The Retirement Plan

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
The reputation of a legendary officer in the investigation department is at stake as he faces the worst nightmare of his life as his final case. the story revolves around the murders of three high profile people, and the investigating officer Ashok tries his best to solve the case.

Submitted: July 30, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 30, 2017



The Retirement Plan

It was a regular Monday morning, nothing special about that day to the entire world except for Praveen Tambe as it was his first day at the office. Praveen Tambe, the guy who worked so hard to cross all the hurdles to get to this position and was feeling extremely proud as he showed his joining letter to the security and the salute from the guard made him realize about the cadre he was going to join.
It was his first day as investigating officer and as a kid; he always wanted to become a guy who solves all the mysteries. He slowly crossed the main gate and was entering a corridor of the building; the building was a pretty old one which was a fort of some raja during the pre-independence times. The huge windows were providing the way for the cool breeze to pass through the building, which was kind of natural air conditioning. 

As soon as he entered the first room, there was a lady at the reception who greeted him with a smile on her face and the conversation followed.
Lady: “Good morning Sir, how may I help you?”
Praveen: “Good Morning, my name is Praveen, here is my joining letter and I’ve to report to Akash. Could you please help me in finding him?”
Lady: “Certainly Sir, I’m afraid Akash sir didn’t come to office yet, you can wait here till he comes to the office. I’ll inform you once he is here.”
Praveen: “Yeah that’s okay, I would love to finish my breakfast before he arrives, can you note down my number and give me a ring when he comes?”
Lady: “Sure sir, tell me.”
Praveen: “It’s 9xxxxxxxx9”
Lady: “I’ll call you once he is here, take a right turn and a left you’ll find the cafeteria there. Congratulations on your first day Praveen.”
Praveen: “Thank you so much, see you around.”

Praveen was thinking about the price ranges as he was entering the cafeteria because the ambiance looked really expensive, but he was totally surprised to see the menu and the prices for once he thought someone forgot to update the rate chart which was written long back. When he enquired the same with the guy at the counter he realized that all the prices were subsidized for the employees and they were collecting only nominal amount for the food they were serving at the cafeteria. Praveen was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the food and the price he was paying for it. This just took him back in time where he was studying in the government hostels, where he would be happy to have food twice a day and the quality is not at all worth mentioning. Praveen finished his breakfast with watery eyes and had mixed feelings when he was leaving the place thanking the guy for the food.
Praveen came back to this world after his phone rang; the lady was on the other side of the phone.
Lady: “Hi Praveen, Akash Sir is here; you can meet him now.”
Praveen: “Thanks, I’m on my way.”
After seeing Praveen approaching the reception,
Lady: “Follow the green line you will find Akash Sir Cabin at the end.”

Praveen nodded his head with a smile of gratitude and followed the green line and there was a cabin with pin drop silence and was completely clean. For some strange reason, he started to have cold feet, Akash observed the nervousness on Praveen’s face and wanted to tease the junior. 

Akash with anger on his face: “Well, are you lost, young man?”
Praveen with a shiver in his voice: “Good morning Sir, my name is Praveen Tambe, Reporting for duty Sir.” 
Akash: “Which duty? There is no such thing as the duty here young man, it is our responsibility towards the nation. If you are here just for the central government perks and good take home salary then you should find some other job.”
Praveen: “Of course Sir, I’m not here only for salary. “
Akash: “Well, good for you, I was just teasing you. Don’t worry about what I’ve just said focus on your responsibilities.”
Praveen with a sigh of relief: “Thank you, Sir.”
Akash: “Don’t thank me yet, I’m thinking of making you an assistant to Ashok. Let’s see how many days you are going to withstand him.”
Praveen was so happy to be serving under Ashok as he was one of his idols for choosing the investigating as his profession. 
The next day entire nation woke up to breaking news of the brutal murder of the chief justice of India, who was missing for the last two days. 

Praveen received a message from Akash which said, “Report to the office immediately, this might be your first case, be on time and don’t disappoint me.”
Praveen just turned on the TV set and the entire thing was on the NEWS, the most influential person in the field of law enforcement was kidnapped and murdered in a heinous way. Praveen was trying his best to get the details about the CJI (Chief Justice of India) and the case details from the vault. He was extremely happy to be working on that case and was more excited about meeting Ashok his true idol.

Praveen was trying hard to remember all the details he’d collected about the CJI, he was supposed to be appointed as the Attorney general of India. He was kidnapped two days ago in the very party after the announcement was made public. No one knew how it happened and all of a sudden, his dead body was found at a remote place almost 300 KMs from the place where he was kidnapped.

To begin with, he was a highly influential person with a track record of handling most of the controversial cases in the very long tenure of him as the CJI. He was also known for dealing some criminal cases as a lawyer during his early days which helped him get such a high position in the community of lawyers.

Praveen reached the office and was highly excited to meet Ashok, when he entered the office there was an old man sitting there and was trying to write something with a pencil on a paper. Praveen just had a glance and realized it was none other than the great Ashok himself sitting there as if he was a common man. 

Praveen introduced himself and was shocked to hear the response.
Ashok: “Who cares? Get on with it. I’m waiting here for almost 30 minutes here. Can we get inside now?”
Praveen: “I’m terribly sorry for the delay Sir, let’s go now.”

Both entered Akash’s cabin, and Akash was attending a phone call with utmost obedience which meant it was from higher officials. 

