Continued from “The Arrest”
10th August 2010; 4pm
Almost three weeks had gone by since the arrests and the police had more or less sealed the case by preparing the charge sheet very carefully. The DCP had personally prepared the same to ensure that there were no delays and that the case was watertight. Everyone was aware of the kind of connections Damien had and thereby wanted the case to be devoid of any lapses lest Damien's lawyers take advantage of the same.
Damien had not confessed to the crime as yet. He was still maintaining that after the scuffle he had dropped Mateen at the metro station and had gone back home. However, he did not have an alibi as nobody had seen him get home. He normally kept away from home till late in the night, therefore he kept an extra key with him to let himself in. Thus, his parents and his servant had seen him only the next morning. The evidence that the police had against him was indeed very compelling and concrete. They also had strong witnesses against Damien. The judge had handed Damien over to the police and subsequently to the judicial custody. The next date of hearing was fixed for October and by then the police had planned to file in the charge sheet against him to ensure that things moved fast. Inspector Raj knew the likes of Damien pretty well. He knew that he would not confess easily. However, he was not bothered as he knew that they had a strong case against him and was sure that he would get Damien at least life if not a death sentence.
He had some work in South Delhi and thought of paying Nira a visit as he also had to hand her over something which belonged to her. Somehow, he felt that there was a connection between her and him. Ever since Sunaina had gone off to Dubai, he missed her a lot. Nira, remotely reminded him of her. Once again, he was standing in front of her house admiring the majestic look of her neatly done up abode. Nira's domestic help opened the main gate and led the inspector in. The inspector had just finished his glass of water when Nira walked in.
"It’s a pleasure to see you again, inspector. I hope you have brought in some good news." Nira enquired smilingly.
"The pleasure’s all mine, Mrs. Patel. I was passing by and thought of just dropping in to pay my regards to you and also to inform you that next month, after we have filed in the charge sheet against Damien, the case would begin at a faster pace. It would be heard almost on a day to day basis as the judge has been kind enough to agree to fast track the case. We hope to get it over with in a period of three to six months. I would inform you in advance whenever you would be required in the court to testify."
"Well, that's very nice of you. All of this has been a nightmare. However, Bobby and I can't thank you enough for what you have done for us. I am sure wherever he is today; he would be smiling. Your investigation was impeccable. I will be at your service whenever you want me to.”
“No sir, don’t thank me... I will be doing this for Bobby." Nira spoke softly. As she spoke her countenance was morose. Inspector Raj pitied her. Whenever he saw her he felt very sad. The only saving grace was that he had finally got her justice by apprehending her tormentor.
“Well....This is the closure report which you would need to stake your claim with Bobby’s insurance company.” The inspector handed Nira an envelope.
“Thank you once again, sir. I cannot thank you enough.”
“No need. I am just doing my duty. So....what have you decided? What are you going to do now... I mean for a living?” asked the inspector, hesitatingly.
“I have decided to let out this house and to move myself into a smaller rented accommodation at Malviya Nagar; which will take care of my meager needs. I also have an offer to join a friend at her NGO to teach poor kids, which will keep me occupied and happy...away from all this melancholy. As it is, I cannot live here anymore coz it keeps reminding me of Bobby all the time.”
“I certainly can understand.”
“This would be my new address and you already have my cell phone number,” she handed a piece of paper to him.
“How is Harry?” the inspector tried to change the topic.
“Oh, he is fine. He is very excited about his maiden trip to the US. He has just got the visa. He is leaving on the 14th of this month for a fortnight.”
“Have you tried speaking with Bobby’s principals, if they could let you continue with his agency with them?”
“I did but they have not reverted very positively. Theirs is a hard-core sales organization and I reckon they would not want a novice to be at the helm of affairs. They would rather have one of their other agent’s take over Bobby’s territory. However, they have promised that they would absorb the current staff and would continue to give me 5% of the total revenues generated year on year till the time they operate in India.”
“That is very generous of them. Mrs. Patel....well...I won’t keep you from your chores any longer. If there is anything that I could do for you, ever, please do not hesitate to ask.” The inspector got up and bid her farewell.
The inspector was in the Metro train which was underground and moving at a marvelous speed. He could not help but think about Nira. The first time when he had met her under those unfortunate circumstances, he had thought how a frail woman like her would deal with the tragedy, especially since she seemed to be completely dependent upon her husband. However, today she seemed to be completely in control of herself. He marveled at the speed with which Nira had recovered from her miseries. She had sorted out her life quite remarkably. He wondered how at times women were stronger than they actually appeared to be. Women respond to tough situations better than men, he thought...just like his Sunaina.
Her being an orphan also might have been the reason and helped her deal with the tragedy so well and so soon. Life is never easy for the orphans. The ordeals that she might have gone through might have helped her toughen up from inside, though on the outside she appeared meek. He was happy for her. He was happy that she was confident and independent now. His offer of being for her whenever she required help was genuine. He wished her well. “All the best,” whispered the inspector very softly under his breath as he glanced outside the window into the darkness of the metro tunnel.
