Part II: Continued from Part I:
An auto-rickshaw driver is shot dead by a mysterious killer near the Adugodi signal, while he was driving his passenger, Maanvi Sharma, to the Forum Mall. Though there’s a bad accident after the driver loses control, Maanvi escapes without any major injuries & informs the investigating police sub-inspector D. K. Gowda about an altercation between the auto-rickshaw driver & a bike rider a little while before the accident. She said she thought that the bike rider in a dark gray jacket & a small brown bag on his shoulders could have shot the driver.
PSI D.K. Gowda hung up the call and jotted down the first description of the potential suspect received from Maanvi, though he couldn’t digest the thought that the bike rider could shoot down the auto-driver for such a petty reason. However, he couldn’t ignore any leads & any clues to a potential suspect. With the bike rider in the back of his mind, he left the police station to go to the accident spot to further enquire with the shopkeepers & residents in that area.
After about an hour and after speaking to atleast a dozen shopkeepers & a couple of residents, he concluded that none of the shopkeepers or residents saw anything untoward until the accident occurred. They also did not notice any peculiar person on the road-side. Being a busy road as well as a busy market place, all this sounded pretty weird, but it really seemed like no one saw what actually happened. For someone to shoot a person – while both of them are moving, and with such accuracy to hit the head – he had to be a professional shooter. It was unlikely for such a professional shooter to shoot down a simple auto-rickshaw driver, while riding a bike. So it was quite possible that the shot was fired by someone standing on the road-side. It was also possible that the shot was fired to kill someone else at the location at that time, while it mistakenly hit the driver.
The loud ringtone of his cell phone interrupted his flow of thought – there was a call from his station. He picked up the call, it was one of his constables from the station. He spoke with the constable for less than a minute, and rushed back into his jeep. He asked his driver constable to rush to the Koramangala Water Tank, about 2.5-3.0 kilometers away.
On reaching the St. John’s signal next to the Koramangala Water Tank on Sarjapur Road, he pointed to a crowd standing about 150-200 metres after the signal, “Take me over there.”
The driver drove towards the crowd & stopped the jeep close to the crowd. Gowda saw an auto-rickshaw which had crashed into the trunk of a big tree at the edge of the road. He alighted from the jeep and pushed aside a few people from the crowd to make way for himself. As soon as some of the people saw him, they themselves moved aside, making way for him to reach the accident spot.
The vehicle’s front body was badly damaged due to the collision, so the driver seemed to have been at a high speed. On taking a closer look, Gowda saw that there was no passenger, but the driver was still in his seat crushed by the vehicle’s front body!
Nobody could’ve survived in that position Gowda thought, and that was also probably why no one from the crowd had touched the driver – fearing he was already dead. However, Gowda called up his station & asked them to urgently send an ambulance and a couple of constables to the accident site. He then asked 2-3 people from the crowd to help pull out the driver from the vehicle. They broke off some leftover glass from the wind shield & pulled up the front of the auto-rickshaw with the help of the wind shield’s side bars. Slowly, they pulled out the profusely bleeding driver and laid him on the footpath next to the vehicle.
Gowda inspected the driver, checked for his pulse – there was none, checked his nostrils to check for his breath – but no sensation there as well. He also noticed that there was a deep injury in the head, it seemed like something had pierced through the back of his head and caused a serious injury.
“Could this be a bullet injury? Is this linked to the first murder at Adugodi? Is this the work of a serial killer targetting auto-rickshaw drivers?”
With such thoughts racing through his mind, Gowda loudly asked the people gathered, “Was there any passenger in the auto-rickshaw with him?”
A few people shook their head and replied, “No sir…”
Within another couple of minutes, the ambulance arrived. Gowda asked the paramedics to check the driver, if he was alive. They immediately tried to check if he was still alive, however finally concluded that the driver was already dead.
Gowda asked them to take the dead body & conduct the post-mortem on it. He would now have to wait until the report arrived the next day, to ascertain the cause of the death as well as the cause of the deep head injury.