Akash ended the phone call saying “we will try our level best Sir, thank you for having faith in us. I assure you, our best guys will be working on this case and we catch the murderer as early as possible.”

Akash continued after hanging up the phone, “Yes Gentlemen, I think we all are very well aware of the situation and I’m handing the case to you Ashok and by the way, he is Praveen, he will be assisting you on this case.”
Ashok nodding his head in despair: “Why me, Sir? You know I’m getting retired this month end and by the look of it, this case is not going to end anytime soon. Please, Sir, let me go with some peace of mind and assign this case to someone else.”
Akash and Praveen were shell-shocked after hearing that response from the great man, 
Akash with a wicked smile on his face: “OK, then tell me whom should I assign this case? And who can solve this case better than you?”

There was complete silence for almost a minute and Praveen didn’t have a clue about what was happening around him? He was just waiting for the response from Ashok, the great investigating agent ever produced in Indian history.

Ashok broke the silence: “Alright, but I promise it’s my last case.”
Akash with a sarcastic smile on his face: “Until the next case.”
Ashok with anger on his face: “You said something.”
Akash trying to stop his laughter: “Nothing, I just said Thank you for saving my bottom as always, it’s a pleasure working with you.”
Ashok and Praveen both left the room after taking the case file from Akash as they were going to the crime scene, there was a jeep waiting for them. As they were travelling Ashok started a conversation after realizing Praveen was feeling anxious about the case.
Ashok: “Hello junior, forgive me. I’m really bad with the names. You don’t mind me calling you Junior, do you?”
Praveen with a surprised look on his face: “No Sir, I don’t mind. Can I address you as Senior then?”
Ashok burst into laughter after hearing this: “Hell you can, Junior. I think we are going to have a great time together.”
Praveen also realized he was a great man once he looked up as a role model and was feeling really good about it as he is having a great chance to work with him before he is retired.

Ashok was folding a paper where he was writing since morning and was placing it in his pockets.
Praveen: “Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what is that piece of paper and what were you writing on it?”
Ashok raising his eyebrows: “It’s nothing junior that is my retirement speech. It’s a work in progress and I promise you, it is going to be the best speech you’ve ever heard in your lifetime.”
Praveen: “Sir, I’ve always heard stories about your investigating skills and you” took a pause for a moment.
Ashok: “And I’m looking like an old guy who is not at all interesting like all those stories you’ve heard about me. Let me tell you one thing junior, what you all people hear out here is just fabricated stories to highlight some individuals but it is nothing like it.”
Praveen: “Ok Senior, it’s a long ride to the crime scene, would you like to give me some tips on how I should be approaching the crime scene?”
Ashok: “Hmm, Interesting question Junior. I must admit no one has ever asked me this question before. The answer to that will be, just stick to the basics; don’t let the hype of the crime get to your head. Just follow your instincts and there is always time for logic and reasoning.”
Praveen was spellbound by the reply from Ashok: “it is that simple, huh.”
Ashok with a smile on his face: “Of course Junior, to achieve great things you just have to do simple things. Keep It Simple is the golden rule I followed throughout my career and trust me you just need your instincts nothing more than that to solve any case.”
Praveen couldn’t understand most of it but was amazed by the way Ashok was explaining.
Ashok: “let me prove this to you. What do you think about the crime?”

Praveen: “I think it is an act of professional gang. First, the well-executed kidnap from a high secured area then travelling to this faraway place unnoticed and finally completing the murder.”
Ashok: “Well, have you watched TV before coming to the office?”
Praveen with a sense pride in his voice: “Yes, I did and referred everything I can get my hands on the internet to get all the information I might need for this case.”
Ashok with a frustrated voice: “Why Junior? Why? Your analysis looks like a copy paste from a news channel report. For starters, we don’t know if it was a gang or a highly motivated individual who has done this crime. I accept that it is a well-executed plan but always remembers, there is nothing called a perfect crime. Our duty is to find the mistake done by the criminal as early as possible. So please trash everything you have in your head and approach the crime scene with a clear mind. For God’s sake junior, I’ve lots of hopes on you. Please try not to disappoint me. I’ll only be guiding you; you are going to solve this case for me.”
Praveen with complete disappointment on his face: “I’m sorry, Sir. I’ll try my level best.”
Ashok trying to console Praveen: “Take it easy Junior, after all, it’s your first case. There is a long way to go from here.” looking at the driver, “How long is it from here?”
Driver: “One hour from here Sir.”
Ashok with a sarcastic smile: “What on the earth made him/them do this crime so far from the city?”
Praveen: “Maybe the fear of getting caught, senior.”

