Chapter 1: RAINY DAY
Arjun stood outside the door in a very old building and knocked on the door. There was no reply from inside. Robert signaled Arjun and moved to back side of the building. The site is old and it is not cleaned from years. Bushes all over the backyard and nothing is visible beyond those. Arjun waited for 2 minutes and tried to break the door. Robert joined him and broke the door in a minute. There were blood spots on the floor and phone number was on the paper. Arjun looked at the phone number and he knew it was the same number which he spoke a while ago. Both checked all the rooms and there was no other clue about the kidnapped girl.
‘They know that we are coming,’ Arjun said.
‘There is no use of wasting time here. Let us get back to Ranjan’s place and wait for the call.’
Ranjan is one of the famous jewelry shop owner in the city and his daughter Nisha kidnapped while returning from the school two days ago. Kidnappers demanded 5 crores and threatened to kill his daughter if it is not arranged in 2 days. Two very young and energetic officers in the department were appointed to handle the case. With the help of various sources, Arjun got an information that there is some suspicious activity happening in this building. But before they arrive, kidnappers escaped.
Low clouds and drizzle made visibility difficult and there are no lights in building. Bulbs are all over the floor and it clearly states that bulbs are just broken. Arjun was staring from the window to see anyone is at the back side of the building. Thunders started slowly. Arjun saw some footsteps in flash lightening and those are recent steps. Signaled Robert to go back to building from right side of the building and Arjun slowly started back to the building from left. Both of them reached back side and at the same time there was lightening and Arjun saw two people behind the bushes along with the girl. Shootings happened within a moment and both the guys were injured. Arjun saved the girl and called for ambulance. It is getting dark and downpour started so they decided to take them to station in their vehicle. Arjun was driving the jeep and Robert sat back side of the jeep. They reached the station and handed over Nisha to Ranjan. He thanked Arjun and Robert. Ambulaance reached the police station and picked up two kidnappers but those are already dead by that time. Doctor declared them as dead due to the heavy blood loss.
Arjun is looking at the medal which was presented by his superior when they saved Nisha 20 years ago and memorizing the incident. Nisha was same old as his daughter Preethi when she was kidnapped i.e, he felt happy when she got saved without any major injuries. His daughter Preethi is not living with him for 10 years and he visits her once in a week. He is missing his wife Rekha and daughter Preethi so much today. Arjun and Rekha were divorced legally a while ago and Arjun is staying alone from all these years.
He dressed up and bought a nice birthday present to his daughter on the way to their home. But to his surprise, he got a call from Rekha. He picked up the call and said, ‘Hello Rekha.’
There was silence from the other end so he said again, ‘Are you there?’
He is sensing something bad and Rekha started crying out loudly.
‘What happened, is everything okay?’
‘No.’ Rekha was not able to speak properly and finally said
‘Preethi was kidnapped, there is a note in front of our door. Tried to reach on her mobile but no response’.
Arjun rushed his vehicle and got a call from unknown number. He picked up the call.
‘Arjun here, who is this?’
‘Arjun Sir, I am Ranjan.’
Arjun started thinking something worst is coming and Ranjan said
‘Nisha is kidnapped, Sir’.
Chapter 2: ITS AGAIN
‘Ranjan, I am not working for Department now,’ Arjun said.
‘I know, but you have to help me out sir, It’s a request,’ Ranjan said.
‘Please inform in nearest police station.’
‘I cannot sir.’
‘Will explain in person, please let me know where I should meet you.’
‘Ok, Please come to my old home, will text you an address.’
‘No sir, I remember. Will be there in 15 minutes. Thank you, sir.’
Arjun hung up the call and thinking whether this is a coincidence or planned.
20 Years ago, Arjun reached the station in the afternoon. It was preethi’s birthday so they went out for lunch and returned to station.
‘Hello Robert, how is everything,’ Arjun said.
‘Going good Sir, how was the birthday party?’
‘It was just lunch and Preethi was so happy.Rekha was asking about you and family. She invited you to dinner this Sunday along with Priya.’
‘Oh. Thank you, Sir.Sure, will come.’
The conversation was going on and they got a call.
‘Hello sir, This is Ranjan. My kid Nisha got kidnapped.’
‘Please tell me your address; we will be there very soon.’
Ranjan told them the address. Arjun and Robert reached there in 5 minutes.
Robert started taking the details and both noticed the interior is beautiful and the house is spacious. They assumed that girl might be kidnapped for ransom amount.
‘Did you get the call from anyone?’
‘Yes sir, got a call 10 minutes ago. They said that they will call in half an hr again.’
‘Where she was kidnapped?’
‘I dropped her at the school at 8:00 AM sir, and have to pick up her at 4:00 PM again. But when I went to pick her up again she was not there. I thought she came by walk to home but she did not. We called the school again to check whether she is inside by any chance, but no one was in school. Ten minutes ago we got a call that she was kidnapped and I called you.’
’Do you have any enemies in business?’ Arjun asked
‘No sir, We have a competition in business but no enemies.’
‘Ok, we will enquire about the number first, from the number they called you.’
Arjun called up the police station from his home and asked to enquire about the number. As soon as he hung up the phone, it started ringing again.
Arjun signaled Ranjan to pick up the phone and keep the speaker on.
‘Ranjan, have you informed the police?’ some rugged voice on the phone.
No reply from Ranjan.
‘Listen carefully, if you inform the police we will kill your daughter. We need 1 crore rupees to release your daughter safely.’
‘We do not keep 1 crore cash with us,’ Ranjan said.
‘We don’t know how you get it, but we need the money by tomorrow, otherwise you can collect your kid in school area as pieces.'
‘No!’ Ranjan started crying out loudly.
‘I will arrange, give me some time.’
Arjun wrote down on the paper and showed to Ranjan.
Ranjan asked the kidnapper ‘Where should I hand over the money?’
‘We will call in one hour.’ and hung up the phone.
Arjun called up the station and asked them to enquire about the latest call from where it came. Arjun and Robert reached to school area and there is a small stationary shop opposite to the school.
‘Did you see anyone hanging here in past few hours?’ Arjun asked.
‘No sir,’ shopkeeper responded.
Arjun noticed he was scared by looking at them so questioned again.
‘No need to be scared, We will not call you to the station. Did you see any vehicle between 12 and 4 pm which kidnapped a little girl?’
‘No Sir,’ shopkeeper repeated the same answer.
Robert enquired School gatekeeper and he heard the same response as a shopkeeper.
They came to the conclusion that girl was not kidnapped here and reached back Ranjan’s home.
’Did you get any call from Kidnappers about the place where to hand over the money’
‘No Sir,’ Ranjan replied.
The very next minute phone rang.
Ranjan picked up the phone and handed over to Arjun
The call is from Police station.
‘Tell me Arun, did you get any information about the last two calls?’
‘Yes Sir, both are from one public telephone and identified the nearest tower as well,’ Arun said.
‘Ok good. We are coming to the station in 10 minutes,’ and hung up the phone.’Ranjan, note down the details whenever they call you next time and arrange the money by tomorrow. Please call us once you get the call from them.’
‘Ok Sir,’ Ranjan said.
Arjun and Robert left his place and went to station back. As soon as they entered the station they got a call from unknown number.
‘Hello. Is this Police station?’
‘Yes, tell me.’
‘Sir, We noticed an incident in our area. It seems few guys kidnapped a school girl and I see a bag was thrown out of van.’
‘At what time?’
‘Around 4:30 PM sir’
‘Where they were heading?’
‘There is a small route beside the main road and it heads south. Van went into that route, sir.’
‘Please tell me the location.’
Arjun noted down the place details and the location is almost same as the location from where the kidnappers called.
Arjun and Robert did not waste any moment and rushed to the place where they got the call from. They followed the narrow route and found out old building.
Arjun reached his home and looked at Rekha. She is weeping since morning so looking very dull.
‘When it was happened?’ Arjun asked.
‘She went for lunch party with friends around 1 and supposed to return by 3, but when I reached home I saw this card in front of our door and her wallet is there along with the card,’ Rekha said.
‘Did you receive any phone call or voice mail in past half an hour?’
‘Did you call the police?’
‘Not yet. Thought of calling after speaking to you.’
‘Okay. Hold on for a moment and we will call once Ranjan is here. His daughter is also kidnapped today and he is coming here anytime soon.’
While they were having conversation Ranjan reached there and he looks dull.
‘Ranjan, at what time she was kidnapped?’
‘One little boy came to our shop and handed over the slip and Wallet Sir. When I opened the slip its written as my daughter is kidnapped and do not inform the police. Wallet was my daughter’s.’
‘Did you ask the boy about who asked him to deliver the slip.’
‘Yes sir, but boy did not say anything in particular.Someone gave 500 to him and asked him to deliver at my shop.’
‘You did not inform the police right?’
‘No sir, I did not.’
‘Do you have the slip with you now?’
‘Yes sir,’ handed over to Arjun.
‘There is nothing written in that other than kidnap. Do not know the intentions at the moment.’
