Thursday was a day of high trepidation, and some hope, for Rajesh and Nupur Talwar. It ended with relief for the doctor couple.
Just days earlier, Rajesh’s brother, Dinesh, had visited the couple in Dasna Jail, on the outskirts of Delhi, to tell them that the verdict in the murder case of their daughter, Aarushi, and servant Hemraj would be delivered on October 12.
As the Allahabad high court pronounced its verdict on their appeal shortly before 3 pm, and jail officials rushed to cell number 13 to tell Nupur of the judgment, the Talwars found it difficult to hold back tears. Their appeal against the life sentence given to them had worked.
Dasna Jail superintendent D.R. Maurya, who broke the news to the couple, told reporters that Rajesh hugged him before breaking down. “Nupur was silent but she was also in tears,” he added.
The Allahabad High Court acquitted the Talwars in the sensational 2008 murder of their teenage daughter and Hemraj, saying neither the circumstances nor the evidence was enough to hold them guilty.
On November 28, 2013, the couple was found guilty by a CBI court for the double murder that spawned at least one Bollywood potboiler and a book that blew holes in the investigation conducted by the CBI, the country’s premier investigating agency.
“We are relieved,” was all Dinesh Talwar, Rajesh’s brother, would say on the phone as he was travelling.
Vishal Bhardwaj, one of the producers of the film Talvar, said in a statement: “I am overwhelmed and relieved to hear of the Talwars’ acquittal and this strengthens my faith in the Indian judicial system. However, it still pains me when I think about the precious years lost in prison and the emotional trauma that the parents had to go through.”
The story is now back to being one of India’s biggest whodunits. The CBI may yet challenge the acquittal but legal experts think differently.
In and around the apartment in Noida’s Jalvayu Vihar, where the murders were committed, the buzz among neighbours of the Talwars continued to reflect the confusion, lies, slander, mystery and the plain ineptness of a botched investigation.
“It was a haunted place for the people in Jalvayu Vihar but still we decided to move into the flat where Aarushi and Hemraj were killed,” said Monika Shukla, the Talwars’tenant.
“We moved in last year but faced initial problems as maids and sweepers were not ready to work in L-32. Maybe this flat is a haunted place for some but for us it is a perfect house. I am happy that they got justice,” Shukla, a fashion designer, told The New Indian Express.
Most residents in Jalvayu Vihar have served in the armed forces. This afternoon a gaggle of television channels shouting the news was playing through all the windows of the mix of high and low-rise apartments.
“We have been hearing various theories and stories from a few neighbours and maids. Some say they hear some sound whenever they visit the house.,” said Shukla.
“It’s their house where they have memories of their daughter. We all will be happy if they come back,” said Roshan Jha, a former air force officer and a neighbour.
The Delhi Public School in the neighbourhood where Aarushi studied held a special prayer meeting. Today’s order acquits the Talwar couple of the murder charges. But it does not answer the question who killed Aarushi and Hemraj.