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How We Failed Aarushi & Hemraj

Posted: December 12, 2013

What do you do when a high-profile case has been stretched for more than five years, has been investigated by the state police, then by a said team of CBI who claimed something different to an another team of CBI who turned the tables, when there are two sets of suspects, five arrests and countless fumbles and when the supposedly ‘accused’ ask for a re-investigation just to get themselves arrested and prosecuted? You wrap it up as quickly as you can, boggle with the common man’s minds and gift it to the nation. The Aarushi-Hemraj murder case has been twisted and turned by the police officials, the CBI, the media that it is impossible to see the forest for the trees. The case remains unsolved.

Firstly, I would want to clarify my position on Aarushi’s parents, I do not believe that they killed their daughter and their domestic servant but I also do not believe that they didn’t kill their daughter and their domestic servant. So if someone would ask me, I would say, I don’t know. I will not dwell further into this, as there are two particular points that struck me while I was following the case and I was appalled to see how we as a society have a complete lack of understanding and sensitivity towards a 14-year old and an underprivileged migrant.

So, just because the police officials and the CBI couldn’t provide any substantial evidence or ground basis as to why Aarushi and Hemraj were killed or what was the motivation behind the killing, the best thing they could do was to conjure up a set of filthy patriarchal excuses and stamp the tag of ‘honour-killing’ on the case. The gossip-hungry media was eager to spread this claim like fire without even blinking for a second what injustice is being meted out to the demised. What does it say about us as a society that we are so freely able to say that a 14-year old can and was having an ‘affair’ with an adult man, given that Aarushi was a child at the time of her death? There seems to be a complete lack of understanding that a child cannot ‘have an affair’, that it is rape even if true – quite apart from the ethics of speculating on something like this.

There is no evidence of this claimed ‘affair’. The CBI and the state police have failed to produce anyone who would support their claims. But still they were adamant to point fingers at Aarushi and Hemraj’s character. Is this how we treat the dead? Does this not show our typical patriarchal mindset? Why is it that a woman is seen as a sexual object? If Aarushi was not the Talwars’ daughter but their son who was murdered, would the police and the CBI still come to this conclusion? Would they have said that a 14-year old boy was having an ‘affair’ with an adult man? Oh, I don’t think so, because our society is not just patriarchal and misogynistic but also homophobic.

Another point that struck me was how quickly the ‘big daddies’ of the glamour industry pounced on the case to make even bigger bucks. Rumours have been doing rounds that the Talwars were offered a royalty of Rs.5 crore by a London-based writer and filmmaker if they cooperated with him in publishing a book and making a movie on Aarushi. Our Bollywood celebs are not behind and many prominent directors have shown interest in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case. This after the Talwars have already mentioned that they will not allow any book or film on the murder of their daughter and anyone taking up such a venture without their consent will face legal action. How can we be so insensitive? The pain has not even subsided and we are trying to commercialise the case and make money.

This is the state of our judiciary and our law system. We have a long way to go before we can expect any kind of justice from them. Till then, Aarushi and Hemraj will live in our memory as an instance of elephantine failure. As a society we owe Aarushi and Hemraj justice and truth.


I smash the patriarchy for a living! Founder & Editor-in-chief of Feminism in India.

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  1. Well written post and at an apt time. Very true that anyone who has pointed fingers at Aarushi’s character without blinking an eye would have never done so had her gender been male. As for Bollywood, TV channels and print media, any and every news becomes fodder for grabbing eye-balls. They are quick to set-up a Panchayat (read a panel of social activists) to discuss and debate everything under the sun! If only people would put such tremendous effort in becoming a little sensitive!

  2. As feminists don’t we want to champion the cause of all? Especially on behalf of those that don’t have a voice? I am glad to see the defense on behalf of the young girl in this article, but how about the defense of the poor immigrant laborer? We can complain about the patriarchal mindset, but what about the class warfare that aids the patriarchy?

    • Hi AC, your point is very correct. Everyone has always concentrated on Aarushi and Hemraj was never in the spotlight. Because I wrote this article from a particular angle, I had to press on those problem areas. A fresh perspective can be written from a class-based POV. Thank you.

    • The “poor immigrant laborer” was a rapist, going by CBI’s account of what happened on that fateful night.

    • So, we have doubts about the CBI’s conclusions about the Talwars, but we have not doubts about the CBI’s conclusions about the “poor immigrant”? I wonder why.

      Japleen, thanks for your response. Yours is one of two articles that I have seen that mention Hemraj in a non-judgemental manner. The other was a BBC article. So, kudos to you.

    • I have no doubts about CBI’s conclusions about the Talwars also.

  3. Nice article. It is surprising how quickly the Talwars have been condemned, even though the evidence is insufficient to imprison them.

  4. Pingback: The haste of CBI and media: Aarushi-Hemraj muder case – Japleen Pasricha

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