This is Sanjeeban Malhotra, Indian Police Service (IPS), Bihar Cadre, 1989 Batch.
Today I completed my tenure as a Police Officer and will be retiring in a week from the post of the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Delhi.
So many years have passed by, so many glorious, distinguished and memorable years of my life.
I’m on my way back to my place, returning from the Felicitation Ceremony, presided over by Hon. Mr. President himself.
In the function, my subordinates, as a token of honour, gifted me a huge thick Book which compiled the complete details of each and every case that I have been a part of.
There are so many cases I have solved, so many criminals I have dealt with, so many areas I’ve served, and so many operations I’ve been involved in, that 25 long years of service seems to have passed by in a flash.
When I scroll through the huge list of cases that I have untangled, the unending list of criminals I’ve exposed and put behind the bars, I feel really proud and look upon myself as some comic Hero.
Now, my hair has turned grey, the sharp eyes that had garnered so many accolades in the past, and fetched me the title of “The Eagle”, seems to be giving up nowadays. After going through the index page of the book, I realised that my memory has weakened too.
I came across a number of cases that have faded away from my memory completely.
Amongst all these Tom, Dick and Harry cases, there lay one case which sends jitters down my spine and gives me goosebumps.
It is the one and only case that is still incomplete, still unsolved for me, though officially it’s closed.
I want to take you all 17 years back and share with you that part of my life that still gives me nightmares and floods my mind with endless questions to which I have no answers yet, even after 17 years of non-official digging.
The file was closed just a month after the FIR was lodged.
This incident was witnessed by the ever gorgeous province of Himachal Pradesh.
Sameera was the only daughter of Mr. Gopaldas Sharma, the former CM of Himachal Pradesh. He was a powerful leader and businessman too. He was regarded as the King of Himachal Pradesh because of his family’s name, fame and respect.
His family had been ruling over the state for over three decades. They had many industries, shopping malls, travels and a bank to their name. Sharma family was the richest family of the entire state entitled to properties worth more than a thousand of crore.
Sameera, the only heir to this Sharma Kingdom, was a beautiful young lady who was pursuing her Undergraduation at Delhi University in correspondence. Her father was too conservative to leave his daughter out for studies.
Her father had imposed so many restrictions on her that it suffocated her sometimes. She wasn’t allowed to make any friends or play any games or listen to music or watch television or surf the net.
She wasn’t even allowed to use a cellphone.
Such was her condition – pitiable and deplorable.
All that she was allowed was a private tutor who used to help her with her subjects.
Her life could be summed up in a single word – HELL.
Her tutor, Adarsh, was a 24 year old orphan hailing from the beautiful land of Manali. He couldn’t continue with his studies due to financial problems. All his requests for study loan were put down. He was lucky enough to get a full time job at Sameera’s house as her tutor. He was permitted to stay in the old gardener’s room.
He had his own house in an isolated place, 20 kms. away from Manali and 150 kms. away from Sharma’s residence. It was all that he could say was his.
We are all well aware of Destiny and its treacherous works.
Since Adarsh was the only person who showed care and affection towards Sameera, he had unknowingly created a separate, a special place for him in her heart. Adarsh, on the other hand, liked her too at some corner of his heart, but he considered it a sin to love a girl of such high stature and position. He used to strangle the neck of his emotions every time they tried to emerge their heads out of his heart.
Finally, Sameera opened her heart out to her and told her everything about her sufferings, her pain and her real life. Since “Pain” and Adarsh were very old friends, it didn’t take him long to anticipate the reality behind those fake smiles of her. This brought them even closer and soon this turned into a beautiful relationship without anyone else’s knowledge.
But we all know truth can’t stay hidden for long. It had to come out someday, sooner or later, and unluckily Sameera’s father was the first one to know about this relationship. Sameera, on learning about this from her maid, late at night, packed her bags at once and asked Adarsh to run away with her. Adarsh, without pondering over it for long, sneaked out of the house silently and ran towards the bus station.
