"Eh! Get up Neha!"
Neha heard a voice. She suddenly widened her eyes and looked up in cobra pose.
"You have slept for the whole day yesterday and now! Get up and watch some TV if you want to but don't sleep! I'll kick you now!" said Guri as she folded the mattresses.
Neha freshened up and got her cup of milk and sat on the sofa. She switched on the TV.
"Give that remote to me! I'll watch some news!" said Karanveer as he snatched the remote from his daughter. Neha sighed.
ON TV: "There has been a murder on a campsite in Pathankot, Punjab. At 5:00 am, 17 October 2019, the victim was reported dead by her friends, who all came to enjoy that day. Such a brutality was not expected by these people. Th----
Neha stared at the news on the word Campsite. They didn't show the victim's face nor her friend's faces. She caught her breath desperately. The Camera person slowly shifted the camera towards the ground. There, a group of men were fishing out with a net, a body from the lake. It was a girl's body but it was unidentifiable. The body was blurred.
"Damn it! Can't they show her!" she yelled as she punched her leg.
"They won't. Why do you care so much?" asked her father. Neha just turned her head.
ON TV: "The responsible party of the body have identified the girl's heart pendant, golden brooch and a platinum ring. They would like to claim the body, but would want serious investigation.
Neha stopped at her tracks. Her friend Aesha Deola always wore a heart pendant and a platinum ring which was gifted to her by her father! There was only one campsite in Pathankot and the news was shocking to her. She dropped her milk and ran out like a wild boar yelping. She started her car and zoomed off to the campsite. She was now a PDIACD officer.
She reached the campsite within 30 minutes and she without even locking her car, raced to the deeper edge where everyone circled around including cameramen, news reporters and public. She squished through all of them and leaned forward to see the scene. They were still taking pics of the crime spot and were drawing around the body. Neha didn't see any of her friends there. This calmed her a bit. She slowly went to the police officer and whispered into his ear.
"In you go! Ompreet has also come" he said as he guided her into the fence. To her shock, she saw Ompreet sir, Amoli, Aneeldeep and Umed standing there. They were shouting war-cries. Amoli was lying flat and sobbing.
"Amoli, Aneeldeep! What happened? Where is Aesha?? Tell me??!!!" she shouted as she shook Aneeldeep by his shoulders. He didn't answer.
"The reported dead is Aesha Deola" said the officer from behind. These words crippled Neha. She fell to her knees, expressionless. Tears blotted her eyes and soon, they did somersaults down her cheeks. Tear by tear, drip by drip was happening. Here face reddened due to the sudden explosion of emotions. She plucked the grass and started clunching them to bits and pieces with her sharp fists. Her clenched fist came down in a bend. She shouted with her dry and cracked voice. She shed continuous tears of anger and sorrow.
"Aesha!!!! You left me? You are the worst friend I could ever gather in my bosom! I hate you! You don't deserve to stay with me anymore!!! Aesha!! You heard me well?? Don't look at me dead!!! Aaaarrgghhh!!!!!!" she screamed in a raspy and gruff voice. She kept screaming while Aneeldeep pulled her back forcefully. But no change. The body kept staring at her. Her vain wasn't lessened.
"I am the one to blame! Take me! I should've taken responsibility of everyone" said Umed as he surrendered.
"Don't tell her anything now!" whispered Aneeldeep as he tried to pull him back. Umed was deeply hurt and was willing to apologise, so he didn't listen.
"You bastard! Stop surrendering! You don't deserve to be alive!!" she screamed as she slapped Umed. Tears rolled down his eyes. He was never so depressed.
"Yeah I know I'm not! Jail me!" he said as he was about to go forward when Aneeldeep pulled him back.
"She's a snarling dog ready to bite when it comes to Aesha. She's sensitive in her part. We've been friends from a long time but they, have been best friends. I didn't want you to interfere in her sorrow and didn't want to kill your spirits. But, whatever she yelled, she never meant it. It's just the pain coming out for losing Aesha. We all do. It's not your fault. Go home. Don't ever mess over this matter" said Aneeldeep as he patted on his back and went forward towards the body. Umed stood stock-still.
2 minutes passed. The PDIACD gang cleared the media and were still there, waiting for Neha to get into consciousness. Amoli and Aneeldeep were still there too. Everyone had stopped crying. Ompreet sir came forward to Neha.
"May I talk?" he asked.
"Shoot" she replied as she held her head and sat on her knees.
"The initial responding officer has come to make a record of the scene in an extremely coherent and summarized documentation. Come, let's check the crime spot" he said as he and Neha went into the fences.
The body was not recognisable. It was covered with dust and soot. The hair was entangled messily and was filled with dry grass. The face was cracked, with an eyeball blank completely. The joining of the lips was cut. There were several cuts and cracks on the collarbone. Blood was clotted and layers of it crisped off. The top button of the shirt was unbuttoned. The palms were ruptured. Neha closed her eyes tightly. She observed the surroundings.
"Do you think it is a rape?" asked Ompreet.
"Has to be, the top button of the shirt is unbuttoned" she replied. She observed again.
"Wait! We have a catch! There is a bite mark on her arm! Call the forensic department to come immediately!" said Neha as Amoli and Aneeldeep came running.
They took photographs and physical measurements of the scene. By then, The forensic department had arrived with storage trucks to collect and store the forensic evidences.
"Amoli, see that they maintain a proper chain of custody of that evidence" she said.
"Neha, this is Aarti. She will be assisting you in this case from the forensic department" said Ompreet as he introduced her. They both shook hands.
"Collect evidence such as fingerprints, footprints, tire tracks, blood and other body fluids, hairs, fibers and fire debris from the victim. Take her mobile, jewellery and earrings. Collect evidence correctly, preserve each specimen separately, use and change gloves often, avoid coughing or sneezing during the collection, use appropriate tools such as cotton-tipped applicators, sterile water, cardboard swab boxes, separate paper bags, and envelopes to prevent cross-contamination of samples. Not even a single mistake" ordered Aarti as her juniors collected all the samples in seals. The body was taken for postmortem.