Read Previous Chapter of this story SOUL OF A STAR – Chapter 16 : “The Name Game” #celebrateblogging
Chapter 17: The Trial
Day 3 after Tara Goes Missing:
Back in Delhi, Cyrus had started working on his next blog post. Earlier in the day he had read an article shared on a social networking site by his friend who was an animal right protection activist about how animals were unethically used for clinical trials by various leading pharmaceutical and cosmetic manufacturing companies in India and around the world. The picture given along with the article, was really heart wrenching and this inspired him to shape his next write up.
Cyrus started researching about this issue from the internet. The more he read about it, the more shocking the data, information & statistics came up. Almost all top notch names from the pharmaceutical industry were involved in some or the other kind of animal testing that would be called unethical as per the guidelines defined by the government of the country.
Be it rats, rabbits, dogs, non-human primates etc. all had to undergo and experience the same fate as the guinea pigs – ‘Vivisection’. This meant experimenting on live animals which often left them blinded, cut open, poisoned or dead. Cyrus couldn’t believe that the drugs and medicines which were produced for curing several diseases in human beings were the cause of gruesome cruelty these animals had to face. He went on to read about tests like Lethal Dose50 (LD50) that construed to the most common type of animal-poisoning study which were done to determine the chemical concentration that would lead to 50 per cent deaths in an animal group.
“How can companies conduct tests like this just for their research studies?” was the one thought reverberating in his mind again & again.
The animals were even not spared by the cosmetic products industry. The laboratories of these companies used to clinically test the toxic hazards of chemicals that could possibly happen if not used in the right proportion or tests which wanted to check what would happen if a certain quantity of the cosmetic product happened to fall in the eyes of consumer or for that matter if by chance consumed.
This was the first time probably in his life, Cyrus was reminded of the importance of the small leaflet that was often inserted along with many cosmetic products like face bleach, hair colors etc., directing the consumer to use the product correctly.
He went on to read articles describing how P.E.T.A. (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) organisation had been voicing against this issue and was the force behind rescuing several animals kept in grisly state in leading laboratories around the world.
Even humans were not spared of these horrible clinical trials. India being a poor country, with illiteracy prevalent and with a widely varying genetic pool was one of the most preferred destinations for the same. Most of the time the human targets for such kind of clinical trials would be tribal, poor illiterate individuals that would participate in these tests without being aware of the repercussions they could face in exchange of a petite amount of money.
But the next piece of information that he came across almost swept him off his feet.
Ahuja Enterprises and its managing director, Aryan Ahuja, about whom he had written in his last post were also facing a lawsuit filed in December 2013 for unethically conducting clinical trials on monkeys. The new article also further claimed that in the raid conducted by an animal right activist organisation, some supervisors of the company were also found to have participated in these clinical trials as a ‘subject’ against an extra payment. Out of which, four people had complained of deteriorating health.
Cyrus was utterly shaken by this news piece. Aryan Ahuja, the same name that literally had three different meanings attached to him in a week’s span; a leader, Tara & Jennifer’s friend and now the disgusting person behind such unethical work.
Jennifer had given a call to Cyrus on the night Tara had arranged her meeting cum date with Aryan.
Jennifer said, “Hi Cyrus, how are you?”
“I am fine Aunt Jennifer.” He replied.
Jennifer continued her series of questions, “What made you leave Mumbai in such a hurry? Couldn’t you wait for me to return at the hotel?”
“Sorryyy.. I know you would be worried that’s why had left a note for you. Actually one of my close friends had met with an accident and so had to leave in haste.” Cyrus replied.
“Okay, but next time you do something like this and I will surely tell your mom..” Jennifer cautioned him.
“So what’s new? You met Tara today? I guess you guys had planned the meeting.” asked Cyrus.
“Yes we did meet and she threw another dinner at her home today. Guess what Aryan Ahuja of Ahuja Enterprises was also invited. Unlike his corporate looks he is a complete charmer and we instantly hit off.” Cyrus could make out the excitement in Jennifer’s voice.
“Hmm.. lady you sound excited. Alright time for me to sleep now; talk to you later. Good Night!” Cyrus had said with a big yawn.
“Good Night!” said Jennifer as she hung up the call.
Cyrus was puzzled whether he should or shouldn’t tell Jennifer about this news article about Aryan. Finally something came to his mind and Cyrus decided that the next time they would talk over the phone, he will definitely tell everything to her. After all Jennifer ought to know who she was befriending.
A few hours later a message from Jennifer came on Cyrus’s mobile:
Guess what, he asked me whether I like Him! Yippee, a happy dance.. 🙂
Cyrus could clearly sense that Jennifer had started liking this friend of hers in a different way. So he stalled his plans of discussing this lawsuit news about Aryan with her. He also thought that probably it was too early to judge Aryan, may be it was simply a jealous competitor behind this lawsuit.
“Who knows, what goes under the rosy pictures of these corporate giants.” Cyrus tried to assure himself.
Meanwhile in Mumbai, police had already started their preliminary investigations to find Tara. After Roohi had gone missing they were moving ahead with investigations more swiftly. They had already questioned the key people, Shekhar Dutta, Jennifer Joseph & Aryan Ahuja; hoping that they could yield some sort of lead in the case. However they hadn’t declared Shekhar and Jennifer absolutely clean yet rather they were treated as prima facie suspects.
