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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Mobile phone was used in the murder most foul. A puzzle for the police.



Chapter 01

Police Inspector Nokul Hegde of the Homicide Squad opened the door of the Morgue in the City Hospital and entered followed by Sub Inspector Mubarak. An attendant came forward. The single blue neon light covered with dirt and grime was throwing a ghostly aura around the medium sized room lined with metal drawers across the entirety of its three walls rising from the floor to the ceiling. The room was empty except a metal chair and a wooden table. The room had a semi-freezing temperature with mild cold smog swirling up; a peculiar smell of death was all pervasive.

The attendant went towards the far-left side of the room and pulled back a large drawer, revealing a corpse- a man- covered, but with the face exposed; the blue tinge was palpable. The attendant removed the cover fully, looked at the Inspector and stepped aside.

The Inspector moved forward, switched on his mobile flashlight and closely scrutinized the face and the rest of the body. He held on the light for a long moment and then beckoned to the Sub Inspector.

“I think there is no doubt” the Inspector commented.

A little later they were sitting across the table of Inspector Ghorpade in the Police station situated opposite the City Hospital.

Ghorpade was saying, “Your guess was absolutely spot on. This man when he died due to a fatal stab in his stomach had his eyes intact. Also, when we took the body in our custody this disfiguration wasn’t there. Neither when it was released by the Postmortem section. But now his eyes have been gouged out! Strange!”

The Inspector was in a thoughtful mood, “I was sure that I would see this state of the body. I am not sure where and when this happened. And how it happened. It seems that it was done in the Hospital or Morgue.” He gazed out of the open window looking at the clear blue sky of the summer afternoon.

“But…” protested Ghorpade, “You are suggesting that we are at fault… we have not done our duty properly. This is an unknown and unclaimed body and anybody in the premises may have done this disgusting task... under the circumstances we did our best.”

Inspector shook his head, “No… I am not blaming you…. there is some other mystery… otherwise, who would have sent me an SMS late last night that I should see this corpse with my eyes open… this was definitely hinting towards the “eyes” of the corpse.”

Next day afternoon around post-lunchtime the Inspector got a call on his mobile phone while he was working at his desk. Frowning, he took the call as he felt disturbed.

Then an agitated voice of a woman floated in, “Inspector… Inspector…” there was a pause as if she was trying to catch her breath, then at once, there was a very loud shriek, “Help me…Help…save me….” The voice trailed off followed by total silence.

The Inspector moved with a lightning speed and dialled back. There were two rings after which the caller switched off his mobile. Crossing over to the communication section Nokul Hegde handed the mobile number of the incoming call and gave instructions.

It needed to be traced urgently.

Back in his office, he found Sub Inspector Mubarak was waiting for him.

Occupying his chair and gulping the water from the glass kept on his table, the Inspector took out his handkerchief to wipe his face; it was quite warm.

“Mubarak” he said, “That call I have got a little while ago; it appears that there is some link between the murdered man whose eyes have been gouged and today’s incident…”

“How, Sir?”

“The mobile number from which the earlier SMS has come to me is the same from which I have got today’s call… let’s see what is revealed when the call is traced.”

   Chapter 02

It was late in the afternoon when Mubarak came in with a report and placed on the Inspector’s table. It was the tracing report which said that the mobile phone belonged to one Rudraksh whose address registered with the telecom company was in the uptown area of the city. While scanning the report, the Inspector asked to find out about Rudraksh.

It was almost noon the following day when the police jeep carrying Inspector Nokul Hegde and Mubarak drove through the large estate of the Billionaire Rudraksh Singh; the curving road was flanked on both sides by sweeping, meticulously kept green lawns.

Once inside the palatial mansion, the Inspector was asked to wait for the tycoon in the office area.

His PA, Purnedu, a man of short stature and dark complexion with an air of severe personality was very polite and said, “I am Purnedu, Personal Assistant. …. Inspector, I am sorry, but Mr. Rudraksh Sir is busy now; he has been told about your arrival. Meantime, if I can be of any help, please let me know.”

The Inspector stared at him, weighing mentally his rugged handsomeness. He just nodded slightly.

“Mr. Purnedu, I really don’t want to bother your Boss, but this is an important matter involving some crime…”

He then went ahead and explained briefly about the SMS and the call he had received from the same mobile number belonging to Mr. Rudraksh.

The PA listened attentively.

“Inspector, I am fully willing to cooperate with you but what you say is not believable.”

The Inspector grimaced, “The Police is not making this cock and bull story out of thin air… these are real data obtained from the mobile service provider through our investigation.”

