The Masked Criminal

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The Masked Criminal

Chapter 12

Soon the police picked up the two criminals. The CCTV cameras outside the airport gate clearly showed how the killer had approached the family and led them to the cursed cab. Criminal records identified the man as Ali Ahmad, alias Montu Sheikh, who was wanted by the police for two murders and four armed robberies. The BSF arrested him from Itindaghat while he was crossing Ichhamati River in a fishing boat. His partner Bablu Hassan was arrested from a brothel near Bashirhat.

"These are just small fries," said Anil over the phone. "The head of the octopus is yet under water. We have to fish him out."

"Do you have any clue where he could be?" asked Aniket.

"No, but I have an idea," replied Anil thoughtfully. "We have to lay a trap for him."

"Trap? What kind of trap?"

"Its a trap of emotions."

"You expect emotions in these hardcore criminals?"

"Don't worry. Leave everything to me. Just be careful and call if anything unusual catches your eyes."

Aniket disconnected the call and became thoughtful. What did Anil mean by 'trap of emotions'?

"I think he referred to his wife," said Rima after she heard everything.

"What about her?"

"Sarbari called. She said that Mrs Chaki has been admitted to a mental asylum. She's completely insane."

"Is that so? When did this happen?"

"It happened a few days before we returned from Mumbai. Dr Sen is treating her."

"Now I understand," said Aniket. "Anil thinks that her husband will secretly visit her."

"It is possible. They had been partners in crime for a long time. Sarbari said Mrs Chaki looked like a replica of Lady Macbeth when they took her away. Even the candle was in her hand. Eerie, isn't it?"

"Pride, ambition, greed and jealousy can ruin a life. Now let us see when our Macduff Anil can bring about the downfall of the villainous Macbeth."

*****

The news on the television disturbed him. He switched it off. He had never felt so lonely and depressed. Nothing happened the way he had wished. The ones he targeted escaped through the clutches of death and an innocent family sacrificed their lives for them. His men got arrested and he himself was on the run. His Indian bank accounts had been frozen and lockers sealed by the police. If he did not leave the country soon, he would be running short of money. The only relief was that, his lunatic wife was not there to bother him. That wicked woman was the root cause for all evil. Money was the only thing she had ever cared for. He had made arrangements for enough money to be deposited in the asylum so that she received proper treatment there. His responsibilities had ended there and he had no wish to see her again. But there was someone he could never forget. He had to see her before he left the country. His false passport and visa were ready and he could leave anytime. But he was waiting to see her once.

He extracted an invitation card from a folder and looked into it. A softness came into his hard eyes.

*****

IPS officer Anil parked his jeep a little away from the college building. Today he was in plain dress. No one was aware that the area was surrounded by plain dressed policemen. The students and college authorities were busy with the last minute preparations of their annual fest. The main gate was decorated with marigold garlands and colourful streamers. Some of the senior students were standing at the gate to receive the guests. Guardians of the students had already started arriving. The students showed them the way to the auditorium.

Anil had heard that this was one of the most expensive residential colleges of the country. Only the children of really affluent parents could afford to study here. The splendour of the building was in accordance to the reputation it had. The hostel could accommodate more than five hundred students.

The programme was due to start within ten minutes. Most of the guests had already arrived and taken their seats in the auditorium. Anil looked at his watch.

A cab stopped at the gate of the college. A white-headed elderly gentleman slowly stepped down from it. He paid the cab driver and walked towards the entrance gate. He showed his invitation card and a student led him towards the auditorium. But in the midway he said something to the student and walked away in a different direction. Anil frowned and rushed inside.

"Where did the old man go?" he asked the student.

"He wanted to go to the washroom," replied the surprised boy.

"Where is the washroom?"

"Its on the ground floor of the hostel building."

Anil rushed towards the hostel building with four policemen in tow. There was no trace of the old man in the washroom. They climbed up the stairs, two at a time. Anil unholstered his pistol and removed the safety catch. He stopped outside a room on the second floor. The door was closed from within. Anil and the others took their positions and waited in silence. The door opened after ten minutes. The old man came out, followed by a young girl. Anil leaped forward and pointed the pistol at him.

"You are under arrest. Tiwary, handcuff this man!"

Tiwary, who was waiting with the handcuffs behind Anil, slipped them round the man's wrists and locked them. Anil tugged at the man's wig and pulled it off, revealing his dark, balding head.

"Your disguise was not very clever, Mr Chaki," he said. The handcuffed man glared at him with intense hatred. The girl, who was witnessing the scene, started screaming.

"Why are you arresting my father? What has he done?"

"Nothing much," replied Anil with a sneer. "To begin with, he has murdered four innocent people. The rest of his charges you can learn from the media reports."

The police left the shocked girl at the door and marched off with their convict.

*****

"We had our suspicions on that man for quite a long time," said Anil, munching a piece of chicken kebab. "But we could not get any evidence against him as the local police protected him."

Anil had been invited to Aniket's house for dinner. Rima looked relaxed and happy. Sohom had called to inform that Aishi and Ronnie would be flying to Kolkata the following morning. Rima had missed them a lot and eagerly awaited their return.

"I never knew they had a daughter," she said. "How did you come to know of her existence?"

"It is our job to know, Mrs Ghosh," replied Anil. "My men had been following this man for quite some time. One day they saw him entering that college. I felt surprised and wondered what business he could have there? I approached the Principal, revealed my identity and asked for her help. The lady was really helpful. She showed me the CCTV recordings of the day Mr Chaki had visited the college. I soon found him on the monitor and the Principal identified him, not as Mr Chaki, but as Mr Chandra, the father of one of their residential students named Urvashi. I wanted to see her admission form and there I got the loose thread I was looking for... his AADHAR number. From his AADHAR I got the rest... his PAN and the bank accounts in which he kept his black money in the name of Mr Chandra. Then the Principal kindly invited me to their annual fest. From her I got to know that all the guardians had been invited for the occasion. The rest is history. Remember I mentioned about a 'trap of emotions'? This was it. I was sure the man would come to meet his daughter on a day when guardians would be allowed to stay inside."

"That was really smart, Anil. Well done!" Aniket patted his friend on the back.

"I wonder why they kept their daughter a secret," said Rima. "Even Mrs Chaki, rather Mrs Chandra, never mentioned her anywhere."

"It is not hard to guess," said Anil. "They lived in a different name here. How would they explain it to their daughter?"

"Right, I forgot about that," agreed Rima. "It's surprising that the daughter never wanted to come home during her vacations."

"Where was the need? They spent the vacations on foreign trips and luxury cruises. Her parents made sure that she never gets a chance to miss her home."

"I feel bad for the poor girl," sighed Rima. "With the mother in asylum and father in jail, she has no parents to look after her."

"That's her destiny," said Anil.

After Anil's departure, Rima and Aniket came out into the balcony. They sat close to each other and savoured the feeling of intense relief and happiness felt after spending days in acute anxiety. Once again, good had triumphed over evil; once more, Macbeth had been defeated.

*****

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