Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.
Read #1 book on Hinduism and enhance your understanding of ancient Indian history.

Vineet Swarup

Children Stories Crime Thriller


5.0  

Vineet Swarup

Children Stories Crime Thriller


Last Performance

Last Performance

30 mins 221 30 mins 221


Clap. Clap clap, clap….. studio was resounding with thunderous applause. Rajat and Juhi were very happy with their performance. Judges looked quite happy and they seem to have enjoyed the act. Competition is tough after all today only 3 teams will be left to fight out for the winner’s prize. Compere Mazid came forward praising their performance and handed both of them mikes and asked,”So how do you feel your performance was?”


Rajat and Juhi looked at each other and said we are satisfied. “Are you confident that this performance will take you to the finale?” “Yes, definitely” Rajat replied. 

  “I enjoyed your performance immensely let us ask our judges what do they think about your performance.” Said Mazid cheerfully. “Anushka ji your comments please “

 

“Rajat you are very talented, your expression dialogue delivery was immaculate. Juhi you are an established actress, your body language was excellent. I will give both of you 9 points.”

“That is amazing” said Mazid. “So now you need another 8 points to take the lead and make it to finals are you ready?” asked Mazid of Rajat and Juhi. Both nodded their heads.

 

“Rehman sir, what do you say about their performance?”

  “I loved it. It was superb. They kept me on the edge of my seat. If you guys keep performing like this there is no stopping you from lifting the winner’s trophy. I give you……9 points.”

 

“Oh! My God, you are through to the finals” said Mazid excitedly. “How do you feel Juhi?”

“I am so relived and at the same time excited to have made it to finals. Now the pressure is going to be double we will need to better our performance of today”

 “Yes, and we will do it” added Rajat.

They bowed down to judges waved to the crowd and turned to go back stage that is when Juhi collapsed to never wake up again with mike rolling down to the side of the stage.

 

It seems everyone rushed towards her to help. Initial thought was that she has fainted due to exhaustion she has been shooting through the day and rehearsing late into nights for last 5 days with little sleep to go on. She was rushed to nearby nursing home Jeevani where she was declared brought dead by the doctors.

  

Two Days earlier

 

 Sethi was in his office finishing a crossword puzzle. He was alone in the office. Mrs. Pereira has gone home early today and Rohan has gone to interview a witness for a case. There was knock on the door Sethi looked at the clock, it is 5mins to 8 pm. He thought it must be Rohan and must have forgotten his keys again. He got up to open the door; on the other side of the door was 5’8”tall, dark complexion middle-aged man was standing.

He looked confused and disheveled. First Sethi thought he may have knocked on the wrong door and before he could ask the man anything he fell down unconscious. Sethi caught him just in time before he hit the floor. Brought him inside and laid him on the lounge sofa. He checked his pocket to see who he is and found a pass to Liberty Theater for Saturday show in his shirt pocket. Sethi sprinkled some water on his face and he slowly started to come back to his consciousness. Dark man looked at Sethi for a long second, sat up and started to say something. Suddenly he seemed to change his mind and left in a great hurry from his office.

 

Sethi was puzzled by his behavior, then he shrugged and got back to his puzzle thinking the man must have knocked on the wrong door.

 --------------------------------------------------------x--------------------------------------------------

The Lawyer

 

Devan Sethi senior criminal lawyer practicing at Baroda High Court has a small but very busy practice. His firm comprises of 2 paralegals, an investigator and receptionist cum secretary. DS, as he is called in his peer group, is tall 6’1”, whitish complexion, long thin narrow face, medium built sprinkling of hair on head and pair of glasses completes his look. Loves a game of tennis and his crossword puzzles.

 He has built a reputation for himself for being passionate, idealistic and cunning.

 

  

                                         Monday

 

Sethi had forgotten about the incident of last Thursday until he saw the news report in today’s paper “Reigning star of TV dies on the battlefield” said news headline. A well-known star died last Saturday while shooting for a TV show on the stage described by the reporter as battlefield. It reported actor was shooting in Liberty Theater and collapsed on the stage after her performance. Her health was good and no known ailments. She was declared brought dead to the hospital by the local nursing home where she was taken for emergency care. A list of TV programs in which she was acting was also mentioned. Reporter also mentioned about a recent life cover taken by the actress and he speculated the insurance company will surely investigate prior to writing a check.