The PA shrugged and threw up his hand, “Sorry I can’t really help you… let my Sir respond to you… he will come shortly.”

Saying this he got up and went out of the room.

A little later another man came in. He was a nondescript man, with a slight limp and introduced himself as - Dilbagh- assistant to the PA. He said, “Sir, can we offer you a cup of tea or cold drink… it is so hot outside?” He smiled. His voice was painfully low bass and singsong quite unlike that of a man’s voice.

About an hour later Mr. Rudraksh came in and profusely apologized for keeping the Inspector waiting. He was a tall man, in his late forties, with striking looks and thinning hair. Immaculately dressed in a light blue business suit he looked every inch the Industrialist he was.

When Nokul Hegde explained the facts to him in detail, he was very polite, “Dear Inspector I am amazed to hear this story from you… the number which you have told me indeed belongs to me... but I can’t help you. Please carry out your investigation, you have my full cooperation.” He appeared unfazed.

The Inspector thought for a few moments and asked, “Sir, do you usually carry the mobile with that number?”

“Yes, that is my dual second SIM in my mobile. For your knowledge, I have three more mobiles phones with different SIMs which are in my office with the secretarial staff. Sometimes I use them.”

Just then Purnedu came in with the Industrialist’s mobile phone so that he could attend to a call. After a brief conversation, he handed the mobile to Purnedu and said, “This is the mobile which I usually carry and has the dual SIM which you have mentioned.”

The Inspector’s eyes narrowed when he rose to his feet, “Sir, I have nothing more to ask now… I will take your leave, but if need be I will come back to you.”

Back in the Police station Nokul Hegde went into a reverie for half an hour or so then called Mubarak.

“We need to do some more investigation.”

He then went ahead to give elaborate instructions.

Three days have passed, since then. It was a Monday morning and there were rain clouds and a hint of rain in the air making the oppressive heat more unbearable.

Mubarak was sitting before the Inspector with sheaves of papers. He was saying, “Sir can I brief you about what we have found out during the last week?”

The Inspector smiled and nodded.

Mubarak cleared his throat, happy to be given the chance, then started.

“The dead body we saw in the Morgue has been identified. The man’s name was Bhanot. His body was recovered from the Roopgunj area of the City lying in a park below a bench. He had no clothes except an undergarment covering his lower part. As you know he died of a knife wound. We went around the adjoining residential areas showing the photograph and one resident had recognized him as his tenant for last six months. We were told that Bhanot was physically normal and had usual eyes. Nobody could say as to why he was killed, but everyone said that since he seemed to have links with the underworld he could have been killed by some criminal gang.”

Mubarak shuffled his papers, “Interestingly, we also came to know that he was the gardener in the mansion of Industrialist Rudraksh about a year ago but was thrown out due to his petty dishonest habits.”

He paused again to look at his papers and continued.

“After that, we checked quietly from the household of Mr. Rudraksh. There are many servants there and one of them has confirmed Bhanot’s working in the gardens. It seemed once he had tried to physically assault the Industrialist on some trivial matter and there was a big showdown”

The Inspector made a gesture of appreciation to which Mubarak grinned widely, then said, “Tell me about other family members who stay with Mr. Rudraksh in the mansion. “

Mubarak said, “Sir, the gentleman and his wife are fighting a divorce case with a very bitter relationship and she will be leaving the house very shortly. Her name is Sangini Mala. They have a teenage son, Jimmy, who will still be with his father after the divorce. He is totally against his mother in this matrimonial dispute and everybody know that.”

Nokul Hegde sat thinking.

“We need to talk to the mother and son.”

Chapter 03

That afternoon Nokul Hegde and Mubarak were again in the mansion, sitting in the drawing room. Sangini Mala, a lady in her early forties having great beauty and poise and Jimmy, a young man of about nineteen years, of medium height and fair skin with a mass of unruly black hair and bespectacled, were sitting on the plush sofa across the Inspector and Sub Inspector. They occupied two cushioned chairs of ornate design.

She was saying, “Inspector, after the divorce proceedings I will have nothing to do with my husband or his estate. I have enough estate of my own; perhaps you don’t know that my father is also a very successful businessman in Mumbai; I am moving to that city very soon. Jimmy will still be with Rudraksh as he wants. Well, best of luck to him.” She looked at him.

Jimmy, who was somewhat shy, stirred and said, “I fully support my mother in this divorce but that doesn’t mean that I will go away from my father… he has promised to train me in his company… I will stay with him…”

He lapsed into an uncomfortable silence, then suddenly his tone changed into an ominous one, “I will never forgive my father...he is so cruel….” He abruptly got up and walked out of the room, muttering audibly, “And never forgive my mother for what she has done….… never till the last days of my life….”

