Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Death in Mumbai by Meenal Baghel

Interrogations are at their heart about power and the interplay between the interrogator and the interrogated. Physical intimidation is the standard tactic, and employed on poor, petty or hardened criminal though after the outcry raised by human rights organisations cops are more careful to camouflage their efforts. For instance, a suspect will be wrapped in cold towel before he’s caned so that there are no visible marks on his person. At other times just a few words delivered with the right amount of menace can suffice. There’s the story of a famous encounter cop with a dizzying body count against his name who just had to walk in, cock an eyebrow, and ask, ‘Cooper, ya ooper?’ for the other person to start blabbering. (Cooper is a hospital in suburban Mumbai).

But brute intimidation is also unsophisticated and has its limitations, forcing policemen like Rakesh Maria to evolve more refined methods. When he was probing the 1993 blasts Maria was known to offer suspects kilos of jalebi, but he’d stop his hospitality at that refusing them even a drop of water thereafter. Try eating even four or five jalebis without a sip of water to know what exquisite torture that is. ‘All this maar-dhaad is outdated,’ Raorane tells me. ‘You have to read the profile of the person you are questioning and raise yourself to that level.’

After making Maria wait, Raorane called her in with all the warmth of an apologetic host. She came across as composed, confident, willing to answer all questions. While Richard and Veronica waited outside, stressed about the elapsing hours, Maria and Raorane chatted away about her likes and dislikes, her life, her career, her ambitions. He found her rather well-read and she favoured, like Emile, books on Christianity, and also crime thrillers. He let her move around the room, answer phone calls. ‘Her body language suggested over confidence — she would stroll around the place as if she was in command. At no point did I believe what she said, but I never let it show. It wasn’t anything like an interrogation,’ says the investigator. Since he had no evidence against her they let her go home. This would become a pattern over the next eight days.
From an extract of the book - Death in Mumbai written by Meenal Baghel (editor of Mumbai Mirror). It is based on the true story of the brutal murder of young TV producer Neeraj Grover in Mumbai. More in Randomhouseindia. Here

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