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Amitav Ganguly

Action Thriller


5.0  

Amitav Ganguly

Action Thriller


Murdered But Not Dead?

Murdered But Not Dead?

20 mins 1.3K 20 mins 1.3K

It was late Monday evening, about 8.15 p.m. and Vijayendra was in the office of Daniel Saxena, the Radio Station Boss. Saxena was a large obnoxious man with an unruly mass of white hair. Standing before his table, Vijayendra was listening to him with increasing anxiety.

Saxena was saying in a high-pitched voice, “Vijayendra, I am very annoyed with your performance… is this the way you do your work for radio plays? Those you have conceived… they are awful flops. And your USP of imitating the voices of celebrities… it is pathetic. I have received several calls from the audience, critics and public; so many were complaining about your poor work…”

Suddenly his voice rose to scream - bordering on anger and irritation “This happened in the last several months. No marks of improvement… none.”

Vijayendra was stunned to hear all these. No words came from his lips.

Suddenly Saxena appeared to take hold of himself. Leaning forward with an ugly scowl on his face, he said “Do you know how much harm your poor- performance is doing to my radio station's business… of course, you don't bother...”

Then abruptly standing up, he said, “I can’t afford to keep you any longer… this is the end. I terminate your services, here and now! I also cancel all my payments to you for the business loss I am suffering.”

Saying that he picked up an envelope, containing Vijayendra’s termination letter and threw it towards him, hitting him on his face. Vijayendra was fortunate that his eyes escaped from being hurt. Then, with gritted teeth, Saxena said, “Return the money I loaned to you last year… every pie; with interest.”

It was such a great humiliation; it was patently unfair! No man with self-respect could endure this. Vijayendra’s eyes were filled with brazen tears. What could he do? Perhaps he needed the solace of his friend and colleague, Raghavan or find some way out.


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Next day morning Vijayendra was at the breakfast table, his thoughts were depressing when he heard the noise of an approaching police jeep. Looking out he saw a tall, strapping, handsome man, in a police uniform, alight from the vehicle and started walking towards the door. Another uniformed man, short and rotund, followed him.

He was Inspector Nokul Hegde of the Homicide Squad with Sub Inspector Mubarak.

Sitting on the sofa, the Inspector was speaking,” I am sorry to barge in your house so early in the morning, but I have to make some inquiries about an attempted murder of Daniel Saxena, yesterday. I understand that he was your Boss while you were working with his Enjoy Radio Station.”

He broke off and looked at Vijayendra.

Vijayendra knew Daniel Saxena was a venomous character with anti-employee attitude, so unscrupulous that almost anyone working with him would have thought of bumping him off at some point of time. Frankly, this world would be a better place if that scum of a man went to hell. And he had ideas how to do that.

Ultimately, Vijayendra did not say anything but simply returned his stare.

“Well,” the Inspector continued, “Tell me whatever you know about this man, his organisation and why you have left that job after working for almost seven years.”

Showing his sadness, Vijayendra spoke frankly about Daniel Saxena and what he believed about him, the complete set up and his experience. Sub Inspector Mubarak took note of those.

A little later, after a few more inquiries, both left.


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Vijayendra heard nothing from the Inspector during the daytime, but that evening he sent for him. "Mr Vijayendra, remember my visit to you. We will appreciate if you can come to the Police station now.”

Suddenly Vijayendra got worried. It was always dangerous to come into the investigation net of the police.

Inside the Police station, the Inspector took Vijayendra to a room which was bare except for a table and two chairs. Vijayendra occupied one of these, and the Inspector pulled the other one a little away and sat down.

There were two glasses of water on the table one of which the Inspector picked up and drank it in one go. Wiping his lips with the back of his hand, he settled down and cleared his throat. Vijayendra did not touch the other glass, although his mouth was dry.

The Inspector began,” For your information, Daniel Saxena, your ex- Boss is now dead. He did not survive the attempt on his life. So, it is a murder.”

He stopped to gauge Vijayendra’s reaction, but he did not react, so the Inspector continued.

“Are you interested to know how Saxena was strangled to death? I may have guessed the modus operandi of the murder, but the identity of the murder is yet to be clear.”

