Virkar had seen dismemberment before.
The Maoists in Gadchiroli were ruthless in the retribution they meted out to those who refused to toe their line. Virkar had seen his share of detached digits, cut-off limbs and even a decapitated head. But he had never seen a body that was missing a penis. And he had never seen the amount of blood that had been shed in that one shack at the Blue Nile Resort.
Virkar had been roused early that morning by an urgent call from ACP Wagh. He had been ordered to rush to Manori as the local Senior Police Inspector had asked for an immediate intervention by the Crime Branch. With his usual diligence, Virkar had made it to Manori in an hour’s time. Now, as he looked upon the mangled body lying on the bloodstained sheets, he thanked his stars that in his rush he had had no time to stop and eat anything.
It required guts of steel and a stomach lined with cast iron to be able to look at the body lying on the bed. Most of the local policemen had either stepped out for air after the first cursory glance or were vomiting out their breakfasts in the hedge lining the small lawn outside the shack. The rest were huddled together in the lawn muttering among themselves, casting furtive glances at Virkar. Judging by their expressions, Virkar knew that they had already given up their role in the investigation and wanted him to finish up quickly so that they could wrap up and get out of there fast.
The government doctor who had been summoned from Uttan, had managed to only conduct a cursory examination before his stomach, too, began to churn. The doctor had fled unceremoniously, leaving Virkar with a sub-inspector from the local police station to gather any further information that he might require.
Now Virkar calmed his nerves and gestured to the sub-inspector to begin reading out his notes. The sub-inspector hesitated for a few seconds before resigning himself to his fate and pulled out a small notepad. He opened to a section with a small ‘Shri Ganesh’ inscription at the top of the page and began to rattle out the information he had entered below: ‘Male. Approximate age: 20-21. Arrived at the incident spot yesterday afternoon at approximately 4-4.30 p.m. on a Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle, number MH 02 FX 1385. A young good-looking girl with long hair, aged approximately nineteen or twenty years, accompanied him. The couple was allotted Shack No. 12 on payment of 1,500 rupees in cash. They entered the room at approximately 4.45 p.m. and hung the Do Not Disturb sign on the door handle. This morning, at approximately 6 a.m., the gardener noticed that the door was open. He summoned the night attendant who opened the door to enquire if the couple required any assistance. He noticed the dead body and raised the alarm. The resort manager immediately telephoned the Manori police station and informed the on-duty constable of the incident.’
The sub-inspector paused to catch his breath. ‘What is your reading of the incident?’ Virkar asked him.
‘Retaliation,’ he answered at once.
‘For what?’ Virkar raised an eyebrow.
‘For rape, saheb. The boy raped the girl, and she somehow got hold of the knife and stabbed him.’ The sub-inspector’s voice was laden with repressed irritation at Virkar’s apparent naivety. Virkar was about to say something in return when he heard the siren of the ambulance that had arrived to take away the dead body. Knowing that he had very little time left before the crime scene was disturbed, he walked closer to the bed to examine the body while trying his best not to step in the puddles of blood congealed on the ground. He leaned in as close as possible over the victim’s chest and examined each stab wound in detail. The dead young man had been stabbed seventeen times and the wounds were clean and deep, indicating that a lot of force had been used during each stabbing, and that the weapon used was extremely sharp. Perhaps it was a hunting knife or a butcher’s knife, Virkar thought to himself. He looked towards the sub-inspector who was lingering at the door. ‘Do you have a foot-ruler by any chance?’ The sub-inspector shrugged in obvious confusion. Virkar’s voice rose a decibel in irritation. ‘Do you have anything flat and hard?’ The sub-inspector shoved his hands in his pockets to look for something that could be of help. Suddenly, a brainwave seemed to strike him and he reached into his back pocket and produced a flat plastic comb.
Virkar didn’t waste any time. ‘This will do,’ he said, grabbing the comb out of the sub-inspector’s hand. He positioned the flat comb over one of the wounds on the chest and inserted it into the wound, pushing it inside till it wouldn’t go any further. Aghast, the sub-inspector called out, ‘Saheb, that comb cost me ten rupees!’ Virkar ignored him. He pulled the comb out as gently as he had inserted it and examined it closely. The bloodline on the comb indicated that the wound was at least five inches deep. He quickly repeated the action on a few other wounds and came to the conclusion that most of them were as deep as the first, if not deeper. After inserting it in about five or six wounds, Virkar was finally satisfied and handed the comb back to the sub-inspector, who took one look at the bloody comb and refused to accept it. Virkar shrugged and tossed it a corner of the room.
He then turned back to the body, calling out to the sub-inspector, ‘Come and help me.’ He quickly held the body from one side and instructed the sub-inspector to hold on to the arm on the other side. With a heave, he lifted the body upright and examined the back. It was hairless and smooth. He nodded to the sub-inspector, and they let the body fall back on the bed. Virkar stared at the bloodstained bedsheets for a full minute.
‘Did you find the penis?’
‘No, saheb, the girl must have taken it with her.’
‘Did you find their mobile phones then?’ Virkar continued.
‘No, saheb,’ said the sub-inspector.
‘What about the hotel staff, could they have maaroed it?’
‘Saheb, you know we are very good at this kind of investigation. It only took two slaps each for the hotel staff to swear on their ancestors and tell us their entire life’s story. No mobile phone, no wallet, no purse.’
‘Okay. What about the R.T.O.? Did you check the motorcycle’s registration number and owner?’
‘Haan, saheb. The R.T.O. will get back to us in an hour’s time.’
Suddenly, the air was rent with the barking of a dog. Virkar was glad that the sniffer dog he called for from the dog squad unit in Goregaon had arrived.
The police dog handler entered and said, ‘What can Tommy sniff for you today, saheb?’
‘Tommy can find out if there is even a single drop of the victim’s blood anywhere other than around the bed.’