Who Is The Culprit?
Who Is The Culprit?
Rajesh was waiting for the jeep to come and take him home at the airport. It has been 18 hours since the time he started his journey. He could not sleep even when it is 3 AM. The wait is killing him. It has been 15 years wait. He left for Kuwait all that time ago to hide from his past. These 15 years no one knows where he was or what he was doing. He was disconnected even from his family. He headed home in the hope that the 15 years would have healed all the wounds. The wait came to an end and the jeep was here. What he does not know now is, there is something unexpected awaiting him at the end of the journey.
Rajesh asked the driver to put the bags in the jeep. He gave the driver all the bags except one, which he held close to his heart. The bag had the chocolates which his baby daughter liked so much. Fifteen years on he doubted if she still liked them, but the chocolate had a lot of memories for him. He was thinking of all the things he missed about his family and his kids all these days. There was not one day he stopped thinking about them, but he could not change his past.
Today he is planning to meet his family and ask their forgiveness. The body's tiredness started to take over his nerves and he slept. He has woken up from sleep just a few blocks away from his house. The driver stopped to have tea. Rajesh wanted to angry with the driver for stopping here instead of heading directly home. He got down and the tea master recognised him immediately. The master asked him to have tea with them for old times’ sake. He started chatting with the tea master about how the town has changed so much in all the years. He had to stop the conversation to attend a natural call. He walked to a spot behind the tea shop. There was a cremation ground and no one lived around it. Very few people used this as a short cut to reach the shops. He started to relieve himself behind a tree. He heard some steps behind him turned around to see who it is. Before he could see who it was a big machete hit his neck and the head fell off far from his torso.
The driver has been waiting at the tea shop for Rajesh to be back. There was no sign of Rajesh for a long time. He decided to go back into the crematorium and see where Rajesh is. The driver started to scream as soon as he has seen the body. Whoever killed him did not stop after the head fell off. They chopped off his hands and legs and there was blood everywhere. The tea master knew Rajesh's wife and called her immediately. The woman started to cry in front of the body. The kids had no clue that the man was but cried seeing her mother. The police were there in no time. They cleared off the body and dispersed the people. The family was requested to go home and was promised a quick justice.
The case was handed to Vamsi Krishna. Vamsi is newly transferred to the city. But he was the native of the town and knows the history of gang fights and rowdy elements very well. He was called into the office of the commissioner and handed the file. Vamsi took the file went back to his office. He started to read the file and forensic reports. The photo and the name felt very familiar to him. He wanted to make sure what he is reading is right. Rajesh was believed to be murdered and his body thrown into fires of a brick kiln 15 years ago. Vamsi immediately called on his friend Anand and enquired about Rajesh. Anand confirmed that it was Rajesh that was murdered, still, he could not believe what he is seeing.
Vamsi, Ananad, Ravi, Ramana, and Rajesh were in the same school as kids. Vamsi as a kid was scared of other rowdy kids in the school. Anand was his only friend. Rajesh, Ramana, and Ravi were the school rowdies. They were a few years older than Vamsi. Vamsi and Anand never had any problem with these kids. They used to mind their business and run home as soon as school was over. One day while going home they have seen Rajesh fighting with Ramana and Ravi. The fight was turning very ugly. Vamsi and Anand got scared and ran home taking a different route. What they heard the next day was Rajesh getting treated at the hospital after almost dying the day before. The enmity between them grew with them. Rajesh later became a right hand to MLA. Ramana and Ravi used to work as right-hand men to the losing party MLA candidate. The MLA behind him made Rajesh all-powerful. One night he has seen Ramana walking alone in his street and murdered him. Ramana before dying called Ravi to help him. Seeing Police in the crime scene the police arrested Ravi. Rajesh created witnesses and made sure Ravi stays in jail. After this Ravi spent a lot of money to come out on bail and killed Rajesh and burnt him in the brick kiln. Then Ravi went to jail facing 2 life terms of punishment.
