Read Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5
Vikram Shetty walked up the hospital steps and headed straight to Dr. Netra’s office. Too many things were happening too fast. He wondered if the accident and Hegde’s killing were connected in some way. Dinakar informed him that the commissioner was personally looking into the latter’s case and that he had already deployed a team of officers.
“I’d like to speak to Babu after I’m done talking to Deshpande, sir. Who’s working on Hegde’s case, sir?” he’d asked Dinakar earlier that day.
“Pradeep,” Dinakar had told him.
Pradeep was the assistant commissioner, and special investigating officer, crime – he was heading the team for the Hegde case.
“Ok. Because I want to see if Babu knows anything that can help me with this accident case. Maybe I’ll need to speak with Pradeep too.”
“Sure, but ensure you both work together on this one. Don’t rub him the wrong way.” Vikram Shetty had a history of violence, and Dinakar had to warn him.
Dr. Netra was stepping out of her office when she saw Vikram. She smiled at him. After the niceties, she sent word through an employee to check if Deshpande had come to.
“Doctor, what is his condition like?”
“He’s ok. Still in the ICU. We’re still monitoring him. Aside from that…a broken rib cage and two fractures. Bruises on his face. No internal injuries, thankfully. It’s a good thing he was wearing a seat belt, and of course his car too protected him.” She smiled that typical doctor’s smile.
Vikram nodded. “Yes, it was a big car, with all safety features and all…”
“What do you want to talk to Deshpande about, officer? He’s been sedated, and his speech might be slurred.”
“Oh, that’s ok. I just want to know if he remembers anything at all. It’s a little odd for a politician’s aide to come under a car on the highway,” Vikram said. “On a rainy night that too,” he added.
Netra nodded thoughtfully. “Hmm, yeah – understandable if it’s someone from the town by the road, or something.” Vikram nodded in agreement.
Someone peeped in and told Deshpande was awake. Vikram left Netra’s office and headed to the ICU.
Vikram called Dinakar an hour later, on his way to Bangalore.
“Sir, Deshpande says he faintly remembers a car parked on the side of the road, when he hit chandrakanth, though he is unsure. He says, it could have been a car or something. Everything happened fast. And it was raining. Yeah. Yes. I know, I didn’t pressurize him a lot. Let him get better, maybe his memory will improve as well. Ok. Ok, sir. Yes. Yes, sir. Ok, fine. Bye.”
He hung up, his brow furrowed. He then called his office.
“Pratap? Can you find out from the commissioner’s PR office, if they’ll be running any follow up story to the accident case on TV? If not, prepare a release and send it to them. I also need to talk to their producer. Yes.”
That evening, the Bangalore based TV news channels put out a request to viewers, asking them to help the police with any information they had about the Chandrakanth accident, anything unusual they saw in case they were at the spot that night. It ran as a ticker on the bottom of the screen, there was a helpline attached.
Priyanka was watching this. And she wondered if Siddharth was watching it too. It was a week since that night, and it was obvious he had not approached the police. She wondered if he was in some kind of trouble. She wondered why she was wondering about him, in the first place. But she didn’t have an explanation to that one. She knew he didn’t want her involved, but now her heart just won’t listen. Or maybe it was conscience. It was hard to tell.
For starters, she just had his name to go with. And she had noted down his car’s number. That’s it. Maybe the cops could help her reach him.
She saved the helpline number in her mobile and dialed a few minutes later.
Babu watched as Vikram Shetty walked out of the compound. Vikram had come asking about the accident. He’d made sure not to give away anything that could make the cop suspicious. The money was evidently not found by the police, so he didn’t mention about it. In case it came up later, he had an explanation. Right now he was agitated. Hegde had been like his Godfather, and had taken care of him like his own son. He had to avenge his death. He sighed and then looked at Devi Prasad.
“I’m sure it’s that bastard, Mallesh. 100%. And I’m now getting a nagging feeling; I’ve been double crossed by that snake, Siddharth Mallik.”
Devi Prasad nodded. “Hmm. But I don’t think we should do anything rash now, Babu. Wait for this whole thing to settle down. Let it fade from public memory. Then we’ll take care of Mallesh.”
Babu nodded. But he knew Deviprasad had a reason. After Hegde, he was the next in command, and wanted to make the most of it.
But Babu had other plans. He needed to get to Siddharth and take care of him first.
Malleshwar, aka Packet Mallesh, and Hegde's arch enemy, looked seriously at the TV screen. He then turned to Siddharth.
“Now they’ll have people calling the cops. You sure nobody saw you?” He knew about Siddharth’s escapade with Chandrakanth, but didn’t know about Priyanka. Siddharth hadn’t mentioned her to anyone.
Siddharth smiled. “I doubt if anybody saw me. My car perhaps. Not me. And trying to go after a Maruti 800 is like going after a needle.” And he knew nobody could’ve seen Priyanka as she was sitting on the other side. And even if they did, it’d be a while before the cops could zero in on them. He knew how to evade them.
Mallesh laughed. “Still…be careful.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
Vikram was listening to the help-line calls screened and recorded by his office. Most of them were useless.
I saw a burst of lightning… He rolled his eyes.
There were four cars piled up…
I saw six dead bodies. One of them was wearing…. Vikram held his head. Aside from Chandrakanth, there weren’t any fatalities. Six dead bodies, indeed. He laughed. People did funny things to hog the lime light.
He discarded some more calls when he chanced upon one. It was a female voice, and sounded rather genuine - I just want to say that…I was there when it happened. I..and another person, we watched it happen. Chandrakanth was with us before the accident. I can provide… Vikram sat up and took off the head-set. He then called a constable inside.
“Tell Pratap to contact this number and ask the person to come meet me at my office tomorrow.” He scribbled Priyanka’s number and handed it to the constable.
To be continued…