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Avirook Sen's book 'Aarushi' makes chilling narcoanalysis tests public for the first time

Catch Team | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST

Over the last seven years, dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar have been trapped in a zone of illogic.

In 2008, they were accused of the murder of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help, Hemraj.

In 2013, they were convicted for life.

At first, apart from them, a set of three neighbourhood household staffers were also listed as suspects. These men -- Krishna, Raj Kumar, and Vijay Mandal -- were friends of Hemraj.

There was no forced entry in the house, but Hemraj's room had three booze bottles, which suggested he had had company that fateful night.

When the CBI first took over the case, both the Talwars and these three men were put through lie detector tests and narco analysis.

They yielded startling results. The Talwars showed no awareness of the crime. However, the three servants gave a blow by blow account of their presence in the house, their involvement in the crime, and the motivations driving them.

These tests are not legally admissible. However, they are important indicators for which way a line of investigation can develop.

The tests were also particularly important because it led to the recovery of a possible murder weapon: a khukri, from one of the friends' room.

However, these transcripts were never made public. When the second CBI team took over, inexplicably, the servants were instead completely dropped from the trial as possible suspects.

The Talwars, on the other hand, became the sole accused. They had to prove their innocence but were not allowed to present the witnesses they needed in the trial court, nor cross examine all the prosecution witnesses they wanted to.

When they sought help from the High Court and Supreme Court, they were rebuffed as chronic litigants. Literally, all doors were closed on them.

Also read: Lies & Prejudice: how the Talwars were convicted without evidence

Now, journalist Avirook Sen has published a book on this chilling murder trial and miscarriage of justice. Aarushi, published by Penguin, captures the venal and tortuous world the Talwars have had to battle. It is a sobering story.

The book also makes the narco analysis tests public for the first time. They are a chilling, potentially explosive, read.

It is no one's case that the servants should automatically be deemed guilty. However, if even a fraction of what they say in these tests is true, it definitely raises some very hard questions.

Why were they let off the case completely? Why was the line of investigation not pursued till its logical end?

Is India's legal system robust enough to provide a redressal and fairer trial for the Talwars?

Excerpts from the book:

Who Did It?

No one, not Gurdarshan Singh or Arun Kumar or Kaul or Dahiya or Dr Vaya or the judge who wrote so authoritatively about the crime, was at the crime scene. I wasn't either. The only people who were there were the assailants and their victims.

But as the story panned out, the Talwars' undisputed presence in the flat that night burdened them with having to not just plead their innocence, but also answer the question 'If you didn't do it, who did?'

They did not know. In fact, investigators knew much more than them - the CBI had enough material to, at the very least, form a plausible alternative hypothesis. This is the material they hid from the Talwars, and prevented from being brought on the record in court.

This material was gathered by investigators in the months of June and July 2008. They are the reports of the scientific tests on the three servants. A few fragments were leaked in 2008, but once AGL Kaul took over, they were just buried.

Sometimes, the methods of concealment were crude - even in situations where the CBI was obliged to furnish the material. In the counter-affidavit the CBI filed in the Supreme Court in 2012, for instance, Krishna's polygraph examination at CFSL Delhi was submitted as an annexure by the CBI. However, what was annexed to an affidavit filed by Kaul were copies of just the first two pages. These contained details of memos and procedures. The actual results were in the pages that followed - and those weren't attached.

Annexed to the same affidavit are the reports of each and every scientific test done on the Talwars. The scientists' conclusions in these reports clear the Talwars, but those parts that Dahiya and Kaul chose to draw their own theory from are highlighted by helpful markings.

The story contained in the scientific reports of the servants has never been told. The documents were buried. Until now.

Krishna's story

Excerpted from Krishna's narco analysis narration on 12 June 2008 at Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital, Bangalore:

During the trance Mr Krishna said that basically he is from Nepal and had come to Noida 10-12 years back. He was staying with his sister in sector 25, Noida. He said that he was working and has also written 12th exams . . . He was introduced to Dr Talwar by Vishnu who was working as compounder in Dr Talwar's clinic. He said that Vishnu was working both at Dr Talwar's home and hospital. Vishnu's parents were sick so he left the job, Vishnu had bought Hemaraj [sic] to Dr Talwar's house. Hemaraj was Vishnu's relative . . . He said that he was going to Talwars' house to collect the keys from Hemraj. He also had the spare keys but he handed over the keys to Hemraj before going home. He said that Hemraj was coming to the clinic sometimes and was doing reception work . . .

