Aarushi case: Why have we forgotten Hemraj?

New Delhi, February 11 (Agencies): He lived with the Talwar family in their Jalvayu Vihar flat in Noida and addressed their 14-year-old daughter as “Aarushi baby.” On the morning of May 16, 2008, according to the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) closure report, the murdered teenager’s parents Dr Nupur and Rajesh Talwar wept and told their maid “dekho Hemraj kya karke gaya hai!” (Look what Hemraj has done).
The echo of that accusation was to spread over the next 24 hours with ramifications that left a permanent stain on the image of a bright school girl whose life ended nine days before her 15th birthday. On the morning of May 16, the Talwar household was swarming with police and media persons, and anger was mounting at the servant who everyone assumed had fled after murdering his employer’s daughter. He wouldn’t answer his phone and no one knew where he was. The Noida murder resonated among the growing upper middle class, hitting at the heart of households that regularly employ poorly paid, often ill-treated, servants to cook, clean and walk the dog.
Then came another twist in the case. Unknown to all, and especially to the Uttar Pradesh police, which sent out teams to trace the “absconder” and prime suspect in the gruesome murder, Hemraj Banjade lay dead on the terrace of the dentist couple’s house, killed the same way as Aarushi. In a matter of 24 hours, the accused became the victim. As the sensational double murder case dragged on even after three years, conspiracy theorists tried and failed to find the connect between the Talwars’ domestic help and their teenaged daughter. Candlelight marches have been held and tears shed over a girl whose life was sliced short with a surgical knife on the night of May 15 but the media has mostly remained silent about Hemraj.
The CBI closure report largely focuses on Aarushi. Hemraj, a Nepalese immigrant making a living in one of Delhi’s upcoming satellite townships has been relegated to ignominy even in death. His family in Arghakhanchi village in Nepal has been quoted in the media demanding justice. Hemraj’s wife Kumbh Kela Banjade said she is apprehensive about sending her 14-year-old son, Pranjal, to Delhi. The family is struggling to make ends meet after the murder of the sole earning member. The names of the murdered duo has been dragged through sleaze after their deaths as the UP police during their investigation said Rajesh Talwar may have committed the crime on finding his daughter in a compromising position with the domestic help.
With middle-class families living in small apartments and parents working long hours, servants have gained increasing influence in nuclear households. But they are often the soft targets for a police under tremendous pressure of unsolved crimes. Three years on, is Hemraj an invisible victim in India’s most gripping murder whodunit ever?