Ashok holding his head: “It was a joke, Junior. Don’t take everything I say seriously until I say it seriously. Wake me up when we reach there.”
Praveen was just thinking about what Ashok has told him so far and was really amazed by the way Ashok was behaving towards a case which has shaken the entire nation. He was thinking how can anyone be so humble after all the things he has achieved in life both career and personal level. 
After few thoughts, even Praveen fell into a deep sleep as the climate was too good as they entered the dense forest area. Everyone woke up after they hear a sudden break as to indicate that they have arrived at the crime spot.
Ashok and Praveen were entering the place and there were a lot of cameras and microphones were awaiting them, Ashok had only one answer for all the questions they were asking.
Ashok: “Not now, will tell you all when we come up with something. Please let us do our work for now.”
Joseph: “Jai Hind Sir, I’m Joseph the forest officer here. I’ve informed the local police also they will be here to assist you with anything you need.”
Ashok: “For starters, ask everyone other than department leave immediately. I want complete silence here at least for a 5 KM radius. Can you do that for me?”
Joseph handing over the radio to Ashok: “Of course Sir, have this and you can reach me at channel 3. We are also not used to so much of noise around here until this happened today.”
Ashok with a sarcastic smile on his face: “Don’t worry; this place will become a tourist spot thanks to the hyperactive Indian Media.”
Ashok and Praveen reached the exact place where the dead body was found. The bamboo grass was used to kill the CJI. The blood on the bamboo shoots was still visible.
Ashok looking towards Praveen: “Now junior what do you think of the murder?”
Praveen was keenly observing the marks on the bark of the bamboo: “It is not a murder Senior. It is a punishment popularly known as Bamboo torture used in the South East Asian countries for punishing the war criminals. The victim will be tied tightly just above the bamboo shoots, and in time the shoots grow first puncturing the victim’s body and penetrating through the victim body. Believe me, Senior, it is very slow process takes about 24 hours to finish. The victim would have gone through an enormous amount of pain and agony before he was bled to death.”
Ashok with a shock on his face: “You are resourceful, I give you that. Now tell me, why this? And can you replicate what would have happened here?”
Praveen: “Why this way? Only the killer can answer the question. But I think it is done by a single individual, not a group. And there was a lot of rain when all of this was happening. The killer is above six feet tall, strongly built and well trained in warfare. ”
Ashok: “Those are some serious speculations you are making here, junior. Can you care to explain, what makes you think like that?”
Praveen: “Sure senior. There are strong foot marks of the killer but only leaving from here, which means the rain, came only after he was here. It also proves he worked alone, here are the four holes made by the chair on which killer was sitting, while the victim was dying there. The holes are pretty deep which proves that the killer was  heavy. The victim was tied above 5.5 feet and it will be impossible for guy less than 6 feet to lift a body that high and tie it all alone. What confusing me here is there are no signs of a struggle anywhere. Maybe we must wait till the post-mortem report to see if any anaesthesia was used on the victim.”
Ashok after hearing all this: “Anything else?”
Praveen: “Nothing Senior. Just trying to think how anyone is so cruel to someone else?”
Ashok: “That you can ask when we catch the killer. Now let’s do our business, basic thing is to collect as much information you can from the crime scene. Don’t try to solve the case at the first sight. You might miss highly important things if you are not paying attention to minute details. For example, you didn’t see the engravings on the bamboo barks.”
Praveen: “Those look like meaningless as if kids trying to practice the letters of English.”
Ashok: “Then why there are spaces between the words but not letters. It is a message written in a mirror script. Get me a mirror and I’ll show what the message is?”
Praveen positioned the mirror and was trying to read the message that was visible so clearly in the mirror, which read as “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
Praveen was shocked, to say the least, and was looking at Ashok with a sheepish look.
Ashok: “Junior, Take photos of each and every spot here and don’t forget to take them in black and white mode.”
Praveen was puzzled again: “Why Black and white, Why not in colour?”
Ashok: “Colours bring disturbance and divert us, just do it now. We are done here. Well, what you said about the killer is almost true. Well done on the guessing part.”

The best team was assembled at the office to assist Ashok on this case and all of them were waiting for Ashok and Praveen.
The team included names like kaira the Cyber Expert, who was an IIT drop out but by choice, Randhir who was an investigation specialist was known for getting the answers at any cost and there was Neha, who was extremely good at handling the Public relations, she always had a knack for keeping things secret from getting out to media. 
They were all ready with their respective briefings as all of them were accustomed to the way Ashok works. Praveen was the only guy who was new to this team and remaining all have worked with Ashok in many cases before. 
Ashok and Praveen entered the office room which was opened especially for this case and had a name too, The Retirement Plan. Praveen was amazed to see the most controversial case in the history of India named like this but it made a lot of sense when he looked at Ashok and the department wanted to pay tribute for his contribution towards department throughout his tenure. 

The team was busy setting up the data they’ve collected, Ashok entered in typical style no formalities and he meant business.

Ashok: “Come on Guys, talk to me.”
Kaira: “The phrase which was written on the Bamboo barks is not just a phrase A, It was used as to inform us about something the Judge was involved in before. I’ve collected the data about all the cases where adjourning the cases by the judge led to damage of the people involved in the cases. Surprisingly, there are more than 100 cases at this point; it is just a dump of data unless we have few more clues.”

