The Cold Case
The Cold Case9 mins 183 9 mins 183
Sometimes I wonder that though the law enforcement authorities are always fighting crime and solving cases and saving lives all over the world and in this endeavour they are many times caught in the crossfire, or become victims to political machinations, or are unjustly treated by the very society they are sworn to protect and uphold the law. Despite all this at the end when they manage to bring a smile in even if it is in one person’s face, that is a victory for them and gives them the impetus to carry on the crusade against spread of darkness, savagery, cruelty, inhumanity anywhere in the world. All said and done, there is a dark side to the picture also; which is out of tens of thousands, a small number of crimes of murder and misdeeds go unsolved or unnoticed by the police. The victims of these crimes just become mere statistics on the wallboard or are filed and locked away in some dark, dingy archive. It is as if these numbers and statistics were never humans.
My next story is also based on similar lines where a famous real public figure's better-half was found dead under mysterious circumstances, but after a lot of investigations and media hype; nothing came out of it and in a few days all the hullabaloo died down.
IPS Officer Abhimanyu Pratap Singh was fresh out of the academy and full of lofty ideals of justice for all and punishment to the wicked and similar notions. He was also a great fan of mystery fiction and movies and he had always thought since childhood that he would become a detective as he had seen in literary fiction and entertainment industry and solve crimes. So the first thing he did as he took charge of his station, he asked for all the unsolved cases. At first, the other members of his police station were surprised by such an odd request but when they looked at his seriousness and intent, they cooperated quietly.
The first file he found was that of suspected murder/suicide of a famous socialite, who was also the wife of a very famous upcoming politician in the ruling party at the time. The case had made big-time headlines in the newspapers, and electronic and digital media at the time. The victim’s name was Sunaina, and she was the wife of a very prominent and rising politician at the time, Raj Kumar Rathore. Although the police had suspected foul play, due to political pressure and other factors at the time, the case had remained unsolved for 10 years. Even Sunaina’s parents had given up hope of ever finding justice. As Abhimanyu read further on, he found that there had been clues and witnesses who had either been withheld from the police or silenced forever. The public knew of Sunaina as a very lively and cherubic public figure; who used to be involved in all types of public concerns and had an attitude of finding solutions for problems. Some people used to admiringly and with due respect compare her with another international celebrity with royal connections.
The case was intriguing to Abhimanyu as he found that Sunaina was not the type of person to commit suicide nor any suicide note was found. So, the first thing Abhimanyu decided to do was investigate this case from the start and went to interview her parents regarding her lifestyle and nature and whether there was any kind of internal strife going inside her. At first, her parents, Retired Major Pratap Khanna and Mrs Sushila Khanna were hesitant to meet with Abhimanyu and displayed their scepticism by saying that “after ten long years police had realised that there was something wrong in our daughter’s death, well, what’s the use now?”. To this Abhimanyu replied, “that I am not like the others and I will make sure that your daughter gets justice”. Still, the parents were not satisfied, but they agreed to tell him that just before her death Sunaina was looking very worried but she hid it from everyone. When asked, she used to just take it lightly and turn the conversation to other topics, but her parents had realised that something was wrong. When they had asked Raj Kumar Rathore about this, he too had feigned surprised but evaded the question. After getting some bit of information from Sunaina’s parents, Abhimanyu decided to visit the famous politician, Mr Raj Kumar Rathore to get his side of the story.
Meanwhile, his colleagues had come to know that he was following a decade-long cold case and they even advised him not to proceed further as this could be suicidal for him, but Abhimanyu had made up his mind and chose not to listen to them. Abhimanyu knew that to get more information about the case, he had to interview Raj Kumar Rathore, which he knew he would never get permission for; but still, he decided to go ahead and schedule an appointment with him. When he met with the politician at his office, he was surprised by the extravagant settings of the interior, with modern paintings adorning the walls, to a dark tapestry on other walls, polished wooden floor with expensive carpets laid on them. At first, Abhimanyu began to think that he had come to the wrong place but when the personal secretary of Raj Kumar came out of his cabin and invited him in, it is then only that he realized that the man had money and tastes. At first, Raj Kumar Rathore was an impressive guy, tall, handsome, hair brushed back and his countenance was erect and confident. So after the usual introductions, Abhimanyu got down to business and started asking questions about Sunaina which only Raj Kumar knew. Like when asked whether she showed any signs of depression or was stressed at the time of her death? Or was there someone troubling her? What was her behaviour like in the preceding days? One thing which surprised Abhimanyu was that while answering the questions, there was no sense of grief or loss in the face of Raj Kumar; it felt rather that he seemed relieved.