 

Sethi thought back of Thursday and recalled middle aged man also had a ticket for the Liberty theater show. Sethi wondered if that man knew anything about this he may have witnessed this whole episode. His curiosity was piqued.

He switched on the TV to see if the news has been covered on the TV after flipping through few channels he came across the news piece on Daily TV. They were showing recording of the show in which actress had fallen on the stage. He could now recognize the actress he had seen on TV in few commercials, TV program promos. She definitely looked healthy and was a beautiful girl. She seems to be happy with whatever people on the show were saying. He thought about it for few more minutes and then went back to his work. There is huge pile of letters which he needed to attend to since most of the remaining week he will be busy with a seminar where he is presenting a paper on “unexplained deaths and their probable causes”. He called Rohan inside to check if he has finished Ppt for his paper. He worked with him for over an hour, gave him some corrections to be made and then asked him to get his paper printed and ready for the seminar. After making arrangement to have his paper delivered to his home he left for court to take care of day’s proceedings.

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Seminar was a well-attended with huge number of people taking part in it. His paper was appreciated and at the end of the presentation there was a healthy discussion. Many lawyers, forensic experts, students of law and forensic science took part. It was widely covered by media in print as well on television.

Sethi came back to office on Thursday afternoon straight from seminar. “How are you Mrs. Pereira?”

“I am fine. How was seminar?” asked Mrs P.

“It was a good”.

 Sethi continued, “I can see everything is in control. Looks like I can go on a long leave and you and Rohan can manage office very well.”

 

She accepted the compliment gracefully and gave him a brief updated of happenings of the last three days.

“Anything urgent,” he asked.

 Mrs. Pereira informed him one young girl has been waiting to meet him since noon. She says it is about her father and she will only talk to you. She said her father had come to meet you last week and he has sent her to you.

“What did she say is her father’s name?”

“Parvesh Kumar and the strange thing is we have no record of any such person coming to our office last week” replied Mrs. Perira “or for that matter whole of last month. I have checked our records we do not have him in our records at all.”

 

“Bring her in and please take notes of our meeting,” said Sethi. Mrs. Pereira came in with a young thin girl in her early twenties, hair neatly tied in a long plait. “Hello sir” she started nervously. “Please have a seat”.

 Sethi waited for her to settle down & say something. She seemed to be gathering her thoughts; to help her Sethi asked her “what is your name?” “Shruti”. “What can I do for you Shruti Kumar”

“ Shruti Ahuja” said the girl, Sethi look down on the pcs of paper which Mrs. P had given him.He exchanged quizzical glance with Mrs.P.

 

Shruti saw these exchanges and went on to explain “my father and mother separated when I was 10 years old and my mother remarried. I take my step fathers surname” she explained. Sethi nodded his understanding. “You live with your mother now?”

“Yes I live with my mother and step father”.

Which is where? Asked Sethi.

“My step father has a house on Pani tanki road.”

“You kept in touch with your real father throughout?”

“No, when I turned 18 yrs I looked him up and since then has kept in touch.”

“Does your mother know about it?”

“She does now”.

 

You told Mrs. Perira you want to speak to me.

 “Yes, I have come here to meet you on the behest of my father I mean biological father Mr. Parvesh Kumar. He has been charged with murder of his employer.

Sethi gave her a noncommittal look. She continued “you may have heard about the death of Ms. Juhi the TV actress last week. My father has been in her employment for last 12 years .He had become her assistant 7years back. All her appointment, meetings he used to schedule. Taking care of food, makeup on outdoor shoots was his responsibility. Although she had a secretary, she trusted my father and use to take his advice from time to time.”

She was quite for some time and was having difficulty in saying as if she needed to believe what she was going to say is actually true. “My father has been arrested for murdering Ms. Juhi.” she finally said. “I have come to ask you if you will defend him as he is innocent.” Sethi was quiet for some time. He looked at her thoughtfully.

“How do you know he has been charged with murder?” She offered an official looking letter to Sethi. He took it and read it then passed it on to Mrs. P.

