Kalimpong, July 15: Maninderpal Singh Kohli had many identities and pulled off his guises with perfection, until this morning.
Shock coursed through the subdivision when the “friendly neighbour”, “doting husband” and “dedicated doctor” everyone knew as Mike Davis turned out to be the prime suspect in a cold-blooded rape and murder case.
Kohli was the talk of the town after police tracked him down to Panighata, near the town.
“I was shocked when the police came to our area yesterday evening enquiring about him. What was even more frightening was that he looked so friendly. I never imagined he could be a rapist and a killer,” said 23-year-old Prerna Thapa, who stays just above the rented house at Murgi Hatta that Kohli stayed in till June.
He moved into another house in the same area last month, after marrying Bharati Das, a local resident.
Everybody in the area said they knew him, but no one was willing to go into the details. The one thing they all agreed upon, however, was that “Mike seemed a loving husband and not a rapist and murderer”.
The owner of the house Kohli had rented after his wedding has been in shock since the police knocked on his door to enquire about “someone named Kohli” last night.
“I do not know anything about him and fell from the sky when the police came looking. I was amazed to find the police looking for someone named Kohli whose description matched Mike’s. I did not get to know him well enough because he was almost never home,” said D.S. Bhusal, the owner of the house.
The shock and awe, however, were not limited to the neighbourhood only. Most people of the town knew Mike as the doctor who was actively involved with the Red Cross Society in spreading awareness about Hepatitis B.
“We are also volunteers of the Red Cross Society and are involved in spreading awareness. Mike, who we now know is the cold-blooded rapist Maninderpal Singh Kohli, has been with us on a number of camps. He claimed to be a doctor and was a very caring person. He empathised with the poor and always tried to help them,” said Jasmine Pradhan, who had been introduced to Kohli by her friend recently.
Hiran Pradhan, who is also the member of a local NGO, echoed Jasmine.
“I had met this man at a camp. I realised that he was the same person when I heard about the arrest. I felt amazed that I knew him and still had not recognised him. What is even more amazing is that he does not come across as a murderer. It took some time for the news to sink in,” he said.
As the news of the Rs 50 lakh prize on Kohli’s head spread, however, shock gave way to disappointment as everybody wished that they had been the one to have informed the police.