Episode 7

NOT GUILTY

Fast forward to the present, 10 days after the rally incident, Sameer was still seated next to the window and thinking about everything that had happened from past till present. He had lost all belief in his parents, his love and everyone who were close to him. However, he had an urge to know what happened after the hacking incident, why there was no further investigation on this and why, anyone related to the incident was tight lipped about this?

Sameer pondered, “I did not check the newspapers, I am not sure whether this incident ever made it to the media or the press. Something tells me… it was covered up. I was set up by somebody and he must be the same person who saw to it that everything was done in complete secrecy. Who was it?”

For so long, he never gave this incident a thought due to his anger and disappointment towards his family. Now, pondering over the incident a bit harder, he then remembered the incident where Ritesh tried to molest Anita and he saved her. He also went on to insult Ritesh, making the latter a laughing stock of the college.

“It has to be Ritesh. I never had any enemies in my life that can put me in so much ‘trouble’, so needless to say, it has to be Ritesh.” said Sameer.

He was angry at Ritesh, however, he was even more angry at Anita.

“Damn you, Anita. I saved you from that vagabond and this is the ‘gift’ I get for doing that. You should have been the first to notice this, understand this but you allowed your emotions to cloud your judgement. I never want to see your face again. I will never forgive you. I will never forgive anyone. I don’t need anyone to prove that I am innocent. If this is what I deserve, I will come out successful from here and prove my innocence with my success.” Sameer said to himself.

His phone suddenly rang and he was jolted from it. He looked at the screen, it was Inspector Khan. He answered the phone.

“Sameer, I checked the files related to the hacking incident. 15 years in this profession and I am at a stage where I can look at any petty case like this and talk about its details without even looking at it. However, there are a few details that should interest you.” said Inspector Khan.

I am listening, sir. Go on.” Sameer responded.

“The college systems were hacked by 2 people early morning, at about 6 am, when the gates were just opened by the security guards. They somehow got into the room where the systems were kept and accessed the files. Here is where the matter really gets serious and indicates that a lot of people are involved including the police officer that investigated the incident. How did the 2 people know where the systems with the question papers were? Did they break the lock or did they have a spare key? How did they access the computers – did they really hack it or they had the password to the systems?

This is a botched up case, Sameer. I heard from a source of mine that Mr.Juneja spoke to the principal and talked him out of any police investigation to continue so as to not tarnish the image of the college. It is rather surprising that the principal agreed to it.

You are dealing with a man who controls half the city, a man who cannot be touched unless and until there is some solid evidence against him… it is Mr.Juneja and from what I can see from your story, his son, Ritesh, who is nothing but a burden to him, must have done all this. Yet, Ritesh does not have brains and out of anger has dug up his own grave.

I can help you, Sameer. I can reopen the case for you, but know this… you are going to face against a so-called powerful man who can do anything to save his own ass. Make the right choice.”

Inspector Khan explained about the case and the situation that Sameer was at present. Sameer did not think twice. His life was already gone the day he was kicked out of everyone’s lives, the day his career was destroyed, and all his ambitions… his new found ambitions that were triggered due to Anita’s love… were reduced to dust.

“I am willing to help and cooperate, sir. If things would have been different, I would have stepped back. If there is even a slightest chance of getting my life back, I am ready to take it.” said Sameer.

“Don’t worry, Sameer. Besides, you have all the support. You have already given all details about this case. I will find the truth and see to it that you get your life back. Don’t lose hope and don’t give up.” said Inspector Khan.

As promised, Inspector Khan had the case reopened. Inspector Khan went to the college first and met the principal, Mr. Mukherjee.

The principal was alarmed at this development and exclaimed, “What was the need of an investigation? The people who were caught confessed that it was Sameer who paid them to do this! What else do we need for a proof?”

“You are the principal of one of the finest colleges of this city, yet, call it luck or call it influence, no one questioned about the lack of security in your college, the lack of responsibility of your college staff and the fact, that the most secured rooms of the college are… not that secured as it looks.” commented Inspector Khan.

The principal’s eyes widened, he was quick to realize what the inspector was talking about and was now sweating profusely.

“You allowed the career of one of your students to be destroyed, did not give him a chance to prove his innocence. You heeded Mr. Juneja’s words to save your ass and lie to the people that you are trying to save the college’s name. That not only makes you a suspect, but also, the fact that you have great rapport with Mr. Juneja… maybe, you are also involved in this case along with a few others who were hell bent on making Sameer’s life miserable.” said Inspector Khan, glaring at the principal.

