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Ink and Gunpowder

"Bombs do not choose, they will hit everything” - Nikita Khrushchev

By the end of this article, you will understand why I choose that above quote. Once a great man said " The guns and the bombs, the rockets and the warships, are all symbols of human failure". Sometimes I wonder, what prompted Mikhail Kalashnikov to develop the worlds most popular and widely used assault rifle AK-47? And at the same time, what prompted J. Robert Oppenheimer to discover the first atomic bomb in 1945 and after the detonation he remarked the event by saying a quote from Bhagavad Gita which says " Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds"

Sasha planned to stop by at her office only briefly on the morning of November 15, 2005. She had a number of business appointments around the city that day. Bhooooom!!!! Moments later an explosion rocked the building killing her colleague who work next door. Science uncovered the tail of forgery, fraud, and a murder.

The explosion occurred on the sixth floor of the historic Delhi building in a town near Delhi. Killed in the blast was 31-year-old Rajesh Mehta, a financial consultant who left behind his wife Deepa and young family.

After the shower, Maya was preparing breakfast and listening a rock music with ear phones plugged in her ears. She was shaking her leg for Steve miller band songs beats and looks so cool and calm. She cleaned her kitchen and the reason for her domestic devotion is to keep her mind clean and focused. She thought to take the day off and watch some of her favourite Clint Eastwood movies, and drink. The only thing which keeps a cop busy is murders and Maya had one in her Jurisdiction and that too death by bomb.

As usual she called her team and arrived at crime scene along with a double shot cappuccino. She started to observe the crime scene by taking a sip of her fav coffee, the body (Rajesh Mehta) was lying at doorway at office and the he was lying on his right side, burn marks on his face, smoke marks, blood, the explosion crushed his face. And the explosion ripped the door off its hinges and by looking at location of the debris, Maya came to conclusion that the blast occurred directly in front of Rajesh Mehta's office door.

*For Readers Information:
The reason why Maya judged the location of bomb exploded is because, you could tell the precise location where the bomb exploded by matching with the autopsy and observing sheering power of bomb, broken bones, going through skin, and amount of burning, you can judge where the bomb was when it was exploded. As in this case, Maya is professionally trained detective, she did that just by looking at crime scene. *

Small pieces of batteries and fragments of pipes were found in the hallway as well. Many of the parts were named "TANDLY" printed on it, a brand sold exclusively at radio waves electronics stores Delhi. CSU (Crime Scene Unit) collected all of the fragments and send it over to Forensic labs. Maya at the lab took all of the fragments and piece back together and it revealed something which Maya read about it in her training, A PIPE BOMB.

But the question is Who wanted to kill Rajesh Mehta with a Pipe bomb? And Why?

Maya went back to station and started to write the case on a white board, the white board which Maya considered as her guide, or a navigation system which takes her to the suspect. It includes everything, victim, murder weapon, details about murder weapon, time of death, suspects and person of interests, cause of death everything. After that she called her team and briefed about the case and ordered to check Rajesh Mehta's phone recored, emails, calendar, clients, finance, relations, work profile, possible enemies, previous records, each and every detail of Victim.

The search record revealed that Rajesh Mehta had recently resigned his job as Vice President of DFA, a real estate services company, which is undergoing some serious financial difficulties, and many clients had lost large sums of money and some alleging fraud. Maya started to interview each and everyone who lost large Money and their whereabouts at the time of Rajesh Mehta's death.

No one came as red flag, everyone was angry and disappointed, but no one had grudge to kill Rajesh Mehta after all. In addition to this everyone's alibis checked out and Maya had no one to suspect and back to square one. At the crime scene, CSU discovered a piece of brown wrapping paper with Rajesh Mehta's first name written on it with a thick black marker. When department released the crime scene photos to press, Maya received a phone call from an anonymous person and asked an appointment to meet her.

Next morning, a man in his mid 40's came to see the lead investigation officer Maya regarding an information he wanted to share. He identified himself as Priyadarshan and told that he runs a jewellery shop at across the road and yesterday morning he visited one of the stores casually at 5th floor at historic Delhi building. And at same time there was another man, 5 to 6-foot-tall, mid 40's wearing a NYC symbol blue cap and a jacket and a letter was missing in the brand name with him in the lift and he was holding a box with that Name "Rajesh" was written on it. After looking the pics which released by department to press, Priyadarshan remembered this event and informed Maya.