Anyways after spending a long time with the politician, Abhimanyu decided to close the interview and as he was about to leave his cabin, he stopped short in his tracks by Raj Kumar’s parting words that “you are wasting your time and effort, as there is nothing you will find”. Abhimanyu looked back at him and said ‘that only time will tell’ and left the office. When he returned to his station, he started getting calls from his superiors to drop the case or face the consequences. Undeterred, he kept on pursuing the case.
Then one day, suddenly he received an anonymous call on his cell. He was taken aback when the caller told him that he had vital information about this case and also asked him to meet at a nearby park at around 6:00 p.m. As he went in the evening to the designated meeting place, he could only see an old man wearing shabby clothes and head drooping down sitting on a bench. The first time Abhimanyu did not pay much attention, but when the old man called him by his name and asked him to sit beside him, Abhimanyu was taken by surprise. The old man said that he knew everything about the Sunaina's murder/death case and he had documents to give to him. He was about to say more, but then suddenly, a high powered rifle shot rang out from somewhere and the old man’s head burst open like a watermelon. Abhimanyu was quick to respond by taking out his pistol and looking for the killer, but he could not be found amidst the ensuing panic and chaos. He called for immediate backup and an ambulance, but unfortunately, the old man was long gone.
Back at his station, Abhimanyu was accosted by his superiors who took him and in subtle tone warned him again not to pursue the case, otherwise, they were going to pin this murder charge on him and his career would be finished. Still, he refused to let go and started interviewing Raj Kumar Rathore’s domestic staff about him and Sunaina, and their relationship. Amongst all the staff members, there was one cleaning lady, Parvati, who showed no sign of disclosing all to Abhimanyu. Meanwhile, Raj Kumar had gotten wind about Abhimanyu interviewing his private staff and started laying pressure on the police department through his influence to stop the investigation. Abhimanyu was the kind of guy who would not yield to any kind of pressure and he kept on investigating. Then one day, this lady, Parvati, called him and told him that “sahib, I will reveal everything to you but you have to promise me protection”. To this he readily agreed and went to question her, there Parvati told him that for a few days before Sunaina’s death, both husband and wife used to have tumultuous arguments over something and the whole household used to keep utterly quiet and still during this time.
Then one day she overheard Sunaina trying to talk some sense into Raj Kumar that he should not betray his party and stop from leaking sensitive information about his party’s agenda to rival political parties and also to refrain from taking an unsolicited commission. This resulted again in one of the mammoth fights between the husband and wife.
After a few days, both husband and wife came back late at night from a party and after having a good night drink, both of them retired for the day. The next day Sunaina was found dead. Parvati also disclosed that she knew where Raj Kumar Rathore kept his secret papers and other things. When Abhimanyu asked her to take him, she took him there and there he found all the incriminating documents linking him to the betrayal of his party and also the evidence which Abhimanyu was looking for to charge him with murder. Abhimanyu immediately called for police backup and notwithstanding any kind of pressure, went straight ahead and arrested Raj Kumar Rathore.
There arose a huge hue and cry in the media following his arrest; some people even did not believe that he could have killed his wife Sunaina. But when Inspector Abhimanyu produced evidence in front of Raj Kumar Rather, it was then he admitted his guilt and confessed to killing his wife by giving her poison and other crimes. This confession was then conveyed to the media and the public. It was only then Abhimanyu paid a visit to Sunaina’s parents and told them about the news of Raj Kumar Rathore’s arrest. Both of them broke down and in tears thanked him profusely for his patience and persistence. Back at the station, he was praised by the very same officers who had berated him and ridiculed him on taking this assignment.
Now the very same men applauded him for his commendable work and gave him due credit for all the dedication and hard work in this case. Abhimanyu did not respond but just mused that how come people with wealth and power can just flaunt with the law any time they want. Anyways, he knew that this was just the beginning in a long crusade against the forces of darkness, so he just nodded his head and went back inside.