 

“You said your father came to our office last week?” Sethi asked. “Yes, my father told me he came to visit you last Thursday and you are the only one who can save him. He gave me your address and asked me to meet you –convince you to defend him.” answered Shruti.

“Did he say whom did he meet here? “

“No”

“Here is his picture you may now recall him” said Shruti taking out an old picture of her father from her over stuffed hand bag.

Sethi studied the picture for some time. He recognized the man as the same person who came in late Thursday evening and had fainted in his office. Although he looked much younger picture must be at least 15 years old he thought.

Without letting on he recognizes the person he handed over the picture to Mrs. Pereira and asked Shruti “Tell me why do you say father is innocent? “.

 

“He could not have killed her. You have to meet him to know. He is a mild mannered person, very quiet and shy. Who speaks when spoken to and only to the point. These were the very qualities of his which Ms. Juhi found very useful to her. He hardly had any friends other than couple of work colleagues. His entire life was his work. He was very happy in his job and he had also spoken to Ms. Juhi to find work for me in the television industry and she was very encouraging about it.”

“She was going to schedule some meetings with her show producers next month. She had asked Papa for some pictures of me. There is no reason for him to kill her.”

 “What was he to gain from killing her?” she asked of herself.

 

“Where have they kept your father and who is the investigating officer? Give details to Mrs. Pereira and she will schedule my meeting with your father” said Sethi.

 

She started to leave “Does your father have any health issue, like Blood pressure or diabetes?” asked Sethi. “I don’t know”, she replied. He nodded and both of them left his office.

 

Rest of his day went into catching up on last 3 days work. Mrs.Pereria had left a note on his table before leaving for the day with all details of Shruti’s father, which police station he has been booked in, who is the investigating officer, what are the visiting hours. It was 7.11 pm now and the police station is on his way to home, he decides to close shop and make a visit to Mr. Parvesh Kumar.

 

Sethi met Parvesh in police lockup, he looked the same unassuming man only for his mental state, last Thursday he looked confused, today he looks dazed and tiered.

 “Your daughter came to meet me and told me you want me to defend you in a murder case,” said Sethi.

 

“Yes, I had asked Shruti to meet you”, replied Parvesh.

 “We do not have much time. Can you tell me what happened in short?”

 

“Ms. Juhi had finished her performance and was coming back stage. She suddenly collapsed on the stage. We rushed her to nearby hospital. There doctors tried very hard to revive her, however, she died before reaching hospital. We all thought she had a stroke or something as she was under lot of stress due to various assignments. Yesterday morning police came to my place and arrested me for the murder.”

 

“Why did they book you?”

 “I take medicine for my Diabetes and police officer claim to have found arsenic tablet in one of the medicine pill bottles that I carry” replied Parvesh.

 “I will try to get a copy of the report and talk to the investigating officer what evidences they have against you. I will come after court tomorrow” with that Sethi left.

  

Parvesh’s case came up for hearing 20 days later.

Lawyer for prosecution Mr. Ajay Purohit is a respected and learned senior lawyer with over 20years of experience. He suffered a stroke a few months back and this was his big case after returning from his treatment. He was certainly gunning for a big win. Due to stroke, his speech had become slightly slurred and he was self-conscious about that. He is known for fairness and liking for facts.

Case is assigned to the court of Justice Navin Mitra a fairly young judge, aged 52 years, medium height, slightly overweight, love for sport shoes though he plays no sport which involves moving legs. He has a nose for sniffing out the superfluous and focuses on facts.

 

On day one of the case prosecution will lay down the basic background of the case and seek permission to keep Parvesh Kumar in custody.

 

Mr. Purohit addressing the court said “My Lord I will present facts of the case through exhibits and testimony of investigating officers and Medical professionals establishing motive and method through which Ms. Juhi was murdered. This is a murder which was premeditated and well planned by a cunning person. Who firstly gained trust of the victim and then betrayed the very same person who helped him in his time of need gave him respect and position.”

 

“I would like to call upon the investigating officer Inspector Sameer Verma on witness stand.”

Inspector Verma came into the witness box and took the oath.

 “For the records Inspector Verma please state your name and the police chowky you are attached with said Purohit.”