In a city like Delhi you can’t start looking for a suspect by considering the statement of Priyadarshan and Maya knows it too. Her team was busy in connecting the dots and meanwhile Maya got phone call from forensic lab. When Maya visited the lab, the forensic guys were several tests to get any finger prints and details of explosion remains. In the one picture caught maya's eye. A motion sensitive Mercury switch which found at the crime scene after the bomb explosion. The switch indicated that the bomb was activated by tilting the package.

**For reader’s information*:
*A mercury switch is an electrical switch that opens and closes a circuit when a small amount of the liquid metal mercury connects metal electrodes to close the circuit, the most common is the mercury tilt switch. It is in one state (open or closed) when tilted one direction with respect to horizontal, and the other state when tilted the other direction. This is what older style thermostats used to turn a heater or air conditioner on or off*. *

The killer used Mercury switch to activate the bomb which indicates that he is leaving the activation of the bomb to the victims, and as per the behaviour science, these kinds of crime indicate revenge, but in this case as of now Maya had only one victim and she was worried about where the next one is? And who is the victim?

Maya's worry became reality. After 6hrs of Rajesh Mehta's death, there was another call for Maya and yes, the second bomb exploded. This time the victim was 40-year-old Padma Mittal, husband Mohan Mittal was former business partner of Rajesh Mehta. Maya visited the site and with no doubt she concluded that the bomb is same as previous one and the fragments found at the scene by CSU confirmed Maya's thoughts. Another Pipe bomb.

Maya found a piece of brown wrapping paper with the name Mohan Mittal written on it at the crime scene, and forensic team gathered the fragments of explosion and went to lab for further testing, Maya found the Mercury switch at the crime scene which is exactly the replica of the first explosion, again the bomb is activated by tilting the box. Maya found lots of similarities, the brown wrapping paper, the type of tapes used, the size of pipe includes diameter and length and the type of explosive inside.

Gunpowder found at both the crime scene was sent to Indian alcohol tobacco and firearms lab for analysis, the lab stores samples of every known gunpowder manufactured ever. The particle of gunpowder from the pipe bombs were placed on a profile projector, which measures the shape and size of granules. When the information searched in the lab database, the gunpowder is identified as Alienate Blue-dot brand. Same type was used in both bombs.

Maya team visited all the Radio wave electronics branches in Delhi, record showed that an individual by the name Manish had recently purchased the same component used in bombs. The record has an address and Maya and her team came to know that the address was fake and so the name. While the investigation was going on, a 13-year-old kid named Raghav who lives beside Padma Mittal's house, called Maya and reported something he saw the night before the death of Padma Mittal. He told that he saw a white Toyota van and it stopped for a min at in front of Mittal's house and left and he couldn't see the driver or anyone else. Maya gave a name to the suspect " The serial bomber" and she warned his team to be alert for next bomb. But it was very short wait.

While Maya investigating the murder of Rajesh Mehta and Padma Mittal, there was a third explosion the very next day. This time it happened in a parked car, near city outskirts. This time the victim was 35-year-old Sanjay singh, a rare documents dealer. Unlike the other two victims, Sanjay survived the blast with major injuries. The explosion blew off the tips of his two fingers, a portion of knee cap was missing and a piece of metal object embedded in his knee. Sanjay had no connection with DFA company, he was a respected documents dealer who specialised in rare documents and early currency notes. But Rajesh Mehta and Sanjay Singh knew one another. Maya continued the investigation and came to know that Rajesh is collector our rare books and documents and he purchased some items from sanjay over the Years.

But Maya knew one thing that the bomb which killed Rajesh Mehta, Padma Mittal and seriously injured Sanjay singh all made by the same individual. When Maya started investigation, she came to know that the evidence which found in Sanjay singh car were inconsistent with what he told to police. Sanjay said that someone placed a package on the seat of his car, when he opened the car door, it fell on to the floor and exploded.

