Friday, August 7, 2015

Cold Confession

She was puzzled to see the blood stains adorning the alabaster marble flooring.It was the third case of cold blooded murder in the city which had left the police force as well the people of the city in bewilderment. The murder weapon was untraceable and there were no helpful clues that could aid the investigation

Two months,three murders and no major headway.

ACP Ananya Sharma was a discomfited soul. This mystifying situation had gifted her sleepless nights and a lot of unhealthy criticism that was posing as a serious threat to her job.

She belonged to the 2002 batch of IPS(Indian Police Service) officers, who, because of their extraordinary brilliance had been deputed into the Central Bureau of Investigation. She had won many accolades for her bravery and sharpness but this time around the story was very different. She could sense a grave situation in store for her if she failed to achieve a breakthrough in this case.

****

She was sipping a glass of orange juice and was observantly examining the forensic reports along with Abhigyaan her immediate junior officer who had been deputed to the CBI from the Delhi Police.

"One thing is for sure, this guy is a brutal soul, else why would someone want to kill three pregnant women?" she asked.

"I agree madam. Did Dr.Rishabh tell you something about the murder weapon?" he enquired.

"Yes he says that a weapon has pierced two to four inches into the flesh cutting the jugular vein." she replied.

"Oh, then there might be some clue about the kind of weapon used"

"No, Dr.Rishabh said there are no traces of any kind of metal in the DNA samples of the victims. He could confidently tell me about the kind of injury but was not very sure about the murder weapon. He says this is the rarest of the rare cases. He assured me that he is working on it."

"What will we do madam, if the forensic team has no clue about the kind of weapon. They are the only people who can give us valuable evidences that will help in the investigation. What will we do,madam?" Abhi inquired in uneasiness.

Suddenly her eyes fell on the glass of cold drink that was placed on the table. She could visualize the ice cubes getting smaller in size and blending with the drink.

"I think I have a clue." Ananya said with a dash of jubilation in her voice.

"What clue, madam? " Abhi asked .

"You know our body is composed of roughly seventy percent water and if something like a weapon has to get into the flesh and disappear, I think it has to be water. Just like these ice cubes which are merging with the drink and getting smaller in size with time. After sometime they will disappear. I hope you are understanding my point."

"Yes madam, I think I am understanding what you are saying. But then water in which form?" Abhi questioned.

"Water in solid form that is ice. It can be very dangerous if in solid form and is easily available." Ananya replied.

"Oh yes Madam, Ice can do the trick. Oh yes..."Abhi marveled at her brilliance.

"I am glad you understood my point."

"But this has complicated the case further. What will we do now,madam" Abhi asked

"I agree Abhi. But let's not lose hope. ” She assured.

“Abhi, I need all the details about the three victims. Let me know everything right from their education to their husbands to their family backgrounds. I need every bit of information about these three women.”

“I need about two days to gather all the information. I hope he doesn’t commit another murder in the next two days.”

“No he won’t. Have you noticed Abhi? This guy murders a woman once in ten days. The first murder happened on April 17th,the second on April 27th and the third on 7th May. The fourth may happen on 17th May but again I am not very sure. This guy wants to challenge our mind. I hope and pray that the fourth murder doesn’t happen before we catch him. ”

“Hope so,madam. ”

“Just two days,that’s all you have. ”

“Sure madam,I know how important it is to be quick in our profession and not waste time unnecessarily. ”

****



“These are the details, Madam” Abhi informed as he placed a blue colored file on her table.

“Wow, thanks Abhi. You took less than two days actually. Thanks a ton. ” She replied in gratitude.

“The common link between these three victims is that they were pregnant and studied in St.Mary’s College. ”

“Whattttt? That’s my college.Oh my God.Then I am sure I might be knowing   atleast one of the victims closely, or maybe my sister might have some clues since she is from the same college as well. ”

She hastily examined the file and frantically dialled her younger sister’s number.

“Oh didi, I was about to call you.” Priyanka said.

“Yeah Pri. Do you know the latest murder victim to die in the city was a classmate of yours. Did you know her? ” she probed .

“Yup didi. She was the topper in our class. An extremely intelligent woman. And recently she had got promoted as the assistant director in the Chamber of Commerce.” informed Priyanka.

“Oh God, This is insane. And you know we collected their medical reports and found out that they all went to Dr.Rashmi Prabhakar’s maternity care home in the city. ”

‘Didi, I am consulting Dr. Rashmi as well. Maybe I can accompany you to her clinic and maybe she can give you some important clues.” Priyanka told.

