- 09 Feb - 15 Feb, 2019
CRIMES AT CORNERS
- 25 Nov - 01 Dec, 2017
11pm, in a Pakistani city.
An ordinary civilian sets his eyes on a dark grey car near the airport. The vehicle wasn’t moving but its engine and lights were still turned on. Intrigued, he moved closer to the car and peeked through its window. A 40-year-old man remained seated on the driver’s seat, almost dead. It seemed as though the left side of his chest had been stabbed by a large, unusual scissor. The victim was still breathing but did not show any signs of movement.
“Hello,” said the civilian standing outside the victim’s car, “can you hear me?”
He decided to switch on his cell phone’s torch and have a clear look. It was evident that a lot of blood had been wasted.
“I think he’s dead,” he said, looking at the lifeless body in front of him.
He moved back and dialled the emergency helpline on his phone. He thought to himself while dialling the number: I’ll call the police for help and then disappear from the scene or else they might put me on the suspect’s list.
“Police station, what’s your emergency?” spoke the person on the other line.
“Someone has been murdered near the airport.”
He gave them the details of the car and the exact address of the location. After disconnecting the call, he made a run for it by taking the bus.
Several minutes later, the cops had arrived; they looked around the car and the person lying dead inside. The place was surrounded by police, as they investigated and questioned everyone who was passing by.
One of the cops examined the victim’s face carefully and said, “This is Professor Yasir Javed.”
“Yasir Javed who?” the other cop asked.
“He’s a host of some reality show. I saw him on TV a few weeks ago.”
Some ordinary civilians who were stopped by the police were shown images of the victim’s face, captured by a cell phone. They were asked, “Do you guys know him?”
“Yes, I’ve seen him on TV,” said one of them.
“He is Yasir Javed,” spoke the other one, recognising his face, “he runs a show called Crimes at Corners.”
“Well, he’s been murdered,” the investigating officer declared. “The killer has stabbed him in the chest.”
Meanwhile, the other cops surrounded the car, taking pictures of the vehicles through their cameras, trying to take down details of the car.
A boy from among the crowd stepped forward and spoke:
“I’ve seen all of his shows. He has received threats from the many people he had exposed.”
“What kind of threats?” the investigating officer asked.
“What do you mean? What kind of show was it? How did he expose people?”
“Look, let me explain… he’d interview people on his show, people who were involved in illegal activities. Like, for instance, he once interviewed an unqualified doctor who was known for selling fake medicines to illiterate people and made a huge amount of money out of it.”
“I see,” the officer said, slowly understanding the situation, “so what did Professor Yasir do?”
“He used to interview such people and cross-questioned them about their actions. If the person failed to justify or prove their qualifications, he would expose their faces, forcing them to shut down their illegal businesses.”
“What was the name of the show, again?”
“Crimes at Corners.”
“And these people threatened to kill him?”
“How many episodes did he host?”
“More than 20, I guess,” the civilian answered doubtfully.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of a cell phone ringing. As the investigating officer turned to see, he noticed that it was the victim’s phone that was buzzing. He reached closer and picked up the cell phone from Yasir’s pocket, who had been pronounced dead. He looked at the caller ID, it read ‘Rehan Riaz’. He answered the call, “Hello?”
“Hello, is that you, Yasir?”
“No, I’m sorry, he can’t speak to you at the moment. Who are you, if I may ask?”
“I’m Yasir’s cousin. I’m at the airport. Why can’t he answer the phone right now?”
“I’m sorry to tell you this but your cousin has been murdered.”
“What?!” exclaimed the caller in a loud voice.
“Sir, don’t panic. Just come down here and see for yourself. I’ll tell you the exact location”
Thirty minutes later, Rehan Riaz, a 30-year old man emerged on the spot, riding a taxi. He stepped out of the vehicle and hastily made his way to the crime scene. Two cops tried to stop him but he resisted. He had to see what had happened for himself.
“I’m fine!” yelled, Rehan. “I’m not going to panic, just let me see.”
The cops let go of him as they felt he wasn’t really out of control. Rehan looked at the dead body on the stretcher and the blood dripping from his chest.
“Oh God, this is quite upsetting,” he sighed.
The investigating officer came to him and asked, “Was he coming to receive you at the airport?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what he was going to do. In fact, I had spoken to him before I even landed. He told me he was just leaving to come pick me up.”
“Oh, so where have you come from?”
“I’ve come from England. We weren’t very close. In fact, I hardly knew him. But he was going to get me a job at his TV channel.”
“Do you live in Pakistan?”
“Yes, I do live here,” answered Rehan. “I only went to England for an admission test.”
“Do you know anybody from his family?”
“Yes, I do, but I think you should call his team members from the show. They can probably give you the details of the criminals involved in this murder.”
“Yes, we have called them. Some of the cameramen are on their way and will arrive here any moment.”
The team of Crimes at Corners had arrived and they were quite shocked. Professor Yasir’s Personal Assistant (PA) was being questioned.
“Who were these people sending him death threats?” the investigating officer asked.
“Well, almost all of the people who had been exposed on his show would blackmail him but there were some who seemed quite serious. They would threaten to have him abducted and killed.”
“Well, there was this one person, Station House Officer (SHO), who seemed very serious.”
“SHO? Why would he say that?”
“Well, he was caught taking bribes and was exposed by the host of our show.”
Upon hearing this, the cop couldn’t help but wonder. Yasir Javed must have been a very brave person.
“And what about the others?” the officer asked.
“Well, there was a mobile snatcher who would also say such things.”
“A mobile snatcher? Where did you guys find him?”
“He was reported to us by his neighbours.”
