Thirty-five year old detective Rajni Pandit has handled over 2000 cases, won dozens of awards and even authored a book 'Face behind the Face.’ on real-life cases.
Right from my childhood days I was always interested in knowing the truth. Let me tell you how I actually got into it. My friend in college was heavily bunking her classes and I suspected her to be in bad company. So I started following her. Then I met her father and explained the situation to him. After a few days of following her I realised that she was in a very messy situation with some boys who were also blackmailing her. When I informed her parents they were able to take her out of it. Till then, I didn't have the slightest inkling that I was acting like a detective.
After my graduation in Arts from Ruparel College, Bombay, I worked in Johnson & Johnson for a while. But my heart was set on solving more cases. Then I got another case involving a reporter. Just a few days before her marriage to a teacher she got a mysterious letter saying the prospective groom was already married. I then befriended this teacher to know more about his background and even went to his hometown. I realised that he was married with three kids and had left home to settle in Bombay.
The reporter was so impressed with my job that she interviewed me for the paper she was writing for. This was in April 1988. Then I was also interviewed on television as the first woman detective. This set the ball rolling and I started getting many more cases.
Mostly I get cases from anxious parents to verify the educational background of grooms for marriages, verify his salary, date of birth, etc. I even do character verification for corporates who wish to hire people, or to know why they left their previous jobs.
My work also involves shadowing men whom their wives suspect of having clandestine affairs. Even young college students do a lot more than just studying. So parents seek my help to keep a tab on their kids. I also helped a company track the person who leaked confidential matter out of the office to the competitors.
In most divorce cases, the man tries to escape alimony saying he is a pauper. In such cases, we find out his actual financial status so that the wife gets the best deal.
My Most Challenging Task - This one was the most riskiest I have ever handled. A woman had her husband killed and got a forged death certificate to verify that he actually died of a stroke. When her son suspected her she even got him killed. I was then called in by the relatives to find the truth behind the mysterious death of the father and son.
Most valued skills for a detective - I don't think it's important for a detective to know martial arts like Judo or Karate as you'll have no time to use your martial art skills when the person in front of you is holding an AK 47. I would rate presence of mind as the top most. You need a sharp brain to get you out of the messy situation that your job as a detective will land you.
Sometimes things are not as simple as following your target. In such cases you have to gain the confidence of the target and ferret the information without his knowledge. You have to be a smooth talker. Fluency in more than one language is a definite advantage here. You have to be very tactful and courageous. Maintaining a low profile is one thing all private detectives have to be careful about.
Communication-gap spells disaster. Complete co-ordination among detectives, who generally work in teams of six to 10 people, is a must. It is virtually impossible for a single detective to solve a case on his own as often, culprits work in tandem with each other and it becomes very important to keep an eye on all of them at the same time.
Risks - Getting caught while snooping around is any sleuth's nightmare. Sometimes, our targets get suspicious and catch us. We are often roughened up and threatened for our lives. The best thing to do in such situations is deny, beg, plead and continue pleading till you get way. Lie low for a few days and them spring back into action. Unfortunately, most private detectives cannot even seek protection from the police as snooping around and stalking is illegal in the first place. When training under us, detectives are taught what excuses to make up if handed over to the police. Acting innocent and frightened is one thing that always works.
We have to be on our feet for hours together waiting for the target to step out of a restaurant or his residence. So it is a very strenuous job. As a team each person is allotted a specific task like follow-up, shadowing, etc.
The biggest problem is that this profession is not legalised. So we face a lot of hurdles when we have to seek help from the police. Verifying bank accounts is another daunting task. I wish the government did something about this issue. Detective agencies are the need of the hour.
It is not tough being a woman detective convincing people that you can deliver. On the contrary, people find it easier to open up to a woman.