 

Addressing the court in his lyrical tenor Inspector Verma said – “My Name is Sameer Verma I am a detective with Vadodara police.”

“Please explain why you have arrested Parvesh for the murder of Ms. Juhi.”

“Our board line received a call from the hospital around 11 p.m. reporting a lady was brought to hospital in an unconscious state and she died two hours later. “

“Why did the hospital call a police station for a death?” Asked Purhoit.

Hospital suspected foul play. Hospital reported the patient vomited before her last breath, noticing the vomit colour and how patient could not breathe.

Right.

Our team got in touch with the hospital and preliminary report conduct on the vomit showed traces of chemicals which are not normally found in the body. We took the body in custody and sent it for post-mortem.

At this point my lord I would like to request Inspector Verma to step down and would like to call upon Doctor who attended. Will recall Inspector Verma later.

Go ahead said the Judge.

He called upon Dr. Raghunath who attended Ms. Juhi when she was brought to Jeevani nursing home.

 

He explained how patient was brought in critical condition. On examination they found very weak pulse. She was struggling to breath, she vomited and coughed. They immediately put her on life support and tried very hard to resurrect her but unsuccessfully. After trying for over an hour they declared her dead.

Next Dr. Nethra came on witness stand. She was sworn in as doctor who performed an autopsy on Ms. Juhi.

 

She said that during autopsy she found her neural pathway had a paralytic attack due to which patient could not breathe.

What were the findings in blood and other body fluid?

We found higher concentration of arsenic in urine sample. We studied the stomach content and found arsenic present. Death could have been caused due to administration of arsenic through oral ingestion.

 

Addressing the court Purohit said, based on the preliminary forensic reports it was established-cause of death due to poisoning .He sat down.

 

We will reserve the cross-examination for a later stage, as the forensic report has been shared with us just now by the prosecution. We need time to study it, said Sethi.

 

Al-right, please proceed Mr. Purohit, said the Judge.

I would now recall Inspector Verma on stand.

 Inspector Verma can you explain circumstances that lead you to arrest of Mr. Parvesh for the murder of Ms. Juhi?

After Ms. Juhi’s body was taken into custody, we interviewed people who were in contact with Ms. Juhi that day. Her personal staff, Co- actors, Show crew, Director of the show her family and friends. We also conducted searches of the premises of the shoot, her green room, residence. During one of these searches we found box of medicines which among other medicine we found Arsenic liquid. On further inquiry Mr. Parvesh admitted that this was indeed his medicine box.

 

After finding the cause and instrument of death and on self-admission by Mr. Parvesh we arrested him for the murder of Ms. Juhi.

 

Your witness said Purohit to Sethi.

 Inspector Verma, did you visit the site of accident? Where Ms. Juhi fell?

 

Yes.

When was that?

Case was reported on 9th late night. We did panchnama next day on 10th. I was assigned the case on 12th and I visited the site on 12th evening.

That’s after over 3 days later.

Yes.

Was the area cordoned off?

No

So anybody could access it within these hours?

No, as it was locked from outside.

What did you notice once you reached there?


Studio was not in use as the shooting was suspended after the incident. As it was locked, we got the studio manager to open it for us. Ms. Juhi’s room was locked and the key was with her assistant. It hadn’t been opened since 9th evening. Rest of the rooms and studios were in use.

My client’s medicine box was found in green room?

No, it was collected from the studio.

Do you know when was the studio locked?

Referring to his notebook, Inspector Verma replied, manager found the studio open on 10th evening and he locked it himself.

For close to 24hours anyone could have entered the studio?

Yes.

And they could have planted the medicine in his box? Sethi looked happy having caught inspector on this.


On the prosecution table, Purohit was smiling to himself.

 It is possible however we found no other finger prints on the box other than defendant’s, also the passage leading to studio has camera installed. We have reviewed the tape and nobody entered the studio after the incident.

Realising he is not getting any loophole here, Sethi decided to move on.

 

What did you find in Ms. Juhi’s room?

Not much, her personal stuff makeup, clothes, used plates, cups and glasses. These have been sent for forensic analysis. We will know soon how the poison was administered.