They were lucky enough to find a bus to Manali which was on the verge of leaving.
They boarded it without any further delay or discussions. They reached Manali late at night and headed straight towards Adarsh’s house without taking any break.
Finally, they arrived at their destination. It was a small wooden hut, messy, but spacious enough to accommodate two people. Adarsh seemed to be a bit tensed but Sameera was in a totally different mood.
Her face was emitting a different aura, and she seemed to be happy, extremely happy about something. Her eyes were shining and Adarsh was the first ever person to witness her actual smile, the priceless smile of that Sameera who had finally got her liberation from the 20 years of bondage.
She was in the 7th heaven. She ran to Adarsh and crushed him in her embrace and started weeping. These were tears of extreme bliss. After two days they got married, in a nearby temple, promising each other to be together for all the time to come in front of the Holy Fire.
It had been just a week and life seemed to have changed its course completely for these two souls.
Sameera had never stepped out of her house since the time she was a 5 year old kid. So, she asked Adarsh to take her to Manali. Adarsh couldn’t deny her even though he knew that it was risky for them to go to a public place so soon. Besides, this was the first ever demand that his wife had made.
How could he possibly deny her?
By that time, all the Newspapers and News Channels had made this a cover issue and the state police had pasted WANTED posters everywhere throughout the state. Sameera was unaware of all this.
Adarsh asked her to wrap her stole round her face before stepping out of the house for safety reasons. She did exactly as he said like an obedient kid.
They reached Manali in an hour.
It was a beautiful place, so serene, so quiet, and so heavenly.
Sameera had never witnessed such scenery before.
Finally there was a new word added to their dictionaries – “Happiness”.
One could sense that joy in their eyes, one could clearly hear their heartbeats pacing up and down, and their souls dancing to the tune of the Himalayan breeze.
Adarsh asked Sameera,
“Are you happy now?”
Sameera replied with a blush,
“Yes, a lot my hubby.
Can’t you see that from my eyes?”
Adarsh arched his lips to one side and sighed,
“But I have no money to fulfil your wishes.”
Sameera hugged him and said,
“You are the richest person in the world dear.
Richness is not defined on the basis of money.
Rich is that person who has a rich personality.
And I don’t know anyone else with such a beautiful heart.”
This was enough to activate his tear glands after years. Adarsh was known to be the strongest of persons among his acquaintances as he had seen every bit of pain in his life. He was last known to have cried on his mother’s funeral, when he was just seven.
After years of friendship with “Pain”, now it was time to snap his relations with him forever.
But “Pain” seemed to be too addicted to Adarsh.
Adarsh went to fetch a bottle of water for Sameera to a nearby shop while Sameera was enjoying the beautiful scenery. When he returned, Sameera wasn’t there at the place where he had left her. He became restless at once and started running here and there in search of her, calling out her name at the top of his voice which echoed through the mountains. An hour passed and she was yet to be found. He had no clue of where she might have been.
It was getting dark and Adarsh had almost given up hope when he heard a faint sound coming from a place behind a huge rock, not very far from him.
He hurried to that place and discovered an underground cave behind the rock. It was a deep uncovered hole in the ground. He went down carefully with the help of a sturdy rope. It was pitch dark inside. He switched on his flashlight and the first thing he saw was Sameera lying unconscious just a few inches away from his feet. He at once ran to her, took her in her arms and sprinkled water over her face. After a minute, she regained her consciousness and looked at Adarsh with wet eyes and hugged him.
Adarsh hugged her and cried for minutes moistening every inch of her face with his kisses.
Luckily, she escaped the accident with a cramped foot and some minor bruises. He carried her home and treated her wounds with medicinal herbs.
Adarsh, being too much concerned for her, decided to take her to a hospital but Sameera convinced him that she was fine and there was absolutely no need of going to the hospital and spending money unnecessarily.
Life once again became normal after that. She completely recovered from her injuries in a very short time.
