Criminal neglect

Hopes that justice would be done in the Aarushi Talwar-Hemraj double murder have been dashed with the CBI filing for a closure of the case. The country’s premier investigating agency has admitted that it has run into a dead-end in its investigations into the case. It has said that it doesn’t have adequate evidence to secure a conviction.

Over two years after it took over the investigation into the sensational double murders from the Uttar Pradesh police, the CBI has thrown in the towel. Fourteen-year-old Aarushi was found dead with her throat slit open at her residence in May 2008. The body of Hemraj, the domestic help, who was at first the prime suspect, was discovered a day later. Aarushi’s father was arrested and held in custody for almost two months, then let off for want of evidence. Right from the start it was evident that the UP police were doing a shoddy job of the investigations. ‘Clues’ were cooked up to build a case against one suspect or another, vital evidence simply ‘vanished’. It did not hesitate to even malign the reputation of young Aarushi with malicious stories spread about her.

When the CBI stepped in, it did seem that the killers would be caught. A former CBI joint director even claimed that there was enough evidence for convictions. What happened then? Was the CBI unable to undo the damage done by the UP police? Crucial evidence had after all been tampered with. Aarushi’s vaginal swabs were found to have been switched and her pathology reports were missing. But clearly, the CBI too was no less inept than the UP police in its investigating skills.

A reopening of the investigation on the order of the courts is possible. But whether a new investigation will produce a different outcome will depend on how strongly committed the investigators are to finding the truth and having justice done. The closure of the case means that the killer will for now walk free. As distressing as this is the fact that those in the police, who facilitated the tampering of evidence, too have gotten away. No action has been taken either against the cops who cooked up clues and botched up the investigation, or even the senior police officer who assassinated Aarushi's character on primetime TV. Stern action against the police will ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

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