Vijayendra watched him not showing much interest, but it appeared that the Inspector had decided to tell irrespective of whether he wanted or not.

He went on to explain.

“As you had already said, Daniel Saxena was an extremely unlikable character. We realised that almost everyone in his office roundly hated him. And we found that the murder attempt was made on him in his office much after regular office hours. Most probably an insider was involved since the building security had told us that during the evening hours, no outsider had entered the building, only the office staff had left for the day.”

The Inspector paused, then went on.

“That narrowed down our investigation of those individuals who were in the building during that evening. Now, who was there? In the three other offices, there were five men. Out of them, three were peons. In your office, there were four men, you, two of your junior colleagues and a peon. That excluded the Victim. Opportunity wise one or more of these persons could have killed, but who? I spoke to all of them.”


Inspector Nokul Hegde then excused himself, got up and went out of the room. Vijayendra sat there thinking…. his mind was wandering …what would the Inspector reveal now?

The Inspector returned and took up his narrative.

“It seemed that the murderer was known to the Victim since there was no forced entry. It could not have been otherwise as other people in the office would have known.

The murderer entered the chamber of your ex-Boss, which was at a distance from the main hall. Hence it was not possible for others to see who came and left that room unless someone deliberately kept a watch. This was what the office staff told us.

It was clear that the killer had entered and throttled the Boss, left the building unobtrusively. If he were an employee, he would have digitally signed out with a recorded time. We checked the data and found that one person had left before you and one after you. You had left around 8.37 p.m. The Peon was still waiting for the Boss to go. During all this time, the Peon did not see any person from the other three offices enter the office; therefore, the killer was from the Boss’s office.

Sometimes at 9.55 p.m., the Peon saw the daughter of Daniel Saxena come and enter her father’s office. Immediately he heard her scream and on entering found the Boss lying on the ground having fallen off from his chair. He looked dead but was unconscious. We were then called.

There were signs of struggle and marks on his neck showing that he was strangled by the killer’s hands to bring death. Saxena’s left hand with the wristwatch had hit the ground. It was an old winding watch which had broken and stopped, showing the time of 8.27 p.m. This must have been the time of the attempted killing. Moreover, his mobile had fallen on the floor and broken into two parts.


Here I must add that we believe that the killer neither knew that Daniel Saxena was feebly alive, nor that a broken watch had pinpointed the time of his attempted murder. Otherwise, the killer would have finished his job and taken away the watch.”

The Inspector shifted in his seat and settled down more comfortably.

“Now the interesting part. The daughter had received a call on her mobile from father’s mobile at 9.12 p.m. asking her to come to the office. Curiously, his voice was normal. How could that be possible since he was unconscious and on the threshold of death since 8.27 p.m.? Besides three calls were made by his daughter to his mobile between 8.45 p.m. and 8.55 p.m. These remained unanswered. This was unusual, according to the daughter, but we knew that it proved his near-death status at that time. It was important to understand here that the location of Saxena’s mobile was the office building or near about.”

Inspector Nokul Hegde stopped for many moments, deep in thoughts. Then he continued on.

“What is the mystery? My mind tried to find a possible answer. Was that calling real or a hoax? But the daughter was swearing that her father had called at 9.12 p.m. It was unmistakably his voice. The call also had come from her father’s mobile number. But he was nearly dead then. This could be only possible if someone else called. Was that man then the murderer? And it was also not clear how calls could happen through a broken mobile and how that mobile could give its location. Something was definitely very fishy.

Then my thoughts veered on the likelihood of the murderer trying to set up his alibi or defence, which meant he was afraid that he could be found out. But how was he to ensure that he would be safe? I had to enter into his criminal mind to answer this.”

The Inspector stopped and looked at his mobile messages, then resumed.

“If the murderer could establish that after he killed his Victim, which he thought he did, the dead man was still alive, his alibi would be set. Hence it would look that the murder had happened later than the time of the actual killing.


The plan was that even after the murder, Daniel Saxena would appear to be alive at say 9.12 p.m. Thus, the murderer could safely escape within this intervening period. If the police question him about his whereabouts at the time of murder which will seem to be after 9.12 p.m., he is already safely away from the murder site.

