“What?! Why do you say that?” asked Principal Verma.
“Gill, why don’t you take this one.” said the CI.
“Okay. Have you ever seen a suicide victim? Have anyone seen for that matter”
“No.” they all said in chorus. I find this very weird. I mean a school staff and all……
“Anyway, when a person is hanged vertically, the mark on the neck will indicate it. The marks will go upwards in a V-shape. But here…..”
“The marks are horizontal!” said, surprisingly, Ms. Das.
“Yes.” said the CI. “It was almost as if someone came from behind, put a rope around his neck and strangled the life out of him.”
“Oh my God! This is great! Just great! Just what I need.” Said Verma looking sarcastic(I should know). “The school’s reputation, which I spent years making…..poof!”
I don’t understand how she is taking this so angrily for? I mean this could result in a lot of publicity. I would be overjoyed if anything like this happened in my school…ok now I’m just being insensitive.
“Calm down ma’am.” I said. “Sir, do we need to release this to the press yet?”
“Uh, what? No not yet. Declare a holiday in school….” He paused as though something had hit him hard. He finally looked sort of interested.”But wait today is a holiday, isn’t it? In fact the next few days are holidays. Dussehra, I believe. Why doesn’t that strike me as a coincidence?”
“You think this was deliberately committed on this day?” I asked.
“I do. Suspicious isn’t it? Three days of holiday for Dussehra and then the weekend totally 5 days and on the second of those holidays a murder. Why was the victim here in the first place?”
“He had a special class. Some of his friends and him are participating in the Robotics competition and they stayed back to build the robot.” said Mr. Sen. Finally one of those teachers talk. Mrs. Das still looked nauseous.
“Okay. Now Gill, call the forensics dept. and the coroners. Tell them it’s urgent.”
“Yes sir.” I said and took out my mobile.
“Sir” started Principal Verma “should I inform the parents?”
“You haven’t done that yet? Please go tell them to come immediately. Oh yeah, Mrs. Verma, I’ll need to conduct some interviews with you, your staff and some of the victim’s friends. Is that going to be a problem?” asked the CI.
“No problem. Do you want to start now or….?”
“No, not now. First the forensic department has to examine the crime scene. Did you call them Gill?”
“I think they’ll get here in about 5 minutes.”
The forensic department like all police departments in India arrived 20 minutes late. There search was pretty routine and didn’t find anything new. Preliminary reports of the coroner confirmed our theory about murder. The coroner also put the time of death to be approximately between 9 to 10 yesterday night. The body was sent to the morgue for autopsy right after the arrival of the parents.
Interviews began with a bang. The most boring part of my job is nothing but interviews. People say the most minor things in interviews (like what they had for lunch, I mean why would anyone want to know that?). A good officer can take out the unnecessary details and bring out the clean hard facts. Sometimes it’s the most minor of things that get a killer caught.
I’m not going to bore you with the whole interviews that took place but I will give the details in a very organized form as I had to write in my report. The first to be interviewed was the janitor Mr. Qureshi, then the Principal, the two teachers, the parents and finally the three students who stayed back to build their robot.
Name: Jalaludin Qureshi
Relation to victim: None
Alibi: Left school at 5 after Ms. Das asked him to leave the robotics team alone. During the time of murder, suspect was at home with wife and children. Goes to bed around 9:30 and wife can confirm.
Notes: Could have snuck out at 9:30 and come in again.
Name: Girija Verma
Relation to victim: None
Alibi: Was in the school till 4. Goes to bed at 10:30 sharp due to military habits taught by father. Was with Ms. Das discussing some personal issues till 10. Alibi confirmed.
Notes: Very reluctant about ‘personal issues’ talk with Ms. Das.
Name: Achintakumar Sen
Occupation: Mathematics Teacher
Relation to victim: Class Teacher
Alibi: Left school at 4 and went home. Was in Herdy’s Bar from 7 till 11. Witnesses found for presence. Alibi confirmed.
Notes: Very easy to escape from a bar, with all the drunks around.
Name: Kritika Das
Occupation: Physics Teacher
Relation to victim: Robotics Advisor
Alibi: Left school at 6. Presumably one of the last to see the victim alive. From 9 to 10 was with Mrs. Verma discussing ‘personal problems’. Alibi confirmed.
Notes: Even after persuasion did not say what ‘personal issues’ were.
By the time we finished those interviews, it was already 4 in the evening. CI was getting bored and nothing new had come out of the suspects except the whole ‘personal issue’ thing. I wonder what it was? All of them had acceptable alibis. Mr. Sen’s was the only one that worried me. We still had the parents and the friends left.
“Sir don’t you think it’s time we wrapped things up here?” I suggested when I caught him looking at the clock.
“You read my mind. I guess we should say goodbye to the Principal then.” Said the CI. Was it just me or was the CI taking a special interest to the Principal? Mrs. Verma was waiting outside the classroom we were using for interviews.
“Inspector! I’ll send the next person….” started Verma.
“That will be all for today Mrs Verma. We will continue tomorrow. Have sleeping arrangements been made for the parents?” asked the CI.
“Yes. They are staying at the hostel.”
“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow then. Bye!”
“I’ll see you to the door.”
“Thank you. Come along Gill we have a lot of work to do. Filling and all.”
“Yes sir.” I said. I don’t think you should know what I thought!
The detectives are good. They found out it was not a suicide so fast. Well, everything can’t go as and how you plan can it? But at least the parents came. That part played out exactly as planned. I’ve waited for so long now I can have revenge.
Thankfully the better half of the couple was with the teachers admiring photos of the dead boy. I am ready. Poised to strike. Knife in my hand. I had thought to myself that there was no point in making it look like a suicide since…well…the boy’s murder was caught so easily. How could I be so careless. Hours of planning all gone to waste! But what is done is done. Time to find my peace.
Look at that! Son has just been killed and my victim is playing on a laptop. Typical. Good for me, back is turned. I entered the room carefully lifted the knife and thrust it to the victim’s throat. Only one word escaped…. “You?!” Yes, me.
Paperwork is such a drag. I can’t believe that CI left me to do this all alone. Huh? Who phones at this late hour…oh its only 8 o’clock.
“Hello?” I said in a very unprofessional sleepy voice. What do you expect from a guy who has been filling for three hours…
“This is Principal Verma. There’s been an incident….again!” I’m trying to remember a time when I picked up a phone and it wasn’t her!
“Again? What happened?”
“Mr. Gupta was, uh murdered!”
To be continued…………………………………………………..