One month had passed by and now the search operation had become more intense. There were commandos moving round every nook and corner of the state, checking each and every house in each and every lane. The situation demanded them to be extra careful now. Sameera’s photo was up on every wall, on every street. Her freedom was once again snatched away. But this time it was different. She loved staying at home with Adarsh. Since his house was located on a hill in an isolated place, no one ever used to come to their place and Adarsh didn’t have any friends either.
Twenty days after the Manali incident, there was a really weird news that stormed the media channels and newspapers.
One of the newspapers read:
“Ex-CM Gopaldas Sharma’s daughter, Sameera, abducted and murdered by her 24 year old tutor Adarsh.”
Adarsh read this in a newspaper while he was fetching some goods for his house at the city market. He was really terrified by this news and he quickly ran to his house, hiding his face from the public. On reaching his home he quickly shut the door and called out for Sameera to tell her about the fake news that was on the papers. He knew that it was one of the cheap tricks used by Mr. Sharma to know about their whereabouts.
Surprisingly, Sameera wasn’t there.
There was another newspaper lying on the floor which had something written on it.
He picked that up and found a note from Sameera which read,
“Sorry Adarsh, I have to set things right so I’m leaving without your permission.
Please try to understand the reason behind this step of mine.
I’ll come back soon.”
Sameera most probably knew about the fake news thing.
Adarsh ran out of the house and shouted at the peak of his voice but Sameera had left long back.
Adarsh knew Sameera’s father very well. He knew another secret, a deep one, which no one, except Mr. Sharma and Sameera, knew. The secret was that Sameera was Sharma’s stepdaughter. That’s the reason he never cared for her, never loved her and never gave her anything except pain.
Adarsh knew very well that he would shoot Sameera once he sees her.
So, he left for Sameera’s place as quickly as possible.
May be “Luck” and Adarsh were age old rivals too. He boarded a bus which had a group of special agents from CBI, including me, travelling next to him. We had started this operation a week before I met him on the bus and had almost solved the case except handcuffing the culprit. But destiny seemed to be smiling at us and our prey came to our den himself.
That is when I made the biggest mistake of my life, though unintentionally. I recognised him at once and arrested him and then informed the HQs. I got a call from Mr. Sharma within a few minutes who asked me to take Adarsh to him first before moving to the prison. I couldn’t defy his orders and did exactly as he said.
Though I was a Police Officer, I had a heart, and I was still a human with emotions. I was a good judge of human nature and I don’t know why I had that gut feeling that he was innocent. So, I took him to a separate room at the bus stop and interrogated him.
It was easy getting into him.
He narrated his entire life’s story to me.
But instead of making things clearer, it made the case more complicated.
I had myself monitored the search operation and rescued Sameera’s body from Manali from that underground cave, the very one from where Adarsh claimed to have rescued her.
That was impossible!
I knew he was lying but then again his innocent face was bewildering me, puzzling my mind and raising numerous questions.
Her body was found 20 days after her death, as post-mortem reports suggested.
Now I was in a total chaos.
Many questions were troubling my mind.
“Is he saying the truth or is he trying to make a fool of me?”
“If he is saying the truth who was that girl whose body we recovered?”
“Did Mr. Sharma tamper with the post-mortem report using his power?”
“Is it some other girl’s body which he is using against Adarsh to put false charges on him?”
“If it is so where is Sameera?”
“Is she under her father’s captivation now?”
Questions were endless and to which answers were none.
Before I could progress with further investigation, I got an order from higher ups to proceed according to their instructions and follow Mr. Sharma’s order word by word.
Meanwhile I reached the bus stop, where heavily armed people were waiting for us.
They were Mr. Sharma’s security personnel. They guided us to a Cremation Ground where Mr. Sharma and his people were standing beside a funeral pyre. They charged at Adarsh, once they saw us entering the gate.
He was fuming with anger. Before I could do anything, Adarsh was injured badly.
I was just following the orders even though it was unjust for poor Adarsh.