‘Did they call you?’ Arjun asked.
‘Do you have any enemies?’
As they were speaking, there was a knock on the door.Arjun rushed and opened the door.
Their neighbor Rajeev was standing outside with a slip in his hand and with tears.
‘I don’t know sir. Someone attacked me while coming home and asked me to hand over the slip to you.’
‘What? Do you recognize him?’
‘No sir, He covered his face with mask.’
Arjun took the slip and read. It is written as
‘THIS IS THE REVENGE FOR WHAT YOU DID TO ME 20 YEARS AGO. I Won't LEAVE EASILY THIS TIME.
IF YOU BOTH DO NOT ARRANGE 50 CRORES IN 2 DAYS, WILL SEND THEM IN PIECES.’
Rekha and Ranjan looked at him to know what is written in there. Arjun passed the slip to Rekha and she read and fell down. Arjun took her to Sofa and she sat on it. He asked her to have some water.
She took some water but she looks so dull as if she is not having anything from few days. She is weeping for past 1 hour and she has no idea why they kidnapped her daughter.
‘I knew they must be your enemies and kidnapped my daughter.I knew this will come someday i.e, we are not living with you. But it happened now. Please save my daughter.’ Rekha said to Arjun.
Slip fell on the ground. Ranjan took it and read.
‘Sir, do not worry about the amount will arrange and bring our kids back,’ Ranjan said.
‘Ranjan, It seems this is not about the money. Looks like they have revenge on me.They kidnapped Nisha to get the money and Preethi to take the revenge on me.I doubt even if we arrange the money and handover they send our kids back without any harm,’ Arjun said.
’If we know how to communicate them back, then we can discuss how to arrange the money,’ Ranjan said.
Arjun turned to Rajeev and asked ‘Rajeev, do you remember anything about them?
How did they come? Any vehicle?’
‘No sir.They attacked from my back all of a sudden.There was no vehicle and nothing.It seems they came by walk.There were two guys sir.One of them was very tall and the other is medium height.They were speaking in Hindi and slang is like up North.When I took the slip and coming they were talking over the phone with someone and I overheard that they know you are here.’ Rajeev said.
‘Okay.Someone hired these two and the kidnappers knew us very well.Thye know that you are a neighbor and I come here after hearing this.Are there any shop or anyone around when they attacked you.’ Arjun asked.
‘No sir, there was no one’.
‘Ranjan, if they trust that we do not inform the police they might call us then we can discuss what to do next.But firstly they should believe us.If you want to stay here you can stay otherwise go home and as soon as they call you can come here back.I will stay here tonight.’
‘No sir.I will stay here sir and as they know everything about us they might call on our number as well.Let us wait for their call.’ Ranjan said.
Ranjan called his shop and enquired about the cash how much they have in the shop.
‘Sir, We do not have cash but I can talk to my other business friends to arrange the cash.I will give the gold in return for them,’ Ranjan said.
‘Sir, I will leave.I am bleeding,’ Rajeev said.
‘Ok Rajeev,’ Arjun said and request Ranjan to drop him at home.
‘No problem Sir, just it is 1 block away from here. I can go on my own.’
‘They might come again. Ranjan, please help him out to go his home.’
Ranjan and Rajeev left to his home.
Arjun looked at Rekha and still she is an unconscious state.
‘Rekha, I told Yes to our divorce to keep you and Preethi safe but, unfortunately, our lives are in danger now.No matter who they are and where they are I will punish them and bring Preethi back safely. This is my promise’ Arjun said to her by taking her hand.
Chapter 3: Lead or No Lead
Rekha remained in an unconscious state for few more minutes. Arjun did not try to wake her up. He is trying to recollect the kidnappers he caught when he was working for the department. Most of them are either in prison or dead.
Arjun started feeling headache and thought of having coffee to get rid of it.Started preparing coffee for both of them. As soon as coffee is ready Rekha woke up and staring at him.
Arjun came to her with coffee and said, ‘Have coffee,you feel refresh, will catch them as soon as we can but not able to find any lead at this moment.You take rest, will take leave and try to find out leads with my contacts in department.’
‘Arjun I cannot stay here alone, will come with you and stay there,’ Rekha said.
‘No Rekha, they might call you any time, so you better stay here.’
‘Then you please be here with me. I cannot stay alone. Am scared’
‘Ok. I will. Try to remember anything unusual happened in the past few days. Anyone around here tried to follow you or Preethi.Did Preethi say anything about unusual in college? Any of her college friends visited frequently our home or she complained about anyone in the college?’
‘No Arjun, I am not able to recollect anything specific in past few days.’
‘Do you have her friend’s numbers?’
‘Yes,’ Rekha said and handed over her phone to Arjun.
‘There is a girl named Ananya on my phone. She is her best friend. We can call her and enquire anything she noticed in college.’
Arjun dialed her and handed over a phone to Rekha to talk to her.
‘Hello Ananya, I am Rekha, Preethi’s mom. How are you?’
‘I am fine aunt, how are you?’
‘Ananya, Preethi is not home yet. Her father Arjun wants to talk to you about it,’ Rekha said and handed over the phone back to him.
‘Hello, This is Arjun, need some information.’
‘Hi Uncle, please tell me.’
‘When did you see her last time in college. Was anything unusual happened today or in past few days in college?’
‘Nothing specific Uncle. But today she left at around 2:00 PM’
‘Do you know why she left at 2:00 PM rather regular time?’
‘Do not know uncle, but she told me that there was some urgent work and need to surprise you for her birthday. I said okay, but I sensed some tension in her face rather excitement.’
‘Any other thing you noticed?’
‘She was looking at her phone very often when she was talking to me uncle, I did not feel it was suspicious at that moment but she looked tense.’
‘Does she have any close friends in boys or girls other than you?’
‘No uncle. She has friends but not very close.’
‘Okay, everyone was in college today?’
‘Not sure uncle but mostly everyone was present. What happened uncle, anything wrong. Why you are asking all these?’
‘Preethis is not yet returned home and the number is not reachable. We have a note that she is kidnapped.’
‘What? I tried to reach her in the evening uncle but phone was not reachable then I did not try again. Uncle, there is one guy in college seeing Preethi for quite some time and she said she is not interested. Initially I thought it is not that important but it might help to proceed. I did not see him in class today. He calls Preethi all the time and disturbs her. Please check with him’.
‘Do you have his phone number and address?’
‘No uncle, but I remember Preethi was saying it is near to your home only’
‘Ok thanks, Ananya. Call us back if you remember any other thing’
‘Sure uncle,’ Ananya hung up the call
Arjun turned to Rekha and asked her, ‘Preethi told you about anyone who is disturbing her for quite some time?’
‘No Arjun, She did not say anything about it’, Rekha said
‘Okay, do you know any of her classmate who is living nearby?’
‘Yes, Preethi used to say there are few students who board the bus at the same stop as she boards. But she never said about them’.
Arjun was thinking if any of her friends kidnap her they won’t ask money. They are just students and they may not dare to risk their lives by kidnapping her. But let us not leave any chance.
Arjun dialed one of his old friend in the mobile network department and requested Preethi’s call data after explaining the situation.
‘Sure sir, I will mail you the details in 10 minutes. Please send me your email details sir’
Arjun provided his email account after thanking him and hung up the call.
He turned to Rekha and said to her,’ Let us search Preethi’s room and we may find any clues about her friends’.
Both of them searched the whole room and did not find any useful clue about her friends.
‘Do you know her email account password by any chance,’ Arjun asked Rekha.
‘No Arjun ,I never asked her about it, but let us check her tablet. We can look through emails without login.’
They took out her tablet and looked out all the emails, but there is no clue about any one.
Arjun opened her facebook messages as well to find out any information which can be useful.
There are few messages from Raghu. In most of the messages he is proposing and threatening to accept his proposal. All the messages were 1 week old. There were no messages from him before that.
‘I am not aware of this guy. She never told me about all this,’ Rekha said
While they were going through all the messages to find out if there is any other suspicious, Arjun got a call from phone department. He picked up the call and said,
‘Hello Arjun here, please tell me’
‘Sir, we had sent you the details to you email account’.
‘Its our pleasure sir.You helped me a lot when you were in service. This is just token in return. Please let me know if you need any other information sir.’
‘Sure,’ Arjun said and hung up the phone.
Arjun asked Rekha to bring her laptop and opened it.
Rekha has still their picture as her desktop picture. The picture was taken when they went to Holiday trip. Preethi was 5 years old kid at that moment.
Arjun connected to his mail account and opened the sheet sent by mobile network department. He took the printout of all 1-week old calls and went through one by one. He was checking with Rekha about the numbers if he is not sure about any.
Most of the calls outgoing/incoming calls to Rekha, him and Ananya. There are three unknown numbers and there was a repetitive incoming call from one number today morning and there was no call duration. Those must be miss calls or she did not pick up those. There was one call in the afternoon 2:00 PM from that number which has the duration of 2 minutes. After 20 minutes at 2:20 PM there was outgoing from Preethi to the same number and call duration was less than a minute.