As Vamsi was reminded by the story he knew immediately where to start his enquiry. He called the jailer of Kadapa central jail and made arrangements to meet Ravi in jail. He also asked the officer to send them all the records and movements of Ravi. Vamsi got the records after an hour via an email. He started to review the records. Something pulled his attention right away. Ravi traveled out of jail on the same day for a hearing at the court. Vamsi knew Ravi had the motive, now the access. But one thing that is not clear was how Ravi knew that Rajesh is coming to town the same day. He wanted to explore this angle after meeting him and getting clarity the next week.
Vamsi continued to read the file and noted the place of death. He was reminded immediately of who lived close by the place. Close to the crematorium lived this loan-shark Subbaiah. Subbaiah and Rajesh had a money lending business. Rajesh had no money in the business but compensated it as the muscle man for Subbaiah. Once it was confirmed their MLA is winning they both started a chit fund business. Rajesh, the day before he was presumed murdered, took all the money from the chit fund business. It was about a Crore of rupees. Rajesh was assumed dead and now Subbaiah was arrested for losing the money. He lost all the money and respect. There is a strong possibility that seeing Rajesh now made him angry. Vamsi decided to meet Subbaiah's to enquire.
Vamsi is well known in the area as their own. Many in the neighbourhood are his friends or relatives. Subbaiah invited Vamsi into the shop with a pleasant smile. Vamsi did not want to spook him right away with questions and enquiries. So he went wearing a casual dress instead of his uniform. Subbaiah asked the worker in the shop to bring them some tea. After the initial pleasantries, Subbaiah asked Vamsi why is here. Vamsi did not tell Subbaiah the real reason of why he was there. Instead, he told him, he was there to meet Rajesh's wife and understand what happened. He was noticing every move of Subbaiah to get a read of him when took Rajesh's name. Subbaiah had a very surprised look on his face but trying hard to hide it from Vamsi. Vamsi then casually asked Subbaiah did he know what happened the other day. Subbaiah did not utter a single word. That is when the boy broke the tension when he stepped into serving them tea. Vamsi sipping the tea asked again did Subbaih knew anything about the incident. This time the boy replied to Vamsi. He said to Vamsi the boss was out of town that day and the shop was closed. Vamsi had his doubts about Subbaiah's behaviour. He, however, had no option but to leave for now.
Vamsi told Subbaih earlier that he came to meet Rajesh's wife. To not create doubt in Subbaiah's mind he walked to Rajesh's house. Rajesh's wife was from the same school as Vamsi and she is a good friend of his younger sister. Rajesh's wife Radha called him in without any hesitation. She introduced him to her kids and mother-in-law. Vamsi told to Radha that he was given the case of Rajesh's murder. He is here to enquire the same with Subbaiah the moneylender. He also told her he is going to meet Ravi to know if he has anything to do with the murder. Radha kept nodding her head but had nothing to add. Vamsi then asked Radha if she has any information about the incident. She nodded a no. He asked her if she knows of him coming home after all these years. She nodded a no again. Vamsi had nothing more to ask Radha as he felt she was in mourning. She promised her he will keep updating her of the case and left the place.
Vamsi knows all the problems Radha had to face after Rajesh has left them 15 years ago. Subbaiah and the investors put her in a lot of trouble. A day did not go by without some or other men harassing Radha in her own home. There was no second in her life she got respite. Either she is cooking, bathing, or feeding her kid people just barge into her house. When her husband was around these guys did even dare to look her way. She was treated very badly even by the women in the neighbourhood. She sold the house, car, bike, and all small and big furniture to get rid of them. She then moved to a cheaper locality into a rented house. After a few years, she started to get small jobs and started to earn a decent living. This now should be killing her completely again.
Vamsi went the next day to meet Ravi in jail. Ravi was brought into a room with a guard overlooking him. As soon as he was called, Ravi knew what was this all about. Ravi seeing Vamsi started boasting. I killed Rajesh, that stupid guy. He killed Ramana created witnesses and made a false case against me. He was scared to learn of my bail, created a story of his death and ran away. When I got the first chance, I killed him with my own hands boasted Ravi. The guard thought the case is closed with Ravi’s confession. Ravi laughing out loud said to Vamsi, you cannot prove any of this. I was with the guards all the time of travel from jail to court and back. You know a funny part of the whole incident I will be sent out immediately. Ask me why? Please ask me why? Vamsi stared without any response. Ravi continued, I am now in jail for killing him. Now as he is proved alive so I will be let off immediately.