That’s all for now said Sethi addressing the court.

 

Purhoit standing up said my Lord we have submitted the list of objects collected from the green room.

Court was adjourned after scheduling the next hearing.

---------------

At the next hearing, Purohit called Juhi’s secretary on the stand.

 

Radha was sworn in. Please give your full name and your relation to the deceased asked Purohit.

Looking at Judge she said nervously “My name is Radha Samant and I am secretary to Ms. Juhi for over four years “.

Can you tell us what your job was? Asked Purohit.

 

My job is to keep Madam’s appointment and schedule. Make sure she is on time for her shoots, make her travel arrangement, help her reply on social media, keep her informed about new comments, write up, articles about her work. Buy her medicine, makeup anything she needed.

How would you describe Mr. Parvesh Kumar’s relation with Ms. Juhi?

Parvesh da is very protective of madam. He will go to any length to safeguard her interest.

He has been with her for very longtime?

Yes almost 7 years.

Will you say he was controlling Ms. Juhi?

Objection My lord, it is leading said Sethi.

Sustained.

How was there relationship? Asked Purohit.


He is possessive about her. Sometime he uses to take decision without asking her just to protect her.

He was controlling who she meets and what she does? Purohit.

Before Sethi could object ,Purohit said withdrawn.

He was managing who she meets and what she does? Purohit.

You can say that, Although it was my job said Radha sullenly.

Were there any disagreements between Juhi and Parvesh?

Sometime Madam will get very angry with Parvesh da. But later on she will feel bad. Because she knew he had her best interest in mind.


When was the last time they had a disagreement?

On the day of the last shoot,

Interrupting Radha, Purohit asked you mean 9th?

Yes. I was returning with some paper’s madam had forgotten in the car and da was coming out of her room looking very angry. I asked da everything okay, he muttered under his breath he is going to get her juice and went away.

I entered the room and madam was crying, ‘he will be the death of me’.

I asked who? She said da and who else.

Point to be noted my lord, deceased was worried that defendant will kill her one day, said Purohit.

Your witness said Purohit.


Ms. Radha why was there disagreement between Juhi and Parvesh?

You see Da came to know madam met with Amitji without his knowledge.

Were there frequent disagreements? Asked Sethi.

Nothing serious.

Why this one is what you remembered?

You don’t understand Madam and Amitji were very close at one time and then Amitji betrayed her. At that time da helped her overcome her depression and has been looking after her since then. When he came to know of this secret meeting he was naturally very upset. And madam knew that he meant well.

So when she made the statement, sethi asked court reporter to read it from her notes ‘he will be the death of me’ …

She didn’t mean it literally. It was just an expression and she started laughing afterwards said Radha.

 

Next witness for prosecution was Rajat. He walked up to the witness stand with lot of flair. He was aware of camera’s being focused on him and it was a great performance.

 

After Rajat settled down was sworn in Mr.Purohit asked “Mr. Rajat you are an actor?

 Yes.

 You knew Ms. Juhi?

 Yes. She was my costar in the show.

 Can you tell us what happened on Saturday 9th May at Liberty Theater?

 Objection my lord it has not been established that Mr. Rajat will know anything of the proceeding of that day said Sethi to court.

 Sustained.

 

Mr. Rajat, where were you on Saturday 9th May?

 I was at Liberty Theater.

 What were you doing there?

 I had gone there to shoot for a reality show.

 Can you tell us what happened there?

 You mean at the time Juhi died?

 No, no give us your full day’s activities said Purohit flippantly.

 

I reached theater around 1 pm. Our rehearsal was to start at 1.30 pm. I waited in the green room for Juhi to come. She must have come somewhere around 2pm. We started our rehearsal. Around 3pm we took a break to have our lunch.

 

Who brought the food? Asked Purohit.

 Let me see, he said thoughtfully We had ordered some soup, salad for Juhi and sandwiches from the theater canteen. Mr. Parvesh went to fetch it for us.

 

So both of you had different meals?

 Yes.

 After our lunch we continued with our rehearsal for another 2 hrs.

 

Our director told us shooting will start only at 8pm and we had finished rehearsing,so I left Juhi in Green room, to meet my other colleagues who were present on the set.