Rehan stood nearby, listening to the entire conversation and seemed to be getting upset. The officer looked at Rehan and said, “This investigation won’t be easy since we have a number of suspects to interrogate.”
“Anyway,” the officer said, turning to Yasir’s PA, “have you guys ever exposed a killer on your show?”
“Yes, we have. But, he was a calm person. He had neither warned nor threatened us.”
Rehan moved back, feeling low. He walked towards the taxi he had arrived in and asked the driver to put his luggage out.
The crime scene was getting crowded so the police officers started asking everybody to leave. Rehan prepared to leave but he was concerned about the investigation and was determined to find the criminal himself.
Two days later, Rehan was having lunch at his friend Maria Zaman’s house. Maria was an unmarried woman who was about the same age as Rehan. She looked at him carefully; it was obvious he was tensed. With an intention to comfort him, she said, “Rehan, you shouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure the police are doing their job and will catch your cousin’s murderer eventually.”
“I had asked the investigating officer to inform me as soon as he had found the suspect, but it’s been two days and they still haven’t reported anything.”
“Oh, come on… conducting an investigation takes time. They can’t possibly gather all the information in just two days…”
“… but I’m losing patience,” he interrupted, “I can’t wait any further. I want answers.”
“You were never very close to Professor Yasir. Why are you so… I mean, you seem more upset than you ought to be?”
“I just feel guilty. After all, he left his house the other day to pick me up from the airport. If it weren’t for me, he might have still been alive. I think I’m partly to blame.”
“You’re being too hard on yourself.”
Rehan took out his cell phone from his pocket and made a phone call. He wanted to speak to the investigating officer. The officer answered the call after a while, “Hello?”
“Sir, it’s me Rehan, Rehan Riaz.”
“Yasir’s cousin,” Rehan said, getting irritated.
“My cousin, Professor Yasir was murdered, remember?”
“Oh yes,” he remembered, “kid, I’m sorry I’m off the case.”
“What do you mean?”
“Inspector Affan is on this case now. I’ll give you his number, you can call him, as he’s currently investigating Mr. Yasir’s murder.”
“Ok, give me the number please.”
After noting down Inspector Affan’s number, Rehan disconnected the call. He stood up and said, “I’ll call him to see if they are taking this matter seriously.”
Several minutes later, Rehan dialled the given number.
“Hello?” the call was answered by a manly voice.
“Is this Inspector Affan?”
“Who is it?”
“I’m Yasir Javed’s cousin.”
“How may I help you?”
“I just needed to know how the investigation is progressing.”
“Well, the progress so far is that five suspects have been shortlisted as per the cameramen’s testimony. According to them, these are the people who might have been capable of killing Mr Yasir.”
“So, where are they now?”
“Well, they are not in our custody but we’ll talk to them soon. The producer of the show Crimes at Corners has asked us to keep this investigation confidential. According to him, the news of this murder cannot be made public.”
“Why is their producer asking you to keep all this information confidential?”
“Look, if you want to know all the details, just visit our police station on Thursday.”
The call was disconnected by the officer.
Rehan felt unsatisfied. He couldn’t stop wondering why the producer wanted to hide this incident from the public. He thought to himself. Something’s not right here.
His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. Maria entered the room.
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“No, not at all.”
“So, what happened? Did you call them?”
“Yes… and I don’t think they’ll be able to catch the killer.”
“They don’t seem serious to me.”
“May I suggest something?” she asked humbly.
“You should watch all the episodes of his show CAC on YouTube, and list down the suspects yourself. This way, we can help the police by convincing them to interrogate the ones we think are definitely involved in the murder.”
Rehan listened to her carefully and started to think.
“How many episodes are there?”
“I have no idea, but I can help you. I’ll watch half of the episodes, if there are too many.”
“No, we’ll watch all the episodes together. If nothing, at least five suspects have been shortlisted.”
“Do you know who the five suspects are?”
“No, but I can ask them.”
There was silence in the room for a moment. Rehan was the first to speak after a while, “I’m going to buy an HDMI cable. You have a laptop, don’t you?”
“Yes, I do.”
“We’ll watch all the episodes on your 40-inch TV. This will help us decide who needs to be interrogated.”
“So, we’ll start tomorrow then?”
Rehan and Maria continued talking, planning how they were going to watch all the episodes together.
The next day, Inspector Affan sat on his desk, going through some papers at the police station. The documents were the printed profiles of the suspects. He was also noting down the contact details of these suspects on a separate sheet. After he was done, he called the head constable and said to him, “I want you to call these people and ask them to report here immediately. If they don’t answer your call then you’ll go to their houses and bring them here.”
“Yes, sir,” the head constable responded.
Meanwhile, at Maria’s place, she had set up the laptop and had connected the HDMI cable so that along with Rehan she could watch all the episodes of the show. After a while, she called Rehan, “Rehan, come here I want to show you something.”
Rehan entered the room and looked up at the TV. Maria said, “This is a promo of the show.”
She played the one-minute video on YouTube.
The video began.
“Today we will interview,” spoke a narrator who’s voice seemed to sound like Yasir’s.
The video showed one-second glimpses of some personalities. The personalities included two fake doctors, a black magician, some police officers, a mobile snatcher and two fortune tellers.
“Such kinds of people are found at every corner of our city,” Yasir spoke, appearing on the screen. “They are fooling the public and extracting money out of them.”
Upon seeing the video, Rehan felt amazed and said, “Ok, let’s play some episodes and watch the whole video.”
Maria stopped the promo video and clicked on the other tab that read, Here we have an interesting episode where a fake fortune teller is exposed.
“Good, let’s watch this one.”
to be continued...