Part IV: Continued from Part III:
Five auto-rickshaw drivers are mysteriously killed on the road over a week. The passenger of the first auto-rickshaw, Maanvi Sharma, potentially provided a clue of a bike driver being the potential suspect. The investigating police sub-inspector D. K. Gowda had received a note from the supposed killer which explained the reason for the murders. The supposed killer wanted the auto-rickshaw drivers to drive responsibly & strictly follow traffic rules. Now there’s news about an accident involving two cabs on HAL Airport road.
Alongwith the auto-rickshaw drivers, cab drivers who ferry the various company staff across the city, were also the worst drivers on the road. Unlike an auto-rickshaw, which cannot go very fast, the cab drivers drove their ‘racing cars‘ recklessly on the city ‘tracks‘. Numerous accidents caused by cab drivers were reported on a daily basis, and even otherwise – with their constant honking, menacing driving, blatant & consistent breaking of rules; the cab drivers *were* a serious nuisance on the road.
There was something unusual about this accident worrying Gowda, otherwise he wouldn’t have been informed about it. He was getting anxious as his jeep closed on to the HAL Airport (Old Airport) road – Victoria Road – Trinity Church Road junction.
The junction is a T-Junction where the HAL Airport road ends and the Victoria road starts, while the Trinity Church road causes the perpendicular split & connects them to the M.G. Road. The traffic signal regulates vehicles coming from the old Airport end taking a right turn on to the Trinity Church road, or continue straight on to the Victoria Road. Similarly, Vehicles coming from the Victoria Layout end can take a left on to the Trinity Church Road or continue straight on to the HAL Airport road.
Gowda got down from his jeep and walked towards the crowd gathered near the road coming from the Trinity Church road and turning left on to the HAL Airport road. He could see a white Tata Indica (car) crashed in to the right-side of a white Tata Sumo (multi-utility vehicle). Both the vehicles were badly damaged with the impact. Both the vehicles were cabs, most-likely ferrying IT/BT/BPO employees. There were a couple of police constables and a traffic constable already there. One of the police constable rushed over to Gowda and saluted him.
“Namaskara Sir, we had reported this & called for you.”
Gowda nodded, “Hmm… When did this happen?”
The constable replied, “This happened about an hour ago. We reached here about 30 minutes back, after we received the message broadcast. The traffic constable had first reported this.” He pointed to the traffic constable, called him over and continued, “Sir, the Tata Indica driver was coming from the Victoria road, crossing the signal to get on to the old Airport road, when this happened. The Indica driver was shot in the head, so we were called.”
The constable looked at Gowda’s face, expecting for some reaction. However, Gowda was busy inspecting the two vehicles. Without any expressions, he asked, “Is he alive?”
The constable replied, “No sir, he is dead. Both vehicle drivers are dead sir. We were doing the panchanama when you arrived.”
By that time, the traffic constable had reached them. He saluted Gowda and looked at the police constable, who continued, “After the driver was shot, he seems to have lost control of his vehicle. He probably floored the accelerator of the car turned left to crash into the Tata Sumo which was coming from the Trinity Church road and taking the left turn to get on to the HAL Airport road.”
Gowda slowly nodded his head, then turned to the traffic constable and asked him, “Where were you when this happened?”
The traffic constable immediately replied, “I was right here sir, managing the traffic. I was on the road median facing & guiding the vehicles coming from the Airport road when I heard a loud noise from behind. I turned around and saw the Indica and the Sumo had crashed.”
Gowda asked him, “Were there any passengers in the Indica or the Sumo? Were any other people hurt in this?”
The traffic constable replied, “Yes sir, there was one passenger in the Sumo. He’s not hurt as much, only some scratches. He was sitting on the left seat behind the driver.”
Gowda asked him again, “Any other passengers or passers-by hurt?”
The traffic constable replied, “No sir, no one else. The Indica was empty.”
Gowda turned to the police constable, “Where’s the passenger? Did you speak to him?”
The police constable said, “Yes sir, we spoke to him… that’s how we got to know that the driver was shot at.”
Gowda exclaimed, “What? Did he see someone shoot the driver? Where is he?”
The police constable said, “Yes sir, he’s there on the footpath.” They start walking towards the footpath.
The constable continued, “He said he saw someone riding a bike shoot the driver. The bike was waiting to take a right turn from the Airport road on to the Trinity Church road. After shooting the bike immediately sped away from the spot, he says.”
They reached the footpath and searched for the passenger. He was sitting below a tree with a handkerchief tied to his forehead. He had a bottle of water in his hand and looked calm.
Gowda held his hand out and said, “Hello, I’m sub-inspector Gowda. How are you feeling now?”
The man, seemed to be about 30 years old, shook his hand and said, “Hello sir, I’m Amit Joshi. I’m okay now, thank you.” He looked at his left elbow and lightly touched his forehead.
Gowda said, “Okay, good. Where do you work?”
Amit replied, “I work with Citibank, on Hayes Road, and I stay at Marathahalli. I was on my way home, after my shift, when this happened.”
He continued after a pause, “I saw someone shoot at the Indica sir. He was riding a bike.”
He took a pause again, wondering if he should continue talking or stop.
Gowda, looking at him in the eye, said, “Yes, continue… I want to know what you saw. Tell me in detail.”
Amit continued, “Sir, we were coming from this side”, showing his hand towards the Trinity Church road, “and the signal had just turned green for us and my driver continued to take the turn quickly as there was no vehicle ahead of us.”