Ashok: “Well done, K. Just look for the cases which lie in the vicinity of the crime scene. Maybe that might lead us somewhere. What about you, R, you’ve anything to tell me?”
Randhir: “Yes Sir, I think we should start our investigation from the people who were in the party, in which the judge was kidnapped. Maybe this can help in narrowing down the suspects and even we can get better clues to solve the case from that Party.”
Ashok: “Excellent R, get on with it. I think you should focus more on the people who have organized the party, rather than the people who were on the guest list. This crime appears to be an organized one and the killer wouldn’t have left anything for us, but dig deeper. Let’s hope we find something there.”
Neha: “What you want me to tell the public, about the case, A?”
Ashok with a frustrated voice: “N, for now, ask them to mind their own business, do a heated debate on India vs. Pakistan or Gender equality or scams that have happened before or whatever. You know what to tell them, so that, they won’t bother me much.”
Neha with a smile on her face: “Yeah A, of course, call me when you are ready with something.”
Ashok: “Thanks a ton, N and by the way he is Junior, sorry what was your name, young man?”
Praveen: “Praveen, Senior.”
Ashok: “Yeah, yeah, he is Praveen and I’ll be addressing him as Junior”, looking towards Praveen, “Ask their names as I’ll be addressing them only with initials.”
Neha trying to stop her laughter: “Junior, huh, How appropriate. I’m Neha alias N. Allow me to introduce you to the team. She is Kaira alias K and he is Randhir alias R. Nothing, it’s quite funny we all are having just initials and you've got a complete word as an alias.”
The last line from Neha made everyone laugh but all of them tried their level best to stop themselves as everyone thought it would irritate Ashok, but to everyone’s surprise, Ashok was screaming with uncontrollable laughter.
Ashok: “You know N, he has an alias for me as well, Senior. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing when I heard it myself. Enough of humour for one day, now get back to work and give me something to work on”
All of them said at once saluting Ashok: “Ooook, Senior.”
Ashok: “Well, junior. You have anything to add before we all disperse.”
Praveen: “Nothing Senior. I’ll inform you all when I come up with something.”
All of them left to their respective cabins and were trying their best to come up with something.
Suddenly Kaira screamed her lungs out in shock and called everyone to watch something on the big screen.
It was a video clip of the judge hours before he was killed and that video was telecasted on every news channel that was available.
In the video, the judge was talking and the team was trying their level best to identify something from the video.
The judge in the video: “Our law says it is ok if 100 criminals escape from punishment but an innocent should never be punished. In my tenure as a judge, I’ve made a lot of mistakes which led to many innocents face the problems. I also believe that repenting is the best punishment. This is my final testimony; out of all the cases I’ve dealt this case was heinous of all as it involved child trafficking. There was an honest government employee who tried his best to save all those children but I adjourned the case that day, which helped the culprits to erase all the pieces of evidence including the entire family of that honest employee. What worse was the culprits cooked up a story that the officer was trying to flee away in fear, but met with an accident and died. Today I’m here to face the punishment for the same incident. My suggestion to my partners in the crime, you have 24 hours after the video is telecasted, go out and accept the crime and surrender before the law if you want to save yourselves. To my family, I was a corrupt judge but not a corrupt person, when I came to know about what happened to the family of the officer, a day has ever passed without feeling the guilt killing me inside in these two years. You must face the punishment for your actions no matter what. This is an attempt to bring dignity back to that family of the officer and support all those sincere officers who put their lives in danger to serve the country. Goodbye for now.”
Ashok was trying to figure out what he was hearing and suddenly,
Ashok: “K, take out the cases which have happened two years ago from that dump, look for a case which is related to child trafficking.”
Kaira: “Ok, senior. There are around 50 cases which date back to 2 years or long, and there is no case which is related to Child trafficking.”
Office boy: “Sir, there is someone outside and wants to meet you.”
Ashok: “N, please take care of this. K, they might have erased it from the list look for tribunal numbers list may be there you will find some reference.”
Neha: “Ok senior” looking towards office boy, “Come let’s go and meet him.”
After few minutes Neha returned with a person along with her Ashok was furious about it.
Neha: “Senior, You better listen to this guy.”
Ashok: “Oh, come on N, Can’t it wait?”
Kiran: “Hi sir, my name is Kiran, I’m the accountant of the law firm run by the Judge.”
Ashok: “Ok, now you got my attention, what is it you want to tell me.”
Kiran was trying to catch his breath: “Sir, I also handle the black money of many big names in the country including the judge. Yesterday there was a scheduled transaction setup in the judge’s account to transfer the entire money to an account. It took 24 hours for me trace the details of the account to which the money is sent.”
Ashok was really excited as the case was going into the phase of unlocking the doors which were closed earlier: “And, Whose account is it, and when the transaction is going to happen?”
Kiran was gazing at his watch: “Sir, it happened 10 seconds ago.”
Ashok phone started to ring; it was the bank manager calling from the other side.
Kiran: “you better take this call.”
Manager: “hi, Ashok Sir.”
Ashok: “Hello, I’m middle of something, is it urgent?”
Manager: “yes, it is very urgent; the orphanage account has been credited with 900Cr and at first I thought it must be a mistake. But after the rechecking it has come from an overseas account, just wanted to inform you about the same.”
Manager hung up the phone saying this and Ashok was shocked, to say the least, and looked towards Kiran,
Ashok: “What the hell is happening?”
Kiran: “Even I was shocked to know that the account was an orphanage account. Let me warn you, Sir, the people who are involved in this are highly influential persons. Take care of yourself.”
Ashok was banging his head hard to figure out what was happening. The orphanage was started by his brother and Ashok was handling it after his brother met with a terrible accident, the same accident which took away all the family members except his nephew, even he died in the military operation.
Suddenly Ashok almost shouted: “K, just search for a name Arjun kumar in the list of people involved in the cases.”
Kaira: “Yes Senior. There are 6 PILs registered by that name. Surprisingly none of them were completed because he went missing. Who is he, Senior?”
Ashok was trying to stop the tears that were rolling down. 
Kiran: “Ashok’s brother, I know what happened to their family. It was a terrible accident the entire family was gone and Ashok escaped as he was posted in Delhi at that time. Everyone knew it was not a mere accident; it was a well-planned murder to divert the attention from the child trafficking case. The other people who were involved were Jaydev, the crooked businessman, and Kailash, the M.P. After seeing the video, I couldn’t control myself and I’m here to surrender myself.”
Ashok: “I assure that nothing would happen to you. It’s better to focus on saving those two people now rather than digging the past.”
Everyone was shocked to hear this, even after what they’ve done to his family; Ashok was concerned about saving them. 
Praveen was talking to himself: “Hats off, to your dedication Sir. Even after all this; you are curious about solving the case and protecting the remaining people.”
Ashok: “R, I want to know about their whereabouts as soon as possible.”

