Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Perfect Alibi

There was a recent report in the newspapers about a smart lawyer rescuing his client from the long arm of law. The lawyer proved to the satisfaction of the Court that on the day his client was alleged to have committed the crime, he had been in Chhattisgarh.

This was the topic of discussion among the retired hands, taking an evening stroll on the Museum grounds. "This reminds me of Jasbir Singh," said one of them. "Jasbir? What about him?" the others were all ears.

"This was in the early Nineties. To be exact, in 1991," said the raconteur, satisfied that he had secured a small audience. "Terrorism was on the wane in Punjab in those days, but the police were still active with the night patrol. Back then, we were all members of the century-old Rajindra Club in Patiala. We had a party to celebrate my promotion. It was a Saturday. One drink led to another. Finally, in the wee hours, we called it a day. As usual, Jasbir, the party animal, had more drinks than he could handle. We told him we would escort him home, but the burly sardar would have none of it."

"No, I live just three km away. I can take care of myself," he said, switching on the ignition key.

"We watched his car zoom out of the parking lot, zip past the gate as the gatekeeper ran for cover. Jasbir raced his car through the tree-lined road on the club campus and disappeared into the darkness.

Once on the main road, he was seen weaving through the deserted road. The police signalled to him to slow down, but Jasbir did not. The police caught up with Jasbir and blocked his path. The two policemen asked him to get out of the car and walk to their jeep.

They demanded the papers. Just as the officers began to question Jasbir, a series of gunshots was heard from the neighbourhood. The policemen told Jasbir to stay put. "We'll be right back", they said and jumped over a fence and ran down the field in the direction of the gunshots. Jasbir waited for about 15-minutes but there was no sign of the cops.

A sozzled and sleepy Jasbir finally drove home. When he reached his home, he told his wife, Mohinder Kaur, that he was going to bed. He also told her that in case someone came looking for him she was to tell them that he was down with viral fever and had been in bed all day. This was his alibi.

A few hours later, the police officers knocked on their door. They asked Mohinder where Jasbir was and said they wanted to see him. She told the police officers what her husband had told her to say. They demanded that they be shown his car. Eventually, Mohinder took them to the garage and opened the door. There was the police jeep, with the blue light on its hood still flashing!

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