Back in his office Nokul Hegde was in a contemplative mood. There were many facts and doubts, but somehow, he was not able to piece together the jigsaw puzzle. The prime aspect of the crime was the death of Bhanot, a former gardener who seemed to be a crook himself, and that connection with the Industrialist through his mobile number… what did that imply?

The case seemed to be hitting a wall. Even the phenomenal crime-solving ability of Inspector Nokul Hegde was being severely tested.

Two days had passed. That morning the Inspector was slightly free and turning the newspaper pages on his desk when suddenly his eyes espied an advertisement in the Job Vacancy page. It appeared innocuous; the office of the Industrialist Mr. Rudraksh was looking for candidates for the posts of PA and assistant PA.

The Inspector scowled and called for his deputy, Mubarak and showed him the advertisement.

“Mubarak find out about this. What has happened to Purnedu and Dilbagh? I want a full report.” He then added, “Also find out about the backgrounds of Purnedu and Dilbagh. Fast!”

Later in the afternoon, the Inspector was listening to Mubarak about the sacking of Purnedu and his assistant Dilbagh due to fraud and manipulations of accounts. They had not yet left the mansion after their sacking as the auditors were questioning them. Mubarak also said that they had criminal records of swindle, women related and an assortment of lawbreaking. It was clear that this fact was not known to the Industrialist when these men were appointed earlier. 

That night the Inspector was about to retire to bed … it had been raining and the atmosphere was cool and languid after a long spell of intense summer heat. Earlier, during the whole evening, he was in deep thoughts about the case.

Then his mobile rang; and from the other side the excited voice of Mubarak floated in,” Sir, just now we have received a call from the security guard of Mr. Rudraksh…. his PA, Purnedu has been murdered.”

The Inspector wasted no time in rushing to the mansion of the Industrialist.

Next morning the Inspector was mulling about the murder of Purnedu last night who had criminal records and was under a cloud for misappropriation of money. This had added a twist to the mystery.

He got up, picked up his cap and strode out. He was planning to do some quick investigations of his own.

On his return, he called his deputy and said, “Mubarak, I want two things done urgently. Immediately shadow Mr. Rudraksh, Sangini Mala, Jimmy, and Dilbagh, covering every hour of their movements without break; I want an hourly report”

It was 03.43 pm to be precise when Mubarak came in, “Sir, just now my man has reported that Jimmy has come out of the college and walking towards the adjoining pond, about a km away, with a small packet… his movement seems suspicious as he is looking around repeatedly to see if anybody is following him… what is your order?”

The Inspector quickly gave his orders.


The next day, it was the headline news in the local newspapers and the Press that Jimmy, the son of the Industrialist, Mr. Rudraksh, had been arrested by the Police and charged with murder of his father’s ex PA, Purnedu. Along with the son, the PA’s assistant, Dilbagh, had also been arrested for assorted crimes.

Inspector Nokul Hegde was in his office with Mubarak. The Inspector was looking out of the window, the curtains were moving in the slight breeze and a smile was playing on his lips.

Mubarak said, “Sir, how could you crack this case which I thought was quite puzzling?”

The Inspector returned to his chair and grinned.

“Mubarak. the first doubt came when I received an SMS directing me to an unknown dead body with the meaningless horror of his removed eyes …next…. got a call from the same number - a woman was shouting in distress. Both had no clear connection except the common mobile number. It seemed that someone wanted us to investigate the mobile number…to begin with…

It was easy to trace the mobile number to the well-known Industrialist, Mr. Rudraksh.

When we went to his mansion we found that he had four mobile phones, one of which he carried in person and the number which we were investigating was the dual second SIM of that mobile. Others were kept in his office and very easily accessible. Even the one which he carried was handled by his PA. I thought that there was carelessness in safeguarding the mobiles of such an important man.

My sixth sense was telling me that there was a specific design of someone to frame or put the finger of suspicion on the Industrialist through his mobile.

My next logic was that Mr. Rudraksh might not be involved in the case as he wouldn’t be such a fool to use his mobile number and sent SMS incriminating himself as if he was the criminal. Neither would such a “distress call” of a lady come to me from his number.

Mubarak, did you notice that his behaviour was unperturbed even after I explained all the incidents? He was understanding that it was a hoax and we would get to the bottom of the problem.

The problem was that someone was taking advantage of his dual second SIM on his mobile phone without his knowledge. Perhaps when he was sleeping or when he was in the washroom or in similar situations when the mobile was not near him. At that time, someone could have taken the SIM out of the mobile and misused it or filched the mobile phone itself for a fleeting time. Note that the SMS came to me during the latter part of the night and the next call came sometimes in the afternoon, at both times the Industrialist could have been resting. That was significant.