Arjun suspected this number must be Raghu’s number but we do not have any details about him.
Arjun called Ananya again from his phone. After the three rings Ananya picked up the call
‘Hello,’ Ananya said
‘Ananya,This is Arjun.Preethi’s father’
‘Yes Uncle,Please tell me’
‘Do you remember at what time Preethi spoke to you last time today.’
‘Yes, Uncle it was around 2:00 PM. Class was over 2:00 PM and she came to me said that she will go out and she was tensed.’
‘Do you know the guy’s name who was following her for the past few days’
‘No uncle I do not know the name and I remember Preethi said she does not know the details much but he is from our college’
‘Did she say anything about messages from him in facebook’
‘Ok. Thank you, Ananya. Thanks for an information,’ Arjun hung up the call.
Arjun looked at Rekha and said this phone number and the message in facebook must be the same the same guy’s. Let us try to call him first and then we will catch him.
‘I see, this is the number who called Preethi before she got kidnapped, I guess this is the guy troubling Preethi in college and he is in kidnappers group. Do not worry,will catch him,’ Arjun said to Rekha.
She shrugged and asked, ‘If we think this is the guy, then why did they kidnap Ranjan’s daughter’.
‘I am not sure right now. Let me try to call this number,’.Arjun dialed the number but it is not connecting. It is saying switched off the mobile. Tried to call again but the same response.
Arjun called his friend again ‘Hi,Its Arjun.Do need one more favor.’
‘Please tell me, sir. I do If I can.’
‘I have one mobile number and would like to know on whose name it got registered’
‘Sure sir,please provide me the number.’
Arjun told him the number. ‘Give me a moment sir, let me find out’. After 30 seconds he provided an address and said ‘Sir , I cannot guarantee that he provided the valid address’
Arjun noted down the address and said ,I will enquire that. Thanks again for your help’
‘No worries sir, anytime,’ hung up the phone.
Arjun showed an address to Rekha and asked whether she is knew anything about it.’Address is near to our home and as per Preethi’s friend he is near to our home. If we catch this guy it will be easy to know his involvement in kidnap. I need a helping hand to go and check,’ Arjun said.
‘This address should be the 3-4 block away from here. Not sure who is there. Can you call Robert, your old friend, He worked with you in lot of cases’
‘Even, I thought of calling, but he moved to Delhi recently. Let me call my old subordinate Dev and see if he can come this time,’ Arjun said and dialed his number.
After a couple of rings, Dev picked up the phone and said ‘Hello Sir. How are you?’
‘Hello Dev, I need some help and if you are able to come over here now it will be great’
‘Sure Sir, tell me, what is the problem?’
‘Need to catch a guy and I do not have any other to get the help. If you can make it as soon as you can it will be great’
‘Sure sir, where should I come?’
Arjun provided him the address and asked him to bring his licensed revolver.
Arjun got his revolver while coming from his home. He dialed the Ranjan and said, ’Ranjan, where are you now?’
‘I am in my shop sir and checking with friends about the cash’
‘Ok. Can you come to my place now? We might get a clue about the kidnapping. Come as soon as possible.
If you have any licensed revolver please bring it with you.’
‘Sir,If you don’t mind can I send my nephew. He can help you more rather me.’ Ranjan said.
‘Sure, no problem. Send him. We need a person as helping hand’
‘His name is Natraj, and he got engaged to Nisha. He is very intelligent. ’
‘That’s great. Please give him my address and ask him to come here in 10 minutes. I have my old subordinate as well who can help us.’
‘Ok sir,’ Ranjan said and hung up the phone.
Dev and Arjun worked together to solve many cases after he moved out of the department. They worked together in the Private detective agency for 10 years.
In 10 minutes one young man knocked the door. Arjun went and looked out form the window and then opened the door. The young man introduced himself as ‘Natraj’.
‘Hello Sir, I know you sir. I saw you 20 years ago when you came to Uncle’s home’
‘Oh, so you work in Ranjan’s shop’
‘Yes sir, I look into few of my uncle’s shops. My parents were died in an accident when I was kid. Ranjan uncle raised me. Nisha and myself had grown up together. Uncle explained me everything Sir.’
While they were talking, Dev came in. Arjun introduced them each other and told Rekha to stay inside and close all the doors.
‘We will go and find that guy. Keep the phone with you and I will call you as soon as I get some information,’ Arjun said.
Arjun turned to Natraj and asked ‘ do you have any revolver with you?’
‘Do you know how to shoot?’
‘Okay, have this knife with you for safety,’ Arjun said
Three of them started towards with the address. It is exactly 4 blocks away from his home. The building looks simple and it is one store. No lights are turned on in the building. They examined the full building and there is one door at back along with the main front door.
Arjun turned to them and said ‘I will knock the front door and if he opens I will catch him. Both of you wait at the back door. Do not shoot or attack him unless if it is really needed.’
Dev and Natraj nodded and went to the back.
Arjun rang the bell, there is no response. Tried to call on mobile but no response. Knocked the door multiple times and finally, there is a guy from inside asked ‘Who is this?’
‘I am the police officer. Please open the door’
‘I did not call for any police. Everything is alright here.’
‘Open the door otherwise, I have to break the door and come inside’
The door was opened slowly and as soon as the door opened he poured water on Arjun with force and pushed him down. He started running across the street.
Natraj ran and caught him in few seconds. Arjun and Dev followed them in next moment.
‘Well done Natraj. Good job’
‘Thank, you, Sir.’
Arjun asked him ‘ Whats your name and why are you running after seeing us?’
He replied, ‘ I am Raghu ,I am just scared of seeing you. Nothing else than that’
‘Tell me straight, why did you call Preethi continuously today afternoon?’
‘No, I did not call anyone, do not know any Preethi’
Dev searched his pants and grabbed his mobile. It is switched off. He switched it on and passed it to Arjun.
Arjun opened the call list and showed to Raghu and asked,’ what is this. Who is Preethi in this call? Do you know who am I?’
Raghu repeated the answer ‘I don’t know any Preethi.’
‘I am Preethi’s father and I know you well. I know you have been troubling my daughter for some time. Tell us why did you call Preethi in the afternoon and why did you switch off from then.’
Raghu got scared and started whining.
Dev took him aside and said, ‘Do not cry. Tell us what happened. If you don’t do anything wrong we won’t do anything to you and will forgive. I can guarantee that Arjun won't punish you. He will listen to me. Tell us.’
Raghu started trusting him and said, ‘ I like Preethi and have been following her for 2 years.I proposed her lot of times when she was going from here, but she did not respond positively.
Few days ago I got her phone number and started calling her. But she did not say Yes to my proposal.
From 2-3 days she is not even picking up my call so I got frustrated,’ he paused.
‘Ok, then what happened after that. Why did you call so many times today again? Did you kidnap her?’
‘No Sir,I don’t know anything about kidnap’
‘Raghu, tell me exactly what happened today, otherwise, there will be worst consequences. Arjun loves his daughter and he is ex-policeman. He might kill you if you don’t tell him. I can save you if you say the truth. This is the only one option you have right now’
Raghu started crying and said ‘Two days back I got a call from unknown number Sir and they threatened me to kill if I don’t help them’
Arjun looked at him to know whether he is speaking truth or not. ’Do you have their number and when did they call you?’
‘Yes Sir,’ Raghu showed the number to them.
‘How did they get your number,’ Arjun asked.
‘I don’t know sir, but it seems they know everything about me. They know that am following Preethi and they know my home address as well’
‘Did you enquire about the number?’
‘Yes Sir,I did not want to help them and tried to trace out the number with the help of my friend, but it is public telephone number so we couldn’t find who it was’
Arjun noted down the number. Called the number and confirmed that it is the public telephone number.
He started trusting Raghu.’Ok, what did they ask you?’
‘They told me to bring Preethi to School area and I said she does not like me how she can come if I ask her to come. I said I will inform the police but they threatened me that they have all my call records and address. I was scared and said ok to them,’ Raghu said.
Dev and Natraj started observing the home. Though he is a student he has the very good home.
‘Do you live alone here? Where are your parents?,’ Dev asked him.
‘Yes, Sir I live alone. My parents live in Mumbai .I came here for studies,’ Raghu replied.
Arjun handed over the phone back to him and asked ‘Tell me in sequence what happened exactly in past few days.’
‘As I had no option to escape from them I called Preethi today morning and asked her to come out to explain the situation but she disconnected the call. Meanwhile I got a call from them again to bring her in afternoon time .I called Preethi and threatened that I will commit suicide if she does not come to school area in 15 minutes. Today is holiday for school and I was waiting near to the gate at school area. I saw her coming and all of a sudden one van came and pulled her into the van. I tried to chase the van but it went in vain. After that, I got scared and I came home and had shut all the doors. Switched off my phone and planned to travel to Mumbai,’ Raghu replied.