It is challenging for any murderer to establish this type of alibi. But it will be effortless if he has unique skills by which he can imitate Daniel Saxena’s voice accurately over mobile so that even his daughter will not know that her father has not spoken but the murderer.”

The Inspector then tried to be modest, “With my years of crime-solving experience, I believe that the method I have explained to you now, may have been used. The murderer has cleverly imitated the voice of Daniel Saxena."

Saying that Inspector Nokul Hegde abruptly got up and spread his hands.

“After all these explanations yet, I am unable to move forward. It is only a hypothesis which has to be confirmed, and we have to find the murderer.”

While listening to him, Vijayendra’s tension was mounting. It was all so familiar. And was the Inspector asking for his help? If he helped the Inspector what would happen to him? Vijayendra remained speechless.


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Following morning as Vijayendra was turning the newspaper with a cup of tea at his side when he noticed a small news item on page four meant for local news. It was innocuous enough at first. It read that Daniel Saxena, the well-known owner of Enjoy Radio station who was hospitalised on late Monday night for attempted murder was declared dead by mistake. He was alive. An internal probe of the hospital was going on.

The news was a whiff of relief to Vijayendra! At least it might take away the Inspector from his back!


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That evening, Vijayendra got a call on his mobile from an unknown number. The voice which was so familiar was saying in a threatening note, “Vijayendra… I am damn sure that you recognise me… you murderer… you have failed in your crime to kill me… now you must face your punishment… you creep… come immediately to the Police station and give yourself up before Inspector Nickel Hegde.”

The line was disconnected abruptly.

This was so unexpected. Daniel Saxena, who was now alive was threatening Vijayendra!


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


With nervous steps, Vijayendra entered the Police station and asked for the Inspector. It was a late night.

Nokul Hegde was present in his office; seeing him, Vijayendra blurted out, “Inspector, Daniel Saxena is not dead. I read the news today and...”

“Is that so?” The inspector said. "Do you believe in the news like that?"

“But…” Vijayendra said and stopped. Would it be advisable to tell about the call he had received from Daniel Saxena, implicating him? Was it a fraud call? Was he landing himself in trouble? Everything seemed muddled.

The Inspector was staring at Vijayendra, leaning against the door of his office, then said, “I think I had given you enough details, yesterday evening, for you to come clean on the modus operandi of the crime… for you to tell us the truth, but you did not. Glad that you have come to your senses now.”

He then closed the door.

Vijayendra sat down and wiped his face.

“Inspector, there is some mistake. I have neither killed Daniel Saxena, nor I tried to kill him. I swear to God. Yes, I thought about killing him, who would not have…. he is such scum of the gutter, but that does not mean I have done something so drastic… And he isn’t dead…” His voice trailed off.

The Inspector went to his chair and sat down, “Mark my words... Vijayendra and listen carefully… I strongly believe that you...yes you... are the originator of a unique idea of murder and alibi... you are responsible.”

Then, he suddenly became insistent…. very firm; his eyes were blazing “Am I not correct… tell me … admit it?”

Vijayendra gaped at him, he could not reply. Reluctantly, he was conceding in his mind that the Inspector’s guess was correct. Amazing!

Perhaps his face was revealing his thoughts.

The Inspector smiled and spoke.


“You are wondering how I know your idea… well, it is not that difficult. You forget that we know you are a senior artist specialising in radio plays and voice imitation. We also know that you are highly creative. Over the years you have suggested plots of murder mystery. Many in your office have said that. One can, therefore, make a reasonable conclusion about who could have conceived this unique murder idea.

But that is not proof enough. There must be a motive and the opportunity. In your case, the motivation was there since Daniel Saxena had misbehaved with you, fired you and refused to make any payment. Besides, the opportunity was also there since you were present at the crime scene just before the murder. Thus, you have been the first suspect.”

“But…” Vijayendra cried out loudly, “How can I be a suspect of his murder? I am telling you that Daniel Saxena is not dead. I did not try to murder him. I don’t know who has tried!”

