In continuation of the previous two stories, this is the third story of the 7even series.
Savita was finding it difficult to concentrate on the new case file that was handed over to her. She was just not able to get her head out of the Nishi Dasgupta murder case that had rocked the city two months ago. It had been 8 weeks since she began the investigation. However none of the clues led any where. She was just not able to find out who killed the 26 year old married woman and why. The case was now taking a political turn. As the pettiness of the leaders of opposition grew, pressure of handing the case over to CBI was mounting on ACP Savita Nath from the crime branch. It was making her very nervous.
Nishi, wife of Soumya Dasgupta, was a housewife. Her husband was working as a manager in a large multi national IT company. They had been married for 3 years, with the first two years spent travelling to various places in the world. Thanks to the high salary and onsite allowances Soumya used to get, they had bought two adjacent 2BHK apartments on the top floor of their building and converted that into a pent house of their own. Financially, they were doing very well. However burglary was ruled out as a motive behind killing Nishi. The day she died, she was found in her night suit amidst her jewellery with all her expensive clothes torn and spread around. Some one had tied a stole around her mouth and nose dozed with excessive chloroform. Then the murderer poured sulphuric acid on her throat so that her wind pipe burnt and she died. It was a strange way to kill, but was very effective as it eliminated any clue what so ever. Adding to Savita’s wows, Nishi had called for a kitty party calling all her friends and women of their society on the evening of the same day. So finger prints of at least 30 women were all over the place.
The day went as clueless for Savita as the other two months. Soumya had exercised all his options and was hell bent on getting the CBI in. She could understand that he was a worried husband. As she was entering her building, she found some of the females gathering up for a Karva chauth pooja. She had obviously forgotten about it. But she didn’t bother as she was unmarried anyway. One of the woman commented as she was entering the lift. “Aapka to achha hai Savita, shaadi hi nahi ki. Jalan hoti hai muze aapse. Na husband ki puja karo na gharwalon ki suno. Yaha to humein sab karna padta hai, aur wo bhi aise aadmi ke liye jise 7 janam to kya, 7 din bhi na seh paye… he he he” and all started laughing.
Savita didn’t find any thing funny in it, though a word stuck her brain like a lightening. Jalan. The reason she was failing was because she was searching for a strong motive behind Nishi’s murder. Jealousy was not any less stronger than other motives. Yes, that was it. Now suddenly every thing started falling in place for her. The murderer did not loot Nishi because he was not behind the money. He was probably jealous of Nishi’s riches. That is why all of Nishi’s precious belongings were scattered in the room. Plus he had also burnt Nishi’s throat. Apparently because Nishi was known to be a loud mouth. But then Nishi was not sexually assaulted. And besides it was strange for a man to be jealous of her clothes and jewellery. Even the way Nishi was murdered was very strange. Any one could have strangulated her or stabbed her. But instead she was sedated first and then killed by burning the wind pipe. One reason, Savita thought, could be to eliminate any proofs. But that was not all. Probably the second reason was that the murderer was not physically strong. He wanted to avoid confrontation. So one thing was sure. The murderer was not ‘he’ but ‘she’.
“Pran… thodi der mein office pahucho. We might have a break through! Kya? … Haan to puja karne ke baad aao. Jaldi!” Savia shouted on her mobile phone. Prananath Mishra was her deputy. He was the one who had gathered all the clues and interviewed all the ladies who visited Nishi that day. Within no time, Savita was sitting in her office with all the clues and notes spread across the table.
“Pran… You said you had interviewed 30 ladies, correct?” Asked Savita to which her deputy nodded. “So do you think any one of them had bad timed her? I mean any animosity or too much closeness?”
“Nahi na madam… most of them were shocked. Not only because Nishi died but also because they were being pulled into a Police enquiry. Sab darr gayi thi. So I could not grill too much.”
“C’mon Pran. We have to do our duty. Did you not find any one female who was scared, nervous or a bit dodgy? I’m sure inhi 30 mein se koi hai.”
