur also worked there In their free time they both worked in a clinic alongside another dentist couple, Anita and Praful Durrani.

Discovery Of Aarushi Talwar’s Body

On 16th May 2008, the family’s housemaid Bharati Mandal rang their doorbell at 6:01 am, Bharati was employed at Talwars just six days prior. Usually, it was Hemraj who would open the door, but strangely he wasn’t there that morning, and Bharati rang the bell three more times, and finally, she was greeted by Nupur who opened the innermost wooden door.

The entrance gate was locked from the outside, and Nupur inquired about Hemraj’s whereabouts. When Bharati replied that she had no idea, Nupur remarked that he might have gone outside to fetch milk and must’ve locked the door from the outside. Nupur asked Bharati to wait outside until Hemraj returned, but Bharati refused, and asked Nupur to throw the keys.

When Bharati entered the house, she noticed Rajesh and Nupur crying in their daughter’s room. “Look what Hemraj has done?” they said. 

At this point, Bharati noticed Aarushi Talwar’s body in a pool of blood, her throat slit with a kukri knife. Both the parents blamed Hemraj for the murder. Bharati went out to inform the neighbors, then returned to the house and asked the Talwars if they wanted her to finish the household chores; they declined, and she went on to work in other households.

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The Talwars called their family and friends and told the security guard to call the police, and when police arrived at 7:15 a.m., there were 15 people in the living room and 5-6 people in Talwar’s bedroom, while Aarushi’s room was empty, no one was inside the room when the police arrived, but the crime scene was “completely trampled upon,” most of the 28 fingerprints samples police found at the crime scene were useless and smudged.

In his police complaint Rajesh claimed that their missing servant Hemraj was the prime suspect, he repeatedly told the police to pursue Hemraj instead of wasting their time to look for other suspects and offered them 25,000 rupees to track Hemraj down. The Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) mentioned how strongly the Talwars were pushing this story.

Strangely, the Talwars were inside the house when the murder occurred, sleeping in their room, and claimed not to have heard a single sound during the murder. They claimed that they shut their door and the air conditioning unit muffled the sounds of bludgeoning and laceration.

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The night of the murder

  • Nupur picked up Aarushi from school at 1:30 p.m. on May 15th and returned to their apartment. Nupur’s sister-in-law joined them for lunch before they both left, leaving Aarushi at home. Nupur worked at Fortis from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and returned home at 7:30 p.m.
  • After attending patients at the clinic until 8:30 p.m., Rajesh returned home with his driver Umesh Sharma around 9:30 p.m. Umesh parked the car a short distance from the house because they didn’t have a garage, then went inside to give Hemraj the car keys and Rajesh’s bag to Hemraj
  • Umesh was the last known outsider to see Araushi and Hemraj alive when he saw Nupur and aArushi near the dining table and Rajesh coming out of the bathroom.
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aarushi talwar house

No one knows what happened after Umesh left, so according to Talwars: Nupur and Rajesh went into Aarushi’s room after dinner and gave her a Sony digital camera. Rajesh had planned to give the camera to Aarushi on her birthday(24 May), but Nupur persuaded him to give it to her as an early birthday present. Aarushi clicked several photographs with her family, with the last image clicked at 10:10 pm.

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  • Around 11 pm Rajesh asked Nupur to switch on the internet router, which was in Asrushi’s room. When Nupur went to Asrushi’s room, she was reading Chetan Bhagat’s, The 3 mistakes of my life, Nupur didn’t disturb her and returned to her room after switching on the router.
  • Around this time Rajesh received a phone call from US on a landline kept in the couple’s room.
  • Rajesh then checked out some stock market and dentistry websites and sent an email at 11:41:53 p.m. and he closed his laptop.

Around midnight Aarushi’s friend tried calling her on her mobile as well as their landline. The calls were not answered, so he left her a message which was not received by Aarushi’s phone. The internet router was last used at 12:08 am, based on this the CBI inferred that Rajesh was online until that time.

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It’s worth noting that Aarushi’s bedroom door was normally locked at bedtime, and the keys were usually left on Nupur’s nightstand, but Nupur couldn’t remember whether she had locked her daughter’s room that night or not. Aarushi is believed to have been killed between 12 and 1 am.

This brings up another point: The internet router was turned off at 3:43 a.m., implying that whoever was inside the room was either responsible for her death or didn’t even look at the blood-soaked body on the bed. The only other way it could have happened was if there had been a power outage, which there wasn’t. At 6:01 a.m., the router was turned on.

