the crime, the stolen jewellery and the battery of Neelam’s mobile phone.
So where does Hira come in?
According to Sharma, his daughters, along with a local reporter, decided to “confirm” the police’s findings with the parrot. “My mother was very attached to Hira. He has been with us for over two decades. We took the names of all the people in the house in front of him, including my brother, the milkman, and my cousin Ashutosh. Hira started squawking when we took Ashutosh’s name,” Pallavi, one of Sharma’s daughters, said.
According to Sharma, the parrot’s contribution to the case was limited to only “reacting excitedly” to Ashutosh’s name. Pallavi, however, insisted that Hira “nodded when I took Ashu’s name”.
“We have lived with him so long… We know his language, my father does not, and he did nod at Ashu’s name,” she said stoutly.
What father and daughter agree on is that the family never communicated Hira’s “clues” to the police. “It was just a confirmation for us, nothing else. How can my Hira become a detective?” Sharma said. The police, he said, had done “the best work I have seen in my 40 years as a journalist”.
Sharma, however, also said that at the police press conference to announce the cracking of the case, he had announced that he started to believe the police’s theory only after Hira reacted to Ashutosh’s name. “I am a journalist, so I know reporters need masala. In this case my Hira became the masala… it spread like wildfire,” Sharma said.
And how does Hira feel about it all?
On Friday evening, the international celebrity sat inside his cage, peacefully cracking a few nuts. His family, eager to demonstrate his detective skills, took several names before him. Hira neither nodded nor reacted excitedly. When The Indian Express approached him for a comment, he ruffled his feathers and cracked some more nuts.