He couldn’t help but think of Sunaina. He had sent her off to a hostel to protect her. Initially she used to be so sad but then slowly she got accustomed to her life in the hostel, she made friends there and she learnt to survive. Though living alone had made her tough but probably it had also distanced her from him. After a couple of initial years, she had even stopped visiting him during her holidays. Anyways, what was the point since he could not spend much time with her due to his work? He understood all of this but was helpless. He was shattered to be away from her and more so as he knew how the distance between them was also creating a deep crevice in their relationship but then there were no other alternatives. He kept her away for her own good. He would visit her whenever he could but that too was for just a day or two. For her, her friends became her closest family. Years passed away and she grew from a small girl into a young and very attractive looking adult.
That was when she completed her education and came back to New Delhi to live with him. Although he was family, but it was altogether a new environment for her. She was uncomfortable in the beginning but as she was getting used to it, it was time for her to leave again, for Bangalore for higher education.
That was the time when she was old enough to understand and therefore had asked him as to why does he keep sending her away from him. Was it because he did not love her and hated her to have been a burden to him? How the inspector had cried like a baby at that time, while explaining to her his reasons. He could never forget the look that Sunaina had in her eyes at that moment when she had heard him out. She hugged him and they had both cried together. That day he realized how much even Sunaina loved him. He had always felt that she had drifted afar from him, but that day and moment made him realize that she also loved him as much as he loved her.
He also remembered how he could not handle the pressure while she was to get married and how at the last moment, he had had a break down. How, had it not been for his colleagues who chipped in at the last moment Sunaina’s wedding could have been such a disaster? It was his immense and perhaps selfish love for her that he could not muster enough courage to see her married and gone off for good. She had wanted to stay a spinster and take care of him, but he had convinced her to let go off her insanity. He remembered how at the airport, just before she took off for Dubai, she had wailed like a baby insisting that he too accompany her there.
Life had progressed. She had adjusted well to her new world and he had successfully gone back to his. They connected through internet video conferencing once a week but chatted regularly on Connectapp. She had still not given up on pestering him to resign and come to her and he had still not yielded to her demands. Six years had gone by. She was soon to become a mother. She wanted to be home for her delivery, but the inspector did not know how to manage, especially with his tough daily routine and the absence of any relatives to help and guide them through. They had had several fights regarding this since the last several weeks now. Finally, he had shared this with his colleague Tiwari, who along with his wife had very generously offered to help, however the inspector was yet to take a decision on this.
When the inspector had met Nira for the first time he could see a startling resemblance between Sunaina and her. Both were so lonely in this world, having lost their immediate family at a tender age. Both were strugglers, fighters and survivors. This likeness was the reason behind the inspector’s inclination toward Nira and the interest in her dead husband’s case. The entire department knew how dedicated he was toward his work. Every new assignment he took up, he had always taken it to its logical conclusion. His success ratio in solving cases was astonishingly high; however, the Bobby Patel case was something that the inspector had really treated with fervor of a different kind. He seemed to have made it the mission of his life. He did not rest until the culprit was apprehended. He was now working hard on Damien to extract his confession. The task was hard to come by. The surprising part was that Damien was not a hardened criminal, yet he was not yielding. He was turning out to be a tough cookie to crack. Moreover, he had the luxury of having a flurry of high profile lawyers who were ensuring that the police did not subject him to the regular torturous techniques in their attempt to make him confess. The inspector and his team along with the DCP were trying to reconstruct the entire crime scene by scene, supported by the evidence which they had collected and present it to the court when the case would come up for the hearings in the hope of getting a conviction soon. The inspector was very sure of the evidence, hence was confident that he would be able to put Damien away.
11th August 2010; 4am
The inspector was fast asleep on his mattress-less bed when the silence of the room was rudely shaken up by the shrill sound of his cell phone’s ring. Inspector Raj had slept late last night. He had been drinking till late in the night, hence it took about nine to ten rings to elicit a reaction from him. He seemed visibly very agitated, however took the phone and answered it.
He sat almost motionless while listening to the other person on the phone. The inspector just gazed into the wall opposite him while hearing the caller talk. After the call was over, he kept the cell phone on the table which was beside his bed and slowly lifted his body off it. He had a splitting headache, an after effect of his adventure with the bottle the night before. He staggered toward the fridge, pulled out a bottle of water and took a couple of swigs from it.
As the water settled in his empty stomach, it seemed to bring him to his senses to some extent. Booze in excessive quantity in the absence of any food the previous night had had its full impact on the inspector. He felt as if a mule had kicked him on his head. He rarely indulged in a binge drinking session like this; however, the night before he had got over-emotional thinking about Sunaina. He kept looking at all her photos and her wedding video and had finally drunk himself asleep. He was feeling really stupid for his behavior because now he felt really sick. Suddenly he felt an urge to throw up and quickly dragged himself into the toilet.
He had spent almost half an hour in the bathroom under the shower trying to clear his head. His breath was reeking of the cheap liquor he had consumed. He popped in a couple of mints to rid himself of the stinking breath.