It exceeded my tolerance level and I protested and took the situation under my control.
I ordered his security guards to step back. They couldn’t have possibly defied a CBI senior officer’s command.
I asked Adarsh to go to the pyre and check if the body was hers.
He at once ran to that lifeless framework of bones and muscles lying on stacks of wood ready to be burnt down to ashes.
Her face was too deformed to be identified.
But he saw something, something familiar and hugged that corpse and started weeping. I saw him pull out a ring from her right hand, ring finger, probably it was their wedding ring.
After a minute or so he looked up and started laughing out loud.
Now this was really weird.
Did he lose his senses?
He was happy about something, I don’t know what yet.
How can I forget that shine in his eyes!
He was smiling as if he had cracked the IIT-JEE exams in his first attempt.
I can’t really explain what that was.
All I could decipher then was that he had lost his senses and needed medical attention.
I took him into my custody, keeping him safe from Sharma’s guards, and admitted him in a mental asylum in Delhi.
Seventeen years have passed, Seventeen long years.
He is still in the mental asylum with no improvement according to the reports.
I keep talking to the doctors time and again.
Some of them are saying that science doesn’t have an explanation for this.
According to their observations they say that he keeps talking to someone, someone who exists in his mind, may be his imaginary wife, may be Sameera, whom he might be hallucinating. But then they contradict their own statements by saying that a hallucinating patient has other symptoms too which Adarsh never showed and such a case could be easily cured with proper medications. All his test reports were normal, unlike a mental patient.
Another strange thing which they had observed is that he lives his life like any normal person inspite of being caged in a cell for 17 years. He never loses his temper, eats well and behaves well with everyone just like a normal healthy person. None of the medications used till now have worked strangely.
Some nurses fear to go near his cell because they believe that Sameera’s spirit actually dwells in there. They told me about an incident that had taken place 5 months ago when 2 fake attendants had tried to kill Adarsh but instead lost their own lives. This incident was suppressed on the command of higher authorities as this would have raised voices on the security of such an internationally reputed hospital.
I still have that tape which my informers gave me which contains the video footage of the day when this incident had happened.
I have kept it safe.
I have no courage to see it a second time.
I was unable to sleep for a week after I watched that video.
It shows Adarsh sleeping on his bed calmly and these people with scalpels getting suffocated to death as if someone strangling their necks.
There are so many things involved in this case which defy the laws of nature, which are unnatural and paranormal. I have always been a believer and supporter of the truth. I have lived my life based on facts and evidences. But this case neither has any facts nor evidences nor does it follow my investigation principles.
I can’t prove what is right and what is wrong because the thing I’m trying to prove it doesn’t exist at all.
I know this is confusing you too and that’s the reason I preferred keeping it to myself for so many years.
Every night I sleep thinking about the mistake I made by arresting him.
Then I console myself saying that I was just doing my duty.
I know what the truth is, I certainly know. But the problem is that I can’t prove it in front of anyone. I can’t tell anyone about existence of ghosts. They will laugh at me like I used to, at others, years back. These 17 years of my life have taught me something beyond human life, unfolded a mysterious truth of this world that there is a world parallel to ours where which is inhabited by the Unknown.
And if my observations are true enough then that leads to another conclusion about Love.
If Sameera really stays in there with him then all I would say is that I have never seen such selfless, unconditional love and dedication. The promise they made to each other around that Holy Fire still binds them together even though one is physically not alive. I just hope God makes them one in their next life and take away the PAIN from their lives forever.
This also answers the question that whether TRUE LOVE stays after death.
Yes, it does.
This one case has given me so many answers, and explained so many untold mysteries about life, death and love.
Well, this is all based on my assumptions and findings, which have no proof.
It grieves me to see innocent Adarsh spending his life in jail for no fault of his and yet I’m unable to prove anything in front of anyone despite knowing the truth.
This case might have been closed 17 years back but for me it is still “The Unsolved Mystery”.