Randhir: “Yes Sir, I’ve already alerted the local police, they are currently paying the visit to the judge’s house in an hour as we speak.”

Ashok: “We should have our men there too; you go with junior and keep me updated about what’s happening there. I’ll see the security footage from the party and let’s see if I can pick up something from there.”

Both Praveen and Randhir got up from their seats: “Jai Hind Sir.”

Ashok: “K, I want you to gather the CCTV footage from the nearest toll gate from the party venue.”

Kaira’s fingers were dancing on the keyboard: “ok sir that will be easy. What am I supposed to look there?”

Ashok was staring at the party footage from all the cameras: “Look for a vehicle which looks over protected like having tinted windows or even an ambulance without a patient in it.”

Kaira: “Ok Senior, I’ll let you know if I find anything.”

Ashok: “Hey N come here; watch this clip from 22:35.”

Neha: “Yeah senior, there are two guys carrying a rug outside.”

Ashok: “Don’t you find anything strange there?”

Neha staring at two of them and suddenly: “They are wearing the caterer’s uniform.”

Ashok: “Exactly my point, why would the caterers move a rug outside the building? N, could you please put a focus on these two guys throughout the video footages and let me know if we can find their faces anywhere. Call the caterer and I want to know who those guys are, how did they enter the building at the first place? K, check the vehicle they are using to carry that rug and I want to know where it went from the party venue?”

Ashok just went out to finish his lunch and was trying to have a power nap suddenly his sleep was disturbed by his phone’s ringtone.

Ashok with lot of frustration, rubbing his eyes lifted the phone: “Where’s the fire R, old man can’t even have a decent nap?”

Randhir: “Sorry Senior, I’ve bad news for you. Both Jaydev and Kailash are missing; they didn’t even make it to the judge’s home.”

Ashok with a shock on his face: “Whaaat, how did this happen, what about the local police, who were supposed to escort them from the airport?”

Randhir: “Apparently both asked the police not to escort them and drove away from the airport in their personal vehicle.”

Ashok could believe what he was hearing: “Idiots, blinded by the arrogance, Ok R, we’ll wait till the dead bodies’ of the both surface in an unknown place, until then try to track their mobile phones and let me know if you find anything.”

Ashok was furious at the fact that how careless the both can be even after hearing the video clip.

Ashok got out of the cabin and went to the place where Neha and Kaira were working.

Ashok: “Come on guys, tell me some good news.”

Kaira: “I’ve something but don’t know if it is bad or good. Both used a tempo van to carry the Judge who was wrapped in a rug, but that van didn’t pass through any toll gate near to the crime scene or the party venue.”

Ashok: “Classic they might’ve switched their vehicles. Anyway, find the whereabouts of the van now, we might find something. Yeah N, any luck in finding their faces or details about the caterer?”

Neha pointing to a person in the room: “Yeah senior, here is the owner of the catering company but he is not of any use for us. Because they’ve used the uniforms just as a diversion, they entered the building as florists and exited as caterers. I must admit they are really smart, they knew the blind spots as the back of their palms and they made sure their faces are not covered in any of the cameras.”

Ashok: “as expected, smart they are”, pointing at video clip “but not so intelligent, look here.”

There was a mirror reflection of two of them as they were exiting the building with the rug at the party venue but it was for a split second.

Ashok: “K, try to take a snapshot of both, and look for a facial recognition in the CCTV footages from the toll gate. We’ve almost cracked the case.”

Ashok suddenly remembered something called Randhir: “R, What about the family members of the Kailash and Jaydev?”

Randhir: “They must be going for the cremation from the airport Senior.”

Ashok: “You didn’t see them at judge’s house? Just find out where they are right now? Do it quickly.”

Randhir stopped his car and started making some calls; Praveen was trying to figure out what the call about.

Randhir hanging up the phone and called Ashok almost immediately: “your doubt is correct Senior; the family members are safe but I’m afraid they are not in great shock right now.”

Ashok: “I’ll tell you what happened? Correct me when I’m wrong. One of the killers managed to get in to the plane, took complete control by threatening them to blow off the plane, if Jaydev and Kailash didn’t listen to him and the rest is history.”

Randhir: “As always, you can never go wrong senior but I’ve some good news for you. The pilot has looked the killer and he can ID the killer for us.”

Ashok: “No point of IDing him now R, the damage has already been done. My gut tells me that all the faces we will be identifying now are just puppets and the actual killer is sitting somewhere and pulling all the right strings at the precise time.”