‘O.K. no one had noticed near the college?No one was near the school while this was happening?’ Arjun asked Raghu
‘No Sir. As it was holiday no one was there. I tried to follow the vehicle but could not reach them’
‘What was the vehicle?’
‘It was mini van sir’
‘Did you notice any other girl in the van?’
‘Not sure sir. It was not visible from far’
‘Ok.Keep your mobile on and do not go to Mumbai, will call you anytime,’ Arjun said.
Arjun turned to Dev and said ‘there is no much information with him now. We have only two leads public telephone number and Van that too without any number plate. Both the leads are not that useful to find out who it was.’
‘Do not worry Arjun, we will find out the way.’
Arjun got a call from Rekha,’ Hello Arjun, Ranjan has just come and he wants to talk to you’
‘Okay, give it to him’
‘Hello Sir, Money is arranged. We will hand over the money to them and get the kids back. But we do not have any number to reach out them still. I haven’t got any call from them. Have you received any clue about kidnappers?’
‘No Ranjan. We have an information about who helped them but there is no information who kidnapped them exactly. Did you get any clue about who kidnapped Nisha?Did any one see while kidnapping or any one reached you on the same?’
‘No Sir, I haven't gone yet and checked near the college. Do you want me to stay here till you come, sir?’
‘Yes Please. We will be there in 10 minutes,’ Arjun hung up the phone and turned to Dev and Natraj.
‘Let us go to home, we have no useful information from him.’
Arjun warned Raghu not to leave the place and returned home in jeep.
After they left, Raghu made a call to a number and said ‘they found me and tried to get the information but I did not say the whole to them and I did not say anything to them about you.’
‘Good. We will deposit an amount what we promised and do not disclose any other information about us. We hope you know what happens if you tell them,’ the other guy replied.
‘No. I won’t tell them any and they warned me not to leave this place’
‘Stay there and connect us about the happenings,’ hung up the call.
Raghu got an alert from bank about the deposit and now he can get whatever he wants for next 1 month.Went in to the home, locked inside and switched off all the lights.
Deleted all the messages from inbox and went into the sleep.
Chapter 4: The Plan
Arjun , Dev, and Natraj reached home.Ranjan is waiting at home for them and as soon as they come he informed them about the call he received.
‘Sir,I got a call from one private number just 2minutes ago’
‘What did they say? By the way, he is Dev my ex colleague when I worked with Private detective agency.He is a good friend of mine,’ Arjun said.
Ranjan shook the hand with Dev and said to them ‘Sir, the kidnapper said he will call again to tell about the place to hand over the money and not to inform the police’
‘Ok, anything else?’
Arjun went to Rekha and asked her to take some rest.It seems she did not have anything from the afternoon.He got the food while coming from Raghu’s place.
‘Rekha,you look so weak.Please have something and take rest for sometime.We have the people and am sure they are doing this for money and we will save Preethi by tomorrow.’
Rekha did not speak anything and she is in no mood to talk.She had something and went in to Preethi’s room. Looked at the photo frames on the wall. There are memories of her birthday and pictures with Arjun and herself. She sat on the bed and weeping for long and went into sleep after sometime.
Dev said, ‘Arjun,I feel Raghu is not saying the truth,he is hiding something from us.Can we go and talk to him once or else any of us stalk on him for sometime.’
‘I don’t think it is needed Dev,he got scared and told all the information he had.We do not have anyone to stalk him at present’ Arjun said.
‘I can check with my colleagues unofficially if any one can help us to stalk him for few days.If you are okay I will talk to her tomorrow morning and engage her,’ Dev said
‘Okay Dev,If you feel he is hiding something from us you can talk to your colleague but tell her not to inform in office. We do not know whether the information can be inside or leaked. We have to maintain confidentiality as much as we can,’ Arjun said.
‘Sure Arjun.She is young and energetic and I am sure she keeps the secret, will talk to her tomorrow as first thing in the morning,’ Dev said
‘Thanks Dev for helping me in hard times,’
‘No problem sir,I did owe you lot of times when I was having bad time. Its my pleasure to help in return but I am sad to see you in this situation. I feel the same kidnappers who kidnapped Nisha a while ago kidnapped this time as well. If we trace them down we can easily sort this out,’ Dev said
‘No use Dev. Unfortunately, those two kidnappers got killed on the same day and we did not find out any links with anyone else. I guess someone in the past who knew this kidnap was involved in this. But I am not getting any lead to trace them now and most of the gentlemen who worked with me in the past did not have any updates post that incident,’ Arjun said.
Dev called his colleague Praneetha.Someone picked up the phone after a couple of rings.
‘Hello Sir,This is Praneetha’
‘Hi Praneetha,Sorry to disturb you this late night.I need a small help and it is outside the work,’ Dev said.
‘Sure Sir.Tell me,’ Praneetha said
‘You know my ex-superior and friend Arjun right?,’ Dev asked
‘Yes Sir,You used to tell lot of good things about him.I remember’
‘His daughter got kidnapped today afternoon and we need a little help from you to stalk one of lead for that case.We do not want to go through the department due to some reasons.I hope you understand’
‘Sure sir.Do you want me to come to your place now?’
‘No,you can call me tomorrow morning and we can plan what to do further’
‘Thank you very much Praneetha for understanding and helping’
‘It’s my pleasure sir,’ and hung up the call.
Dev turned to Arjun and said,’ She is okay to keep an eye on Raghu.She will come here tomorrow morning and we can arrange one room to stalk him for 1-2 days .If we see anything unusual we can catch him again and find out the information’
‘Thanks, Dev.I will arrange the room in the nearest block’
‘That will be good sir,’ Dev replied
Natraj and Ranjan were talking themselves and Ranjan got a call from a private number.Ranjan signaled to Arjun and said ,’Sir,it might be from them.I will put the speaker on’ and accepted the call.
To their surprise the person on the phone replied ‘Hello Arjun,how are you? I know you people are on speaker and I know where you all and what you guys are planning’
‘Good to know that you know about us.Why are you doing this?’
‘As I said, I do want to take revenge on you for so many things and I need ransom amount to clear all my losses for so many years’
‘Ok,we will give you the money .Please leave our kids,’ Ranjan said
‘I will leave them as soon as I get the money’
Dev interrupted ,’How can we believe that the kids are safe.We would like to talk to them and then will proceed’
‘Is this Mr. Dev.Nice to hear you, man.You also joined to help them, so am the single now and you got a very good trained people with you,’ Kidnapper said
Dev and Arjun looked at each other and started thinking ‘It is sure that someone who know all about us .This is planned very well’
‘Yes,This is Dev.We know who you are and let us speak to Preethi and Nisha first’
‘I know that you don’t know me.Do not play games with me.If you need kids alive send me the money otherwise I will send something to you in parcel so you will undersatnd’
Ranjan interrupted ,’ Please don’t do any harm to them.I will send you the money .Just let us know where should we handover’
‘That’s good.Ranjan- you come alone with money tomorrow 6:00 AM to the bridge area and no one should follow him.Just bring your phone along with you.Come to the bench number 18 and then we will call you what to do next’
‘Ok.Sure.But please let us talk to our kids once.’
‘No.Anyways you will see them tomorrow if you don’t do any mistake. I hope you don’t this time’
‘Ok.I will bring the money and no one will follow me. But please don’t do any harm to them.’
Then kidnapper hung up the call.Arjun and Dev are trying to recognize the voice but they were not able to remind of any of.Its hard to track private number as well.
Arjun turned to all and said, ‘We should catch them, otherwise they will continue these kidnaps’
‘Right sir, We should not leave them like this,’ Natraj said
‘True Natraj.Ranjan – Bridge area can be a perfect place to catch them. I will wait at one side of the bridge.Dev and Natraj will be at the other side of the bridge.You go with the wire and we all will be connected all the time.Keep this small camera in bag and I can watch it from my place if they carry the bag to any other place,’ Arjun said
‘Sir,but if they find out that we are following them, they might hurt our kids,’ Ranjan said.
‘True.But we have to catch them.Let us take some risk’
‘Ok sir,’ Ranjan said.
Rekha woke up from the bed and walked into the hall,’ Arjun, did we know anything about them’
‘Yes Rekha,We have some information and they asked us to bring the cash to bridge area tomorrow morning.We have made arrangements to catch them ,you don’t worry.Preethi and Nisha will be at home by midtime tomorrow,’ Arjun said.
Rekha relieved and said ‘ I will arrange some food for all of you’
‘No Rekha.I have ordered food for all and its on the way. If possible, please make some tea for all of us and you take rest. Everything will be fine by tomorrow’
Rekha prepared the tea for all of them and served.In no time food was arrived. Everyone had dinner and Arjun explained the camera plan to all of them.
Arjun and Dev went to his store room and found out the button shaped camera. Connected to his phone to read the video streaming .It is working perfectly. They made a small hole in bag and setup the camera.On top of it, they had stiched the black tiny cloth to cover the camera and not to find out if anyone looks into the bag.
Arjun turned to Ranjan and said,’Just handover the money and if they run away with the bag we can trace them easily.Thanks for arranging the money so quick.I will not let your money go and bring back the kids.Its my promise. You don’t worry about Nisha and money.’