Apart from this a small police team in assistance with the mobile phone company was also trying to trace Tara’s mobile phone which became active at two different places before getting finally switched off. Tracing Tara’s mobile would lend a great helping hand towards finding her, nabbing the person behind it and probably finding Roohi too.
Till now, police was in ambiguity whether disappearance of Tara should be related with disappearance of Roohi or were these two different cases.
“If these two cases are related then there is one mastermind and if the two disappearances are unrelated then we have two b*****ds to catch.” said Kabir, senior Inspector at Mah. Po., a commonly referred name in Hindi for Maharashtra Police.
Kabir Sawant was born and brought up in Mumbai. Ever since in his childhood he had watched Amitabh Bacchan playing police inspector in Zanjeer, he wanted to be a similar kind of cop. He was 5.10” and being inspired from the man himself, had a maintained physique though not exactly a six pack. As against being a top-cop with high success ratio, Kabir had a typical sense of humor which only few people around him could understand; whether he was joking or was he serious.
“Get photographs of Tara Dutta & Roohi baby from Shekhar Dutta and get their missing pamphlets ready.” Inspector Kabir ordered.
“Okay Sir.. and what to do with them?” a Sub-inspector blankly asked.
“Paste it on the wall opposite to my desk, I wish to see Tara & Roohi’s beautiful photos daily..” Kabir smilingly said and then at once with an absolute seriousness on his face continued, “Sahib, after the pamphlets are ready I request you to get it pasted on all major locations of Mumbai, especially bus stands, local railway stations, taxi stands etc.”
“Okay Sir..Okay..” the Sub-inspector along with two constables quickly replied and almost instantly disappeared from the police station.
Jennifer sat thinking about the four cryptic messages that had been sent by Tara before she went missing. What did she mean by them:
“The light in the star fades for a reason , the lecturer on four sentences knows some secrets. So does the lady who takes care of Koli Fisherman”.
“The man with wine in his name took a promise that he would fight injustice, his worldwide word has knowledge that can save the world “.
“Shake it and move but protect the soul, a star needs to protect its soul from the black hole.”
“Walls are beautiful big and wide but they have a secret stride”
But in vain she couldn’t figure anything out of it. About an hour later at around 8.30 P.M. Cyrus’s mobile rang. It was Jennifer.
“Hi Aunt Jennifer..” Cyrus casually said.
“Cyrus where are you? I have something important to tell you.” Jennifer said in a staid voice.
“I am at home only, tell me.” Cyrus replied.
Jennifer carefully selecting her words said, “Cyrus, Tara is missing from last three days and after she disappeared Roohi was hospitalised from where she has also vanished. I know I should have told you earlier but I thought it was a matter of day or two and both of them would be soon found.”
“Whatttt..?” Cyrus said briefly. Then after a thirty second silence at both the ends he continued, “So what’s the status now? Where is Shekhar?”
“Shekhar is barely managing. Listen I need a favor from you…I want you to post about both, Tara & Roohi’s disappearance case details along with our contact details on your blog and all social networking sites. Police is doing their job but from our end we can do at least this much. I have contacted my journalist friends also. Their missing news will be aired latest by today 9 P.M. on all leading news channels. Hope we find some clue.” Jennifer said.
“Sure, just send me their photographs and case details..” Cyrus replied.
“Alright will mail you right away. Bye” Jennifer in a multi-tasking fashion almost instantly hung up the call and pressed send button on Gmail.
Half an hour later, multiple news channels flashed almost the same breaking news:
Yesteryear Bollywood star and supermodel, Tara Dutta and her 9 year old daughter MISSING!
Around 12.30 A.M., Jennifer received a call from Aryan. Avoiding the usual ‘Hi’ and ‘Hello’, in a split fraction of second he broke the latest development to her, “POLICE HAS ARRESTED SHEKHAR..”
“On the what basis have they arrested him?” Getting up from bed at once, Jennifer screamed.
“They are telling he is the prime suspect and to curb the media pressure they have told to the press that he is behind the dual kidnappings.” Aryan replied in a single breath.
Day 4 after Tara Goes Missing:
As the sunlight covered the sky and with the announcement from police, the headlines that were being flashed in all major news channels a night before had converted into a side news with a brief information about the latest development of Shekhar being arrested. As against Jennifer’s estimation of media support, the police statement had mellowed down the press coverage, leaving it for the page 3 gossip columns.
Jennifer called Cyrus “Hi I need your help, can you come down to Mumbai by the next flight available. Things are getting worse here.”
“Okay will be there as soon as possible”, Cyrus replied.
Two hours later Cyrus joined Jennifer and Aryan. Though he hadn’t met Aryan before but this was not the right time as well for a formal introduction. Jennifer quickly introduced both to each other and then all of them started contemplating over the disappearances.
Only two facts they had with them: one Shekhar was in police custody and constantly denying the allegation in the interrogations by Inspector Kabir Sawant and second Tara & Roohi were still MISSING!
Read Chapter 18 of this story “Cinderella”