Kaira: “Senior, you must see this. Here is the CCTV footage from the traffic signal where the van was last located. Here you can clearly see the rug was transferred to a mortuary van and the two of them left from there, taking a parcel from a guy. This guy is also covered up completely and no clue who he is?”

Ashok with great joy on his face: “That’s the puppeteer, Master who is pulling the strings.”

Ashok calls Randhir: “what about the cell phone signal from kailash and Jaydev?”

Randhir: “They were asked to leave their phones at the plane, senior, but we are trying to track the vehicle they used to leave from the airport, it is a GPS enabled vehicle.”

Ashok with a frustrated voice: “you should’ve traced the vehicle by now. Common guys, we are dealing with a highly trained person with a clear agenda, it’s such a dangerous combination.”

Randhir: “Yes Senior, I know, but we can do only so much.”

Ashok: “Couldn’t have asked for a better last case, it’ll be fun to catch you killer.”

Randhir was trying to locate the car and got a call from some local police saying that they have found the car used by Kailash and Jaydev abandoned at the outskirts of the city with no one inside the car.
Randhir didn’t know what to say to Ashok and looked at Praveen with despair in his eyes.
Praveen: “What has happened Sir, we’ve lost them too?”
Randhir: “Yes Junior, the killer is always one step ahead of us. I’ve never seen such a planned crime in my entire career.”
Praveen: “Let’s go to the office and decide what to do next. The case is taking a lot of twists and turns.”
Randhir taking a deep breath: “Yeah, it is. I wouldn’t be able to face Ashok sir.”
Randhir and Praveen started their journey back to the office and Randhir was doing a lot of calls to know what exactly happened? How could they disappear all of a sudden in the middle of a national highway?
Ashok after seeing Randhir and Praveen approaching: “we lost them, right?”
Randhir with a sad face: “Yes Senior, no evidence what so ever. Whoever the killer is, he is extremely smart and always ahead of us.”
Ashok with a smile on his face: “A criminal can always think like a criminal but we are police, it’s time we also think like criminals. Drop everything we have been doing so far. Take one-hour time think of what we are missing right from the start and come back with the points. Let’s see how good we are as criminals. We will meet after an hour and your time starts now.”
Praveen was puzzled, to say the least as he couldn’t make out what Ashok was saying.
Ashok looking towards Praveen: “Any questions Junior? You look confused.”
Praveen: “Yeah, senior. What difference does that make if we think like a criminal?”
Ashok with a sarcastic smile: “The killer prepared the entire plan thinking how a police officer would try to catch the killer. Now what we are doing is how the killer would think to escape for all the actions a police officer would take. In short, I’m asking all of you to get into the shoes of the killer and come up with an escape plan. Once you have the plan ready we will know what his next move would be. I know, it might be right or wrong but at least we will know how well we have understood our killer.”
Praveen was nodding his head like a kid would behave while hearing the story.
Ashok with a frustrating voice: “go now, you have already wasted 5 minutes of your time. We can’t really afford the time waste now.”
Praveen gathered himself: “Yes senior.”
All of the left the room and there was complete silence for almost an hour and all of them came back.
Randhir was the first to start: “I think we didn't focus on how all the people who are involved in the crime arrived at the exact time. I think someone has done a lot of research before executing their plan.”
Ashok: “And your point is?”
Randhir: “we should focus on people who looked suspicious in the surroundings of the crime scenes. I’m sure we can narrow down the suspects and find the killer.”
Ashok: “What’s the guarantee that killer was personally doing all the survey, maybe he asked someone else to do it for him?”
All of them were nodding their heads as they were agreeing to the statement made by Ashok.
Praveen was the next to go: “ I think the killer had a support from an insider as it is practically impossible to pull off something like this without the support of someone who had full knowledge of the whereabouts of the three people.”
Ashok almost shouted in excitement, “ I knew you were of some use, even I was wondering after watching the clip where the judge was kidnapped, you can see the security guards wishing the two people who were carrying the judge in a rug. The killer handpicked the people who were having a good rapport with the security guys.”
Praveen was shaking his head in disagreement, “or he made the people get into the security team and all of it is a part of a very well thought out plan. If my guess is right this plan was made a long time ago. All the people who were involved just acted like sleeping cells until the time was ready.”
Ashok: “The time would never be ready, if we go by your theory, why now?”
Praveen: “Good question Senior. The judge was going to become one of the most powerful persons in our country. The killer’s intension was not just revenge or punishment, he wanted to tell something to all the people who were troubling the honest officials and these discussions were happening around two years back. After the announcement was made public, the entire country’s focus was on him. I think its perfect time to do it, you know the trend of breaking news right.”
Ashok was lost in his thoughts and enitre team was surprised at the way Praveen was making these statements.
Ashok after recollecting himself: “wow junior, I’m glad you are not the killer. I’ve just asked you to think like the killer, and you are speaking as if you’ve done the crime. Splendid work, what is our plan of action, then?”
Praveen: “Pointing to paper in his hand, take out the list of people who have joined the security in the last two years and are having a connection to the tragic accident that took place two years back.”
Ashok taking the paper from Praveen: “Great, how many are there?”
Praveen: “Only one, Major Umakanth, EX NSG commando, who worked along with your nephew in the same battalion and lost his brother in the tragic accident. He resigned army after that incident and took up a job in private security firm and worked all his way to the judge’s security team. He was the same person who was on the plane and was responsible for kidnapping both kailash and Jaydev. Presently he is in the custody of airport authority and he is not opening his mouth. If we want to save those two people, it is extremely important that he speaks.”
Ashok: “Then why are we wasting our time here, let’s go to the airport and pay a visit. K, please look for the way how they communicated during all the missions, try to triangulate the mobile signals and find the location of the people who were seen in the crime scenes.”
Kaira: “Yeah senior, that would be easy, if at all they’ve used mobiles.”
Ashok with a frustrated smile, “There is no harm in being optimistic, get on with it. I know we are searching for a grain of sand in the desert, but we can’t take any risk now, try to cover all the angles in the limited amount of time that is available for us.”
Kaira nodding head, “Ok Senior, I’ve never seen you so anxious, be careful.”
Ashok left the room along with Praveen and Randhir. They reached the airport where major was kept in the interrogation room. Ashok introduced the team to the officials and they entered the room.
Ashok with a smile on his face: “Hello Major, let’s just finish this, as you know we are in a hurry.”
Umakanth lifting his head: “Now you know who I’m, there is no point in still keeping it a secret. You can ask me whatever you want.”
Ashok: “well to begin with, who is doing all this? What about the two people who have been kidnapped in the morning?”
Umakanth with a sarcastic smile: “Even I don’t know who is doing all this but I can tell you this. He is very close to you and he rates you very high, in other words, he is a big fan of you and your work and coming to those two people they are going to die a miserable death and you can watch it all in HD wait for another 24 hours. If my guess is correct they are already dead and dying in agony as they deserved. You know the saying right, Revenge is best served when it is cold.”
Ashok: “Now I impress the killers too, that’s flattering. By going with your words, I can’t stop them from dying so be a sport and tell me how to get to him?”
Umakanth: “That’s easy Senior. Go back to the tragic accident and take out the survivors list and you will find something interesting related to your family there.”
Ashok: “we are not playing the famous treasure hunt game, are we?”
Umakanth: “Nope we’re not, I’m sure you will be shocked after finding your first clue. After all the discussions I’d with him, I’m sure you’ll not be able to catch him before he is done with what he has in his mind, anyways all the best to your team, try to catch him if you can.”
Ashok: “Thanks for the motivation; we badly needed someone to encourage us. It was nice meeting you, anything else you have to say before I leave.”
Umakanth: “You will not be able to catch him even though he is very close to you, because he is born out of an idea and you can’t catch an idea.”
Ashok looking towards Praveen: “Does it make any sense to you?”
Praveen: “It’s a famous dialogue from Hollywood movie V for Vendetta, Senior”
Ashok with frustration on his face: “Well good bye Major, I hope I’ll not see you again.”
Umakanth: “The feeling is mutual Sir, by the way you are left with 23.5 hours and your clock is ticking, you better hurry, otherwise you have to answer a lot of people.”
The team left the room and Ashok called Kaira during his journey and asked her to make a list of survivors during the accident and look for a link with his family members.
Kaira was shocked to see the link between one of the survivors and Ashok’s Nephew.