‘Ok, Sir.I am sure you can do sir.But we don’t know about them sir i.e am scared about kids,’ Ranjan said with tears in his eyes. He is trying to control for a long time but, this time, he is unable to control.
Natraj came to Ranjan,’ Do not cry, uncle.They cannot run far from us and they will be punished’
Ranjan stopped crying and sat on sofa. After some time, everyone went into nap to have some rest after a long and stretched evening.
Arjun was still thinking about kidnapper’s voice, ‘As far as I remember there was no lady involved in his previous cases and this kidnapper is the lady, so whatever I am thinking about the kidnapper till now is wrong? Hope tomorrow we will get some lead and they release the kids’
Chapter 5: Links
All of them had disturbed sleep. Rekha woke up multiple times due to the bad dreams about Preethi. Arjun did not sleep at all and tried to recollect whether he had any conflicts with any in past. Nothing came in his thoughts.
All of them woke up around 5:30AM and had coffee.
Arjun handed over the bag to Ranjan and said,’ Be careful.Let them not to think that we are following you. Keep this mobile inside of your shirt and keep it on so that we can hear what they speak to you. Ask them to show Nisha and Preethi before handover the money. Once we get the kids back then we see through the camera where they were heading and follow’
Arjun turned to Rekha and said,’ You stay at home and we will go and return in 3 hours if everything goes as planned. Hope everything goes well and Preethi will be back soon’
‘Thank you Arjun,’ Rekha said
‘It is my job to save my family,’ Arjun said and turned the other side to hide his tears
‘Thanks Ranjan for arranging the money,’ Rekha said.
‘Do not worry Madam. I think they are doing just for money and they will release as soon as they get the money’
All the four people started from home.
Ranjan drove his car along with money bag. Dev and Natraj started on Dev’s jeep.
Arjun started his Jeep and told everyone to keep connected all the times.
They reached the bridge area. There is full of water at the one side of the bridge.
Arjun reached to the other side of the bridge and waiting in his jeep. Dev and Natraj stood at the starting of the bridge and noticing the vehicle who are going from their side towards Ranjan.
As it is early morning there was less frequency of vehicles on the bridge.
Ranjan drove till the bench number 18 by 5:50 AM and parked the vehicle. Ranjan was waiting for the call from them. Everyone connected while starting from home.
At exact 6:00 AM Ranjan got a call from the private number. The same kidnapper started asking.
’Is there anyone with you?’
‘No one is with me. I have the money in the bag. Get the money and release our kids soon’
‘Ok. No hurry. We will release them. One of my men comes to you in 2 minutes, just hand over the money to him’
‘Show me Nisha and Preethi first then I will hand over the money’
‘I order you, you should not order me. ‘
‘How can I recognize your man?’
‘No need to recognize, our man will recognize you,’
In 2 minutes one guy came on the bike and he has helmet around his head. He got down and checked all over Ranjan’s body to find out if he is wired. He found out the phone inside the shirt. He took it out and had thrown away in the water.
Dev and Natraj started coming towards Ranjan as soon as they find out one of the kidnappers with Ranjan. But they stopped there after seeing the kidnapper pointed out gun to Ranjan after throwing away his hidden phone
Kidnapper on the phone said to Ranjan ,' I said not to wire or play games but you came with the connected phone. Is that Arjun suggested you to have this connected all the time? I know him so it won't work with me’.
Ranjan got scared and pleased,’ Sorry, it was a mistake .Please don’t do any harm to kids. I have the money, you can take it and release them’
Kidnapper on the phone spoke to his man over the phone and told him to move the cash from Ranjan’s bag to his bag.
The kidnapper in helmet pulled out the bag from his vehicle and asked Ranjan to put all the cash into his bag. No one expected this. Arjun thought if we leave them now there is no way to catch them again. Once they move the money to their bag there won't be any camera to see through. Arjun did not waste a second, as soon as he bent down to pick up the bag shot at kidnapper from far. Shot was missed.
At the same time, Dev and Natraj started firing from the other end. Kidnapper did not expect this. He left the bag and started running to the fourth side of the bridge.
Arjun almost reached him and tried to grab his back but kidnapper jumped off the bridge and there was a vehicle waiting for him down the bridge. Arjun failed to catch him. At the last moment while jumping from the bridge Arjun was able to grab his wallet but again wallet was dropped from the bridge. Finally, he was able to hold one small slip which was dropped out of the wallet.
Dev and Natraj came to Ranjan and checked whether he is okay.
‘Are you okay uncle?’ Natraj asked
‘Yes, Natraj.I am okay. Just little injuries’
‘I am sorry sir. The plan was misfired and we are not able to bring them back’
‘No Ranjan. It was my fault. I thought of catching the kidnappers and we have at the both the sides of the bridge. I did not expect that he will escape from here.’
Arjun thought of throwing away the slip but at the last moment looked at the slip. That is Domino’s order bill of last night’s. He thought for a moment and showed it to Dev.
‘If we go to this store and enquire about this bill we may find some lead about them. You go this to store and enquire about it. Natraj – you go to RTA office and enquire about this bike. I know someone in RTA office and he works for money. Give this 2000 to him and enquire about this bike on whom it was registered, I don’t think it is their bike but we should not miss any chance to catch them,’ Arjun said.
Arjun went to Ranjan and said,’ Ranjan – you go to the hospital and get some treatment and we will find out the way to know about them. Let the two bags with me if you don’t mind. I guess they reach out to my home to demand money again. We lost your mobile anyways.’
‘Ok sir,’ everyone said started disbursing.
Dev got a call from Praneetha ‘Good Morning Sir,I am ready, Where should I come and meet you, sir’
‘Morning Praneetha.I am going somewhere to enquire about something. I will text you an address and Arjun’s phone number please contact him. He will let you know whom to follow and all the remaining details’
‘Ok Sir,’ Praneetha hung up the call.
Dev turned to Arjun and said ‘Sir,I am texting your contact number and address to Praneetha. She will be reaching your place anytime in next few minutes and I will go and enquire about this slip in the store.'
‘Thanks, Dev,’ Arjun said and picked up Ranjan to join in the hospital for primary care.
Natraj took the bike and started to RTA office.
Dev started to domino’s store to enquire about an order.
After joining Ranjan in the nearest hospital, Arjun reached the home and Rekha was eagerly waiting for him.
‘What happened Arjun? Where is Preethi and Nisha.Anything went wrong?’ Rekha questioned.
‘Sorry Rekha, we missed them and they did not allow us to talk to our kids. We couldn’t catch them. We have money with us so I am sure they will call us back for money.’
‘But they might harm Preethi for trying to catch them. Isn’t it? Why you guys tried to catch them. You should have simply handed over the money and bring the kids back’
‘True Rekha but they did not show our kids. They said to give the money first and we were not sure whether they really do that. So we attacked them but they escaped. Dev and Natraj went to find out who they are and hopefully in some time we will get the information. Did you get any call from them on our landline number?’
Rekha started whining and said ‘No, I have not got any.’
‘Do not worry Rekha. They are just looking out for money. They don’t do any harm and am confident about it,’ Arjun said and went into the kitchen to prepare some coffee to get rid of a headache.
Rekha joined him in the kitchen and started helping in preparing coffee.
While they were in kitchen Arjun got a call from unknown number, he picked up the call and said,
‘Hello, Is this Arjun sir?’
‘Yes, who is this?’
‘Sir, am Praneetha, Dev texted your number and address am outside of your home,’ Praneetha said
‘Oh.Praneetha. Thanks for coming. I am coming out. Just wait a moment,’ Arjun said and went out to get her in home
Praneetha waved her hand and both disconnected the call.
‘Hello sir. I heard about the case. I am sorry to hear about it’
‘Yes Praneetha, Thanks again for helping us out in this. Please come in,’ Arjun said and invited her into the home.
‘Rekha,this is Praneetha – Dev’s colleague .She is here to help us and Praneetha-this is Rekha- Preethi’s mother,’ Arjun introduced each other and asked Rekha to prepare coffee for her.
Rekha went inside to prepare for her as well.
Arjun offered seat to Praneetha and asked, ‘Since how long you are working with Dev’
‘It has been 5 years sir, I am working under him’
‘Ok.good.I hope Dev told you about keeping this as secret for kids safety’
‘Yes sir, I informed in office to have off for 2 days to help you out here’
‘What should I do now sir? Dev told me in brief to stalk a guy for some time’
‘Yes Praneetha, We have a guy here who helped kidnappers but he helped them because they threatened him to kill. We feel somehow he is hiding some information from us so you need to stalk him for next 2 days and if he does anything suspicious we can question him again’
While they were having conversation Rekha came with coffee.
Arjun had set up the call forwarding from landline number to his mobile number. They had coffee and Arjun and Praneetha went out to get the room keys which is opposite to Raghu’s building.
