Radha was stunned! Her disguise was gone. She had been caught. There was no point in denying and wasting time in argument.
“So?” she asked defiantly.
“Radha, it’s ok. I am your fan. I am originally from Mumbai. My parents still live there. I had the suspicion, when you did not fall for our ragging. I brought the red rose as a test. You did not act like a typical teenager. Your voice and tone was mature. When you asked us about the murder discretely, I thought I’ve got to confirm it and asked Dad to send me a copy of the latest issue having an article by you.”
“Now what will you do?” Again there was challenge in her eyes.
“Radha, I only want to help you with the case. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you anything in return. You taught me that there can be only friendship between a fan and an idol, no more, no less”
“Then tell me, what’s going on here?”
“Everything started about 15 days after this year’s first session started. First there were rumors that this complex was built on a Christian grave yard! When nobody really bothered about it, some students started drug-peddling within the campus. Then, there was a murder, for which Shalini Ma’am’s husband was arrested.”
“Who was murdered?”
“Sonia. She was among my group of friends and had gotten into drugs.”
“How did Shalini Ma’am’s husband get into this thing?”
“I’ll have to tell you the whole story. When Uncle started investigating drug peddling in the campus, he got friendly with us. We were helping him out. That day he was with me all morning. Sonia had found out something and wanted to share it with him. She had called him in the isolated store room in the old building of the campus that we students never used. I had a very important lecture to attend, so we parted ways near the staircase of the main building. Then I don’t know what happened. The next day Shalini Ma’am was absent and the college was agog with the news of the murder.”
“Shekhar, do you think Uncle could have killed Sonia?”
“How could he? He had told me he was going to meet Sonia. I don’t think he is stupid enough to do that if he intended to kill her,” Shekhar protested. “Later the post-mortem report said that Sonia was already dead even before we had parted ways near the staircase.”
“How did you know the exact time?” Radha asked.
“I had a class at 11.00 and I left him about 5 minutes before. I had checked my watch at that time. The post-mortem report said that Sonia had died earlier in the morning around 6.”
“How did you find out about the post-mortem report?” Radha was immediately suspicious.
“I asked my Dad to find that out from his contacts here. I know you are suspicious of me. My father is an assistant commissioner of police in Mumbai,” Shekhar’s face displayed pride.
“So what did you do about it?”
“I met the principal and he told me to meet the CEO. CEO Sir had told the principal to send anyone having any information about the murder to him. When I went to CEO Sir, he told me to hold back the information.”
“When was this?”
“As soon as, I figured out that I am the only one who knows that Uncle is innocent, i.e. a couple of days ago.”
Radha realized that the CEO was expecting more concrete evidence from her, now that she had almost bust a drug-peddling racket. He was giving her more time to investigate the murder case in her own way. Expectations were rising as far as she was concerned.
“Now, as far as the case is concerned, where do you think are we?” Shekhar butt into her thoughts.
“Nowhere near where I’d like to be,” was the plain answer. Then again she asked thoughtfully, “Can you take me to the scene of crime, so to say?”
“Why? The police have looked through it with a fine tooth comb.”
“Shekhar, they are also human beings. They might have missed something.”
That did it and he took her to the store room, where the murder had taken place. The room was locked. Shekhar suggested that he could pick the lock, but Radha stopped him. “Not now.”
To be continued…
When Radha Went Back to College… (IV)