'Behind Closed Doors' Shines a Light on India's Noida Double Murder Case
There's no shortage of true crime for American lovers of the genre. Between Gypsy Rose Blancharde, Michelle Carter, and Amanda Knox, there's enough stranger-than-fiction cases to sate even the wildest of cravings.
But that's not always the case for crimes abroad, where corruption and interference and police misconduct can get in the way of 1) actually solving cases and 2) giving us, the public, a nicely packaged story recounting the tragic events.
Such is the case of the Noida double murder explored in HBO's two-part doc, Behind Closed Doors.
What happened to Hemraj Banjade in Behind Closed Doors?
To sum it up as simply as we understand it, all hell broke loose on May 16, 2008, when upper-middle-class doctor parents, Rajesh and Nupur, found the dead body of their 13-year-old daughter, Aarushi Talwar, laying in her bed in Noida, India.
Police were called, and suspicion immediately fell on one of the family's domestic servants, namely Hemraj Banjade, a Nepalese immigrant who lived with the family and had curiously gone missing.
As is shown in Behind Closed Doors, a manhunt ensues based on Rajesh's request to find Hemraj. In other words, it's not the case where police arrived on the scene of the crime with a strategy or suspect in mind. Rather, the late girl's father ordered them to conduct the investigation according to his suspicions.
When police finally found Hemraj — after dragging the rest of his family out of India — they expected to find the perpetrator who'd brutally murdered and slit the throat of Aarushi. However, what they found was Hemraj's dead body on the family's own roof.
Who killed Aarushi Talwar?
By the time police found that Hemraj had also been murdered, the case became a true circus, with the parents allowing anyone and everyone access to the scene of the crime. Suddenly, mounds of people were storming the Talwar family home.
This led to the crime scene obviously being soiled by hundreds of people leaving their marks. India's most elite bureau, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), then had no choice but to assist in the case, as local police were dealing with the double murder rather incompetently.
Many have noted that it was uncharacteristic for the CBI to take on such a case, and say that class politics is what led the bureau to place unfair suspicion on the other servants working at the Talwar household.
They ended up torturing and drugging suspects to obtain a confession, and when they didn't get any closer to one, appointed a new officer to investigate instead of taking a different approach on the case.
Meanwhile, the media painted Aarushi's parents as the culprits in the case, and fabricated complex and sordid stories wherein the 13-year-old and Hemraj were carrying on an illicit love affair that ended in murder when Aarushi's father caught on to the romance unfolding in his house.
The state managed to build a case against Rajesh and Nupur, who were found guilty and sentenced to life. But the parents promptly appealed the conviction and were acquitted.
Now, with the back and forth between the media, police, viewers, and uncooperative suspects, the case remains unsolved over a decade later.
The high-profile murder and nationwide attention is reminiscent of America's JonBenét Ramsey case, where police incompetence and intense media speculation led to the case never being solved.
What's more, Behind Closed Doors does quite a good job of painting all the sides of this case so that viewers will be left wondering who committed the murders even after finishing the two-part documentary.
Stream Behind Closed Doors on HBO today.