But when a pipe bomb explodes, the end caps blown out in a straight line. One of the end caps blew a hole through the side door on the passenger side, and the other cap was found in sanjay singh's knee. This important detail told Maya that the bomb did not explode on the floor of the car as Sanjay indicated. The injury to Sanjay's knee indicated that his left knee was on the driver seat at the time of the explosion. And the injury to Sanjay's fingers indicated that he had been touching the bomb when it exploded. The evidence revealed that the bomb exploded at the centre console in between the two front seats and not on the floor on the vehicle as sanjay indicated.

When Maya searched Sanjay's home, she found a jacket with a missing letter in the brand name and a blue NYC cap Similar to the one Priyadarshan saw on the morning in the elevator of Delhi building. Even more alarming, Maya discovered that the Sanjay owned a Toyota van similar to the one Raghav saw driving in front of Padma Mittal house before the night of her death. Inside the van Maya found a single flake of gun powder, and sent it to lab for further analysis. Test result result came as positive match with the one used in both the bombings.

Sanjay told to police that he is victim and even he took a lie detector test to prove his innocence. But he passed the test with highest number. Despite the lie detector test, Maya was suspicious on Sanjay, since the scientific evidence was inconsistent with his version of story. On the day of Rajesh Mehta's murder, Sanjay singh had fixed a meeting with museum officials regarding some early independence documents which he was selling known as British collection of Indian history. Rajesh Mehta was active on the board of museum and asked to certify that the documents were authentic. Now the same documents has been sent to forensic document examiner to use scientific methods to find out whether some of the worlds leading experts had been fooled.

Despite the fact that sanjay singh passed lie detector test, bomb experts from Indian bureau of tobacco alcohol and firearms were convinced that sanjay singh was inside his car possibly arming the bomb when it accidentally exploded. The scientific evidence supported their theory, but missing was the motive.

Richard is a forensic document examiner, who was asked to examine the rare documents sanjay singh had sold over the years. He compared them to other rare documents the delhi museum had in their vault from the same time period which sanjay had nothing to do with. Under ultraviolet light, many of the documents sanjay sold turned blue, but this was not the case with documents the delhi museum obtained from other sources. Under a microscope, Richard noticed that the ink on sanjay document ran in one direction, in the other documents the ink was observed by the paper uniformly by spreading in all direction. And he discovered microscopic cracks in the ink on the documents sanjay uncovered, Richard called it as "Alligatoring", and there was none of these in any other documents. Now may had the question that why there is difference in documents? What sanjay is actually up to?

She searched sanjay's home again and found a book which contained the recipe of iron gallotannic ink, the ink which was common in 1800's. Richard made a batch of that ink and wrote with it on paper and applied an ammonia solution which is known to age paper. Then he tested the document under ultraviolet light and it displayed the same blue haze, and when it was hung to dry, the ink ran in one direction and exhibited the same alligatoring condition as the sanjay documents. Inside sanjay's home, CSU discovered a receipt from radio wave electronics with the name Manish on it which Maya and her team considered as fake. All these evidences proved that Sanjay singh is a fraud and a forger.

Based on the evidence Maya prepared the case that Rajesh Mehta was on to Sanjay singh was about to expose him as a lier and possibly a fraud, sanjay sensed this and decided to murder Rajesh Mehta with the pipe bomb. Sanjay singh wanted Rajesh Mehta murder to appear to be business related so to create diversion he delivered a bomb to Mohan Mittal and the next morning he delivered the bomb to Rajesh Mehta's office, the bomb was packed with more than hundred masonry nails, leaving that no doubt that the intent is to kill not to injure. Padma Mittal noticed the package in front of her house let to her husband Mohan, but while checking the package the bomb activated.

Based on Maya's report and all evidence, Sanjay singh charged with 2 murder, and for theft by deception for selling forged documents and sentenced life without parole.   


  1. I have read entire story and it was truly mind-blowing . I appreciate the documentation. First time I have gone through few new words as well as there meaning and when it will be used, which are specific to the crime scenes. I could see your hardships that you have been though in collecting the info about the crime documentation.As usual you nailed it once again. Looking forward for more stories.


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