While they were getting into the car Praveen suddenly stopped as he remembered something: “Excuse me, Senior, I just remembered something. You guys carry on and I’ll meet you in the office.”
Randhir with a puzzled look: “Are you sure it’s almost 2 hours ride to our office in the evening traffic, is it that important?”
Praveen: “Nothing, I’ve few questions left to ask Umakanth, will come to the office directly.”
Ashok looking at his phone: “I’ve lost the signal, ok Junior you can stay, make it quick and come back as early as possible. We’ve to leave now R, K will be waiting for us in the office.”
Randhir with a bit of suspicion: “Be careful, keep us posted.”
Praveen: “Of course, see you guys soon.”
Ashok and Randhir left from the airport and the vehicle was stopped at the toll gate.
Ashok looking towards Randhir: “I’m not able to get the link between my family members and the survivors, as far as I’m concerned everyone except me and my nephew died in that accident. What would be the link between the survivors and my family.”
Randhir has never seen Ashok troubled so much in his entire career as an assistant to Ashok.
Randhir trying to cajole Ashok out of that mood: “It's ok Senior, we can only do so much, please don’t take it personally. Even if you fail to solve this case you will still be the best investigating officer India has ever produced.”
Ashok chuckled at the way Randhir was trying: “The Best, hugh, no matter how successful you are, People always remember the goals we missed, the thought of this case becoming a black mark on my career is making me restless. I think I’ll not be able to solve this case.”
Randhir was shocked at what he was hearing from Ashok: “Hello, who are you?”
Ashok with frustration in his voice: “have you lost your mind?”
Randhir with persistence: “I’m serious, who are you?”
Ashok: “fine, I’m Ashok Kumar.”
Randhir: “No, you are not. You are not even close to the Ashok Kumar I know. Could you please find the old Ashok Kumar for me, at least for the next 20 hours?”
Ashok was speechless on hearing this, took a moment to gather his words: “Thank you R, this meant a lot, now I don’t care what happens tomorrow. Let’s go and catch the killer.”
They reached the office and Kaira was so furious that she almost yelled at Ashok: “Where are your Phones? I’ve been trying to reach you guys for the past 1 hour, both of you not reachable.”
Ashok was confused, to say the least: “Calm down, what happened? Why are you behaving as if a ghost has got into you?”
Kaira pointing towards a person sitting in the office: “Do you know, who is this guy?”
Ashok and Randhir were looking at each other and at once: “NO, we don’t, who is he?”
Kaira: “I thought so, meet Mr. Praveen Tambe, do the name sound familiar?”
Randhir: “ Junior’s name is it?”
Kaira: “ exactly, he is Praveen Tambe, who got this job as compensation from the government for the loss during the accident, and he was supposed to join us tomorrow.”
Ashok collapsed on the chair: “ If he is Praveen Tambe, then who was that guy with us since the day before yesterday, what is the link between this Praveen and my family members.”
Kaira: “there is no link, it was just a detour to keep us busy, where is Junior?”
Randhir rushed towards the landline and called the airport authorities after he was done with the call he almost smashed the receiver on the floor.
Kaira screamed at the violent action of Randhir and looked towards Ashok, who was still in a shock.
Ashok handing over his mobile phone to Kaira: “Could you please check if our mobile phones were hacked?” and looking at Randhir, “ both of them escaped from the airport, Right?”
Randhir was in extreme pain of being so ignorant: “ Yeah, after we left junior took Umakanth out saying, the investigation will continue from the office. The authorities let them go as he was with us in the morning.”
Ashok with the stammer in his voice: “Don’t call him junior, he is the killer. He was with us throughout and we didn’t even have a small doubt.”
After saying this Ashok suddenly held his heart and fell on the ground Randhir called for ambulance and Ashok was admitted to the hospital for a heart stroke. The doctor gave him a sedative so that his BP becomes normal and was kept under observation for the next 12 hours.
The next day around 10 AM in the morning the video went live on all news channels.
In which Kailash and Jaydev accepted all the crimes and there was one person with an anonymous mask at the end.
“I’m sorry senior, it’s purely business nothing personal, don’t look for me because you won’t find me. To all those criminals, who trouble honest officials you will be killed the same way. If you don’t change your behaviour.”
Ashok after recovering watched this video and submitted a report to the government saying it was all his fault and resigned from his post and recommended Randhir to be the successor.
After this he just vanished into the thin air, no one knew where he was and everyone felt the disappointment has made him take this decision.
As far as Randhir was considered he wanted to catch the junior/killer just restore the fame of his mentor.
The next day he went to the office and Kaira has told him something shocking. He just couldn’t believe what he was hearing. 
Kaira gave him an address: “you will find the killer here. Go get him, this one’s for Ashok Sir.”
It was an Island, completely off the grid and was rumoured to have man-eaters on it, but it was very important to the Indian army for security concerns. There were very few army families staying there accompanying the army personnel to guard it against the strangers. Randhir took all the permissions to go there.
Randhir reached the address and ringed the bell to get into the house.
The reply from inside just gave Goosebumps to Randhir: “Hello R, the door is open. You can come in.”
Randhir couldn’t believe what he was hearing, it was not Junior’s voice but it was Ashok’s voice. He entered the house with a gun in his hand.
Ashok:” Are you serious? Put the gun down. Have some tea. How did you track me?”
Randhir handing a cover to Ashok: “Your phone and call registry from the old SIM.”
Ashok with an angry voice: “Umakanth, where is Amar? That idiot has forgotten to erase the call registry from my phone.”
Amar(Junior) approaching Ashok: “Hello R, how are you, nice to see you, man. It took you 2 months to figure out this. I deliberately didn’t erase it, as we owe you an explanation, in fact, I was the one who called Kaira and guided her to give you this”, pointing towards Ashok, “I’ll let you do the honours of explaining the entire story.”

