“I don’t know how the body came to be in my car. Believe me, Anna,” Radha Mahadevan was on the verge of tears.
“I believe you sis. Tell me how you landed in the police station.” advocate Kartik Mahadevan asked consolingly, as they got into his car and he took the wheel.
Since their parents had shifted back to the South after their retirement, Radha had been living in their Bandra flat. Kartik was married and had settled in Belapur. The 2 siblings were very close to each other, though they were living quite a distance apart. After their parents had shifted to Chennai, Kartik had asked his sister to sell of their childhood home and move into his home, many times. But she had always declined. She had even declined to get married. She was more interested in pursuing her profession as a Bharatanatyam dancer. She had accomplished much at a very young age. It was during one of her performances at a school in Panvel that her car was stolen from the parking lot the previous night.
The blue Maruti was recovered the following morning somewhere on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway by the police. Lying on the back seat of the car was a man’s dead body!
“Naturally since the car is mine, I become the prime suspect. Besides, they found only my fingerprints in the car.,” Radha commented in wry humor. “Actually, I would like to know, how the police accepted the bail. I heard that murder suspects cannot get out on bail.”
“They don’t have any proof against you, as yet. Besides, I pulled a few strings. The inspector turned out to be a college friend. Anyways, we will have to wait for the post-mortem report for more clues.”
Within a few days, Kartik availed of the post-mortem report. The 40 year old well-built man had a head injury, which could have just given him a concussion. But, he had died of excessive bleeding from knife-wounds inflicted slightly below the navel. Death had occurred between 10 and 10.30 PM. The identity of the 6-footer could not be established so the police took the media help.
“Radha, I’m afraid, you haven’t come off the hook. You are still the prime suspect,” Kartik said, apologistically.
“The death occurred between 10 and 10.30 Pm. Between 9 and 11.30, you were in the school. But, you were not performing for the entire 2 ½ hours were you?”
“No. There were other performers. I performed 3 dances that were last in line, between 11.15 to 11.30.”
“That means you were not on stage between 10 and 10.30. If the case goes to court and you are put on trial, the public prosecutor will ask you many questions that will confuse you and ultimately make you confess to the crime. Were you with someone between 9 and 10.30 PM?”
“No. I was in my green room, dressing up for my performance. You know, how long it takes to get dressed for a dance performance. Besides, I reached there late at about 9, due to a problem in the fuel tank of my car. Everybody else had reached there at around 5. So I had to hurry up.”
“In addition to the time which is unaccounted for, there’s the post-mortem report to contend with. The pathologist found a few strands of long hair clutched in the man’s right fist and finger-nails. Since both the wounds appear to have been inflicted more or less simultaneously, the police suspect that there are 2 people involved. Also, it appears that at least one of them is a long-haired woman or man. You have long hair, too. Comparative DNA tests of your hair and that from the dead man’s fist might be helpful to us.”
As Kartik had predicted, the hair samples had not matched. The police officer in charge of the case Inspector Keshav Sharma told Kartik that his sister was still under suspicion. “All that we know is out of the 2 people one has long hair. We don’t know anything about the other person. We have to find out enough information about the people involved in this murder or the murder weapons should be recovered, for your sister’s acquittal.”