I would have been tempted to title this piece, ‘Nobody Killed Aarushi’, which has become the standard headline for media prominent stories where the murderer is not found or let off because of lack of evidence. This sort of headline acts like a salve for the media that feeds off a death, a murder, and sensationalises it to the most cringing level, and then when the verdict goes against all their salacious intent, they find relief in throwing irony in our face: ‘Nobody killed X,Y,Z.’
They blame the police, the CBI, false witnesses, everybody but themselves. In fact, after Thursday’s verdict pronouncing Aarushi’s parents Nupur and Rajesh Talwar not guilty, one finds media persons blaming the media. As though they had no part to play in it, as though their sudden concern for other victims of child marriage and rape makes any frikkin difference now, except to flaunt their throbbing consciences. They ask selfconsciously: do we bother about the poor? My question is: Did you? Did anybody even mourn for or raise questions about the murder of Hemraj, the domestic help of the Talwars who was killed on the same day of May 16, 2008?
There have been other court verdicts before this. It points to the fallibility of the judiciary, not to speak of its judgements not being watertight ever. This is the latest:
Ordering the release of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, sentenced to life imprisonment four years ago by a special CBI court for the murder of their teenaged daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in May 2008, the Allahabad High Court has meticulously detailed instances of falsification of evidence by investigating agencies — ranging from “subjective findings” by medical and forensic experts to tutoring of a witness and planting of another, evidence tampering to “deliberate concealment” of evidence.
The Supreme Court had earlier restrained the media from scandalous reporting of what was then seen as the rape and murder of Aarushi. The judges were perturbed that the information the media had was either leaked by the investigating body, the CBI, or was made up of “imaginary reports”.
I am surprised that none of the judges questioned Avirook Sen’s book Aarushi and Meghna Gulzar’s film Talvar that had pretty much the same insider look. Since there is such a noise about the media reportage (some are saying this should be taught in journalism school on how not to report a murder, something you’d never hear these elite do over the murders of the dispossessed), one wonders how these efforts were not questioned since the case was still sub judice.
Most important cases have been leaked out to the media. If there are to be guidelines on reporting, will it prevent opinions? It was Aarushi’s mother who was on the TV channels a day after her daughter was killed. Was she dragged into it? Does anyone recall how Aarushi’s friends were giving out certificates to her? Does anyone even know that many of the ordinary people are trained before they go ‘live’ with their spontaneity?
The problem is when reportage turns into an agenda. It is not the business of the media to pronounce a verdict. Unfortunately, news channels need stories that are not about an occurrence. They rely increasingly on the ability to play messiah. The cult of the exposé is flawed for it starts with a premise and tries to prove it.
It is titillating to watch blurred faces or little black highlighters over body parts to convey that the newspaper or channel are protecting the identity of the victims. These are victims created by the media, just as they are transformed into heroes for no reason other than having once been victims before those cameras.
Now that the CBI has become the bad guy, a gentle reminder that it was the CBI that had earlier washed its hands off the case:
“The agency has filed a final report for the closure of the case on grounds of insufficient evidence in the competent court.”
The CBI came into the picture only after the Noida police made no headway.
They had found a weapon, they had a reasonable motive – “immediate provocation”, they knew of missing files and a swapped vaginal swab, they knew that someone was tampering with evidence. Then, why was it so difficult to find out who and why?
It is impossible that the findings revealed absolutely nothing - the DNA sample? The brain-mapping? Who cleared the room before the police came in? It need not have been one person. These were people in different places doing different things. Who was calling the shots? And why?
The judgment speaks of falsification of evidence. What, then, is the truth? Who will try the falsifiers? Who will find the killers? What will Nupur and Rajesh Talwar do next? It must be tough to have a reputation sullied and so many years lost in prison and it must have been even more tough on them to have a daughter murdered in the next room and the place cleaned up while they were around just a few metres away. They should file a case against the Noida police, the CBI and the hospital authorities for shirking their duty and making a mockery of justice. And the media for making a mockery of everything.
They have the power, being educated and relatively better-off than many who do not have the means. Let this be a fight for the silent Aarushis and the silenced ones.
Much of the material here has been collated from my previous posts.