“I was slightly worried and was anxiously looking at the traffic coming from the Victoria Layout end. Their signal had turned red, but still the last 2-3 vehicles were speeding through the signal, towards us. One of them was this Indica. As soon as the Indica was at the center of the road junction, I saw a bike rider standing at the signal, point a gun towards the Indica. I think he shot from the gun & after that, I saw the Indica lose control and hurtling towards us. It crashed into us and then I don’t remember anything until I was being pulled out from the wreck by this traffic constable and one other person. I’m not hurt much, but these policemen tell me my driver is dead.”
Gowda nodded. He said, “Yes, unfortunately he’s dead. Did you see the bike rider properly? What bike was it? What was he wearing? Was he wearing a helmet or did you see his face?”
Amit replied, “I only saw the rider for a fraction of a second. I only remember he was riding a black Enfield Bullet and was wearing a black or gray jacket. He wore a helmet, so I didn’t see his face.”
Amit continued, after a pause, “And yes, the rider had a cream or brown coloured bag kept in the front, on the bike’s fuel tank, where he quickly put the gun back before speeding away. I couldn’t understand anything at that time, and was more concerned about the cab approaching us.”
Gowda nodded, “Yes, I can understand. Do you recollect anything else? Anything written on his jacket or bag? Some logo or picture?”
Amit shook his head, “No sir, all this while after I was pulled out of the Sumo, I was thinking about the same thing. Whatever I could recollect I’ve just told you sir.”
Gowda replied, “Okay. Fine. Do you want to visit a doctor & get yourself checked?”
Amit replied, “No… no sir, I’m fine. I just want to go home now. Can I leave? I will hire an auto-rickshaw.”
Gowda called the police constable, “Take his name, address, phone numbers & get him an auto-rickshaw to go to Marathahalli.”
He then wrote something on a chit of paper, turned to Amit and said, “Give the constable your contact details. And, here’s my cell number. If you recollect anything else, feel free to give me a call anytime. Thank you, and take care of yourself.”
After Amit left, Gowda called the traffic constable near, and asked him, “Didn’t you hear any gun-shot sound from where you were standing? It seems you were close to the bike rider?”
The constable replied, “Sir, I might have heard – but didn’t notice it. Many times, vehicle tyres burst and even some vehicles, especially auto-rickshaws, while starting make abrupt loud noises… These sound like crackers bursting. So, I may have heard it, but didn’t give any attention to it sir.”
Gowda said, “Hmm… Is this signal mounted with a CCTV camera, & monitored at the Ashok Nagar police station?”
The constable shook his head, “No sir, not this one.”
Gowda brushed his hair with his right hand; he was deep in thought. This was *again* leading him nowhere. There were thousands of Enfield Bullet bikes on Bangalore’s roads. He still needed some better leads to solve this.
It also seemed like the Indica driver drove past a red signal, just before the vehicles from the Old Airport road were about to take the right turn on to the Trinity Church road. Their signal would’ve just turned green; so the bike rider *must* have been ready to shoot, with his bike engine running, before the Indica drove in front of him.
The killer also seemed to be a trained/expert shooter. He could hit moving targets with accuracy. Most of his shots were on the head, giving little or no chance of survival. Once he shot at the driver here today, all he had to do was keep the smoking gun in his bag, change the bike’s gear and accelerate away.
There must’ve been other vehicles behind him who must’ve seen him shoot and speed away. But no one there, waited to tell the story. These killings were also causing a serious risk to the other vehicles on the road and passers-by.
The next day morning, he was surprised to see the newspaper’s front page reporting the cabs accident and the driver’s murder. It had also published a letter received by most of the newspaper offices, purportedly written by the killer. The letter’s content as well as its photograph was published and it was formed with words cut out from a newspaper or a magazine, just like before. The words were again stuck to a paper in correct sequence of the words to form a sentence. It read:
This is my NO-TOLERANCE MOVEMENT.
This time I got two birds with just one shot! The cab driver drove through the red signal; I drove a bullet through his skull.
My hit count is six, but total deaths are seven. Very low ‘statistics’ as compared to the perpetrators on the roads. So, treat this as an open warning to *everyone* on the road. Henceforth, I will not target auto or cab drivers only, now *ALL* the rash drivers are on my hit-list. If I see you break a rule, you will be shot at, 24x7x365. Simple.
Remember & obey the following 10 simple rules:
1. Strictly follow lane discipline. Do not change lanes without prior indication to the vehicles behind & in front of you.
2. Do not drive through red or amber signals. Respect the traffic signals, obiediently.
3. Do not honk unnecessarily. Honk *only* to inform other vehicles, not to SHOUT at them.
4. Slow down & HONK before a road crossing, and every time you take a blind turn.
5. Respect & give way to people crossing the road. Its their right to walk, while driving is a privilege given to you.
6. Needless to say, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
7. As well as, DO NOT SPEAK ON YOUR CELLPHONE WHILE DRIVING.
8. Do not drive on the wrong side of the road, or especially on the footpath, even for a short distance.
9. Do not drive rashly in a personal rush/emergency; if you’re late for your appointment/work, its not the others’ problem.
10. Follow all traffic rules, and do not bribe traffic policemen to avoid penalty/punishment when you flout the rules. I will shoot both of you dead.
No one knows me. No one has seen me. Don’t dismiss my warnings here, I shoot quite accurately & discreetly. Strictly follow my instructions above, and stay alive.
Soon, there will be many more people like me, monitoring the roads in Bangalore & shooting at anyone who dares disobey my instructions. After here, we will move to other cities in India.
With a little grin on his face, Gowda read the associated article. He said to himself, “I think, I like this guy!”
(End of Part IV)
Go to the last part, Part V