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The Central Bureau of Investigation

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) decision to close the probe in the Arushi Talwar murder case is both a ‘failure’ and ‘big setback’ for the country’s premier probe agency and may damage its image, says its former chief.

‘The murder has been committed. Two bodies are found. You can’t identify and execute the culprit? It is a failure and definitely a big setback,’ D.R. Kaarthikeyan, the former director of CBI, told in an interview.

He said the CBI started its investigation into the case late and that might have given enough time to the culprits to tamper with evidence. ‘The crime scene was cleaned up before the police arrived. Most evidence was tampered.’

Asked if the CBI should have taken more time to probe the case, Kaarthikeyan, who was also head of Special Investigation Team that probed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, said: ‘There is no point in continuing the probe when you are not sure of finding anything.’

Teenager Aarushi Talwar, 14, was found murdered under mysterious circumstances at her Noida home on the outsirts of Delhi May 16, 2008. The body of their domestic help, 45-year-old Yama Prasad Banjade alias Hemraj, initially named a suspect, was found a day later on flat’s terrace.

After two-and-a-half years of investigation, the CBI filed a closure report Dec 29, 2010 saying it could not find enough evidence to nail any suspect. A special court is hearing the case and the matter comes up for hearing again Jan 21.

‘I can understand the CBI’s compulsion. They have said that the evidence was tampered. If you don’t have enough evidence, what can you do?’ asked Kaarthikeyan.

The apex investigation agency cited tampering of evidence as a major hurdle in identifying the culprit. Intriguingly, Aarushi’s vaginal swab was also swapped. It was discovered that the swab sent for tests was not hers.

Moreover, a golf stick, suspected to be used for the murder, was found cleaned up.

The CBI has said that Aarushi’s parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar remained prime suspects. They, in turn, accused the investigative agency of cover-up and threatened to file a defamation case.

But Kaarthikeyan, also a former director general of the National Human Rights Commission, said defamation case against the CBI does not make any sense.

‘The CBI is investigating so many cases. They can’t necessarily reach a final conclusion in each case. For these things you can’t charge the CBI for defamation.’

On political pressure on CBI, Kaarthikeyan said: ‘It’s a government department. It has to work under that.’

But he emphasised that there would not have been be any political motive in closing investigation in the Arushi murder case.


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