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Lavanya Nukavarapu



Lavanya Nukavarapu




6 mins 9.4K 6 mins 9.4K

Dhananjay was back again with dinner box prepared by her mother. She always stuffed more, enough for two and more for one. He asked to stuff more so that three people could eat. He had offered help and Madhuri had accepted. He wanted more than anything to work on this case, and any small or big thing, he would be grateful.

Aryaveer looked forlorn when Dhanajay had met him that evening because Madhuri had asked him to be away that night. Professional envy, Dhananjay muttered to himself while he walked into the corridor leading to Madhuri’s office. He did not have any intention to take all the limelight away, but he knew he was better than Aryaveer in an investigation and not in physical strength. Aryaveer would crush him like an ant under his feet. Aryaveer had neglected a lot of things. He was just a regular police officer, not the one correct for homicide. Dhananjay had a brain that could see the insides of the criminals, like a scan.

As he walked into the temporary office of Madhuri and Saran in the police headquarters building, he thought of Kruthi. He was denied permission to check on her that evening. One way he was happy about security. Madhuri mam had taken care of it properly. Anyone other than Kruthi’s mother required Madhuri mam’s permission. Even the doctors and nurses were monitored by the security people. He had to ask permission for Tara Devi (the woman who had taken care of Kruthi when she was found until the police and ambulance had arrived) for the next day.

He set the dinner boxes on the table while Madhuri and Saran were occupied with some file in their hands. The white-board behind was now filled with names and photos pinned to the names. The missing people from Aryaveer’s file report:

Number one was a girl named Akanksha, twenty-four, missing from 25th September 2017. She was part of a dance troupe performing for a high-class bachelor’s party. She had stepped out for a smoke, whether anyone accompanied with her was not known.

Number two on the board was Mrs Kanishka Majumdar. She was missing from the night of 15th November 2017. Last seen by her husband. Both husband and wife had been to a party to one of the houses in the area. After the party, while they were going back they had a fight, and the husband left the wife on the road for her to walk back to the main road as punishment. When, after hours the wife did not return, he went to check on her and could not find her.

Number three was a couple reported missing from a party, Anne Walker and Shirish Das, on 31st December. There weren’t many details. And then there was Kruthi in February. And there was a possibility that there could be more cases which no one reported but Dhananjay was sure. These killers were hunters and that area was their hunting ground to abduct women in the dark and use them to satisfy their lust.

Madhuri disturbed his chain of thoughts, ‘What do you think?’

‘Nothing new.’

She smiled and he smiled back at her. ‘Can I take Tara Devi tomorrow to meet Kruthi?’ He asked her.

‘Yes. Better in the morning. I want to question her in the late afternoon.’ She said and grabbed the dinner box, opening the lid, she smelled the fresh chapatis, dipped one in the beans curry and stuffed a piece in her mouth.

After dinner, they had gotten back to work. On one table Madhuri had placed the map of the entire area where Kruthi was held captive in an old abandoned house. Saran was holding a file that had the owner’s details of all the lands surrounding the house.

‘We found no link?’ Dhananjay asked.

‘There is nothing that relates any of the owners to the pastor?’ Saran replied.

‘What do you think of this Bar-code? Madhuri showed the photo of the bar-code to Dhananjay.

‘Mobile app, a video stream, an electronic door?’

‘We can rule out a door because there wasn’t any at the house. Could be an app. That is what I was thinking too.’

‘Weirdest thing is we did not find a mobile at the crime site. How did these people communicate?’ Dhananjay said pondering over the map.

‘We have asked the technical team to find out what that bar code opens to be. We will have to wait and see.’ Saran said shifting the focus from the bar-code.

‘In all this debris here, there should be a clue that connects Anthony Pastor to the other killers and we are somehow missing to see it.’ Madhuri sighed.

Dhananjay flipped pages from the other files, Anthony pastor’s call records. He couldn’t see any unusual pattern. He checked the call records again for 25th September 2017, 15th November 2017, 31st December 2017 and 14th February 2018.

There was nothing unusual in the phone records. He then checked the other file which had the record of Anthony Pastor’s records from the church. And he was either on leave or on a private duty the next day. That clearly explained where he had paid visits to. Madhuri was right, there was nothing in these files that established a connection, a clue.

He sat down quietly closing his eyes contemplating. How did they communicate? The bar-code could be a key to a mobile app through which they texted or called. But then they do not have the mobile. The house where Kruthi was found was owned by Late Mr Atul Shrivastava who did not have any kith or kin. The neighbouring lands were owned by different people. Could they be connected? He stood up and peered into the map. Madhuri asked, ‘What is it?’

‘This entire area, these four blocks, the crime scene, the properties next to it and the one back of it, all of them must be around 8-10 acres combined.’

Madhuri and Saran were now standing next to him. Saran was reading out the names of the owners. ‘Shreya Jaiswal, Pratik Sahni, Bhaskar Sahini, Mahesh Kar.’

‘Wait, what is the point you are trying to say, Dhananjay?’

‘I think all these plots together gave the killers a very strategic location. I remember that morning when Kruthi was found. I had been myself there. All these plots had weeds, high grass, not fenced in between, similar. I must have crossed one and more. I am sure. They have been maintaining that in that way for their purpose.’

‘Are you saying that all those owners are partners in crime?’ Saran pitched in between.

‘It is not making any sense.’ Madhuri shrugged her shoulders.

‘Can we see if any of the owners are related to Anthony pastor or to the owner of the house where the crime was committed?’ Dhananjay asked.

Saran went to his computer and started pressing few keys. Madhuri kept repeating those names in her mind. ‘Wait a minute, I think I saw somewhere a Sahini….Oh my God, you were right. The records from the church show that Anthony had been to a Mr. Sahini’s house for some counselling.’

She quickly opened the file and went through it until she found the entry. It was 1st January 2018, the night before a couple was missing. But that was a distant shot. Could be a coincidence. There could be no connection at all. But then they had something at least to go forward.

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