Blame the Servants, Shame the Parents — The 2008 Noida Double Murders

Part 1: Crowded Crime Scenes and Closed Doors

Rebekah Schroeder


With their larger-than-life theories in a story of two deaths, the Indian media, police, and public all had guesses as to who killed Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj Banjade. Speculation was often rooted in biases and misinformation that plagued the case from the start, the endlessly covered saga continuing the attack beyond the day of May 15, 2008.

A “locked-room mystery” full of corruption, classism, and confusing truths, the murders were dubbed “India’s JonBenet Ramsey Case” by TIME. People remembered the young Aarushi Talwar taken from the world on the cusp of 14, slain mere days before her birthday, just as they seemed to forget Banjade, a Nepali man and servant to the Talwar family.

Suspects changed constantly.

Fingers were pointed at both domestic workers and the parents.

Throughout the investigation, there seemed to be no truth, or end, in sight.

Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj Banjade (Source: Toronto Star and Indian Express)

Aarushi was born on May 24, 1994 as the only child of dentist couple Dr. Rajesh Talwar and Dr. Nupur Talwar. A shy yet bubbly teenager, Aarushi appeared to have “a healthy, open relationship” with her parents, Fiza Jha, the deceased’s best friend, said to The Quint.

Yam Prasad Hemraj Banjade, 45, had been working for the Talwars for several months, cooking meals and looking after the house. Banjade lived with the Talwars in a room of his own, sending any money he made back to his family in Nepal.

At 6 a.m. on the morning of May 16, the Talwar’s housemaid of about a week, Bharti (sometimes written as Bharati) Mandal, came to the house for her shift. The design of the flat made it so that there were two doors in her path, one made of iron mesh and the other entirely wooden.

Bharti Mandal (Source: Aarushi: Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Firstpost)

Uncustomarily, Nupur Talwar opened the wooden door as she arrived. Nupur spoke from behind the mesh door, which had been locked from the outside, suggesting that Banjade might have left early to fetch milk. According to Mandal’s testimony, Banjade was…