“We will come to the fact whether Daniel Saxena is dead or not, a little later.” The Inspector responded.

Vijayendra looked at him aghast; wanting to respond.


Ignoring Vijayendra, the Inspector went on, "As I said; initially, I did suspect you. But while talking to you and evaluating your reactions, it did not seem that you were a guilty man. You were quite open about negative thoughts you had of Daniel Saxena and that fateful evening’s incident with him. No killer would tell about his harsh feeling for his victim and the altercations he had with him minutes before the crime. I also think that your motive is not strong enough. Generally, people do not kill their Boss, on getting fired. You appear to be innocent.

So, there must be another person who has the real motive for this murder and who is also a voice imitator artist. And he too was present near the murder scene.”

These words of the Inspector caught Vijayendra’s breath. The Inspector was about to tell him the name of the murderer!

Inspector Nokul Hegde continued impassively “You may not be involved in the murder, but you have done a foolish act. I presume that you must have revealed your unique idea of murder to a junior colleague.”


The Inspector paused, then went on, “Now, who can he be? There are three voice imitators in the office other than you, but only one person can be pinpointed, and that man is close to you. Everyone in the office knows that man, and he is Raghavan!”

As Vijayendra listened, he wanted to interrupt, but the Inspector went on relentlessly.

“You and Raghavan have been very unhappy with Daniel Saxena, and your revelation of the unique murder idea to Raghavan may have been a casual talk between you two.

Here I will venture to say that through our incisive investigation, we found that Raghavan’s motive to murder Daniel Saxena is much stronger as compared to you. The reasons are more than one. First was Saxena’s long illicit affair with Raghavan’s wife. Second and the most heinous crime was that Saxena had attempted to rape the minor daughter of Raghavan. This information was complicated to find out, but we had our sources. That was the ultimate trigger for Raghavan to kill Saxena. With this motivation, your unique murder idea offered him the murder plan.

That fateful day, just before the lunch hours, Saxena had fired Raghavan from his job on a flimsy excuse; definite he wanted to ruin Raghavan. Perhaps Saxena wanted to marry Raghavan’s wife by playing dirty with some trick.


Raghavan was already ready to take revenge, his plan was clear, so he carried it out ruthlessly. Maybe you never suspected that a casual chat had resulted in such a severe crime.”

Saying this, the Inspector went out and asked Sub Inspector Mubarak to bring Raghavan into his room. He had already been summoned to the Police Station.

Meanwhile, Vijayendra’ mind went into a tizzy. Raghavan was his good friend, and Vijayendra had full sympathies for him.

The Inspector then returned to his chair and resumed.

“My investigation had revealed that Raghavan was in the office that fateful evening. That was his last day in office. He was keeping a watch on your movement. He evidently had heard your arguments with the Boss. After you left his chamber in a huff, he took the opportunity to enter the room, committed the murder and then left the office at 8.31 p.m. You left after that at 8.37 p.m. Your last colleague left at 8.44 p.m. All exits were by digital signing and had been recorded.

Here we understood that when Raghavan and all went out none of you knew that the Boss was dead. The Peon had seen you, Raghavan and another colleague, enter the Boss's room from time to time, which he thought was for official work; he was also not aware of the murder as he waited for his Boss to leave after which the office was to be closed.

While investigating, we found that Raghavan had made some fatal mistakes. He took from the PA of the Boss, the mobile number of his daughter. None in the office knew her number, so this particular effort by Raghavan to get her number was suspicious.


Another error was Raghavan had called her from Saxena’s mobile phone.

This was what happened after the Saxena’s murder, as we found out.

After the murder, Raghavan picked up Saxena’s mobile, which was intact at that time and left the office. He went to the adjoining restaurant and ordered food. While waiting in the restaurant, he got three calls from the daughter, which he ignored; then he boldly made a call at 9.12 p.m. from the restaurant itself asking the daughter to come to the office. He knew that daughter would take some time to reach the office.

Little later, in the pretext of going to washroom of the restaurant, he left the place and entered the next-door office building from the back entrance and into the Boss’s office through his bathroom door which had a second entry from outside. It was unlocked. He knew about that. The Boss’s Peon didn’t notice this entry.


