Continued from “Another Day … Another Crime”
12th August 2010; 1pm
It had started raining once again. Tiwari, who was deputed to get the phone records, had just returned from the phone companies. He was completely drenched when he entered the police station, but he had safeguarded the reports with his life and had them wrapped inside a poly bag. He went first to his barrack to change and after slipping into his dry uniform went straight to inspector Raj’s chamber and handed over the reports, which the inspector studied very carefully. Sandy’s records showed that indeed he had sent a text-message to his wife on the 10th evening and then the last call that was made was to Rosa’s cell number post the text-message; which also matched with Rosa’s records. However, what was interesting to note was that Sandy had made the last call on the 10th from the Delhi region and not from Jaipur. It was a short call of around fifty-four seconds. Rosa was in Pitampura area while Sandy was in Rohini when they had connected.
Thus, it was apparent that Sandy had lied to his wife about Jaipur. The evidence so far suggested that Sandy might have indeed been having an affair with Rosa as was claimed by her earlier, why else would he lie about going to Jaipur and then call Rosa in Delhi instead? Was it all a planned outing which went awfully wrong? Or was it all very meticulously planned by Sandy? Rosa might have been troubling or blackmailing Sandy and therefore he might have planned this job. He would have called Rosa, lured her to him, killed her and then would have tried to dispose of her body in the canal, where he got unlucky and she got stuck in the shrubs. He would have planned to throw her carcass in the canal to let it flow with the current to the other state so that even if the body was found it would have been completely disfigured by then and the police there would not have been able to identify it and would have closed the case as being that of another unidentified body. It was a well-thought-out plan; however, Sandy had only one problem now, a problem that he might not have foreseen... he had hit a roadblock called inspector Raj.
Inspector Raj went to his superior and updated him about the entire case. He got a lookout notice issued against Sandy, got a search warrant for his residence and office issued and also obtained the permission to arrest him, if required to. He did this all in one go as he did not want to lose any time. His gut told him that it was Sandy who was the killer, and he was itching to have him apprehended as soon as he could. He knew that Sandy’s family was harboring him. They were definitely involved and were not divulging facts. How could he keep his cell off without getting them disturbed about it? There was definitely something they were concealing. He instructed one team to raid Sandy’s office and he took the other one with him to pay Sandy’s family a visit.
12th August 2010; 3.30pm
Although it was a wet, humid and hot afternoon which normally forces folks to remain indoors but the moment the police van entered the neighborhood, an apparent commotion seemed to have erupted. Inquisitive people either came out of their abodes or out on their balconies to watch; completely qualifying them to be those kinds of nosey neighbors who have fun at somebody else’s expense. As the inspector approached Sandy’s door, he felt slightly sorry for his family, who would now onward be looked upon with suspicion by their neighbors. However, he was duty bound to uphold the law and order of the land. The door was opened by the maid who let out such a quick and sharp gasp at finding the police at the doorstep that it attracted the inmates. Sona rushed to her aide to be surprised herself.
“Sir, there is no one at home!” she spoke out.
“I have a search warrant for this place and an arrest warrant for Sandy. It’d be best for you not to interfere in the matter of the law, lest be prosecuted yourself.” warned inspector Raj.
Poor Sona did not know how to react. She just gazed at the warrant that the inspector handed her and gave way to the police team to move in. Sona then tried to call Sandy but after finding his phone switched off she dialed her brother-in-law’s number and informed him of what was going on there. Jagdish instructed her to hand over the phone to the inspector.
“Sir, what is happening?” implored Jagdish.
“We have reasons to believe that Sandy has murdered Rosa and therefore we are here to search for him and to arrest him.”
“I think there has been a big mistake sir. Sandy cannot kill anyone. There is a mistake somewhere.”
“We have conclusive evidence, enough to nail him. We want to know his whereabouts. It would be best if you all co-operate or else, I would be forced to arrest you all as well, for harbouring a criminal.”
“Sir, we are not shielding him. He is on a tour as I told you. We would bring him to you as soon as he returns. I promise. Please do not harass us like this.”
“Well... I have a search warrant and we would not return without searching. I would be talking to Sona here to try to get some answers that I need. I shall leave after that. I want you to come to my office as soon as you can today, failing which I would come back again to pick you and your family up. Do you understand? Don’t make this uglier than it already is.”
Jagdish could sense the seriousness in the inspector’s tone. He promised him that he shall reach his office by 8pm that very day.
