Saturday, January 1, 2011

May her soul rest in peace!

I have always been a murder mystery buff and I am not ashamed to admit that as far the Aarushi Talwar case is concerned, I have always reacted to it as a fictional thriller than a real tragedy affecting real people. Nothing about the case seemed real anyway. How can a fourteen year old girl be murdered in her own room in the middle of the night without anyone breaking into the house while the parents were at home? And to add to the unreality, there were all those surreal images the television screen threw up.

A day or two after the death of the unfortunate child, one of the Hindi news channel (I think it was Aaj Tak) had this intriguing visual of the parents entering their building and being hounded by the television journalists for a byte and the mother pinching the father from behind so as to warn him not to say anything inappropriate to the waiting cameras. The channel kept on flashing the visual for a day and then it disappeared, never to be flashed again. For me, both the visual as well as its disappearance was a significant clue pointing to the fact that the parents were involved; either in the execution of the grisly crime or in the cover up.

It may seem a heartless thing to say but a tragedy of this scale also imposed a certain responsibility on those who were meant to protect and nurture the child. The grief they displayed had to feel authentic. Something about the way the parents were reacting after the tragedy was patently false. They seemed more interested in appearing proper and saying all the right things to the media rather than being overwhelmed by the loss of their only child. Admittedly, this is a two edged sword. Because if they had seemed too distraught, we may have felt they were acting and the conclusions most of us drew about their guilt would have been the same. So the Talwars were always in an unenviable position – hanged if they did and hanged if they didn’t.

But the sad fact is they placed themselves there. However harsh it may sound, it was the parents’ responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the child. It does not matter like in any other pointless crime as to who wielded the knife. For even if the murder was committed by someone else, Aarushi’s parents should have seen to it that their daughter was not put in a situation in her own house where she was vulnerable to violence. If you and I stepped out in the street tomorrow and were mugged, we would blame the authorities for not doing their work. Similarly, if a child gets murdered in her own house in the way Aarushi was, the parents cannot escape responsibility. It is as black and white as that. The government or the authorities cannot be expected to come inside our safe middle class homes and guard our children.

For once, my sympathies are with the CBI. They have done the right thing by closing the case. Now, it is up to the parents not to fall back on legal arguments but to come out clean about what happened that night. The onus is not on the CBI but on them to ensure the dead child gets justice and her soul rests in peace.

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