Indian Decade

The Tragedy of Aarushi Talwar

The handling of the tragic case of Aarushi Talwar puts a dampener on traditional new year optimism.

A new year is usually a time for new beginnings and new hope. But heading into 2011, it was clear that in India at least, disillusionment is unlikely to give way to big changes any time soon.

India's apex investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has admitted it has made no headway in its investigation into the murder of teenager Aarushi Talwar in Noida, a Delhi suburb.

Talwar was killed in her bedroom in May 2008, in a killing that shocked the entire nation. The household’s domestic help, a middle-aged man, was also found murdered on the roof of their house the next morning.

The 14-year-old’s father, a well-established dentist, was charged with her murder, with both the police and the media making a range of scandalous insinuations as the case unfolded, with some reports suggesting that the girl’s father killed her over illicit relations with the domestic help before using his networking contacts to get away scot-free. 

Because the Noida Police so completely botched the investigation (including washing the terrace and letting journalists run amok around crime scene evidence), the case was transferred to the CBI, which has spent about two and a half years trying to crack it. Witnesses and the accused have reportedly even been administered a sophisticated truth serum among other forms of questioning.

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That the country's premier investigation agency should file a closure report, effectively throwing up their hands in submission, over a domestic murder case is both bizarre and shameful. I live a few kilometres from Aarushi's house in Noida. She went to an upscale school that several of my cousins and friend's children go to. So her tragic death shook us up.

But what's possibly more painful is the thought of the justice that she's been denied.