Arjun went to Ramnath home and rang the bell. Ramnath is the caretaker of the community and there is a room vacant in one of the apartments which is opposite to Raghu’s building.
Arjun got the keys from home and noted down the unit number.
‘Thanks, Ramnath for giving this for a temporary purpose. Hopefully, will return the keys in a day or two. Do you have any information about Raghu who is living in this block?’
‘No sir, we do not have much. As far as we know, it was sold before I come here. I heard, one family from Mumbai bought the building and their son is living in this unit for past 2 years. He is the student and do not interact much with any of us here,’ Ramnath said.
‘Ok thanks, Ramnath. She is Praneetha.came here to attend an exam in a city and she will stay in this unit for 2 days and here is the rent for 2 days.As soon as she is done with her exam will vacate and return the keys,’ Arjun said
‘Ok,no problem sir, even if you need more than 2 days it will be fine .you can have it,’ Ramnath said and took the money.
‘Ok sure Ramnath, will take leave then,’ Arjun said and both went up and examined the room whether it is convenient to watch Raghu from there.
‘It is a good view from here, we can watch out few rooms and balcony and main entrance will set up the equipment and will update you if I see anything suspicious,’ Praneetha said
‘Sure Praneetha, then I will take a leave. Keep me informed,’ Arjun said and left.
Arjun started walking home back alone and he got a call from Natraj.
‘Hello Natraj, tell me.What is an update?’
‘Hello sir, I enquired with the person whoever you said. He gave me complete address along with the registered mobile number. Just now I called him but he is saying his bike was stolen 2 days ago and he complained in the police station will go to his address and check whether it is true or not called you to check with you what to do?’ Natraj said
‘Ok Natraj.You can go to his place and see the complaint copy if he has it with him and if it is true you can hand over the bike to him. Your uncle is in the hospital, you can visit and take him to the home. Thanks for helping us and you both can take rest for some time,’ Arjun said
‘Ok sir, as you said I will go to his home first and then visit my uncle in the hospital,’ Natraj said and hung up the call.
Dev reached the Dominos store and asked one of the store guys about the manager. He showed the manager's cabin which is beside to the kitchen. Dev went inside and the Manager was sitting there and reading the newspaper.
Dev said, ‘Hello Sir, I am Dev and I need some information about yesterday night orders’
By looking at Dev, store manager suspected he is from police department and asked Dev ‘Are you from Police department?’
Dev decided to not to share about the department to avoid unnecessary attention from the police department ‘No, but we are looking for one person. Wanted to check with you that the same person ordered the pizza from you yesterday night’
‘We are sorry sir,we do not provide information to the outsiders. We are extremely sorry sir. If you get any written note from the department I can help you but without those, I cannot help,I may lose my job if our owner knew this,’ store manager said.
‘Ok.No problem,’ Dev said and left the cabin.
He came to the orders desk and there was no crowd in the store because of the morning hours. He ordered one coffee and started the conversation with the male receptionist.
‘I need some information about an order. Can you help?’
‘Manager is in store, sir. If he knew that I am helping you it won’t be good for me,’ receptionist said.
Dev took out 1000 Rs and paid for coffee and said, ‘Keep the remaining, but I need an information.’
‘1000 more sir and in 5 minutes manager goes to another store then I can help you’
Dev took out 1000 more and gave an order slip to him and asked, ‘tell me is this online order and anyone ordered in the store.
‘Sir, this is the store order.’
‘Ok, I will have coffee and we can see the footage in 10 minutes’
‘Ok sir,’ receptionist said.
After 5 minutes Manger left the store. Dev and receptionist went to the room which is behind the kitchen and pulled out yesterday night’s CC TV footage.
‘Is it possible to know who exactly ordered this’
‘It’s hard sir. Based on the time of the order I can guess but I cannot guarantee.’
‘Okay. One thing. Write the 1 hr footage to one of the disk and give it to me’
‘No sir .I cannot,’ receptionist did not complete the sentence but Dev kept 2000 more on the desk. He took the money and kept in his pocket, smiled at Dev and started writing to the disk
‘Hold on.do you have CC camera at front door as well?’ Dev asked
‘Ok.Can I see the footage of the same guy in other footage?’
‘It costs more sir,’ receptionist replied.
‘OH. Is it? Return the whole money. I have enough information then,’ Dev said.
The receptionist did not want to lose the money and agreed to show the other footage without demanding money further.
‘Just drag it to 7:30 PM and see who all are getting in,’ Dev asked.
The receptionist slowly dragged the video to 7:30 PM.
Dev started noticing all the vehicles who are coming in.There were two guys came on the bike and one of them was young and close to 20 years old and other looks middle aged 40+ years old.
‘Ok, please show me the other footage after they came in that is 7:40 PM and see whether they ordered any food here,’ Dev asked
He showed the footage in other video and said,’ Yes sir, they ordered 2 large pizzas and few drinks’
‘Ok.do you remember that is this the same order whatever they ordered yesterday’
‘I work in the morning shift, sir.I cannot tell you’
‘Ok.do one thing. Drag few more minutes forward and tell me when they stood up to collect the pizzas. We will see in display’
‘Sure sir,’ receptionist said and dragged the footage bit further.
Both of them stood when an order displayed 412 and Dev has the same order slip with him which is 412.
Dev concluded that these two were involved in kidnapping Preethi and Nisha.
‘Do you know any of this guys?,’ Dev asked
‘No Sir. This is the first time am seeing them. Maybe the evening shift guys aware of them if they are the regular customers’
‘Ok.Thank you.Write both the footage video to disk’
‘Ok Sir,’ receptionist replied and burned those to disk and handed over to Dev
Dev said thanks and requested him not to reveal to anyone about this and left.
Chapter 6: Surveillance:
Praneetha had set up the equipment for surveillance and started watching Raghu’s block. The doors were closed since morning and he did not even open the windows once. She is not sure whether he is inside or left somewhere in the night.
There is a coffee shop just opposite to the block and shop title is visible from her window. She called up the coffee shop and ordered a strong coffee and told them an address to send over. In 5 minutes one boy came along with the coffee cup and flask and poured the coffee in the cup.
‘Have the coffee Madam’, the boy said.
Praneetha looked at the boy.He is in school dress.
Praneetha asked the boy, ‘ What is your name?’
Boy replied,’I am Srinivas Madam, but everyone calls me Chinna.’
‘Ok Chinna. Which class you are in and why are you working in the coffee shop?’
‘5th class Madam, Coffee shop is ours.I help my dad sometimes mainly on Sunday and whenever there is a holiday’
Praneetha paid him 20 Rs and Chinna said ‘I will bring the change Madam’
‘Not necessary. Keep the change. Do you know Raghu who lives in the block which is beside to your shop?’
‘Yes Madam,I do not know the name. I call him brother ‘
‘How is he?’
‘Don’t know the site. He rarely talks to us, but he looks always drowsy, don’t know why’
‘Okay. Did he come today morning?’
‘No Madam. He does not come very often’
‘Does he come with friends?’
‘Yes Madam, sometimes he comes with few friends but they look rugged’
‘Ok. Did you see his parents any time?’
‘No Madam, I did not see them anytime.’
‘If he comes to your place in next few minutes just wave hands to me.I have some work with him and don’t tell I am here. I would like to surprise him’
‘Ok Madam,’ Chinna said and left.
Praneetha was thinking so many things in a short time ,’ what he is doing since morning without coming out? His parents are really in Mumbai?’
While she was thinking, his building’s front door was opened and Raghu came out. He locked out the door. He was wearing Hoodie and walking very fast.
Praneetha did not waste a moment, Jumped out of the stool and took out the revolver. Locked out the door and came down. She started following him from far.
Raghu turned right at the end of the road and walked into the bank. She followed him to the bank and entered inside. She has the account in the same bank but different branch.
Raghu filled the withdraw slip and waiting in line to withdraw money.Praneetha wanted to know how much money he is withdrawing. She filled out one withdraw slip and stood just after him. She is standing very close to him.
Raghu handed over the slip to Cashier.
‘Hello, Sir. Good Afternoon Sir,’ Cashier greeted him.
Raghu nodded his head and said, ‘Hi’
‘Sir ,Can I have your id proof?’
Raghu handed over his driving license to the cashier.
Cashier looked at it and returned to Raghu and said ‘Thank you, Sir. As per bank policy, we cannot allow withdrawing this much amount without prior notice sir. You should call us one day in advance to withdraw this much amount. Do one thing sir, put the request today and you can come again tomorrow to collect the amount’
‘No.I need it very urgent and money got credited yesterday itself so I did not have time to notify in advance’
‘Sorry sir, I cannot do anything. You can fill one more withdraw slip with less amount and you can put the request for the remaining amount’
Raghu said,’ Okay, I will fill up the other form’ and walked out of the line.
Praneetha handed over the slip to cashier and greeted him ,’ Good morning’
“Good Morning Madam,’ cashier said and requested for ID proof
Praneetha handed over ID and asked ‘How much amount I can withdraw per day as personal saving account holder?’