 What did you do after that?

 At 7 pm we started to get ready with makeup and costume.

 What was Ms. Juhi doing in this time?

 

I do not know, because after meeting my friends I went into changing room to get ready.

 When did you see Ms. Juhi next that day?

 At 8.30 when director’s assistant came to tell us shot is ready.

 Was she looking alright?

 Objection My lord. Said Sethi.

 Sustained.

 

Did Ms. Juhi say anything to you about her health?

 Yes she complained about a burning sensation in her stomach. She said she has taken some cooling medicine for her stomach.

 Your witness Purohit to Sethi.

 Rajat how long have you known Ms. Juhi? Asked Sethi.

 For almost 4 years.

 How will you describe your relationship with her?

 

Well we are two professionals and I have same relationship with her as my other costars. You can say I am more comfortable with her as we have worked in number of shows together.

 Comfortable hmm, remarked Sethi.

Looking at Rajat for long he asked,

Are you sure you are comfortable because you have worked together many time? There is no other reason.

 

Rajat looked tad bit uncomfortable but said No.

 Looking at some papers Sethi said, in your testimony you said you and Juhi ordered different items for Lunch.

 Yes.

 Who laid the food for both of you?

 Parvesh da.

 

 Purohit looked smug.

 Sethi, asked, “Did you share the food?”

 Rajat looked at his lawyer.

 Yes, I had little soup and salad from her.

 And you did not feel any uneasiness after having food?

 No.

 

And you did not have anything to eat after lunch while rehearsing.

 We usually have tea or coffee.

 So between the shoots/rehearsal did you and Juhi eat anything?

 

No.

Looking at his notes Sethi said, Juhi ordered for tomato soup and Chicken salad and you had ordered Cucumber sandwich?

Yes.

Is it not true you have been advised by the doctor’s not to have meat and vegetables like tomato due to Kidney stone?

Yes, replied in a small voice.

That’s all, said Sethi.

 

Then there was testimony of other crew members which pretty much confirmed the same thing. Team B was called for shoot, after their performance the judges’ comments were shot and soon afterward Juhi collapsed on the stage and was taken to the hospital.

 

Director of the show VK had nothing new to add.

 

Did you known the deceased well? Asked Purohit

Yes, we have worked in few shows together and also we met socially.

Is the defendant known to you?

Yes I have seen him with Juhi.

Can you describe what happened on the day of the shoot?

Juhi asked to meet me in her room.

When I went to see her around 7 pm. She seemed upset and asked me if I could loan her some money. I asked her how much she said Rs. Two lakhs. I was taken aback. I asked her why you need so much money. After much prodding she confided that Parvesh is blackmailing her. He has some old letters and photographs of me, which he is threatening to sell to the press. They have been arguing about it for days. He had finally agreed to onetime payment and he will give her the originals and leave her employment.

I advised her not to give in to any blackmail scheme. We will work out some other plan.

 

On cross-examination Sethi asked

Were you and Juhi close?

Already answered, said Purohit.

My lord I am trying to understand why Ms. Juhi chose to confide in him.

Court directed VK to reply.

As said earlier we met socially occasionally.

Before this did she ever share any personal matter with you?

No.

Why now?

May be she exhausted all other means and she was desperate replied VK with a shrug.

 

Changing the course of cross-examination Sethi asked “How old is the show?”

It is in its 5th year.

Is it not that previous shows were produced by Ramaji Visuals and now you have a new producer?

Yes.

Any reason for change of the producer?

VK squirmed in his seat said our contract was for 5years and we decided not to renew.

Is that all?

Is it not true you were sued by Santosh Mishra your assistant director for plagiarism and you had out of court settlement with him?

Is it not true you threatened Santosh and his partner that you will destroy him?

 

My lord here is the court filing papers and FIR report filled by Santosh and his partner against VK. Because of this case the original producers withdrew from the program and VK came to brink of bankruptcy. They had an out of court settlement.

 

 Objection my lord said Purohit. This has no relevance on the case.

 Come to the point Mr. Sethi, said Judge.

 

Noticing his witness being trounced Purohit requested court for adjournment as it was near closing time for the court.