“No,Pri. I just want you to be careful and not go to Dr.Rashmi’s clinic for a while till I inform you. OK? ”

“ Alright didi. Rohit is always here with me. And so are dad and mom. I won’t step out of the house without Rohit. So don’t you worry” Priyanka consoled her.

****

“Dr.Rashmi Prabhakar’s Clinic. That’s our first destination for today, Abhi.”

“But why madam? What can this doctor do for us? ” Abhi asked.

“It seems this killer is getting some kind of help from Dr. Rashmi. And you know Priyanka my younger sister is also consulting her and I am really worried about her. It seems like this killer knows me as well. ”

“Is it madam? I hope she is fine. ”

“Yeah. I asked her not to step out of the house. Let’s go Abhi.”

They reached the clinic in about half an hour and headed straight towards Dr.Rashmi’s chamber.

“Hello Madam. I am ACP Ananya and I am the special investigating officer of the triple murder case in the city. I wanted your help. ”

Oh yes. I will surely help you. But…what can I do for you? ” Rashmi stammered.

She handed out a sheet of paper with the details of the three victims clearly inscribed on it.

“They were my patients. ” Rashmi said in hushed tones .

“What else you know about them? And do you know one Priyanka Sharma? ” Ananya enquired .

“She is my patient and I can only help you with the medical reports of these three patients. There is nothing else I can do for you. I think you must go and conduct an enquiry with the families of the victims. " Rashmi suggested.

"Alright, madam. Sorry for the trouble caused. Kindly hand over the reports to Abhigyaan as soon you can" Rashmi said.

"Let's conduct an enquiry with families of the victims."

"But is it sane to give this lady a clean chit?" Abhi probed.

"No. It cannot be a coincidence that the killing of three innocent women in the city has nothing to do with this doctor. Since all the victims were her patients, it's too early to comment on her innocence. Let's see where we are going from here. Meanwhile, ask Arun and Pratish to keep a check on her in plain clothes." ordered Ananya.

*****


"We condole your daughter's death Mr.Verma. I have come to you to clarify certain things. I hope you will be supportive." Ananya said.

"Yes we will help you. But please keep Mrs.Verma our of this. She isn't feeling well and might get depressed if you ask her disturbing questions." Mr.Verma replied.

"I understand Mr .Verma. Where is Renuka's husband? Can I meet him? " Ananya inquired.

"He's out to the U.S. He went immediately after the cremation. He said he wanted to be away from all the pain and I think he had some meetings there." replied Mr.Verma.

"But don't you think he should have been here and supported you. How can any man attend meetings after his wife's brutual murder? Mr.Verma if you don't mind,can I have Renuka's husband's mobile number. I need to talk to him." Ananya requested.

Mr.Verma scribbled the number on a piece of paper and handed it over to Ananya.

"I...I wanted to tell you something." stammered Mr.Verma
"What is it Sir. Feel free to tell me everything. I am like your daughter. I will support you in every way possible." assured Ananya.

"There was some problem between my daughter and her husband. I think Pranav, her husband has another affair in the U.S, because he visits the place once in three months. I am not sure but I think something is terribly wrong, because my wife always kept telling me about their fights. And I was about to speak to Pranav about the issue. But..But... Before that he killed my daughter I think." said Mr.Verma and broke down into tears.

Ananya went near him and patted his back and consoled him.

"Mr.Verma I will look into the matter. If your daughter's husband is behind all this, I won't leave him for sure. Thanks for the number"

She took leave from Mr.Verma and walked towards the door dialling the number engraved on the sheet of paper but it was prompting a busy tone.

"Seems that asshole is busy. Abhi,please take down this number and keep trying. Meanwhile we must also conduct a check at the pregnancy aerobics class."

"Sure madam. I will keep calling and inform the telephone exchange to keep a check on this number" replied Abhi.


They reached the pregnancy aerobics class in about twenty minutes. It was a small place with a huge activity centre and a few cubicles stationed in one corner.

"Who is the owner of this place. Can I meet them?" Ananya yelled.

A woman in her mid thirties came out of a room dressed in a blue t-shirt and denims. She was lean with an average height.

"Yes madam. Sure. I am Pranita and I run these classes. How can I help you? "

"Well I am ACP Ananya. I am looking into the triple murder case that happened in the city recently. I discovered some papers from the murder sites from which I got the details of this place. I need some details about the victims."