He had managed to get ready as quickly as he could since he had to attend to the call of the duty. The call that he had got in the morning which had shaken him out of his slumber had informed him that they had discovered a dead body in the canal near Sector 18, Rohini. It was a female’s body this time. They had reasons to believe that she was bumped off, thereby he was called in. His head was still swinging, and he really had to concentrate hard even to walk straight, yet he mounted his garbage on four wheels and cranked it up.
11th August 2010; 6am
He could see that there was a thin audience at the crime spot. It was early in the morning, so the only people gathered were mainly the joggers and the walkers. The onlookers made way for him as soon as they saw him jumping out of his car and walking toward the spot. Although he was not in his uniform, but his swagger gave him away and the crowd instantly realized that he was a cop. There was a small posse of policemen there. The body was dragged out of the canal by the local swimmers whom the police had called in. It seemed as if the victim was killed recently as there were no signs of decomposition on the body and the normal stench which follows it. The head of the posse approached and met inspector Raj mid-way.
“Jai Hind, sahib. Sorry to have bothered you so early in the morning but it looks like a homicide, therefore we had to call you,” apologized the policeman.
“Why do you say that?” enquired inspector Raj
“Sahib, there are prominent foot marks at the spot where the body was released in the canal. The body was released with the intent of either drowning it or making it flow away with the current, however it got caught between the branches of some shrubs which are growing near the corners of the canal.”
The inspector peeped at the body which was at a distance from him and walked toward the spot that the policeman was telling him about. He noticed the footmarks which were quite prominent due to the wet mud near the banks of the canal. Prima facie it appeared as if there was only one person who put quite an effort to drag the body. The footmarks and the dragging marks went toward the canal and then only the footmarks returned uphill to the road before disappearing. The marks were deeply ingrained in the mud, probably caused by the dragging of the heavy body. Luckily it had not rained the previous night, thus the marks were intact. The mud was moist enough from earlier rains to have captured the marks. It meant that the killer came in a vehicle and dragged the body out of it, toward the canal. Then he would have tried to throw the body into the canal but for the weight could not have completed the throw properly. The body had got entangled in the shrubs; the killer might have tried to reach it but probably could not. He must have then panicked and rushed back into his vehicle which was parked on the road. Inspector Raj shared his views with the other policemen there and they all agreed with his theory. The inspector then turned toward the body for inspection. As the inspector saw the body his heart skipped a beat. It was the body of the same woman he had seen with Sandy in the video that his team had shot. It was Rosa’s body!
Close scrutiny revealed that Rosa had struggled before finally being brought down. She seemed to have been subjected to some very severe violence. There were a lot of injury marks on her face and body. The prominent marks around her neck suggested that she was strangulated. Inspector Raj instructed the posse to call in the forensics, complete the formalities and then to send the body for postmortem. As soon as the forensics arrived, he handed the crime scene to them and decided to move on. He was desperate to grab a bite as he was feeling completely famished by then. He decided to stop by the Prashant Vihar market to gorge on the delicious Chole Bhature and Lassi at Om’s before reaching his office.
11th August 2010; 11am
Inspector Raj had stopped by the DCP’s office to brief him about the body before reaching his post and sinking into the old and tattered chair in his chamber. Sandy was the prime suspect for him at this juncture. He had asked his team to get Sandy’s phone records and the location for the last three days as prima facie, the murder seemed to have been committed very recently, maybe the previous night. The inspector thought it prudent to call Sandy in for interrogation and so he called up Sandy’s cell, only to find it switched off. This was slightly surprising as Sandy was a busy man, a very important salesperson in the company that he worked for. Normally people like him would have their phones on all the time. The inspector then called up his residence, only to find out that he wasn’t even there. He gathered that Sandy had text-messaged a day ago, in the evening to inform his folks that he had an urgent trip to make for some work in Jaipur and that he would be back within a week’s time. They had not heard from him since then. They had not even tried to call him since that was a normal practice for them whenever Sandy went on a tour. Normally Sandy did not like to be called upon while touring. He would himself call once in two to three days whenever he got the time to. Jagdish had spoken to the inspector and given him this input. He had enquired about the reason for the inspector wanting to talk to Sandy, but the inspector just told him that it was in connection to the Bobby Patel’s case. He lied deliberately. However, it was really strange for Sandy to keep his phone off, especially when he was on an outstation trip.
The inspector was deep in thought, trying to figure out the jig-saw puzzle of the murder when he suddenly remembered something and pulled out his cell phone from his pocket. He then scrolled through his mobile’s contact list to find out Rosa’s number which he had taken from Sandy previously when he was investigating the Patel’s case. Although he knew that there would be a very remote chance of the phone ringing or getting answered but he still dialed it reluctantly. To the inspector’s amazement the phone rang but nobody picked it up. The inspector immediately called up his loyal subordinate and asked him to get the records and location of Rosa’s phone as well, pronto!
He had no other alternatives but to wait for Sandy to return but in the meanwhile he wanted to locate Rosa’s phone in the hope of locating her residence or workplace to give them some clues to proceed with since right now they were clueless. It was lucky that Rana and Kishan had filmed Rosa fighting with Sandy at Dilli Haat or else it would have been a seriously time-consuming exercise even to identify the body. At least that time was saved, and they also had a prime suspect, as of now…all thanks to that video.
Continued to Who Killed Rosa?