----------------------------------------------

Back at the office Rohan and Sethi were going through evidence presented by the prosecution in the court today and witnesses’ testimony.

 

Rohan ‘there seem to be nobody else who could have given poison to her’, said frustratingly.

 

Sethi looked up from the reports he was studying and said let us write down the facts we know

 

  1. Parvesh came to office on Thursday 7th around 8 p.m. much before the murder happened.
  2. Juhi died on Saturday 9th
  3. Parvesh was picked up for murder on Thursday 14th
  4. Presence of Arsenic in postmortem
  5. Cause of death poisoning through ingestion
  6. No traces found in her room. No leftover food or plates to test.
  7. Rajat is an old time friend cum foe cum friend
  8. Parvesh in employment for 7 years
  9. Secretary Radha been with Juhi for 4 years now.
  10. VK is an old associate.

 

Sethi to Rohan “read out from your notes how Parvesh describe the day”.

 

‘He reached Juhi’s residence at 8.30am. She had a shoot for daily soap at 11 am.

She was already up that morning and was reading newspaper when he reached. Her cook Rama was preparing breakfast in the kitchen. They had breakfast together – Porridge, juice and nuts.

 

Wait here is the stomach content report – yes it confirms said Sethi.

Rohan continued – 10 am driver came Rama gave him Juhi’s bag containing makeup clothes and food, flask and water. They left together with Juhi’s driver at 10.15 am Radha was to join them at the set. Madam had her fruits and herb drink at 12.30pm. Shoot was uneventful and except for being little late.’

 

Do we have list of item found in her green room? Asked Sethi.

 Rohan looked through the pile of papers and dug out police report. Here it is

 

 1 makeup kit

Brush set

Hairdryer

Throat lozenge

Purse

Phone

Keys

Tissue

Script

Clothes

Box of nuts, empty plastic container.

Mouth freshener, bank deposit slip

Credit card slips, Bill for laundry, movie ticket stub.

 

“Wait where is Rama’s testimony Rohan” asked Sethi.

 

Reading out aloud Rama’s testimony,

I reached madam’s flat at 7.30am as every other day. Made her tea and asked her what she would like to eat. She wanted Porridge and Juice. For the day she asked me to pack some dry fruits, her herbal drink and some fruits. She planned to eat lunch out. She was normal and did not seem stressed. Dada came by 8.30 and they had breakfast together. I packed her snacks and drink in flask and gave it to the driver’.

 

‘Here look here’ Rohan said excitedly … where is the flask? Police didn’t find it in her green room. Maybe it was left behind at the first shoot. He said reflectively.

Let me call the investigating officer Sethi said.  He chatted up with him for a short while and hung up. He says they haven’t found any Flask in their search. He will ask his deputy at the studio to check near the set and call back.

 

Sethi said reflectively we need to ask Parvesh about it tomorrow.

 

 

In the lockup room Parvesh said Madam always used to drink this concoction of herbs and spices to keep her throat clear. Yes that day too Rama had made and given the flask to driver to keep in the car. Just before the shot she asked me to get it for her and I went and heated it up and was bringing it to…. he stopped mid-sentence and was startled, he turn around and said urgently “ that day I was bringing the heated drink in the flask for her and director saab was coming from his room and said to me get madam’s Red belt from the room quickly as it is needed for shoot. I left the flask and glass there on the table and went to get the belt from the green room further down the corridor. I gave her the drink she was little annoyed as I took longer.She started drinking and her shoot was called.

Sethi asked do you remember where that flask is now.

He thought for few minutes and said No. Soon after Madam fell and we just rushed to get her to hospital. It should be on the set.

-------------------------------

Back at the office Rohan was going through old paper clipping, financial documents and searching web to get background history of Juhi,VK the director, Rajat, Parvesh. He was waiting for his friend to call back with some information on forensic report.

 

There were plenty of gossip half-truths on all of them. Apparently Juhi and Rajat started their career together and were very close friends. In fact there is speculation at one time that they got married in secret. Which was denied by both. Soon after Juhi’s career took off and things cooled down between them. Juhi was linked to with many leading star but nothing serious. It was also insinuated that Rajat- Juhi breakup happened because of Amit a very popular star. It could all be only for publicity for the shows she was acting in. Rajat continued doing some small time rolls but nothing big came his way. VK it seems was one of the director of many in the industry not much written about him except the controversy involving the case, There was an old picture posted online of VK, Santosh and his partner and a write up about the show which they were making together.