Vamsi after recomposing himself asked Ravi, how you did this. Ravi said I will tell you everything. You, outsiders, think we jailbirds cannot do anything from inside here. To your surprise, we can do more than you without fear of law. You just need money, which I and my family have plenty of. Every time I go out I pay the guards money to give me a few hours to whatever I want. Mostly I go to meet some women. That day I was finishing with a woman in the locality and seen Rajesh. Took out the knife from the fruit shop and murdered him. The last line created a suspicion in the mind of Vamsi. He signaled the guard to leave for a few minutes. As soon as the guard left the room Vamsi gave a slap on the face of Ravi. Ravi fell out of his chair. He got up to sit on his chair just to be hit on the face again. Ravi did not understand what was happening. Vamsi took out the iron hand clasp started to put on when Ravi started begging him to stop. Ravi promised to tell the truth.
Guard was back in the room. Ravi started to tell Vamsi a different set of incidents that happened that day. That day I paid the jail guard some money to stop at my home and meet my wife and family for a few hours. They were supposed to be having lunch and taking rest at that time. I spent a little time and started to come back to meet the guards. When walking back I have seen the head of Rajesh. First, I did not recognise him. I took a closer look and realized who it was. But he was already dead by then. His head was lying on one side and his legs and hands too were amputated. Vamsi asked Ravi then why did you lie earlier. As they found Rajesh alive, I can go back home. Now going back I want to get back my business. If everyone believes I killed him they will start fearing me again and I can be some MLA's rowdy again. Vamsi said fine, now tell me if you have seen anything else that day. Ravi said he could not recollect anything. Vamsi asked him to think hard and tell him anything he has noticed.
Ravi said I did not see anything much. I was scared of being seen at that spot. So, I decided to take a longer route. I was very careful to be not seen, but Subbaiah has seen me. He was closing his shop just then. I warned him not to tell anyone that he has seen me. I ran from there found the guards and came back here. I started telling everyone after coming here that I killed him to gain some popularity when I was sure I can get released. Vamsi asked the guard to take Ravi back to his cell and started back to his station. Vamsi kept rewinding the sequence of events Ravi told him. He stopped at the word Subbaiah.
Vamsi, next morning went to meet Subbaiah. Subbaiah's shop was closed. He enquired the boy who was seen waiting outside the shop about Subbaiah. The boy replied that his boss is sick and did not come yesterday as well. Vamsi felt something is wrong. He walked to Subbaiah's house which was not far from the shop. Vamsi knocked on Subbaiah's door. When the door was opened Vamsi could see packed bags.
Vamsi: Looks like you are preparing to go somewhere?
Subbaiah: Yes Vamsi, I am going out.
Vamsi: Where are you going?
Subbaiah: I am going to Kashi, will be back in a few months
Vamsi: Looks like unplanned
Subbaiah: Yes, found a friend who gave me some cheap package last minute
The conversation with Vamsi and the hurry in which Subbaiah is preparing created doubts in Vamsi's mind. He called the said friend and enquired. He found out that Subbaiah paid an extra premium to go on this trip. Vamsi did not want to lose Subbaiah if he was the killer. He called the commissioner and asked for a few more officers to search Subbaiah's house. The police searched Subbaiah's house and found the machete with the blood on it. Subbaiah was arrested immediately.
Vamsi went to Radha's house after a few months. He apprised her of what is happening in the case. He told her that machete found in Subbaiah's made the case easy. After a little more of conversation with Radha, Vamsi started to leave the place. Before getting into his bike Vamsi told Radha, there is something unexplainable in the case. There was a different machete that was used to take off his head and another machete to amputate his legs and hands-off. We could never found the other machete that was used to take off the head. I hope that could never be found he said, with a smug smile.
PS: Radha knows Vamsi will never find the machete.