The search ended inconclusively. They could not recover anything. The inspector now hoped for much better search results from Sandy’s office.
Sona, Babita, Renu and Sakshi were in the living room, looking upon the entire proceedings frightfully. The inspector called in two of the female constables in the posse and whispered some instructions into their ears, post which both the female constables took Babita and Renu inside separate rooms to interrogate them. The inspector then turned to Sakshi. He smiled at her and pulled out a chocolate from his pocket. He offered her the chocolate, which she took very reluctantly but only after the approval from her mother.
“Sakshi, what is the name of your school?” questioned inspector Raj.
“Queen and King’s,” stammered Sakshi very softly.
“Oh! That’s fantastic... and which class do you go to, beautiful girl?”
“LKG – A”
“Fantastic! So, girl, where is papa?”
“I don’t know... he has gone to get me toys.”
“Did he tell you that?”
“No... but whenever he goes, he brings back toys for me…”
“When did papa go?”
“Some days ago... ”
That was enough for Sona who was till then witnessing this interrogation like a mute spectator, “Sir, I beseech you, please leave my daughter out of this. Ask me whatever you need to but please leave my kid alone.”
“Well then, where is Sandy?”
“He is on a tour to Jaipur.”
“Oh yeah! Since when?”
“He texted me on 10th to inform me that he had some urgent work to attend to there and that he was leaving immediately and would return in a week’s time.”
“His phone is off. I tried to call him. Is that not strange?”
“Sir, he generally keeps it on but there have been occasions in the past when he had also switched it off, so there is nothing strange about it, really!”
“And you did not try to call him at all? Where do you call him in case there is something urgent?”
“He’s always told us not to disturb him. He generally calls himself. Although I have never had any emergency in the past but if I would then I would leave a text message, I guess... honest!” exclaimed Sona after seeing the sneer on the inspector’s face.
“I hope you are speaking the truth for your own good because if you are hiding anything from me I assure you that I will put you also behind bars along with your treacherous husband.”
“Sir, Sandy is innocent. He can do anything but take a life; I swear he cannot kill anyone.” Sona had overheard the conversation between her brother-in-law and the inspector. She felt really sorry for Rosa. She had somehow liked her when she had met her.
“Did Rosa contact any of you again after the time she came to meet you here?” checked the inspector.
“No sir. That was the last time I saw her or heard from her. We did not discuss her at all after the day Sandy met her at Dilli Haat... for obvious reasons.”
“But Sandy was in touch with her. He called her up on 10th and killed her. We have matched their call records. Although there are no other calls between them prior to that day but then in these days of modern technology, maybe he might have been using some other mode of communication to contact her... who knows.”
“Sir, I am sorry to question your wisdom, however, do you think that is enough evidence to draw the conclusion that you already have for such a serious crime?”
“Then why did he lie about going to Jaipur while being in Delhi all this time... anyways, you might be right. That is what I need to know from him. Please text him to return and meet me immediately. I promise you that if he is innocent like last time then nothing will happen to him. I will track the killer down and ma’am, I am damn good at doing that, whether it’s him or not. He need not worry if he did not kill Rosa.”
The female constables strode out of their respective rooms after concluding their interrogation and told the inspector more or less the same things that Jagdish, Sona and Sakshi had told the inspector. That meant that either these people were telling the truth, or they had everything pre-planned and very well-rehearsed.
“Then it is only Sandy who will unravel the mystery,” whispered the inspector under his breath, as he signaled the posse to vacate the premises.
He had just cranked up his vehicle when he got a call from his office saying that the current location of Rosa’s phone had been tracked. It was traced to Akbarpur Barota area in Sonepat district of Haryana. Sonepat was very near to the Delhi Border.
It was a place where land was recently being acquired by the builders’ community and various apartments and malls were coming up there, however the place had not picked up as much pace as what Gurgaon had done during its initial development stages.
Akbarpur Barota was about four kilometers off the National Highway No. 1. It was populated by the farming community and there weren’t any criminal activities recorded from that area in the past. It was an area which had peace loving people. It was quite possible that someone from around that place had found Rosa’s phone and had taken it along with him but whatever was the case, it warranted further investigation for sure. Since another state (Haryana) was involved it was mandatory for the inspector to seek the relevant clearances and permissions. He had to involve the local police there in the investigation as well. Thus, he decided to go to his police station to arrange for the documentation and the permissions.