He said on the day of the incident he was little upset about his girlfriend Sujata. Sujata is his friend and is married now, she is a housewife and stays in Noida . . . Hemraj was killed on the terrace. He said that the terrace was not locked. He said that he had bought kokari [sic, khukri] from Sujata. He said that he had kokari with him, kokari was very long. Hemraj did not have any kokari. He said that both Hemraj and Arushi were killed with the same kokari and he has seen it himself. He said that he will show the kokari. The blood stains on kokari was wiped with tissue and then flushed with water . . .

He said after the murder those people have thrown the kokari outside to destroy it. He said that Rajkumar liked Arushi. Rajkumar was Nepali and was working in Dr Anita Durani's house, was staying in sector 53 and was visiting sector 25 to meet Hemraj . . . Rajkumar was around 23 years old and if he is subjected for the test the truth will be revealed . . .

He says the reason for the murder may be sex . . . He says that Dr Talwar may not be involved in this murder as Arushi was his only daughter and Hemraj was innocent. He says that first Arushi was killed, Hemraj was killed for the reason that he had known about the murderer. Arushi was killed from behind with kokari and Hemraj was hit behind [sic] the back to the head. He says that Rajkumar and his friend Shambu [Vijay Mandal] are responsible for these murders. He does not know about the kokari used by Shambu and

Rajkumar, says that tissue used for cleaning have been flushed in the bathroom in Arushi's house and later destroyed. He said that he does not know where the keys of main door and terrace are kept . . .

He said that he is not involved in this murder and Rajkumar has done this murder. He has only witnessed it. He said that Hemraj did not have habit of drinking alcohol and Krishna was drinking whisky, beer. The incident occurred at night between 12-1 am. Hemraj had gone on terrace and is killed. He said that Dr Talwar had not given him money to do the murder. He says that Hemraj saw murdering Arushi so he ran and tried to escape from terrace route and he was caught hold and killed. He said that after the murder he went back through terrace. He says that there is a way from the terrace to his home.

Rajkumar's Story

Excerpted from Rajkumar's narco analysis, brain-mapping, polygraph and interviews, FSL Gandhinagar, 23-24 June 2008:

Before the trance he said that he was at sector 35 Noida at Dr Durani's house. He said before joining there he had worked at Delhi and Chandigarh . . . He said he had friendship with Hemraj since January/February 2008 . . . He said the distance from his house to Dr Talwar's house was around 20 min drive by cycle . . . He said he was seeing Aarushi from past two years.

During the trance he said he had not seen any relation between Dr Talwar and Dr Anita but knew that they both had friendship and had seen them moving together and their relationship was even known to Aarushi's mother. He said he had met Krishna when he had been to meet Hemraj in his room. He said Aarushi was murdered with a Khukari [sic] but he did not possess any Khukhuri and the same type of Khukhari he said is available at Delhi. He said one day Hemraj had told him that Aarushi was like his daughter and they should not have any type of physical contacts with her. He said he was in love with Aarushi.

He said on 15th night Hemraj had called him over phone and asked him to come home. He said he had been to his house 12 o'clock. He said he had come out of the Durani's house opening the lock himself taking the keys which were kept behind the fridge near kitchen. He said that on that day he had gone on a cycle to Talwar's house which was kept in the garage. He said when he reached there he had seen Krishna in Hemraj's room and Vijay was standing outside the room. Krishna and himself had drinks.

He said he was responsible in raping Aarushi first and followed by him Krishna had raped her. When all of them entered the room Aarushi opened the eyes and saw them and she screamed. Krishna then hit her on the head using iron hammer. Rajkumar at that time he was present in the room when he had hit her. He said Aarushi was having a Nokia mobile phone. He said when she was hit she had fallen unconscious. He said after the murder he had taken away the mobile phone and presently it is not with him but had not taken away Hemraj's Tata Indicom mobile. He said he had sold Aarush's mobile phone . . . and Hemraj's phone was taken away by Krishna. He said the blood-stained grey-blue coloured T-shirt was kept by him in his bathroom which is outside the house. He said he had washed the T-shirt using soap and dried it in bright sunlight. He said they had hit Aarushi first and then Hemraj was murdered. He said before the attack he was drunk.