As Raghavan entered the bathroom from outside in a rush, he slipped, and Saxena’s mobile fell on the bathroom floor. It broke into two parts, and a small piece came out loose and went out of sight. Raghavan hurriedly picked up the two parts but missed the small piece.


After that Raghavan entered the Boss’s office and kept the two broken mobile parts near the dead body trying to show that in the murder- struggle mobile had fallen and got broken. He then wiped his fingerprints and escaped from the bathroom door, closing it behind him. It remained unlocked.


The Boss’s Peon never knew any of these activities as he was sitting outside the main door of the Boss’s office.


After that Raghavan went back to the restaurant in quick time, had his meal and left in a hurry much before the daughter came into her father’s office at 9.55 p.m.


As a plan, he had gone home during the lunchtime and kept his own mobile there so that during that fateful evening his presence at home is established. Fortunately, that also gave rise to doubts in my mind.”


Inspector Nokul Hegde paused, then went on.


“While investigating, we found the broken piece of mobile in the bathroom. We had already noticed the time of death as 8.27 p.m. when Saxena’s watch had broken and stopped and came to know that the ignoring of the three calls from the daughter between 8.45 p.m. to 8.55 p.m. was unusual for a father to do. Like I said, all these put me on the track that killing had happened before 9.12 p.m. and the murderer had tried to establish an alibi.”


The Inspector stopped and then smiled at Vijayendra.

“In comparison, while investigating you, I became certain that you had not committed the murder and called the Boss’s daughter because, at that time of 9.12 p.m., you were still travelling to another part of the town. Some witnesses saw you in the local train. You couldn’t have called from Saxena’s mobile location of which was his office building or near about.”

The Inspector again paused, then continued, “Now the truth about Daniel Saxena can be said. Whether he is dead or alive? In the interest of investigation, fake news was planted in the newspaper that he was not dead.

Raghavan, who always thought that Daniel Saxena had died that evening was told about this fake news. We asked him to call you imitating the voice of Daniel Saxena and putting the blame on you. He thought it was to trap for you, but it was, in fact, to trap him. He readily did this also thinking that we were suspecting you and so he was very safe. But he did not realise that his perfect imitation of his dead Boss’s voice showed that he had rehearsed well for this crime. A good imitation needs some practice. That is another mistake which will nail him. And we recorded his voice too.”

The Inspector got up and opened the door. He turned to face Vijayendra.


“To help us now you must admit to me now and later in the court, about your unique idea of murder and alibi. This is crucial since this maybe not in the realm of the usual murder trial. The Judge must be made to convince that this is possible. Also, you must tell the court that you have discussed this idea with Raghavan, though casually and innocently and have nothing to do with the murder. We will support you with our findings. Our prosecution lawyers will also do the rest to nail Raghavan.”

There was, now, absolute silence, Vijayendra could hear the noise of the vehicles moving on the road near the Police station.

Vijayendra was impressed by the Inspector’s brilliant piece of investigation.

Then, nodding emphatically Vijayendra said, “You are right Inspector… I can now admit before you that I did, unfortunately, conceive this dangerous idea of murder and casually told Raghavan not knowing that he would put it into practice.”

Just then Raghavan came in. He was a medium built powerful looking man. He appeared calm as was his normal personality. But as the Inspector explained to him his misdeeds, Raghavan suddenly lost his mental balance… with a high-pitched scream, he picked up a chair and threw it towards the Inspector and ran towards the door. Sub Inspector Mubarak and another police officer surrounded and held him. He was taken away to custody.


Inspector Nokul Hegde was unhurt. Calmly, he shook hands with Vijayendra and escorted him out the Police station. He also asked Vijayendra to visit the Police station in the days to come to help in the prosecution.

Next day morning the Inspector got a call on his mobile,

"Congratulations Inspector for successful closure of the case.”

The voice was of Daniel Saxena, the murdered man!

The Inspector frowned and said sharply, “Who are you?”

There was a pause at the other end, then, “Inspector, I am Peter Saxena, the twin brother of Daniel.”

This world was a strange place!


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