12th August 2010; 8.30pm
The inspector did not want any delays in the search process and therefore he had moved as fast as possible and had obtained all the permissions with the help of his seniors. He had then left immediately for Sonepat and had met the inspector-in-charge at the Kundli police station at the Singhu Border (The Delhi-Haryana border on National Highway No.1). Akbarpur Barota fell under Kundli jurisdiction, thereby inspector Raj had to meet the inspector-in-charge there.
He was then introduced to Assistant Sub Inspector Sukesh Daroga, who would assist him in this investigation. ASI Daroga was a man in his mid-fifties but was pretty active for his age. He was in this area for the last twenty years and knew it like the back of his hand. ASI Daroga looked at the map of the area where the location of Rosa’s phone was and after a brief moment of pondering over, declared it to be somewhere near the Global Law University in Sector 35. Inspector Raj told him that once they were near the location of the phone the mobile phone service provider would send them the exact location to enable them to pinpoint the phone.
The location had been stable for the last two days, which could also mean that the phone might be just lying there. However, getting to the phone was really important to get further leads and also to obtain further evidence. The ASI informed the inspector that they had a police chowki (A small police post) just opposite the university and that once they reached that, they would have additional help from the staff there as well. It took them twenty minutes to reach the police chowki. The site was in the interiors, completely surrounded by vast farmlands. After getting off the highway they had to travel through a village and a market to reach the police chowki. Opposite which was the grand university. Although Sonepat is an educational hub of the Northern part of the country with several colleges and universities there, nobody could have actually imagined the existence of such a grand university at such a desolate spot.
Once there, the inspector called up the mobile company’s office to get the exact spot where the phone was. Within ten minutes he received the location on his cell phone which he showed to the ASI and the local police chowki-in-charge. After careful assessment they all zeroed in onto a spot near the main gate of the entrance to place called Rathdhana, a local village. This spot was around five minutes away from the police chowki. Inspector Raj, the ASI and two police constables reached the exact spot being displayed on the inspector’s phone within minutes. As they stood at the main gate, they could only see either empty farmlands or some deserted factory buildings. There were no houses there. Inspector Raj had a flummoxed look on his face but he maintained his composure and dialed Rosa’s number from his phone again.
The inspector’s heart started pounding heavily as he heard a distant and faint ring of a phone. The spirit of the team seemed to have been elevated immediately as they rushed toward the ringing sound. It was already past nine in the night and being a village not a soul was out in the open besides the police team. This was a place which was so desolate and silent that the ring of the phone could be heard even from a distance, otherwise had it been somewhere else probably it could not have been heard. As they all proceeded hastily the sound started growing on them till, they reached a spot which was surrounded by a boundary wall, the entry to which was ajar. They all carefully halted initially before the entry to see what lay behind the walls. They saw a dilapidated building which might have been a farmhouse previously. The team focused their search lights at the building to realize that it had an opening which might have been the main entrance once. The ASI signaled the constables to enter through the entrance and search since the sound was definitely emanating from within the confines of the building. The constables took out the pistols from their holsters, aimed them toward the entrance and entered the building.
There was a pregnant pause for about five minutes after the constables’ entry into the building. The only thing which could be heard in the dead of the night was the sounds made by the constables’ feet, the crickets & toads croaking and the heartbeats of the two inspectors pounding hard. Suddenly the silence of the night was broken as one of the constables screamed out for the ASI. As soon as they heard the scream both the inspectors scrambled inside the building, where they were hit by a whiff of stench akin to that of a corpse. Both of them were stalled in their trot as soon as they reached inside because of what lay ahead... illuminated by the search lights. It was a human body hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the building. There was an upside-down plastic chair and Rosa’s phone lay on the ground besides it... still ringing. The ASI immediately snatched the search light from the constable and aimed it on the face of the hanging body. The moment inspector Raj saw the face of the hanging body, his face went pale... it was Sandy who was hanging from the ceiling.
The stench was not too heavy, and the decomposition had just recently seemed to have set in, suggesting that the body was around one to three days old. The spot was so desolate that nobody would have noticed it even for months and the stench could have been passed on as being emanating from a dead stray animal. The ASI immediately called in for more help and also informed his seniors. Inspector Raj also called up and updated his boss. As help poured in from the nearby police chowki, they lowered the body and lay it on the ground. A generator was also brought in and the team helped in lighting up the place properly to enable them to gather evidence more efficiently. On initial scrutiny it did not appear as if there were any sorts of injury marks on Sandy’s body but inspector Raj got a slight whiff of booze emanating from Sandy’s body which was more or less camouflaged by the stench of his decomposed body, suggesting that he was probably also drunk when he met with the tragedy. The chair also had footprints on it. The surroundings inside the building did not suggest that any sort of violence might have taken place there. As the constable who was searching Sandy’s clothes reached for his pockets, he fetched out some business cards, his wallet, hanky, pocket comb, cell phone, some cash and a bunch of papers which were neatly folded. The constable handed them to the ASI, who unfolded the papers and read them. After going through them carefully he handed the letter to inspector Raj and walked away silently toward the chair to inspect it further. As the inspector read the letter, his expressions changed from somber to astonishment.
