We raped and killed them: Crime and confessions

From his confession, the team managed to arrest all the criminals and a case was submitted against them.

 |  7-minute read |   21-12-2015

Did you imagine a mixed stench of sweat, urine, fear and blood in a closed room with no windows? With just the faint sound of harsh breath as the screams take a break. Take that and multiply by a hundred. Maybe then, you are somewhere close!

This is what the movies want you to believe. The number of arrested who have peed and cleaned the room themselves is countless and the ones who have pooped and had to clean that mess is more than I can count.

I know I may go down for this. I am not confessing to custodial torture or any fancy thing like third-degree. So a disclaimer here is in order: the following is based on hearsay heard over drinks in the police setup. None of this is true and if it bears any resemblance to anyone, it is merely a coincidence.

The basic tenet of investigation is that the police arrives after the incident has occurred. In most cases, we have no clue and have to start from scratch. Except for a list of extremists, vehicle lifters and other thieves, cops don't really have anyone else under surveillance.

The ones we have our eyes on are mostly repeated crimes where the criminal goes into the system, gets bail and commits a similar crime again, in a different location. The audacious ones do it again at the same place!

Murder, rape, destruction of evidence, vehicle theft, rioting are just a few type of crimes that the police have to deal with everyday. Even though there was a move to separate investigation from other duties, it has not really taken off.

As a result, the guy who writes a report for traffic violation also investigates a traffic accident case. He may be posted to yet another branch for investigating a murder or he might be in a riot-control detail. This is not to say that no one gets to specialise.

There are no available institutional mechanisms, simply because of lack of manpower to allow for such specialisation. Yet, there are many who do just that by design or by default. Take the example of this officer I knew for three years.

In the period, he established himself as an authority on service of non-bailable warrants. There was none who could escape his reach. In fact, there was one warrantee who had some cultural leanings. Our man simply called him and said that he needed a singer for an event.

Needlessly to say, he swallowed the bait and wallowed in judicial custody for jumping bail. One other time, he picked up a warrantee but as he was on a motorcycle with another constable, they just put him between them and rode into the court!

On many occasions, it is men like these who specialise in understanding the socio-cultural ethos of various communities which leads to better understanding of criminals, especially those who do not want to talk. Well, of course, we are Indians and the archaic laws of our country have not been replaced yet.

Hence, police is not to be trusted (God, I love this about my profession!) and any confession made to the police is not admissible in any court of law.

For a while, laws like the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) had allowed for that, but it was booted out for being too draconian (don't forget an actor is in jail, though his unarguably partial parole makes more news).

The part of the confession which leads to recovery of a murder weapon, or discovery of new evidence or arrest of a co-accused is considered as admissible. So you see, with hands tied up in more ways than one, we set out to investigate.

Look at France and their response to the recent events of violence. Laws and procedures were changed overnight to accommodate exigencies of the hour.

What would result in such a wake-up call in India? I am not really sure. Perhaps it's the sheer numbers. Who cares? The population figures are just so high!

Coming back to specialists, I have met none better than this one inspector i know. It was a case with almost no leads.

One morning, two police stations with adjacent jurisdictions reported, within 30 minutes of each other, that they had recovered a female dead body by the road with the blouse and bra pushed up and the pants pushed down.

The hands and feet were bound with green nylon rope and the body was wrapped in blue polythene. What are the odds of such a thing happening? Two similar dead bodies in two different police station areas along the same connecting road about 20 kilometers apart.

Subsequent measures taken like inquest and post-mortem gave us an idea. Both women had been raped multiple times by a group of men. While one girl was in her 20s, the other was in her 40s. The younger girl had died of concussion and haemorrhage while the older one was stabbed to death.

It took more than a week to reconstruct any semblance of a narrative because none of the women were local and identifiable despite putting up their pictures in the papers. We could recognise them only after their families realised they were missing on the tenth day.

The ladies were traders in their native place and made monthly trips to a neighbouring towns to collect items to be sold in their store in the village. Their trips would sometimes last a week, but never were they not in contact with their families. Whenever they made these trips, they would be carrying a lot of cash for purchases. This money was the cause for their doom.

Then started a phase of canvassing the town to check all the places the ladies would frequent to make their purchases. After another week, in which the police were regularly called inept (nevermind the lack of manpower, and 3000 cases registered per year), a vital clue regarding a driver was found.

The owner of the hotel where the girls ate lunch had seen them get into a white van. Drawing a list of all white vans that drove into that town market was an uphill task, but ultimately we found one which was scrubbed clean and kept in the garage without a tyre.

Only when we asked the neighbours, we found out that this was done just a week ago, which was roughly the time when the ladies were identified and the newspapers had begun to make noise. The driver fell into our net, but he was such a tough nut to crack. Even after days of grilling, he didn't say a word.

One day, tired and dejected we gave up and went home. The next afternoon, this inspector called me and said, "ma'am, this boy has agreed to talk on condition that only you will have access to him." 

It wasn't my interrogation style which had appealed to him. He chose to speak to me simply because I was the most senior officer. The truth is he opened his mouth only because of the inspector. He told me all about the crime. It was gruesome and bone-chilling.

A gang of four boys from different communities connected since they hung out in the market together: a driver, a mechanic, a salesman and a daily wage earner. They spent nearly three months befriending the ladies; in fact, one of them suggested marriage to the older woman.

This time they all met and had lunch together and then suggested they would go to the mechanic's house for a few drinks. He had sent the rest of his family away. And then the ordeal began.

Both the women were repeatedly raped and as the younger girl tried to resist, she fell down a couple of times and hit her head on the floor.

They still dragged her and raped her until one of them noticed she had died. As the other lady started to scream, they stabbed her. Late in the night, the bodies were packed in blue polythene bags and thrown on the side of the road from the van.

From his confession, the team managed to arrest all the criminals and a case was submitted against them. The family members of the women felt some kind of closure. I still remember what the driver told me when he was confessing.

It was my biggest lesson. He agreed to talk because the inspector had given him the hope that his confession would help absolve him of some of the guilt he may be feeling mentally. Even though the law will take its course, his gods may look at him with a little more compassion.

The inspector had made him believe that whatever that had happened could not be undone, but justice towards the women was in his hands. It is these kind of specialists who make policing successful.

Writer

Moriarty Undercover Moriarty Undercover

A practicing law enforcer who often takes on the role of a negotiator, peace keeper, defender, agony aunt, counsellor, who has to clear road blocks, coordinate relief, help build schools, rescue children from enforced labour etc etc and not bat an eyelid while ensuring all other aspects of policing most notably maintenance of law and order and prevention, detection and investigation of crime simultaneously.

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