"Yes sure madam. I know you very well. The other day I watched the report on the triple murder case and was about to contact you. I have something to tell you. Kindly come with me to my cubicle. I can't talk about it here." Pranita informed.

They walked towards a large cubicle which happened to be Pranita's office and seated themselves.

"Yes, tell me Pranita.What's it?"

"Well madam. All the three women came to my place for their pregnancy exercise. I knew all the three very closely, but I was particularly close to Renuka. She was not very happy about this pregnancy. She wanted to abort the child."

"But..Why? Did she tell you? I mean there might be something majorly wrong that might have forced her to take this decision."

"Yes. Her husband thought it was not his child. He always doubted her and physically abused her as well. I think..I think... He has a relationship with another lady doctor somewhere in the U.S. Because we never saw him at the centre at anytime. Even when we called the husbands of our patients for a monthly meeting we never saw him. He never came to pick Renuka neither has he ever called us to enquire about her health. I have seen every other husband here but not him."

"Oh. Well, I have my doubts and this has only further confirmed things. But even now it's early to reach conclusions. Thanks anyways. If there is anything else you want to let me know, feel free to call me on my mobile number.
It's 98182****"
"Yes, I've saved it officer. I'll surely keep you informed" assured Pranita.




****


"Madam, Renuka's husband is back from the U.S. I think we must make a move and grab him for questioning. Mr.Verma had just called to tell you about this. Since you were busy on another call I didn't disturb you." Abhi informed.



"Sure Abhi. Let's go. You have the address with you, right?" Ananya confirmed.

"Yes madam. Mr.Verma gave me the address. They live in Panchsheel Enclave"

"Alright Abhi.No more wastage of time. "

They headed towards the place which was a palatial mansion. There was a bedecked garden in the front with dining chairs and table made of cane placed in the centre of the lawn. The place was the residence of the richest in the city with no scope for the upper middle class or middle class dwellings.

Ananya banged at the door loudly. A man in his sixties came to answer the call.

"To whom do you want to speak to?" enquired the man.

"I am ACP Ananya Sharma from the CBI. I want to talk to Pranav Batra. I heard he is back from the U.S."

"Yes,sure. I will call him. Kindly be seated."

"He is the servant I think. The house is like a palace. He seems to be a filthy rich guy."Abhi murmured.

"Shhhhh Abhi. Let's see what this guy has to say. " Ananya replied.

A young man in his mid thirties dressed in causal clothes climbed down the stairs. He moved towards Ananya and introduced himself in a friendly and polite tone. No one could make out that he had recently lost his wife, as he sounded relaxed and happy.

"Hi I am Pranav. Please be seated officer."

"I condole your wife's death. I wanted to talk about Renuka. I came to know that you immediately left for the U.S after the funeral. Why is it so Mr.Batra. Who is there in the U.S? Can anyone be more important than your life partner? " Ananya enquired.

"I went for work and nothing else. And in no way should you accuse me this way." Pranav replied.

"I am not accusing you Mr.Batra. We have very important clues against you.A lot of people testified againt you. It might be you who would have killed Renuka."

"Look officer.I understand your work.But my personal life has nothing to do with the murder.It's true that we had our share of problems but that doesn't mean that I would kill my wife."

"Pranita her friend told me that you had your doubts about the child. What do you have to say about that? And Mr.Verma your father in law told me that Renuka always complained about problems with you. "

"Well, I did have my doubts. And I did have many issues with her. But in no way can you relate it to me murdering her. "

"I have to take you for questioning. Please co operate with me." Ananya announced.

"How can you... How can you harass a respected citizen like me? I will...Call my friend who is the DIG of the south zone. I will make your life hell." threatened Pranav

Ananya grabbed him by his collar and dragged him to the police van.

"Abhi take him to the station and treat him as royally as you can. Meanwhile I will talk to Dr.Rishabh. The fingerprint reports might be out today and that is sufficient to nail this son of a bitch." ordered Ananya.

"Right madam. I will take care of him." answered Abhi sarcastically.

*****
"You know Anu. These fingerprints don't match those in the police records. It's a first time criminal. How will we trace a stranger,a first time criminal among herds of people in the city? " Dr.Rishabh informed

"The fingerprint reports took long. I have my doubts on Pranav Batra,the area sales manager of Airtel. You know him? " enquired Ananya.

"Yes,I do know him. Let's take his fingerprints then and match them with the reports. " Rishabh suggested.


