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Mainstream, VOL LI, No 49, November 23, 2013

Arushi-Hemraj Case: Ignoring Crucial Evidence Will Kill Faith In Justice

Monday 25 November 2013, by Bharat Dogra

One of the main pillars of faith in a democratic system is that sooner or later justice will prevail because the existence of an open system and various checks and balances will ensure that injustice and arbitrariness are challenged and stopped at some stage. Unfortunately this faith has been badly shaken in the case of poor and marginalised people as in an increasingly callous system their com-plaints and problems are simply ignored in too many cases.

But what will happen to the faith in democracy if justice and just processes are widely perceived to be ignored even in the most talked-about, written-about murder case in the country? The reference here is obviously to the double murder case of Arushi and Hemraj. If justice is not seen to be taking place even in such a widely publicised case, then for many people faith in democracy will be badly threatened.

It is by now widely agreed that the initial investigations in this double murder case of May 2008 were badly botched up and some of the elementary precautions in collecting and preserving evidence from and around the murder-site were ignored. Hardly anyone disagrees on this. But have suitable amends been made since then to ensure that justice is done despite initial glaring lapses?

Unfortunately there are increasing indications that mistake after mistake have been piling up and unless there is higher-level intervention to clear up the existing mess, justice too will probably be murdered in this most talked about murder case.

Here we may point out just a few of the more glaring questions raised from the investigation so far.

• The Talwar couple as well as other suspects were put through two sets each of polygraph tests, brain mapping tests, lie detector tests and narcoanalysis. Now it is well known that there are several limitations of all these tests but once these have been carried out, certainly the best possible use of the information available from these should be made. From what is known publicly, the Talwar couple exhibited no deception in these tests while the other suspects showed a lot of deception. It has been reported that some other suspects gave crucial details about the crime including even the murder weapon used.

 The reports of these tests should get adequate attention and the leads arising from them should be scrupulously followed.

• The report of the seven-member committee of scientists and doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences should get adequate attention. Among other things, this team had concluded that Arushi was killed in the bed while Hemraj was killed on the roof.

• The purple pillow cover recovered from a suspect’s room (a suspect other than the Talwars) had blood marks on it which matched those of Hemraj. This was at first duly recorded in the official records but later dismissed as a typo-graphical error, although there are indications that such a claim was absurd, to say the least.

• From some suspect’s room a khukri was recovered (with what seemed like blood marks). Expert opinion said that this could have been the weapon of assault.

Those and other glaring areas of neglect in the investigations need to get adequate impor-tance and should be followed up.

Also, have you ever heard of a murderer asking for the latest and most advanced investi-gations so that truth can be found out? In the present case what can be clearly seen from the existing records is that Rajesh Talwar has repea-tedly made requests to get Touch DNA done.

Last but not the least, for heaven’s sake let us ask: why was a living hell created for Arushi’s parents well before they could be proved guilty?

Bharat Dogra is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.

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