“No madam. Sabhi dari hui thi. I asked if Nishi had any personal animosity with any of them. But it seems she was a popular female. She was very active in the social circles here. Besides, most of the ladies were from the same building. So I dont think any one had a hidden motive. By the way how can you say that the murderer was one of these women?”
“Look, the house was locked when the murder happened. The only other person who had the keys was Nishi’s husband Saumya. But he was out of India that time. So it is apparent that one of these ladies stole the keys, entered the house at night when Nishi was asleep and then killed her.”
“That is not possible.”
“Why?” Asked Savita curiously.
“Because the keys were in Nishi’s purse. They had only her finger prints.”
“So it means some one stayed back in the house after the party and then killed her when every one was gone.”
“Oh my god! Ye to maine socha hi nahi. Nishi stayed in a 4BHK pent house, that too she was alone that day. Some one could have easily hid her self some where, probably in one of the bathrooms and stayed till Nishi slept.”
“Correct, and she was saved because every body’s finger prints were omni present. Besides it is easy to hide a bottle of chloroform and sulphuric acid in your purse. Plus you can buy such things very easily.”
“Oh god! But madam, who do you think can do such a thing amongst these women?”
“Obviously some one who didn’t like Nishi’s socialism. Show me all the statements we recorded.”
After reading through the 30 statements, Savita found that there were at least 4 women who had had altercations with Nishi in the past. The most notable amongst them were with two females. One was her old friend Vishakha who she had a big fight because Nishi had refused to join a get together on a cruise to Goa she had organised. The other and more recent one was with the wife of the secretary of the society, Mrs. Seth who had lost to Nishi in the elections. Savita had herself spoken to the house keeping staff of the society and found out that although the quarrels with Nishi were petty, they were frequent. As she read it further, she found out that Vishakha had immediately proceeded to a wedding reception. Mrs. Seth had said in her statement that she had gone to visit an ailing relative to Vits Hospital. All Savita had to do now was verify the claims.
Next day morning, she sent Pran to the hotel Vishakha had claimed to have visited while she checked the Vits Hospital. Laying hands on a visitor book recorded 2 months ago was a bit difficult, despite she being a CID officer. The procedure was still manual and cumbersome. While she struggled with the records, Pran called her telling that the hotel staff had identified Vishakha as one of the attendees. He was now going to check the CCTV footage. Finally Savita found the records. The date read 19th August. She checked the entire book. But there was no name of certain Mrs. Seth. May be the lady forgot to write her name, she thought. She took a photocopy and decided to meet Pran in some time near the housing colony where Nishi was murdered.
“Madam, Vishakha was present in the reception. CCTV was inconclusive, but I found a picture of her with the newly wed couple. That means…”
“Pran… Mrs. Seth’s name is not there in the list of visitors. Now she might say that she forgot to write the name. But we can verify her claim with the patient who was admitted to the hospital on that night. I’m sure she knows who she visited.” A smile appeared on Savita’s face as they entered the building. Within minutes they were sitting in front of Mrs. Seth.
“… So Mrs. Seth, your earlier statement says that you went to visit a relative in the hospital that night after the kitty. Your son confirmed that you returned late. But he didn’t know which of your relatives were admitted. Strange, is it not? So why don’t you tell us the name of the you went to meet?”
Mrs. Seth stammered and struggled for words. She obviously realised that she was now caught in the limbo. She broke out when Savita repeated the question for the third time. “Yes I killed Nishi. I could not tolerate her towering presence in the social circles. She was much younger than me. But look at how rich she was… and the bitch never shied away from showing. Parties, get togethers, speeches, elections… every thing was hers. As if she was the queen and all of us were her paws. Why? Even our husbands earn well. Why then she had to show all of us that they had that extra dollar? She loved the expensive clothes right? Now she will never be able to wear them. Because I have killed her… “
“You were just jealous Mrs. Seth! Nothing else…”
“Yes I was… and why shouldn’t I be? That bitch!”
Savita let out a sigh as the Seth family looked on. “Do you know Mrs. Seth? Jealousy, or envy, is one of the most heinous crimes. It is classified as one of the 7 deadly sins by the Bible. I’m happy that the case is solved. But I’m afraid I have no option but to arrest you.”
* * *