He said after he had returned back to his house he had changed his dress. He said at the time of attack Krishna was wearing black coloured T-shirt. He said Krishna had brought the Khukari for the murder and was a new one. He said the Khukari used to kill them both was not disposed in the drainage. Khukari was thrown in the open area ie ground near Hemraj's house near a park. He said he raped her because he was told by Krishna to rape Aarushi. He said Krishna had asked him to dispose the Khukari after the murder. He said after the murder he went back on his cycle. He said Krishna was drunk before and even after the murder. He said on the day of the incident Dr Talwar and his wife were very much present in the house and when the incident occurred their bedroom door was closed, after the murder they went out keeping the door closed.

Krishna had opened the bedroom door of Aarushi and she was in deep sleep. He said Krishna had hit her on the head with a hammer and she had screamed when she was attacked which was witnessed by him. Later one after the other all three raped Aarushi when she was unconscious. He said after she was hit they went to terrace. Terrace door was opened by Hemraj with the keys which he had with him. On that night Hemraj had fought with Krishna. He said after they had murdered Hemraj on the terrace Krishna had locked the terrace door and they had come down. He said the keys of the terrace were with Krishna after the murder . . . He said Aarushi was murdered because she might inform the parents about them about rape her so she was done to death. He said around 4 am they had left Hemraj's house and had returned back home after committing the offence.

On the second day of the test, Rajkumar offered further details:

According to him Krishna went to Hemraj's room. After having his drink there, he wanted to go to Aarushi's room, which was prevented by Hemraj. In the pretext of getting water, he visited dining area from where he went to Aarushi's room. He tried to impose himself upon her and she must have got awakened. Krishna got scared and killed her and when he came out of her room with blood soaked cloth and weapon, that time Rajkumar came there and was sitting with Hemraj in his room. Looking at Krishna's blood soaked clothes, Hemraj got upset and asked what you did. Being worried that Dr Talwar and his wife Dr Nupur Talwar may wake up, he rushed Hemraj and Rajkumar to terrace to sort out.

As Krishna was unsuccessful in handling Hemraj to save himself, he hit Hemraj when he was opening lock of terrace from behind. Then Hemraj fell down then Krishna took Hemraj on terrace and cut his throat. Then on the terrace, pulled the dead body under the cover of cooler, locked the terrace, brought back the key and left the key in Hemraj's room and went off.

According to him, he was threatened by Krishna not to talk of this incident to anyone and if he talks he will also be killed. This was a possibility he could think of and he says all this happened in his presence. After narrating this story, he said he can say this to police, but what he is worried is they will ask him as to how did he come after Dr Durani locked the house, and then he has to say he had a duplicate key and he will be asked to give the key.

Rajkumar's narco, a post-test observation: In the post-test interview, scientists observed something unusual: Rajkumar was fully aware of what he was saying in his trance state. He remembered what he had said after the effects of the drug wore off.

Rajkumar's polygraph, a post-test observation:

On completion of the test, he was very curious to know on what issues his answers were found to be deceptive. When it was conveyed about the deception to him, it was found that his anxiety was markedly increased. By the evening when he went for medical check-up his blood pressure had increased to 170/100 which caused concern for the medical officers. (His BP was normal when he reported back the next day.)

Scientists observed something unusual: Rajkumar was fully aware of what he was saying in his trance state

Vijay Mandal's story

Excerpted from Vijay Mandal's polygraph and brain- mapping tests, FSL Mumbai, 30 June, 1 July 2008:

He said he had seen Aarushi moving around in front of his house many a times when she was to return from school and also had seen Dr Talwar when he was to return from the hospital in the afternoon during lunch hours . . . He said he was not that close with Hemraj . . . He said whenever he was to meet Hemraj they were to pass gestures and had formal talks with him . . . He said he would meet Krishna at dhobi's shop. He said he was never called as Shambhu and were to call him by the name of Vijay . . .