The following day, Nupur discovered the keys to the apartment and terrace on Hemraj’s bed. While Aarushi’s room keys were in the living room. They didn’t have any other keys, but their gate was locked from the outside? This implies that someone had an extra key, but who could it be?

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Discovery of Hemraj’s Body

On May 16, Rajesh’s former colleagues told police that they saw bloodstains on the terrace door handle, its lock, and the staircase; however, several other witnesses testified that they had not noticed any bloodstains on the staircase that others were referring to in the morning. Several police officers, Umesh Sharma, Puneesh Rai Tandon, their maid Bharati Mandal, and Vikas Sethi were among the witnesses.

aarushi talwar memorial tree

When police asked for the terrace key, Rajesh “went into the house and did not come out for a long time,” he remained inside for an entire day and the police did nothing, they unlocked the terrace the next day.

The next morning, police discovered Hemraj’s decomposing body after breaking open the terrace lock. Rajesh and Nupur were summoned back to the house while on their way to Haridwar to immerse their daughter’s ashes according to Hindu rituals. Rajesh told the police that he wasn’t sure the body was Hemraj’s because of the injuries and decomposition. A friend later identified Hemraj’s body.

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According to the new narrative, Hemraj’s body was dragged to the terrace in a bedsheet, the terrace door was locked, and the killer or killers returned to the house and drank whiskey. A bottle of whiskey with bloodstains from both victims was discovered on the kitchen table. Once again, the police worked poorly and failed to collect a proper sample from it.

Now what raises a question is the fact that the liquor cabinet was fairly well hidden behind a wooden panel, and someone from outside will have no idea about the hidden liquor cabinet, so it had to be someone from inside, might be parents, working staff at the house, the driver?

The Talwars, on the other hand, instructed their servants to clean Aarushi’s room’s floor and walls with soap and water, and her bloody mattress was thrown out onto a neighbor’s terrace.

According to CBI, on 16th May Rajesh’s older brother Diner called his family friend Sushil Chaudhury, who then called retired Superintendent of Police K.K. Gautam, who then called an unidentified number, while the post-mortem report was being written. The sequence was repeated six times in reverse order.

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Suspects

At first the prime suspect was Hemraj but after the discovery of his body, on 19th May police named Talwar’s former Nepali domestic help Vishnu Sharma as the suspect. Vishnu worked at Talwars for 10 years, and he was the one who introduced Hemraj to Talwars while he left for vacation 8 months prior to the murder.

Police suspected that Vishnu was upset with Hemraj for taking over his job, and that Aarushi was murdered because she was a witness. He was arrested along with other servants, but police were unable to find any evidence linking any of the servants to the murder. It turned out Vishnu was in Nepal on the day of the murder.

With both Aarushi and Hemraj dead at this point, the Talwars became the prime suspects. They had keys to the house, were aware of the liquor cabinets and were present when the murder occurred. As a result, Rajesh was arrested by police on May 23rd.

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Who is the killer?

While the case as complex as it is, it is clear that the killer had to be someone close to the family as whoever killed Aarushi had access to the house and no signs of forced entry.

Key Evidence:

The internet router was turned off at 3:43 am, the router was in Aarushi’s room, and reports suggest that Aarushi was killed in her room between 12 am and 1 am.

Photographs

  • Aarushi’s camera had photographs numbered 13,15,20,22 and 23 this indicated that there were a total of 23 photographs, out of which 18 had been deleted. While it looks simple that Aarushi took several photos and deleted the one she didn’t like.
  • However, another reason for deleting the picture could be that it would have established the presence of someone other than the Talwar couple and the two victims. If that was the case, it would have put an end to the couple’s claim that no one came to see them that night.
  • Also, the CBI believes that the pictures weren’t accidentally deleted, neither were they deleted because the picture quality wasn’t good.
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Mobile Phones