The next question would be who had easy access to his mobiles in the mansion? Obviously, his PA or assistant PA living in the mansion. But why would they take advantage of such access?

Once you gave me the background of these two characters, that they had criminal records, the picture started becoming clear. One or both could be involved. But what was the motive? To put the Industrialist in some sort of immoral trap? Or was it a blackmail? Then it struck me that the PA and that assistant had been involved in fraud and were dismissed recently. In fact, when we met them, they were already sacked and completing the last few days of their job.

Now motive was becoming clear…. to me it was of vengeance. Nothing short of revenge.  They linked Mr. Rudraksh’s mobile phone with the death of his ex-gardener Bhanot, who was murdered a short while ago in some gang killing. They knew that Bhanot had a big showdown and had physically assaulted the Industrialist in the past- which information they used. They also bribed some willing guy in the hospital to gouge out the eyes of dead Bhanot to give it a diabolic turn to galvanize the police. To hammer that further, they called me by faking a woman’s shout of distress. I am sure there was no woman; there was a man… the singsong low bass voice of Dilbagh was deliberately made to sound ladylike over the phone.

But it must be admitted that initially, their action of revenge seemed downright foolish, it could easily be seen that the Industrialist was not involved. But, at least, it got the Police to come to the mansion and investigate, which they thought might tarnish his image. Maybe that was the goal; if so, the revenge steps couldn’t be said to be that silly or unwarranted.

But I felt that something was still amiss. Retaliation might not be the only reason. It might have been a good reason for Dilbagh but not entirely for Purnedu.

Then I did some more thinking and concluded that there could be another motive for Purnedu. That could be connected to the divorce case between the Industrialist and his wife where she had alleged the reason of cruelty against him for the split. Then it made sense that any sort of murder allegations against the Industrialist, however false, might go against him in the divorce. It would strengthen the case of Sangini Mala in the court that her husband was a so-called criminal and a cruel man too. More so if this negative news was properly publicized through media then Mr. Rudraksh could be fighting a credibility battle in the public eye. I checked out and found that Purnedu had friends in the Press to propagate a damaging image of the Industrialist.

All this would become important if Purnedu had some extramarital relation with Sangini Mala and a successful divorce would clear his way to marry her. Who knows he may have wanted to do just that? Even after the divorce, she has enough estate of her father as she is a rich woman. Mind you, this was only my thought. And I was not far too wrong since Purnedu also had a reputation of being a habitual womanizer.”

The Inspector paused to drink a glass of water.

“No sane person would do this unless he has the criminal bent of mind and this was not lacking in those two crooks.”

Mubarak said, “But Purnedu, one of the crooks, was murdered and you suspected Jimmy? How did you do that, Sir?”

The Inspector smiled again.

“All these were happening in the mansion and I dare say that Jimmy came to know the criminal motives of Purnedu or seen or perhaps heard something incriminating. I could make out by his reaction that although it was openly known that he was against his mother, he told us that he fully supported her. Then he said that he would never forgive her for what she had done till the last days of his life. This was a strong statement and contradictory one which showed his tortured state of mind.

The Inspector continued.

“Jimmy is a young man who has an immature mind; I checked this from some of his friends today. He has been very upset about his mother’s affairs with Purnedu. To what extent his mother, Sangini Mala, is a willing party to this affair I am not too sure. In any case, all these happenings had made him furious. He wanted to do something to stop his mother and her lover, Purnedu.

With this background, I could visualize this scenario.

When Jimmy comes to know that Purnedu has been sacked by his father on the grounds of fraud and will leave the mansion shortly, he understands that he has very little time. Possibly he gets the opportunity one night to enter Purnedu’s room and then stabs him to death. After having killed in hot blood, he panics and wants to dispose of the knife, his murder weapon, at the earliest.”

The Inspector got up and stretched his arms. 

“With the murder of Purnedu, I assumed that my line of thinking could be correct. But I was not 100% sure. So, I ordered you to at once get all these individuals shadowed, Jimmy included. And what happened? Luckily, Jimmy was caught red-handed throwing the murder weapon, the knife, into the pond. And now, under our intense interrogation, the young chap has revealed his misdeeds!” 

He then picked up his cap. “My investigation is now successfully closed! Rest of the work is for the prosecutors in the court.”

Sub Inspector Mubarak smartly saluted the Inspector as he walked out for another mission.













Submitted: May 04, 2018

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