Ashok: “come on R, have a seat. Don’t be that formal. Ok, let me tell you what happened. 
After what they have done to my family and all those innocent people who died in the tragic incident, I wanted to take revenge on those three people, shared the same idea with my nephew. My nephew then asked his friend Umakanth to join him in the mission as he also lost someone in the same accident.

While I was preparing the plan, fate had some other plans my nephew went on a mission and was injured heavily and was declared brain dead and there was also Amar who was on the same mission and his heart was damaged during the mission.
You won’t believe it my nephew’s heart was a perfect match so the doctors asked me for my decision and I asked them to go ahead.

After my nephew’s death, I dropped all my plans of revenge as it needed three people and was cursing myself for my inability to take revenge. 
Then one day, suddenly, I received a call from Amar and I came to know about the last conversation between my nephew and Amar. Where my nephew said that I might need Amar’s support if my nephew couldn’t make it alive. Amar was ready to do anything for us. 
As they the rest is history, so the junior was Amar and it was all part of my plan.
If you want you can arrest me, let them go. I’ll accept all my crimes in the court and ready to face any punishment.”

Randhir was smiling and shaking his head: “What crime, Senior, you are forgetting the basic thing here. I don’t have any evidence against you or junior, sorry Amar. I erased the call registry before coming here. Just wanted to hear from your mouth, that’s it, nothing else. I don’t know, what you have done is right or wrong, but you created fear in those criminals’ mind. They will think twice before troubling an honest officer. Thanks to you, now the child trafficking has been reduced, all of them are getting funds from the charity organization you have started. One request senior, if you are planning any new mission please include me as well, I’m always happy to help.”
Umakanth bringing a champagne bottle: “Cheers to that, let’s there be good and honest people.” 
All of them holding their glasses, “Cheers”


*************THE END**************

© Copyright 2019 C N Ram Prasad Reddy. All rights reserved.

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