They went to the police station and took Pranav's fingerprints. Ananya ordered Abhigyaan to keep questioning Pranav. She was sure he would break down and spew the truth.

"No Anu. Pranav's fingerprints don't match the one in the reports. I think he is innocent." Dr.Rishabh informed.


"I will go and check the murder site again. The place had been sealed after the investigation. And amidst this chaos it completely went out of my mind to conduct a search on my own" Ananya said.


She drove straight to the place where Renuka and her husband Pranav lived. It was a multi story building that consisted of about fourteen floors.
She broke open the wooden sealing installed by the police and unlocked the door. She moved around the house searching every nook and corner for the minutest piece of evidence she could lay her hands on.

While she was exploring their bedroom her eyes fell on a piece of paper. She picked it up and was startled to see "Dr.Rashmi Prabhakar's maternity home" clearly etched on it. She knew what she had to do next. She sent the paper to the forensic lab for testing and eagerly waited for the reports. Once the reports were in her hands, she decided to pay Dr. Rashmi a visit.


"Where is Dr.Rashmi?" Ananya yelled.

Rashmi rushed out of her room and tried to pacify her.

"Madam, Please don't shout in my clinic. Please take a seat. We can talk it out peacefully." Rashmi said.

"We found a paper from your prescription pad with a number written on it. It was stained with blood. What do you have to say about that?" Ananya informed

"Well... I don't know how that paper came there? I gave you all the details you wanted. I am innocent. Trust me officer" Rashmi stuttered.

Suddenly Ananya caught hold of Rashmi’s hand and declared to her.

“You have to accompany us to the police station Dr.Rashmi.”

“But why? What have I done”

“We have to take you for questioning. And you have to co operate.”

“You don’t know who am I? You can’t harass a respected citizen like me. I will take this matter to the higher authorities.” Rashmi threatened

“Don’t threaten me and keep walking. Else I will have to drag you and take you to the station.”

“What do you know about the triple murders in the city, doctor?”

“I don’t know anything. I didn't commit any murder.” Rashmi pleaded her innocence.

“Look Rashmi. If you don’t tell me the truth, I will have to use torturous methods on you.”

“I told you I don’t know anything. I have to make a call to my lawyer.You can’t treat me like a third grade criminal.”

At that very moment Ananya placed a tight slap on Rashmi’s face and screamed at her.

"Tell me Rashmi, or else I'll make it really difficult for you"

“I am sorry Ananya. It’s my cousin Abhishek. Do you remember Abhishek Das, your classmate in school. You loved him madly and so did he. But after you left him for a career in the police force he was badly shattered. He wants to avenge the pain you gave him. He wanted to ruin you career and might kill your younger sister anytime. Go and save her Ananya.” Rashmi cried in repentance.

“My sister’s life and my career are not in his hands. Oh my God.Why did you do this to me?” Ananya cried helplessly.

****

She saw blood splattered all over the wall.A partially lifeless body was writhing in pain and gasping for breath.

“Sorry di. I had to shoot him down. He tried to attack Priyanka with a huge pointed piece of ice. I am thankful to God that I was at home else this guy would have killed our Priyanka today.” Rohit informed in disbelief.

“Where is she? I hope she is fine” Ananya enquired nervously

“Yeah, she is ok. She has minor injuries on her neck and shoulders.”

“This guy wanted to kill Priyanka.Don’t know why di?”

“I know why.I know everything” she murmured.

“Why Abhishek?Why all this? What have you got by killing three innocent women and trying to harm my sister” she asked as she moved towards his partly living body.

“I wanted to be with you.But you…Dumped me mercilessly for a career.I loved you so very much.Why Ananya? Why did you have to do this to me” He whispered as life had started leaving his body.

“Oh Abhishek. It was not in your hands. My career or my sister’s life.”

“I love you Ananya. I love you very much. I…I am sorry…”He uttered his last words and died.

She was sincerely thankful to the Almighty that Priyanka was safe and not much harm had been done to her. For the first time in her life,she had started hating her profession, for it could have ruined the lives of her loved ones.

She was responsible for the devastation that was lying inanimate in front of her. The loving and charming Abhishek she had once loved dearly was dead and it all happened because of her arrogant selfishness.

She was benumbed as she desperately tried to console herself. Her face was smeared with tears as she kissed his forehead.

“Only if you could have waited for a little more time. I wanted to come back to you someday. Didn’t know when? Didn’t know how? I love you too.”