It was a note which stated that Sandy was passionately involved with Rosa but then she had become erratic and very demanding causing him to retreat; post which she became all the more uncontrollable and had started threatening him of exposure again. She wanted him to marry her. He was petrified so he had called her to discuss things with her to reach an amicable solution. She came and they were talking in his car while he drove around Rohini, however things blew out of proportion when she suddenly got aggressive. She started to scream and hit him. Sandy tried to shut her up but by mistake he choked her to death in the process. He then tried to dispose of her body in the canal but as he was trying to do that she got stuck somewhere and wouldn’t go with the water flow despite Sandy’s several attempts. Suddenly he heard some vehicles coming his way and he panicked. He got into his car and made a getaway. However, after some time he realized that sooner or later Rosa’s body would be discovered and then he would be tracked down as well. He got really scared and went to a liquor store, bought a bottle of whiskey and started drinking. The more he drank the more guilty he felt till he reached a stage where he could not bear it anymore. He could not bear being a killer and facing his family, especially his wife and daughter. Besides, his affair with Rosa would also be exposed. He then kept on driving and drinking without even realizing when he had hit the highway. His mind was not working, it was completely numb. Once on the highway he thought of escaping and hiding someplace safe for some time therefore he kept driving to his new apartment, which was recently being developed by a reputed builder, at Akbarpur Barota. However, when he reached there, he realized he did not have the keys to the apartment. That’s when he saw a police patrol vehicle at a distance and thought that they might take him in as he was miserably drunk so to avoid them, he drove like a maniac past his apartment compound till he reached the global university, some distance away. He stopped at the point where he could not see the headlights of the patrolling vehicle anymore. He slowed down but did not know which way to head and that’s when he reached the entrance to Rathdhana and found this deserted spot. He thought it an appropriate place to spend the night at. As he tried to settle in his car, he finished the rest of the whiskey. Even though he tried desperately but could not fall asleep. Not only because of the mosquitoes feasting on him but also because he kept seeing Rosa’s apparition every time he tried closing his eyes. So much so that he reached a stage where he saw her standing just next to him. She was weeping inconsolably. Sandy felt very guilty and bad for her and asked her to pardon him, but she told him that he shall never be pardoned. Rosa also told him how she would ensure, even in death that he is captured by the law and then thrown to the gallows. She cursed him that he would be the reason behind the misery and great sorrow that his family would have to endure from now on. Sandy was extremely scared by this time. He went down on his knees with a bowed head and begged for forgiveness but as he raised his head, he realized that the apparition had disappeared. Sandy kept wondering and deliberating. He did want to go to jail, therefore, he thought it prudent to kill himself lest be captured and see his family humiliated in front of millions. To give shape to his plan he fetched the emergency rope that he always kept in his car in case somebody needed to be tugged at and the plastic chair which his daughter used to sit on in the rear section of his car and used them to kill himself. He held no one else but himself completely and solely responsible for Rosa’s and his death. This was mentioned in his confession-cum-suicide note, signed by Sandy. It was quite an explanatory note in itself.
Apparently, Sandy had typed the letter on his laptop and printed it out from a portable battery-operated printer, both of which were later recovered from his car.
Both the cases were very clear now. The inspector heaved a sigh of dismay. Rosa was right, after all. Sandy was a beast. The inspector pitied Sona and her daughter. He did not know whether it was a coincidence or destiny that the two women he had come to know through the cases he handled recently got widowed, but whatever it was, it was sad.
What an eventful night it turned out to be. The body was sent to the local government hospital for the postmortem after all the formalities were locked in. The inspector had called in Jagdish in the morning and briefed him on the situation personally. Jagdish was totally broken after hearing the news, he was inconsolable. He told the inspector that there was a gap of ten years between Sandy and him and that he had brought up Sandy just like a son and not a brother after the demise of their parents. Now he did not know how to break this news to his family, especially to Sona.
Continued to Present Day