He said on the day of the incident Hemraj had called him to come and meet around 12 o'clock in the midnight. He said whenever he was to go their house to meet Hemraj they would sit and discuss on the stairs. He said he was in the habit of washing clothes in the night and on the night of the incident when he was washing around 10-10.15 his friend had come to meet him to his house . . . before meeting Hemraj.

He said when he went to Dr Talwar's house when he rang the call bell Hemraj had come and opened the door and directly had been to Hemraj's room and saw Krishna in the room. He said they all had discussed about Aarushi and said Rajkumar was not present in the discussion. He said after the discussion he had come back to his garage and when he was going to toilet he saw Rajkumar going towards Dr Talwar's house. He said according to him all three i.e. Rajkumar, Hemraj and Krishna were speaking about Aarushi and started to quarrel among themselves. He said he never used to drink and said on the day of the incident Krishna and Rajkumar were drunk. He said he was called on the terrace to meet them.

He said he was not aware as to who has hit Hemraj and he had not hit Hemraj as he had no reason nor enmity to hit him. He said Hemraj was to call him by the name of Vijay and never had called him by the name of Shambhu. He said he had seen a Khukari in the hands of Krishna and that was the first time he had seen Khukari in Hemraj's room. He said before the occurrence of the incident he had returned back home. He said he had seen Hemraj, Krishna and Rajkumar on the terrace. On the day of the incident he had not carried any weapon from his house to give them.

He was aware that Aarushi was raped. He said he is not sure whether all the three might have raped Aarushi. He said Aarushi was murdered first and followed by Hemraj. He said Rajkumar raped her first and then Krishna. He said they have hit Aarushi on the head and she was fallen unconscious. He said he was neither participating in the offense nor witnessed when they were raping her . . .

He said Krishna along with Rajkumar fought with Hemraj on the terrace as they were fully drunk. He said the Khukari used for the murder was made of iron and had seen it in Hemraj's room which belonged to Krishna. He said he was not aware whether the Khukari was old or a new one.

Vijay Mandal was also tested under the Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature (BEOS) profile, also known as brain-mapping, on 1 July 2008. In this he was tested for experiential knowledge (EK) related to his involvement in the double murder. The report states:

Experiential Knowledge (EK) is present on probes related to him talking about Aarushi (with his friends), watching his friend going towards her (Aarushi), and him teasing her (Aarushi). EK is further seen on probes related to watching Aarushi trying to free herself, and him getting scared (after realizing Aarushi is dead). EK is also seen on probes related to him going on the terrace (with others), him watching Hemraj say that he will complain, him cutting Hemraj's neck. EK is further seen on probes about holding the dead body (Hemraj's), pulling the dead body (Hemraj's), and taking Hemraj's mobile.

Who among these men was telling the truth? Or were they all telling only part of what they knew?

Krishna, for instance, gave his interrogators yet another version of what he claimed he had witnessed. In his (inadmissible) confessional statement, he had the order of the murders the other way around.

He told the CBI that Hemraj had gone to the terrace to smoke, and an argument occurred between the men there. Rajkumar killed Hemraj, and then came down because he wanted to have sex with Aarushi. But Rajkumar was nervous about an alarm being raised and killed her.

(Incidentally, the post-mortem and forensic investigation found no evidence of rape; Dr Dohare had eight occasions on which to say so had it happened. It is likely that for the servants 'rape' was an all-encompassing word which included various degrees of molestation and assault.)

Forensic scientists thought Krishna's version was outlandish. They tend to look for a logical sequence of events and, to them, Rajkumar's interviews seem closest to the truth. They were also backed up by Vijay Mandal's brain-mapping results.

The scientists on the case recognized that their work did not provide all the answers. But they also knew that their work raised a disquieting question. Whatever the contradictions, including those related to the admissibility of the evidence, it seemed possible that the three men were at the scene of the crime. If they were innocent why would they even unconsciously place themselves there?

Unless that is how it was.

We will probably never quite know what happened. Aarushi, thirteen years old, was taken by surprise. Suffering from severe laryngitis, she could not even scream.

First published: 8 July 2015, 4:20 IST