The shocked passenger was nervously happy to be alive with some injuries, after a close brush with possible death. The auto-rickshaw she was riding in, had suddenly swerved to the right & hit the median, causing the vehicle to topple to the left. Luckily for her, within a few seconds of the accident, some people from the crowd around the accident spot had rushed over and safely pulled her & the driver out. The people had carried her to the footpath and asked her to lay down there. After enquiring her how she was, she was helped to sit up straight and offered a glass of water to drink.
The 22 year old law student had hired the auto-rickshaw to reach the Forum Mall, and now the vehicle lay badly damaged at the Adugodi signal. She looked at the scratches on her left elbow & left knee and covered her torn clothes with her dupatta. Gathering her strength, she pulled out her cellphone from her purse and checked if it worked. She made a phone call and then continued to check for any other injuries.
Within a few minutes a police jeep with a sub-inspector (PSI) and 3 constables arrived. The constables pushed the crowd back with their lathis, while the sub-inspector looked around the vehicle, spoke to his constables & then asked aloud, “Was there any passenger?”. A few people from the crowd pointed to the girl and replied that she was the passenger in the auto-rickshaw.
Sitting on the footpath holding a half-filled glass of water, the girl nodded at the PSI and searched around for the driver in the crowd. The PSI walked over to her and asked her if she was okay. She nodded again and continued to search for the auto-rickshaw driver.
The PSI asked her, “Was there anyone else with you in the auto-rickshaw?”
She replied, “No.”
The PSI then asked her to relate what happened. She slowly recollected what had occurred and related the incident to him. She again turned around to search for the auto-rickshaw driver.
The PSI asked her, “Are you searching for someone?”
She angrily replied, “Yes, where’s the stupid auto-rickshaw driver? He almost got me killed!”
The PSI looked at her in the eye & replied, “He’s dead.”
She suddenly turned over to him & stared back unbelievably and exclaimed, “DEAD? WHAT? WHERE IS HE?”
The PSI helped her get up and slowly walk towards the vehicle. He showed her the driver’s dead body lying behind the vehicle. The body was lying in a pool of blood near his head.
She again looked back unbelievingly at the PSI and asked him, “How did he die? What happened to him?”
The PSI replied, “He has been shot in the head!”
She exclaimed, “WHAT? SHOT HIM WHAT?”
The PSI replied, “He seems to have been shot with a gun. That’s why he must have lost control over the vehicle and had this accident.”
“Did you see or hear anything before the accident occurred?”
She just shook her head in disbelief, then closed her eyes and started weeping.
The PSI said to her, “Cool down. Stay calm madam. We need you for the investigation. What’s your name?”
She replied sobbingly, “Maanvi”.
He asked, “Full name? And where do you live?”
She replied, “Maanvi Sharma. I stay in a PG at Frazer Town.”
He further asked, “Where were you going?”
She replied, “Forum Mall. My sister is there, waiting for me.”
He asked, “Did you call her up?”
She replied, “Yes yes… I called her a few minutes ago. She should be here any minute.” She turned her head towards the crowd searching for her sister.
The PSI then said, “Okay, we need to check your bag & purse. Can you show it to him?”. He beckoned one of the constables to come over.
Maanvi handed over her bag and purse to the constable, who checked it thoroughly and then returned it back to her. The constable shook his head at the PSI and went back near the driver’s dead body.
She pulled out her cellphone again and called her sister. “Where are you Saakshi?… Okay… Okay, I’m here diagonally opposite the Bata showroom. Come over quickly.” She hung up, turned to the PSI & said, “She’s almost here. Can I go?”
The PSI said, “Give us your full address & phone numbers. Do you want to visit a doctor first? Its important that you get a check up done. My constable can accompany you to a doctor close-by.”
She replied, “No sir, its fine. My landlady is a doctor and I will get myself checked-up by her.” She pulled out a piece of paper, requested for a pen from the PSI and scribbled down her name, address & phone number, and handed it over to the PSI.
“This is my address & phone number.”
The PSI replied, “Thank you. My name is D. K. Gowda. I will call you up tomorrow. You may need to come to the police station. Think about what happened and try to recollect if you heard any gunshot, or saw someone driving next to the auto-rickshaw just before the accident occurred. Okay? Take care.”
Maanvi nodded, and then slowly turned around to see her younger sister rushing towards her shouting, “What happened didi?” and frantically checking her clothes and body. “Are you badly hurt? Where are you hurt?”
Maanvi put her hand on her shoulder, and slowly pulled her away. She then said, “I’m fine. Let’s leave first. We’ll talk on the way.”
They slowly walked over to the other side of the road and hailed another auto-rickshaw to take them home.
The next day morning, Saakshi answered Maanvi’s cellphone. It was the PSI D. K. Gowda on the line,asking for Maanvi. Saakshi took the instrument to Maanvi who was lying down on the bed.
Maanvi answered “Hello Sir…”.
Gowda asked her, “Hello! How’re you feeling today? What did the doctor say?”
Maanvi replied, “I’m quite fine Sir, thank you. The doctor said I only have a few bad bruises… no broken bones, nothing serious. I was really lucky. My bag saved me. What happened to the driver’s body sir?”
Gowda replied, “Okay, good that you’re fine. We had to conduct a post-mortem on the driver’s body, after which it was handed over to his family.”
“So, were you able to recollect anything? Do you remember any gunshot sound or any car or bike driving next to the auto-rickshaw?”
Maanvi replied, “Yes sir. I remembered something, which might be of help to you. I’m a law student myself, and I know the importance of such information in a crime investigation.”
DKG replied, “Oh, great! So tell me…?”
Maanvi said, “Sir, when we were crossing the MICO factory on the Adugodi road, the auto-rickshaw driver had suddenly turned a little towards his right, to overtake another auto-rickshaw, without seeing the rear-view mirror. At that time, a biker driving next to us was barely saved from hitting the road median. He braked suddenly and controlled his bike. He then accelerated behind us and came to our left and shouted at the auto-rickshaw driver. The driver also shouted back at him and they continued their argument while driving. The biker backed off before the Adugodi signal and we continued further. As the signal had turned red, we had to stop. After stopping, the auto-rickshaw driver seemed to search for the biker in his rear mirror… grinning. I don’t know if he saw the biker or not, but within seconds the signal turned green and we started again. We crossed the signal and just before the Bata showroom the driver lost control on the vehicle and we had this accident. I think I saw the same biker on our left just before our accident. I remember from earlier, that he was wearing a dark gray jacket and had a small brown bag on his shoulders. I don’t know if this had anything to do with him, but this just came to my mind about something that had happened just before the accident.”
Patiently listening to her story all this while, DKG broke his silence, “Okay good. Do you know which motorcycle was he riding? Do you remember the registration number, by any chance?”
Maanvi replied, “No sir, I don’t know the motorcycle or the registration number or anything else. This was the best I could recollect.”
DKG said, “Okay, fine. I understand. You should rest. This is my cellphone number from where I’ve called you right now. Store it and call me back on this number if you recollect anything else. We might need your help further, I’ll call you up as needed. Okay?”
Maanvi, “Yes, okay. I understand. Thank you.” She hung up the phone and saved the number on her phone.
(End of Part-I)
Go to Part II