By this time, his constables also arrived & with them he cordoned the site and started searching for any clues around the crashed vehicle.
He asked the people from the crowd, “Who saw the accident happen?”
A couple of men raised their hand and walked towards Gowda. He asked them to relate what had happened.
One of the men started narrating, “I was standing at the bus-stop here waiting for my bus to go to Bellandur. When the traffic signal turned green for the traffic coming from Madiwala check post, all the vehicles started rushing. There were 3-4 buses in the vehicles and I got busy checking if any of the buses would ply to Bellandur. And within a few seconds I saw the auto-rickshaw suddenly come out from behind one of the buses and directly went & hit the tree. Luckily there were no people standing there, as well as the auto-rickshaw was empty. There was a loud noise and the wind shield glass shattered.”
Gowda looked at him inquisitively, “Was the auto-rickshaw at a high speed?”
Both the men shook their heads & almost replied together, “No sir, it was not fast…”
Gowda looked at both of them, still patiently listening & waiting to hear more…
The second man continued, “But generally like what happens when the signal turns green, all the vehicles rush out fast; similarly the auto-rickshaw was behind the private bus along with other vehicles. He probably was driving towards the left to search for a passenger near this bus-stop, as he was driving empty.”
Gowda said, “Okay, so where were you standing?”
The second man replied, “Over there sir… near that gate sir…” & pointed to the white gate of a house on the service road, parallel to the main Sarjapur road.
“I work there, and had come out to smoke a cigarette… I was almost done, when I heard the crashing noise and saw the auto-rickshaw had hit the tree. I saw the driver was in it, and ran toward it to help. But when I reached there, I was afraid to pull out the driver, as he was badly stuck up in the crashed vehicle’s front body.”
Gowda asked him, “When you saw the driver, was he alive? Was he moving?”
The man replied, “No sir, he was not moving… I don’t know if he was alive, but he made no sound or movement.”
Gowda further asked him, “Did you hear any other peculiar noise before the accident’s sound? Like a gun shot or small blast or so?”
The man shook his head and replied, “No sir… The traffic was very noisy as it is… I didn’t hear any other sound sir…”
Gowda asked, “What other vehicles were next to the auto-rickshaw? Did you see them?”
The man replied, “There were many bikes along with the auto-rickshaw, and a bus that was before it.”
Gowda exhaled heavily & asked them both, “Do you remember anything else?”
Both of them shook their heads again & replied, “No sir… nothing else.”
Gowda looked behind and called out for one of his constables. Then turned back to them and said, “Give your full name, residential address and phone numbers to him. We may call you up, if necessary. And if you recollect anything else, absolutely anything, do call me.”
The two men nodded back.
He turned to his constable and instructed him, “Take their details, and give them my contact number.”
Gowda further instructed the constables to continue with the investigation process as he had to go back to the station.
At the station the postmortem report of the first auto-rickshaw driver had arrived. It confirmed that the death had occurred with a bullet in the head which should have been shot from a maximum distance of 1.5 metres away from the head. The other details of the bullet & the gun used were also mentioned alongwith the other usual information. He skimmed through the report and asked his constable to get him a cup of tea.
The next day, the second postmortem report also arrived and it seemed to corroborate his thoughts of the two accidents being related. The death of this driver was also with a bullet embedded in his head. It would’ve also been shot from a close range of a maximum of 2 metres away from the head. The bullet used & the gun type also matched for both the cases.
“Damn! Who is doing this? And why is he or she doing it? Why only auto-rickshaw drivers? Is there a psycho serial killer on the loose? They both seem like a professional job, as there are almost no clues at the sites. He or she seems to carry out the killings stealthily, in crowded & noisy areas, roads specifically, and making it difficult for them to be traced. What is he or she upto?”
With a deep sigh, he continues poring through the two reports.
(End of Part II)
Go to Part III