Part VI and concluding part
Radha decided to go to the store room once again, again alone.
That afternoon, when her lectures were over, she went to the store room. She had not told anybody about it.
As she entered the store room, Radha switched on her torch. She had put the latch from the inside. Sometime later, she thought she heard a muffled laughter. Nobody was there in the store room, so she thought it was some students, who might be passing nearby.
When Radha found nothing significant inside the store room, she went to the door, opened the latch and pulled the door.
The door did not budge!
She could not shout, since she could not let anybody know that she was in the store room. Finding no other alternative, she called Shalini Ma’am from her mobile and the latter discretely came to her rescue.
“Radha, you should not have taken the risk,” Shalini Ma’am looked concerned as they came to the main building. “Luckily, I was in the staff-room and could take the call.”
“That means someone doesn’t want me to investigate the case!” Radha told her about the muffled laugh. “That someone could even be Shekhar,” she told herself.
The next day was a Sunday. In the morning, she was called down to the lobby of the hostel to take a call. It was Shekhar and he said that he was waiting for her outside the college. He mentioned a place. Radha realized that she knew the place. It was an isolated area. Radha couldn’t believe it. First of all Shekhar knew her cell number and hadn’t called her on it! Secondly, he had told her to meet him in an isolated place outside the institute!
Yes, she would go, she decided. But she informed Shalini Ma’am, this time, before going and her former professor told her to be careful. “I am going to call the police, if you don’t return in an hour,” she said with resolution.
The place, Shekhar had asked her to come to, was a secluded area near the S K Gupta College of Communications campus. It was a construction site, which had been dug up for some building work. But the work had been stalled due to some registration problem. Shekhar had told her that many days ago.
She had waited for about 10 minutes. Suddenly, a hand clapped on her mouth from behind. Within seconds she was gagged and blind-folded. Someone picked her up and took her to what felt like a car. They appeared to have reached their destination in about 15 minutes.
She was made to walk. They had entered a house, she supposed. Then her blind-fold and gag were removed. When her eyes got accustomed to the bright lights, she realized that they were in the hall of a big bungalow.
Just opposite to her was Shekhar in a chair, tied up!
He looked startled to see her. Radha realized what had happened. Both of them had been tricked.
“So the friends come face-to-face again,” a man with a pot-belly got up and made his presence felt.
Looking around, she saw another familiar face. Its body usually wore a peon’s dress within the institute campus.
“Now, things are falling in place, aren’t they?” asked the pot-bellied man. “Let me introduce myself to you Radha, the snoopy reporter. I am the builder Jagdhish Patel. I will also explain what is going on here. I wanted and still want the property on which S K Gupta College of Communications is standing. And I will go to any extent to get what I want. And he,” pointing at the peon, “is Janardhan. He was planted by me in the institute to get me all the latest information about the institute. It was he who had locked you inside the store room. All without my knowledge, thinking that you would have to shout and bang the door to get out. He did not know as I know that you would definitely have a mobile through which you would obviously call someone you trust.”
Radha had told Shalini Ma’am, where she was expected to meet Shekhar, but she was elsewhere, now. All she needed was time and some miracle.
In the meantime, Radha decided to keep the man talking. “Let us talk about the Christian graveyard. Wasn’t it a rumor?”
“It was a rumor, yes,” the man replied proudly. I thought it would work. Not a problem. I have you two with me as hostages…”
“Who killed Sonia?”
“Janardhan did it for me,” the man replied arrogantly.
“Because she was getting too close for comfort. She heard a conversation I had with Janardhan. I was in my SUV behind the Institute and he was standing near the door. We saw her and she ran away. Janardhan chased her and she went and hid herself in the store room. She must have then called Sharma, from her mobile, to inform him of whatever she had seen.”
“Where did you get Shekhar’s mobile?”
“That was Janardhan. He’s actually a pickpocket. He picked the mobile so efficiently, didn’t he? And he dropped the sim card for the benefit of the police, after the murder and you found it instead.”
“Did you have anything to do with the drug racket in the institute?”
“Yes, I did. But that did not work, either. You came in between. Since then I wanted to meet you. A mere girl trying to act smart with me, the great builder Jagdhish Patel! If you have guts, just try to escape from my den.”
Just then there was a bang near the door and everybody turned in surprise to look at a group of police constables rushing in behind an inspector, who had fired into the air.
Two constables rescued Radha and Shekhar as Shalini Ma’am and Sharma Uncle entered the hall. It appeared that Shalini Ma’am was watching Radha discretely, while she waited near the construction site and the moment Radha was kidnapped she had called the police. “I’ll never let a child like you to get into this kind of situation again. You seemed to be on the right track, so I let you help us out, this time and this time only. I still feel the tension,” said Uncle indulgently.
The next day the CEO thanked Shekhar and Radha in the assembly hall, in front of the whole Institute.