The principal was now trembling with fear. That very moment, Mr. Juneja entered the room, both the former and Inspector Khan looked at each other, the latter could make out that Mr.Juneja was not surprised making it clear that the news of the case being reopened had reached him.

“I have heard about you, Inspector Khan. You are a very brave officer… and the way you saved the home minister speaks volumes about you. We don’t get to meet people like you every day and I am really honored.” said Mr. Juneja.

There was an air of tension inside the principal’s room, as both Mr. Juneja and Inspector Khan looked eye to eye, and the principal still quivering in fear was wiping his forehead, caught in the middle of this mess.

“Thank You, Mr. Juneja. Those are real words of appreciation. The fact that people like you appreciate the hard work we do, we feel motivated to perform better. I will see you around. Now, if you would please excuse me. I have a pending matter to attend. Mr. Mukherjee, if you could please call your college staff… I would like to ask them some questions.” saying, Inspector Khan walked out of the principal’s office.

Mr.Juneja came back home and saw Ritesh busy on his gaming console with his friends. Ritesh looked at his father and greeted, “Hey, dad! How was your day!”

There was no expression on Mr.Juneja, he walked up to Ritesh and looked at him. Ritesh couldn’t understand what happened and he got up from his seat and asked, “What happened, dad? Any Problem?”

Mr.Juneja slapped Ritesh hard, the latter didn’t expect it and he fell on the ground with a thud. Ritesh’s friends were taken aback, they looked at each other and then at Mr.Juneja, they quietly walked away from there while Ritesh got up. This was the first time that Ritesh’s father slapped him and he was still trying come to terms with it.

“What was that for? Why did you slap me? What have I done?” asked a confused Ritesh.

Mr. Juneja was now glaring at his son, he caught him by the latter’s collar and yelled at him, “I am trying to maintain a name that took me years to create and here you are, trying to destroy it with your never ending antics. You act before you think and the end result is me trying to save your ass. Sameer’s hacking case has been reopened and here you are playing games. Life is not a game, you hear me!!” saying, Mr. Juneja pushed Ritesh, the latter fell on the sofa.

Ritesh was puzzled. He couldn’t believe it. He stared at Mr.Juneja and asked, “When did this happen?”

Mr. Juneja switched on the television and selected a news channel, and there it was… Sameer was being interviewed by reporters from different news channels; Inspector Khan was standing next to him.

“So, Mr. Sameer Malhotra, you are saying that you have been falsely charged for hacking the college systems and downloading the question papers?” asked the first reporter.

“Yes, and I will go at any length to prove that I did not.” Sameer answered.

“Do you suspect anyone? Would you able to provide their names?” asked the 2nd reporter.

“I wish I could… however, I would like to keep it confidential for now. All I can say is that whoever did this, he believes that he can go scot-free from the law and nobody can touch him. I would like to tell him, that nobody is above the law. If the law cannot catch him, there is something called karma. You may not believe in it… but that doesn’t mean it does not exist.” said Sameer.

“I think we all know who you are pointing your finger at. Your life may be in danger.” the first reporter commented.

Sameer thought for a moment, smiled and responded, “They will kill me, that is what you are saying, isn’t it? My life… my career… my dreams, they have all been taken away from me. My family, my love… they never supported me or helped me when I needed them the most. I have nobody to help me. My new found friends are the only people I have now… yet, I don’t want to jeopardize their life for my sake. This is my fight, either I will win or I will die, why should the others care about it?”

Mr. Juneja switched off the television, Ritesh was alarmed.

“Dad, you can stop this investigation. You can do anything.” said Ritesh, he was trembling with fear.

Mr. Juneja was irritated by his son’s lack of common sense and reacted, “And what makes you think I can save you. This boy… this low paid ambulance driver has become a hero. Kill him… I cannot even touch him or even buy him out. Did you not hear what he said on national television?” Mr.Juneja walked away from the place, Ritesh still seated on the sofa clutched his head unable to understand what to do, “Damn you, Sameer! Damn you!! I thought I can have you thrown out of college and thrown out of everyone’s life, watch you beg for a living and watch myself throw a coin at you… yet, here you are, a national hero. What are you made of? Why don’t you just die?”

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