‘1 Lakh per day Madam without prior notice. With prior notice, it is 10 Lakhs Madam’
‘Ok Thanks,’ Praneetha said and took the money from a cashier.
Meanwhile, Raghu filled up another form and stood in the line.
Praneetha was pretending to have a conversation with investment desk employee and observing how much Raghu is withdrawing.
He did withdraw one Lakh and left the bank.
Praneetha said,’ Thanks, I will have your card and call you tomorrow’ and left in a rush.
Raghu entered into PCO which is just beside to the bank.
Praneetha did the same and asked the shop keeper to have a photo copy of her id.
Raghu called up a number from the public telephone and said,’ Hello am Raghu. I have an amount ready. Tell me where should I come. It's been 1 long week I am not having it. Please tell me where should I come.’
After listening to the other party Raghu said, ‘ Ok, I will be there sharp 2:00 PM then. I need it in large quantity and I have enough money .You no need to worry about the money,’ and hung up the call.
Praneetha overheard in bits and pieces and understood that he is buying something from one party and he will meet them at 2:00 clock but she did not get where they will meet to exchange.
Raghu called up again and said, ‘ Hello am Raghu. I need more money to not to disclose to anyone. Especially her father. I need it very urgent and If I don’t get in a day I will go and tell him what you people are doing?’
It seems they said ok to s demand. Raghu said, ‘Ok, good’ and hung up the call and left.
As soon as he left Praneetha redialed the phone. After two rings someone picked up the phone and said with rude voice, ‘ We said we will arrange, do not call us again’
Praneetha did not say anything in return and the other party waited for a moment and said, ‘ Hello, Hello’
Praneetha was able to hear their voices. They were internally talking themselves.
‘It seems he is the same guy. Called again to demand money. He is not talking again or else there might be some issue in the call,’ the person who was on the phone saying to the other person.
The other said ‘ok, hang up the phone. We will take care of him soon. We are done with him.’
Praneetha was just listening and did not say anything. The person over the phone repeated hello few times and then there was a silence for 2 seconds and then disconnected the call.
Praneetha took the picture of the number displayed on the landline with her mobile phone while listening on the phone and kept her mobile in the pocket.
She hung up the call and then rushed out to follow Raghu again.
Raghu did not go far after leaving PCO. He was smoking the cigarette beside the store. She was not sure what is his next move. For the safer side, she called up Arjun and said ,
’Hello Arjun Sir, This is Praneetha’
‘Yes Praneetha, tell me.’ Arjun said
‘I have been following Raghu since 20 minutes and I see his actions are suspicious. I may need to follow him further so need a backup. I guess he might go to collect something from someone at 2:00.It might be helpful if we catch them all’
‘Ok Praneetha, I will call Dev and ask him to come to you as soon as possible. Tell me where exactly you are?’
‘I am just beside to the bank in your colony sir’
‘Ok, Keep following him. Dev will be there at any moment’
‘Ok Sir,’ Praneetha said and hung up the call.
Arjun called Dev and after a couple of rings, Dev picked up the phone and said,’ Hello Arjun, Tell me’
‘Hello Dev, Praneetha is following Raghu and she needs a backup now. Please go to the bank in our colony along with your vehicle as soon as possible’
‘Ok Sir,’ Dev said and hung up the call.
In few minutes Dev reached the bank and waited for few yards far from her and called Praneetha and said, ’Hi Praneetha, This is Dev. can see you, just look at the left side, am in my jeep. Is he still around or left?’
Praneetha looked at her left side and noticed Dev is waiting in his jeep. ‘Hello Sir, Yes, I can see you. He is still here’
‘Ok good. You come here. He knew me so if he knew that we are following him he may change the plan,’
‘Ok Sir,’ Praneetha said and hung up the call and started going towards Dev.
In a minute, Praneetha joined Dev in the jeep and started noticing what Raghu is doing.
After a couple of minutes, Raghu threw away his cigarette and trying to stop a taxi. He took the taxi and left.
Dev and Praneetha started the following taxi and they all reached the outskirts of the city.
There is very less frequency of the vehicles on the road. Raghu stopped the taxi and got down from it.
Dev stopped the vehicle behind the taxi and noticing him. Raghu looked at the vehicle stopped behind him and started coming toward them. Dev started the vehicle and passed him.
Raghu thought like they stopped the vehicle for some reason.
After confirming that they were going without stopping again he took the road which is beside to the main road and went into the woods.
Dev stopped the vehicle few yards far from him and noticing in his rear view mirror. He noticed that Raghu took the side route and went into the forest. He turned his vehicle into the forest and stopped it. Both of them got down from the vehicle and started following him.
After few minutes, Raghu reached the place where there is small single room. Dev and Praneetha stood behind the trees and observing him. Raghu took out his phone and dialed one number and spoke for few minutes. He waited for few more minutes and after some time, two guys came from the other side of the road. After seeing them something clicked in Dev’s mind. These guys are the students who study in university I feel and these guys come from Africa to study here but they are mainly into drug deals.
Both of the African guys greeted Raghu and said,’ Hello, Did you bring the money?’
‘Is there anyone following you?’
‘No, I got down from the vehicle and asked him to leave.’
‘Okay. How much you got?’
‘1 Lakh. I have been buying from you for quite some time. Can you give more quantity for this amount?’
‘Do not expect more than what you are worth. If you bring more money we offer you more. Give us the money,’ one of the guys told Raghu.
Raghu took out 1 Lakh from his pocket and handed over to him.
He counted and signaled his friend to handover the packet. He took out his from bag and gave to Raghu and told him ,’ If we come to know that you are sharing this information with anyone or police we do not hesitate to kill you.’
‘Ok. I need more quantity. I do get more money in a couple of days and need more quantity. Can you arrange?’ Raghu asked them
‘It is not possible to arrange in 2 days. We have to consult another group in advance. We can arrange in a week if you hand over the money in advance,’ one of them said
‘How can I trust you if I hand over the money and wait for few days to get the packet,’ Raghu questioned them.
‘It is your wish whether you trust or not. If you have any other party who can arrange in 2 days you can contact them. We cannot arrange in 2 days. Make sure no one is following you,’ one of them said and left the place.
Raghu kept the packet in his pocket and started noticing the surroundings.
Praneetha took the pictures of all of them while they were exchanging with her phone. Dev thought that Raghu can come this way any moment so it is better to leave from here. If he knew we are following he might run away from this place and cannot share any more information. He signaled Praneetha to go back to the Jeep.
Both of them started running toward jeep and in a couple of minutes they reached over there. Dev started the jeep and left from there to keep them out of sight from Raghu.
Raghu came to the main road and looking for the vehicle to get back to the home.
After a couple of minutes, Raghu got a vehicle. He hoped in and guided the driver to go home. Dev and Praneetha followed him in their vehicle to Raghu’s home. Raghu got down from auto and pulled up Hoodie then went into the home.
Dev told Praneetha,’ We will go to Arjun’s place and discuss what to do next whether we need to question him again or not. Based on that we will decide. If Arjun says still we need to follow I will drop you here again.’
‘Ok Sir,’ Praneetha replied and Dev drove the vehicle toward Arjun’s home.
Raghu closed all the doors and pulled down all the curtains. Opened up the packet and poured on the table and started having the drug with the cigarette. After a couple of minutes, he was high and unable to control himself. Took out the mobile and dialed the kidnapper.
After a couple of rings someone picked up at the other end and said ‘Hello, we told you not to call from mobile? We paid you as we promised.’
‘I am more worth than you paid, pay me more otherwise.’ Raghu did not complete the sentence and the kidnapper said ‘Ok, we will meet tomorrow and will pay what you are demanding’
‘Okay, that’s good,’ Raghu said and noted down the location on paper and fell asleep on the floor.
He did not expect that his greediness will lead into more trouble than he is now.
Chapter 7: The picture:
Arjun was looking at his journal and going through all the cases he investigated in the past when he was in the department and working for the private agency. Marked all the pages who are suspicious. There was no lady involved in any case directly.
Arjun requested Rekha to check Preethi’s room again to find out any other useful information. Rekha checked all the pictures she posted on Facebook and no suspicious information found.
While both of them trying to find out clues, someone rang the doorbell. Arjun went and viewed through the peephole. It was Dev and Praneetha. Opened the door and said, ’Hello Dev and Praneetha, come inside. Show me what you got?’
‘Arjun, here is the cc tv footage disc from the Dominos store. Do we have any laptop or cd player to run this. I am sure you can recognize one of the kidnappers. I am thinking he is the same guy who came to collect the cash bag from Ranjan’
‘Yes Dev, we have the player, give me the cd,’ Arjun said and took the CD from Dev and inserted into the player. Connected it to the TV and everyone sat in front of the tv and started observing the footage. While they were watching, Natraj and Ranjan came in and joined them.
Dev explained all of them how he came to the conclusion that he was the guy came to collect the cash.
Ranjan asked,’Sir, can you zoom in. I doubt the younger guy in the two came to collect the cash. I don’t recollect the face exactly as he was wearing helmet but I see the same kerchief he rolled over his hand when he came to me and bike is also the same.’