Rohan was toying with the content list from green room while waiting on page to load. Prosecution had provided photographs of all the objects collected from Juhi's green room. Keyring had a very interesting design, movie ticket, bank deposit slip of Rakhi. He wondered who was Rakhi.

 Computer made a sound and the page was downloaded. Picture was old and grainy but looked familiar. There was more news about the controversy the case and producer. There was lot more articles on Juhi, how she started her career, shows she has acted on, stars she was linked with. Her early days in the industry, how she started as short supporting roles and writing shows for other production houses. Her biggest break came with lead in Daily Soap which went on to become big hit and ran for four years. There were lot of pictures of her collecting awards for her performances, with the cast of her different shows and some more. Rohan checked his watch got up to stretch his legs.

 -----------------

At the next hearing continuing cross examination of the director, continuing from last proceedings

Sethi showed an old newspaper picture to VK.

Do you recognise this person?

VK looked at the picture he stiffened and stared at the picture for long time.

On Judges prodding he replied yes, it is a very old picture of Ms. Juhi.

 

Explaining to court Sethi said, my lord this is Ms. Juhi aka Rakhi as she was known then. At that time she was writing shows with her partner Santosh. Point to be noted she was the partner of Santosh who sued him for copyright infringement for the current show. If the court will take note of the bank account statements of VK for last 2 years, there have been regular payments to Rakhi and Santosh. Payment to Santosh continued however cheque to Rakhi stopped six months back.

Is it not true that you owed Ms. Juhi Rs. Two lakhs as back payments? Asked Sethi of VK. VK, was troubled and did not reply.

Judge directed him to reply.

Yes, he said in quiet voice.

 And she was demanding to be paid before she shoots the episode? Your show was already in trouble and if she leaves the show it would have destroyed you financially.

You thought of coming up with this imaginary story of blackmail so as to divert attention from yourself.

Noticing Rohan was trying to draw his attention, he went to his table

Rohan came quickly towards Sethi and whispered forensic report has come for the flask, flashing paper. He glanced at the paper and turned to see commotion at prosecution table. Purohit was saying something angrily to his team and investigating officer.

 

Purhoit got up and addressing the court said we have received some new evidence and asked time from court till after Lunch.

Judge adjourned the court for Lunch break.

After Lunch break Prosecution requested withdrawal of the case and acquittal of Parvesh Kumar.

 

Next day Sethi was solving daily crossword puzzle in his office. Rohan walked in with local daily newspaper. Reading out aloud Defense lawyer finds evidence while prosecution office found drinking hot coffee from flask’ Defense lawyer sethi discovered that the flask which contained some kind of herbal concoction was laced with Kaner flower seed juice. Forensic report found fingerprints of Parvesh as well as of director of the show VK. It was also uncovered there was disagreement over the term of settlements between Rakhi aka Juhi and the director of the show. He was under financial troubles and wanted to renegade on terms of agreement. Rakhi aka Juhi was threatening to take him to the court again. He knew it will destroy him completely. When he could not convince Juhi in any way he took the extreme step to get rid of her. He was aware that Juhi drinks herbal juice all the time all he had to do was add seed juice which is a very potent poison and difficult to trace after few hours. He was looking for an opportunity, which presented itself in the form of flask. He thought he could frame Parvesh and get away with it. He miscalculated the quantity and time of reaction. If it had happened after the shoot and at home he would have got away. It was deftness of the defense lawyer who uncovered the connection between VK and Juhi. Clincher was a video recording in which VK’s faint reflection can be seen in glass partition mixing something in the flask. VK looking at the evidence has confessed to the crime.

 

Sethi smiled and said good work in connecting Rakhi with Juhi with VK. That was the clincher. They discussed the case for few more minutes Rohan got up to leave for court and asked from the door “why Parvesh came to visit you on 7th?”

Sethi smiled with a twinkle in his eye and said nothing.

Shaking his head Rohan left.

 


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