Rajesh Talwar, a high profile Indian dentist from the national capital of New Delhi, has been arrested for murdering his own daughter and a domestic help, but his wife Nupur Talwar, also a dentist, says he is innocent.
Aarushi, their daughter had been found dead in her room on May 15 and domestic help Hemraj the day after.
Since the murder was first reported, there was an outpouring of sympathy for the couple, with patients recalling how gentle and caring they were. It has since been replaced by disbelief, shock and revulsion, reports Hindustan Times.
Aarushi would have turned 15 on Saturday.
The teenager and the domestic help had come "close," while discussing Rajesh Talwar's "illicit relations" with business partner and fellow dentist Anita Durani. "This upset Talwar a lot," Inspector General of Police Gurdarshan Singh told the media Friday.
Dr Talwar returned home from a dinner around 11.30 pm," said IG Singh, "and found the two — daughter Aarushi Talwar and domestic help Hemraj in an objectionable position."
Talwar sent Hemraj to the terrace saying he wanted to speak to him. He then locked Aarushi in her room and went up with a hammer and a scalpel. He hit Hemraj on the head with the hammer and then cut his throat. He put a cooler lid on the body to conceal it, locked the terrace door and came down and had a drink (a whisky).
Then he went into Aarushi's room. The police said, "He killed her in just the same way - hit her on the head with the hammer and cut her throat."
The police refused to say if more arrests were likely. Singh said, "Investigations are still on."
It is still not clear whether it was a case of honour killing or simply he was enraged that his daughter was against the affair or that Hemraj was spreading the story.
For her part, Anita Durrani, the doctor linked with Rajesh Talwar has rejected the allegations and said all this is "wrong" and "baseless" and both the families had good relations.
A day after Noida police had made the allegation, Anita and her husband Praful Durrani told reporters that what the police said was "very, very shocking. Everything is false. Nothing is true. All these things are baseless."
The doctor couple Durranis, who shared space with the dentist couple Talwars in their clinic, said they were like one good joint family.
Anita said she knew Rajesh Talwar for the last 13-14 years and Aarushi was like a daughter to them.
Rajesh Talwar's wife, Nupur too, asserted that he was totally innocent and she would fight his battle for justice and not sit quite.
"Even after all this, I can say it has nothing to do with this. There is no such thing," she told NDTV.
Denying any kind of illicit relationship between her husband and Anita Durrani, Nupur said, "with all my conviction I can say it (Rajesh killing Aarushi) can't be the way it is suggested (by the police). He was a doting father. It is doubly untrue.
"In fact I used to feel that I had done something good in the past to be part of such a wonderful family. I have faith in the legal system and I have faith in God," she said.
Nupur insisted, "The killer is out there somewhere. We will have to fight it out in the court. The truth is there. The truth has to come out."
Breaking her silence ever since the murder came to light Friday last week, Nupur said they were a very close knit family and on the night of the murder, the family had food and watched television together like any other family before they went to sleep.
"I have been in the house. Is such a thing possible? Do you think...Can any mother sleep throughout...I think it is beyond anybody's imagination. Utter nonsense, baseless nonsense. They (police) can say whatever they want. I know it is not true. God knows it is not true," she said.
Asked as a mother how could she be part of a cover-up to save the husband from law, she retorted, "Would any mother do that? Then I don't think she is a mother. She is not a human being. She is an animal. Even a father would not do it."
Meantime many have begun to protest what they see as aspersions cast on the character of the murdered girl. Says an outraged Madhu Kishwar, professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), "If the defamation laws were strong in the country, these people (the cops) would've been arrested." She also felt that a child, in the absence of a nurturing environment at home, could turn to the domestic help for familial warmth and attention, reports Times of India.
Sudha Sundararaman, General Secretary at the All India Democratic Women's Association, believes the issue at stake is to find out the exact sequence of events on that fateful night. "The fact that Aarushi was in a relationship with Hemraj is merely speculative and cannot soften one's stance on the crime, whether committed in a fit of moral outrage or otherwise."
Says Nandini Rao, joint co-ordinator at JAGORI, "The most vulnerable place to hit a girl is at her character." She adds that the details of Aarushi's friendship with a boy in her class (she made 688 calls to him) and her obvious popularity are an attempt "to make us believe that she deserved it. And by using terms like honour killing to describe cold-blooded murder, one is increasingly left feeling that she may have done something to justify it."