Story so Far: A captivated girl kills her captor and releases herself from the chain she was tied to and kept in a secluded house. She runs and collapses unconscious in front of a brick house. The residents of the house call the police and ambulance. The captivated girl has been taken to the hospital.
Dhananjay Bhide was about to wrap up his work in the police station and leave for the day. His mouth starts to water as he remembers delicious Bhakris his mother would be making for breakfast. His stomach was already belching out gases. It was exactly 4.10 a.m in the old clock on the wall. His mobile showed 4.13. Forty-five minutes more to go. It was a quiet night. No accidents. No crime reports.
And then there it was. A phone call to the control room. Surendra Singh, son of Manjit Singh, had reported that a girl in a battered condition appeared at their doorstep, a couple of minutes back. She was probably in her early twenties, and her condition was critical. His parents, Manjit Singh and Tara Devi were attending to the girl. An ambulance had already been called.
Delicious, home-cooked bhakris had to wait. Along with two lady constables and the Sub Inspector Mr. Ratan Mishra, he took off to the crime scene, the police siren of their van screaming.
When they reached the spot, the girl in question was wrapped in a blanket, and Tara Devi did all that she could do as first aid, but the girl was in irreparable condition. She needed to be hospitalized immediately. There was a great amount of loss of blood. She smelled of blood. She was unconscious, and a closer look at her instantly triggered his memory.
The girl was Kruti Shah, daughter of Pooja and late Neeraj Shah, reported missing from past twenty days by her mother. He could never forget that face. Her photograph was sent to all the police stations in and around Delhi. He had spent almost ten minutes looking at her picture and had felt very bad for her. He had wondered where she was. Was she even alive? What pain was she going through? Was she safe? Was she brutally raped? Was she sold? So many questions without answers. The main city police station where the crime was reported had done their part of the investigation. And they had done it pretty well. The case was recommended by the Commissioner of Police. The missing girl was somehow indirectly related to the commissioner. All the police stations were alerted, and everyone had done their part. It was a dead end.
The girl, Kruti Shah, and her boyfriend (Dhananjay was unable to recollect the boy’s name) had been to a party in a farmhouse on the 14th February 2018. They left the party somewhere around 11 p.m., and no one knew what happened after that. Everyone at the party was investigated, the routes checked, and a search party was commissioned too. Nothing. Not even a clue. The car the boy was driving was also not found.
What Dhananjay could never forget about the photo was the girl’s eyes; brave, intelligent and her smile full of life. She was beautiful, no doubt, but more than that there was a sparkle in her eyes, the kind you know that she was a brave soul, a smart girl, a pure heart. What a waste of her beauty and intelligence, he had felt.
She was found in his jurisdiction now, a rural area far from the metro city with acres of barren, unoccupied land, fields and farms. A lot of land was not even owned, and if owned, were deserted. A perfect place to do a crime and hide it. A perfect place to keep someone captive.
Tara devi’s house was at the end of the village and further inside there was lot of uncultivated land, acres and acres of wild weeds and grass; difficult to find that one house where she was kept hidden in the wild vegetation. They had to hurry. He knew that Kruti ran barefoot, he can retrace her track by following the footprints on the mud road, and her blood spill from her injured foot.
The sub-inspector and the two lady constables left with the ambulance. Dhananjay stayed back.
He called for back-up. And while the back-up investigation team came, he decided to do his own search. The detective in him screamed to be let out. Dhananjay always liked the investigation, the research, the quest for answers and it came naturally to him.
He along with Manjit Singh decided to check out the surrounding area. They might lose the foot tracks if they do not hurry. The traffic though minimal, the wind, the animals all can spoil the girl’s tracks. So he set out with Manjit Singh on his bike.
The footprints on the mud road were already fading out. Dhananjay followed the tracks keeping his focus on the road the girl had walked. He took photographs of the mud prints through his redmi mobile. At one point in time, they just disappeared. So here she must have taken the mud road coming out from the wild vegetation. But in which direction?
The mud road was surrounded by wild grass and weeds in all the four directions. His mobile rang. A back-up van was almost there. He gave directions where he was stranded, and with the help of the other police officers, they searched the area.
One of the constables shouted, ‘Here.’ Dhananjay ran to the other constable. There was blood on a rock. She must have rested here, he thought. They had a direction now, and restricted land to focus. They looked for more blood stains, foot tracks, vehicle tracks.
The sun was shining brightly in the sky, and Dhananjay wiped the sweat from his forehead. No bhakris today, he grumbled. He wasn’t sure of lunch too. He had already called his mother that he would be late. One more hour of search, they found an old and secluded house in the midst of acres of grass and weeds.
They rushed inside, Dhananjay leading the search party. It was a dingy and shabby house with bulbs hanging from the wooden ceiling in the rooms. The door was open. There was a jeep parked on the other side of the old house. Inside, there were no windows, just three rooms.
In the inner room, there was a metal cot like they had in the prison, a metallic chain, one end bolted to the wall and next to the hook was a toilet seat. An empty bucket, used paper towels and used clothes were splayed next to the toilet seat. In the middle of the room, there was a dead body with a pointed tool pierced in its neck, its face covered and a pool of dried blood scattered.
Dhananjay immediately called the control room, updated the station officer and a forensic team was on the way. It was 12 p.m. in the afternoon. He handed over the investigation to another Sub Inspector to leave for the day. He had already briefed everything, how he deliberated and acted quickly to trace the footsteps, and how they found the house.
‘Well done.’ A firm voice spoke as he was briefing his superior. He was introduced to Aryaveer Thakur from the head office who had been sent to lead the investigation. Both of them shook hands.
‘Thank you, Sir.’ Dhananjay replied warmly. He liked Aryaveer instantly. Tall, good physique. He was the kind of police inspector they showed in the movies. The sleeves of his shirt hardly managed to contain the muscle of his arms.
‘Go rest. You have done a lot for today. Will meet you later at night.’ Aryaveer patted Dhananjay on his back.
‘Dhananjay.’ Aryaveer called him as he was walking to the police car. Dhananjay stopped and looked back.
‘Did you by any chance find any mobile?’
‘No Sir. Why?’
‘Just curious. We would get a lead right away. I heard you were the first one to enter and you led the entire search.’
‘No. Sir. There wasn’t any mobile in the evidence we collected from the house. Everything has been bagged and tagged. They are still sweeping. Hope we find something.’ Dhananjay was too tired to speak.
Aryaveer smiled at him, and Dhananjay got into the jeep. As he moved away from the secluded house, he looked back one more time at the house and prayed for the girl to survive.