Book: Anti Social Network

Previous: Chapter 7
Next: Chapter 9
8

‘Yes, the DNA sampled from the long hair follicles matches the DNA from the toothbrush you gave us.’

Virkar gave himself a mental high five as he heard this statement over the phone. ‘Thank you, doctor, I appreciate your call. Please send in the written report as soon as you can,’ he said into the receiver and hung up.

Sagarika Purohit. Virkar turned the name around in his mind as he shut his drawers of his desk, readying himself to head back to Willingdon College, where Sagarika was registered as a student. Over the past week, Virkar and his team had relentlessly followed every clue that they had come across, trying to make sense of the two gruesome murders. Finally, three days ago, Virkar had had his first breakthrough when the warden from St. Teresa’s Girls’ Hostel had reported that one of their hostel inmates, a nineteen-year-old girl called Sagarika Purohit, had been missing from the hostel for the past week. The hostel authorities had been under the impression that Sagarika had gone to visit her parents in Nagpur, but when her parents themselves had called the hostel in search of Sagarika, the warden smelt trouble.

Virkar had immediately rushed over to search Sagarika’s hostel room. He had found it clean and devoid of any clues that pointed to Sagarika being involved in the murders in any way. But Virkar had not given up. On a whim, he had picked up Sagarika’s toothbrush to send to the forensic lab in Kalina and badgered the doctor to conduct a DNA match with the long hair follicles that they had found at the Blue Nile Resort and at the flat in the government colony. His gamble had paid off and now he had conclusive proof that Sagarika Purohit’s DNA matched the strands of hair found at the crime scenes. She was definitely the killer, and he was going to stuff this fact down ACP Wagh’s throat and gloat all over him.

Virkar had also found that, although Rajesh Chawre was a student of the Vasaikar College in Goregoan, he used to visit Willingdon College quite frequently. Even though the practice of the students from one college hanging out at another was not uncommon, Virkar found it a little strange that Rajesh travelled all the way from Goregoan to the Fort area in South Bombay. In fact, most of the students in Vasaikar College hardly knew Rajesh, and the few who did could give only sketchy accounts of their interactions with him. Virkar had seen something quite similar in the case of Kshitij Bhatia—not many people in Somaiya College had interacted with him. It seemed like both the victims lead a shadowy existence on the fringes of their college life. And, yet, they seemed to be somehow involved in something that had gotten them killed. What that activity was, Virkar had not yet been able to put a finger on.

Moreover, the experts in the Cyber Crime Cell had not been able to find anything on either Rajesh’s or Kshitij’s computers that could be labelled as incriminating evidence. Apart from evidence of visits to the usual social networking sites and Internet porn sites, their browser histories hadn’t throw up much. Virkar had examined the video on the iPod that he had found in Rajesh Chawre’s room. The grainy picture made it difficult to make out much, except for the fact that the girl had long, silky hair and could be Sagarika Purohit. In fact, Virkar had gone through her profile photos and other pictures in her room to try to conclusively match the two but unfortunately, he couldn’t be sure since the video had been shot from behind and the long-haired girl had shown her face only for a fraction of a second while changing positions. Even the Cyber Crime Cell could not help him with a video enhancement as the video was of a very low resolution. Who the young man in the video was, Virkar was still not sure, but from the built of his body, he guessed that it was Kshitij Bhatia, although he could not say this with full certainty. The big question in Virkar’s mind was, why did Rajesh Chawre have this video on his iPod? He hoped he would be able to find an answer soon.

As he stepped out of the Crime Branch Headquarters, he saw the troupe of media people heading towards him for their daily byte. The two murders had become big news in the media and journalists were continuously shining the spotlight on any little titbit of information they could squeeze out of anyone. Despite requests from the police to not share vital information connected with the case, the media had not backed off. For a minute, Virkar considered sharing the latest bit of information just to spite ACP Wagh and make him eat the words of ridicule that he had directed towards Virkar when he had come up with the female-killer theory. But Virkar decided against it, realizing that he would be putting his own case in jeopardy and warning Sagarika Purohit in the process, instead of letting her think that she had gotten away with murdering two people.

Virkar ducked into the corridor that led to a small canteen at the end. Entering the canteen, he quickly made his way to the kitchen and out the back door into the lane behind the Crime Branch Headquarters where he had parked his Bullet. Why would a girl from a middle-class family from Nagpur become a psychotic killer? Where was she hiding in the city? Who was sheltering her? Was she a member of some cult which was shielding and sheltering her? Were these some kind of ritual killings? What was the significance of cutting off the penis and the tongue? Was she going to kill again? These were the questions buzzing around in Virkar’s head as he gunned his Bullet and turned it in the direction of the Fort area to head to Willingdon College.

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Next: Chapter 9