  • Aarushi and Hemraj both had mobile phones, and both phones disappeared after the murder.
  • On the 15th of May, Hemraj received two calls from Talwar’s clinic, the first at 4:58 pm and lasting 10 minutes, and the second at 5:37 pm and last two minutes.
  • At 8:27 p.m., a suspicious call was placed to Hemraj and lasted 6 minutes; investigators were unable to determine who placed the call.
  • Nupur dialed Hemraj’s phone number from their landline at 6:01 a.m. on May 16th; the call was answered but disconnected after two seconds. Hemraj’s phone was never found but according to CBI, his number was briefly active in Punjab.
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  • Furthermore, Nupur’s phone was turned off from 7:40 p.m. on May 15th to 1 p.m. on May 18th, and it was never turned off in the 60 days preceding the murder.
  • A whisky bottle with Hemraj and Aarushi’s bloodstains was discovered at the dining table. The bottle was taken out from a hidden cabinet in the house; that is why it has to be someone close to the family or someone from the family.
  • When SP Mahesh Kumar spoke to Nupur and Rajesh on 16th May, the couple did not display any shock or sadness, but they were “very nervous.”
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Theories

  • One of the experts who first investigated the crime scene stated that the murder was committed by someone close to her. Because the evidence suggested she’d had sex, as her vagina had been penetrated and then cleaned by someone else who was also present, but no sperm was found.
  • This led to the theory that Rajesh found Hemraj and his young daughter engaged in sexual activity and murdered his daughter and Hemraj for raping her.
  • Another theory holds that Rajesh was involved in an extramarital affair, and when confronted by Hemraj, he killed him on the terrace, as well as Aarushi for being a witness and objecting to her father’s affair. After Inspector General Gurdarshn Singh proposed this theory, public opinion turned against Talwars, and their friends began to avoid them.
  • What became perplexing was why the killer left Hemraj’s body rotting on the terrace. Later, the CBI proposed that Hemraj’s body was kept hidden there in order to dispose of it until the investigation into Aarushi’s death was completed. That was no longer an option because there were so many people in the house.

In 2010, the CBI delegated its investigation to another team, which recommended that the case be closed. Because they named Rajesh as the prime suspect but had no evidence to charge him. In January 2011, Talwars filed a petition protesting against CBI’s attempt to close the case. However, their petition was rejected.

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Trails of the Talwars

The trial began on May 11, 2013, and ended on November 25, 2013, with a guilty verdict for both defendants. In April 2013, CBI investigator AGL Kaul testified in court about a possible sequence of events.

Nupur and Rajesh Talwar
  • “Rajesh heard some noise and went into Hemraj’s room, but Hemraj wasn’t there. Rajesh then heard a noise coming from Aarushi’s room, he picked up his golf club stick from Hemraj’s room and rushed to Aarushi’s room. Where he saw both of them in an objectionable position on Aarushi’s bed.
  • Rajesh was filled with anger and hit Hemraj’s head with the golf club, and when he was hitting him a second time, Hemraj moved and Aarushi was hit instead. At this point, Nupur woke up by the noise and came into Aarushi’s room, and by this time both the victims were near dead.
  • The couple then decided to hide Hemraj’s body in order to dispose of it at a more suitable time. In order to do so, they wrapped his body in a blanket and dragged him to the terrace. They slit his throat and cover the body with cooler panel.
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  • Then they came to their daughter’s room and slit her throat to ensure that the wounds on the two bodies looked similar. While doing so they also dressed up the crime scene. They cleaned the bloodstains on the floor, and also collected all the blood-stained clothes and sharp-edged weapons in order to dispose of them.
  • The couple then walked out of the flat, close the middle grill from outside, and entered the house through Hemraj’s room, in order to mislead the investigators. Rajesh then opened his hidden liquor cabinet and drank Scotch Whiskey.”

On November 26, 2013 the Talwars were sentenced to life imprisonment for the twin murders. They called the verdit unfair and alleged that the points which proved Rajesh and Nupur were not produced by the CBI before the court.

On October 12, 2017, the High Court acquitted Rajesh and Nupur Talwar of all charges, ruling that the CBI’s evidence was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that they should be given the benefit of the doubt rather than being convicted solely on suspicion.

It took four years, but the parents are finally free. The case is still unsolved, and 6 CBI directors have changed over the years; one of them stated that if they had managed to get the fingerprints on the whiskey bottle, they could have had the killer within a month, but it has now been unsolved for 168 months.

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Aarushi Talwar Movie

Talvar, a film based on the Aarushi Hemraj Murder case depicts three contradictory accounts of the case, including the parents version.

In 2017, Star World Original production released a crime documentary miniseries called, “The Talwars: Behind Closed Doors.”

The case remains unsolved, but who is to blame for the mishandling? Former CBI Director AP Singh believed his agency was dealing with a highly manipulable environment and limited opportunities for evidence. He said that the scene of the crime had been badly tampered on the first day itself, and as a result, nothing of value from the scene can be found.


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