‘Okay. Good Ranjan. We have one guy picture and not sure about the other guy.We are not sure whether the other guy was really part of this or not. Dev – can you send this picture to your office and find out if we get any details about this kidnapper. If he is already involved in any other case we might catch him easily,’ Arjun said and ejected the disc from the player.
Rekha prepared the coffee for all of them while they were watching the footage and served all.
‘Thanks, Rekha, We got the enough information what we needed. It's a matter of hours to trace them out. Praneetha – Any suspicious about Raghu involvement in kidnapping?’
‘Yes sir, we think he may not be involved directly but sure he helped them out. He did hide the information from us and I don’t think he can reveal even if we force him. He spoke to someone over the phone and demanded the more money. I doubt he spoke to the same kidnappers group. I overheard they are talking about to meet today evening. If we follow him again, we can catch them,’ Praneetha explained her findings from the morning.
‘Thanks Praneetha for taking such a risk and following him. I had set up the secret camera at his home while you guys went behind him. Now we can see his activities from here rather you follow him. Let us see what he is doing right now’, Arjun said and connected to live footage of Raghu’s block.
Everyone started looking at Arjun’s phone. Raghu fell asleep on the floor. Cigarettes and beer bottles all over the room. He dragged few minutes back and looked at everything he did.
‘Sir, zoom in and see if we can capture what he wrote on the paper,' Praneetha said
Arjun zoomed in the maximum level but all the letters on paper are blurred. ‘ It is not clear. It might be the address to meet the kidnapper’s gang, we should get the paper’
‘Anyways he is not in the conscious state now, we can tweak in and get the information sir,’ Natraj said confidently and Dev joined him.
‘Ok Natraj, both of you go there and get it. Just make sure he won’t recognize you. If he does not know that we are still following him he can go to meet them without any fear then we will catch him,’ Arjun said.
‘True sir, we will go now if you are okay,’
'Sure, please go ahead,' Arjun confirmed the decision.
Dev and Natraj left the place.
Arjun turned to Praneetha and said ‘You can take rest for some time in Preethi’s room. We will think about action plan once they come back.’
‘Ok,Thank you, Sir,’ Praneetha said and Rekha took her to Preethi’s room.
‘Ranjan, sorry I forgot to ask, how are you feeling now?’
‘I am doing better now’
‘Did you get any information from Nisha's friends in the college?’
‘Not yet, I have called few of her friends but no one said about any suspicious activities yesterday,’ Ranjan worried and said.
‘Do not worry Ranjan, we can catch them for sure and punish by this time tomorrow. You are looking tired. Please go home and take the rest for today. We have enough people and we can manage if anything happens. They might call you at your home phone, so it is better if anyone stays there’, Arjun stood up and said.
‘Ok sir, that’s correct. I will take a leave,’ Ranjan said and left.
Arjun went with him till the vehicle and returned back. He is also looking tired and wanted to have a little nap on the sofa.
Dev and Natraj reached Raghu’s home in less than 5 minutes. Both of them are trying to find a way in from the backside of the building. As the complete building is surrounded by the compound wall it is not visible to the outside what they are doing. Dev showed the window and said to Natraj, ‘I think we can remove this window slowly without creating any noise and then we can jump in. The only problem is we cannot fit in this window is my concern. If we have any little boy it will be better and it is not possible to get the little boy to steal others, Dev said jovially.
‘Sir,can we see is there any way to unlock the back door completely’,
‘No Natraj, door is very far from the window. It is not possible to reach the door from here with our hands and I do not think even it is possible to reach the door even with the stick,’
‘Sir, idea. I got the selfie stick with me in my backpack. We can take the picture of paper from here.
‘That’s a good idea. Let me see how lengthy it is’
Natraj took out the selfie stick from his bag and expanded it. It is around 1.5 meters long when expanded fully. It can reach till the half of the distance from the window to where the paper is.
Dev said to Natraj,’ I will lift and if you can stretch the hand fully then you can take the picture of the paper. What do you say?’
‘True sir,Let us try that’
Natraj inserted the phone in Selfie stick. Dev lifted him toward the window. Natraj tried hard to take the phone till the paper and took the snap.
‘Sir, it's done. Bring me down.’
Dev and Natraj looked at the picture but it is not clear. Dev said to Natraj ‘Take the multiple pictures at a time and at least one will be clear’
‘Right sir,’ both of them repeated the same and took the multiple snaps. Few words are clear in few snaps. They joined all the words in order and looked at each other.
‘Finally we did it, Sir,’
‘Yes, Natraj. Good job. Your selfie stick is useful at last in this way’
Raghu started moving slowly, Dev and Natraj did hide as soon as they hear the steps noise inside. Raghu came up to the window and wondering who opened the window.
Raghu opened the window completely and looked at all the sides. After confirming there is no one around closed the window and went back in.
Dev and Natraj took a deep breath after he went in. Both of them jumped off the wall and returned back to Arjun’s home.
Raghu recalled what he did before and went into the sleep. He took the paper and looked at it. He is thinking himself, ‘I have 2 more hours to time to go and collect the money. Once I get this money, I can buy the large quantity and sell it to few of my friends. The only thing I have to do is no one should have doubt about my activities. I should be careful now onward. Once I have this deal I should go out of the city otherwise they can do harm to me anytime or police can catch me.’
Dev and Natraj reached Arjun’s home and rang the bell. After a couple of minutes, Arjun opened the door. Arjun thought of having the little nap but slept for half an hour due to tiredness.
‘Hello Dev, Hello Natraj come inside. Sorry, I slept,’
Dev handed over the phone to Arjun and said ‘Sir, this is the information we have found in his place. In 2 hours he is going to meet someone at this address. As per the information we have from Praneetha I guess he is going to meet the kidnappers to demand more money. If we catch those guys we can trace out the whereabout of kidnappers’
Arjun looked at the pictures on the phone and said,’ Well done Dev and Natraj, really appreciate your effort. You are helping us a lot to find my daughter’
While they were talking Arjun got a call from private number again. After a couple of rings, Arjun picked up the call and switched on the speaker.
‘Hello Arjun, You did the mistake.’
Arjun did not say anything.
‘You should not have done that mistake. We did not expect that from you. You are risking your kid’s life. If you do it again I will not wait a moment to kill your daughter. We will not come to get the money again. It is your job to hand over the money now. I will give 1 day to you. By this time tomorrow, you will hand over the money to me at any cost’
‘Let us talk to Preethi and Nisha first then you will get whatever you demanded and you are worth for’
‘Okay. I am not scared of you. I am allowing you to talk to them because you will be scared of us after hearing their voice. You have 30 seconds to talk to them.’
Kidnapper kept the speaker on and said, ‘You can talk to your father now’.
Arjun is able to hear the low voice of Preethi, ‘Hello Daddy. I am scared of these. Please take me out from here. I do not know where I am.’
‘Preethi, do not cry. I will come and get you back home wherever you are.’
Kidnapper kept the speaker off and said, ‘ You can take back only if you do whatever we asked for, not with your heroism. Your time is over and wait for my call’
Kidnapper disconnected the call.
Arjun felt like he lost the whole energy in his body after the call hung up. Luckily Rekha is not around. If she comes to know that Preethi is in that situation it is not possible to control her. Stood up and thought of going to Raghu and beat him up. Dev stopped him and said, ‘Control yourself. If we interrupt him now it might be whole mess up. We will catch one of them at least today and find the way to reach them’
Arjun took a deep breath and sat on the sofa. Dev started looking into the live footage of Raghu to find out any other useful information. Raghu is packing his backpack and getting ready to leave.
‘Arjun, Raghu is getting ready to leave. We should follow him as soon as possible. Natraj and I will’ Dev said.
‘Wait, Dev, We are not sure how many people will be there. We all three should go together. Let Praneetha stay here,’ Arjun said and knocked the bedroom where Praneetha is sleeping.
It seems Praneetha tired a lot. After multiple knocks, she woke up and opened the door.
‘Praneetha, you stay at home. We are going to follow Raghu and catch the kidnappers. Rekha is alone at home and she is scared of all these. Could you please be here and take care of Rekha till we come back. If you see anyone is coming home and see any suspicious around our home do not wait to call the police. Take care,’ Arjun explained everything in detail.
‘Sure Sir, you do not worry about Madam. I will take care of everything here,’ She said and provided the information whatever she has about Raghu and drug dealers.
‘Thanks Praneetha for all your help,’
‘No Problem Sir,’
While they were talking, Rekha woke up and came toward them. Arjun explained everything again to Rekha about the plan and asked to stay inside and not to worry.
‘I spoke to Preethi sometime back and she is fine now. We are going to hand over the money tomorrow and get the kids back. You do not worry.’ Arjun said and left to the hall.
All of the three started toward Raghu’s home. Rekha looked at the picture on the wall which was printed few years ago on their second kid Pragya when she won the trophy in school running competition and she is no more with them.