The CBI created a special e-mail address in order to communicate with Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, accused in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case. The address was ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, , under the user-name ‘Hemraj Singh’.
|Hemraj’s body was discovered on the terrace a day after Aarushi was killed
Hemraj, the Talwars’ Nepali servant, lived in the servant’s room of their Jalvayuvihar flat. He was killed on the same night as Rajesh and Nupur’s daughter Aarushi, but his rotting body was discovered only a day later on the flat’s terrace.
The CBI claims the Talwars prevented the police from accessing the terrace on the first day so that suspicion shifted away from them and on to Hemraj who was ‘missing’.
CBI which almost always uses the official e-mail ending with @cbi.gov.in instead sent all e-mails to and from ‘email@example.com’ in their official capacity.
Rajesh Talwar would receive e-mailed summons from this address. When he was asked for his consent to undergo narco-analysis, for instance, ‘Hemraj Singh’ wrote him a mail on the CBI’s behalf. This ‘Hemraj Singh’ is a real, living, person. His name is A.G.L. Kaul, CBI additional SP, and he is the investigating officer in the Aarushi-Hemraj case.
As official conduct, the creation of this creepy alias was indefensible. As a pressure tactic against suspects who were expected to respond to mails purportedly coming from the ‘person’ they were supposed to have killed, it was crude. Naturally, it necessitated a cover-up.
The CBI has submitted documents in the Supreme Court as well as the trial court in Ghaziabad that clearly demonstrate that Kaul was writing regularly to the Talwars as ‘Hemraj Singh’ on official matters.
The agency has so far denied that it had anything to do with these e-mails and maintained that the Talwars have always been summoned through official process. The CBI got away with this lie until it was exposed by its own documents this year.
The issue of the ‘Hemraj’ e-mails first appeared in the Indian Express (May 1, 2011). The paper reported that the mails were a prank, according to the agency. The CBI spokesperson, Dharini Mishra, went on record to say: “Our investigation officer has told us that no such mail has been sent by the CBI.” This officer, presumably, would be Kaul.
Ironically, the spokesperson was also asked whether the CBI would investigate who was posing as Kaul. To which she replied that the agency didn’t take such matters up “suo motu”. This is where the matter rested.
The newspaper report had a CBI denial built into it because of an error. The e-mail address it cited was ‘firstname.lastname@example.org. The mails in question were instead sent from ‘hemraj.jalvayuvihar@ gmail.com’. The extra .com left room for a tenuous denial. But what is tenuous breaks soon enough.
In documents it submitted to the Supreme Court in April this year, the CBI included a printout of a December 2009 e-mail regarding the Talwars’ consent for narco tests sent to Rajesh Talwar. Clearly printed, at the top of the page, is the source: ‘hemraj singh <email@example.com>.’Rajesh Talwar’s reply is addressed to “Mr Kaul.”
This isn’t the only place where ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ makes an appearance. Court documents show the address seems to have been created specifically for the Talwars and those perceived to be on their side. Ajay Chadha, a family friend, also received at least one mail from Hemraj/Kaul.
This 31 May 2010 e-mail is an enquiry on the crucial matter of the recovery of the golf clubs from the Talwars’ Jalvayuvihar flat. (A golf club is the alleged murder weapon.) The CBI relies upon this document in the trial and has submitted it to the special court in Ghaziabad. The sender, once again, is ‘Hemraj Singh’. The subject of the mail is ‘details regarding golf sticks’. Chadha’s reply begins: “Respected Shri Kaul ji”.
The CBI has said official process was followed, but no e-mail communication with the Talwars that it has placed on record comes from anyone except this ‘Hemraj Singh’.
In the case of the Talwars’ consent for narco analysis, for instance, the Hemraj/Kaul mail is used to make the CBI case in the Supreme Court. The Talwars had said they willingly agreed to the tests while pleading that the case be reviewed.
The CBI countered by saying that the accused agreed only “conditionally”. It referred to the mail by Rajesh Talwar addressed to Hemraj/Kaul in which the dentist said he was giving his consent to the tests in the “interest of justice” provided there was an assurance that the procedure was not hazardous to his health.
It may not appear that way, but CBI officers do have official mail addresses. ‘Hemraj’ did not write to managers at Airtel or Vodafone requesting cellphone details relevant to the Aarushi investigation. According to records, such mails were sent using addresses ending with @cbi.gov.in.
The Hemraj/Kaul e-mail address is now defunct. But its creation, use, and subsequent denials about its existence, speak of an attitude among the agency that smacks of a dependence on insinuation, a disregard for process and a delusion that they can get away with lies.