Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 40

He had been sitting on the iron railing, encircling the lake. The lake was situated on the outskirts of the city. He had been in waiting there for over two hours now. He was waiting for the motorcade of the home minister Aaham to emerge from the street below.  The winter fog of the early morning had enveloped the road completely making it difficult for any one to see beyond a few yards.   That is why the members of the spotting party deployed just outside the Rajbhavan had been instructed to send a motorcyclist in advance to forewarn him as soon as the caravan carrying the home minister Aaham started its journey from there. He rubbed his palms to keep the winter chill away from his hands. The numbness in his fingers could prove fatal.  What if he failed to pull the trigger first, in that split second the security cover of the VIP will blow him into pieces. He recalled the training given to him by General Durjan when he was assigned the first job of killing the police officer in the Sanctum Sanctorum.  “It is either you or the target that loses the life.  The split second spent on dithering has caused many a sharp shooters to end up their missions by paying up with their lives. Once you have made up your mind to do away with the subject, you must do it with all precision and ruthlessness. Otherwise you must be ready to get your top chopped off instantly as there will not be a second chance for you to pull the trigger. The second shot always belong to the opponent”.

He could see vague specks of light in the distance travelling towards him. The motorcyclist came near him. He had thrown the orange peels on the road and sped away. He was giving him the necessary signal that the caravan was on its way and will be there in next two minutes. Ranjit took position behind the small mile stone on road.  It was an open jeep leading the pack of security cauldron followed by a fire brigade vehicle. He let both the automobiles pass through. He or his companions did nothing to disturb the smooth run of both the motors that were leading the motorcade.  “The home minister Aaham will be occupying the third white ambassador car; the first two cars will be used as a decoy. You must avoid them at any cost”, the informant had clear description of the seating arrangements of the cavalcade of the VIP.

He hid himself behind the thick hedge of wild foliage that had been growing on the side path of the road and pulled one of the bushes over his face as the first high intensity bomb ripped through the floor of the white ambassador car leading the pack.  The car flew to the right side of the road and fell into the ditch. There was a strong smell of human flesh burning into the air.  The occupants of this car would hardly have had an inkling of what had hit them as they were blown into smaller bits of burning balls in no time.

The deafening sound of the explosion deafened Ranjit’s ears for a while. The flash of the fire blinded the drivers of all vehicles of the cavalcade who were following the car that was blown into pieces.  The driver of the car that was there in the middle of the caravan could not apply the brakes in time and went over the rear fender of the car leading in the front that came off the vehicle hit by the bomb.

The driver of the automobile carrying the home minister Aaham avoided the clash with the car ahead of him. He steered his automobile to the left of the road. His grazing tires screeched as they turned at a very high speed missing the iron railing by the scrape of a hair. The driver wanted to take off from the scene of the explosion to save the home minister Aaham. He had also simultaneously shifted the gear into top speed when he saw his very important passenger’s life was in danger.

But Ranjit gave him not a chance to escape.  When the white ambassador car reached near him, Ranjit leapt over the railing and fired continuously on the occupants of the vehicle from a distance of three to four feet.  First volley of bullets hit the driver of the car and the security guard in their faces.  The car soared   through the iron railing on the road and it turned turtle. He fired the next round but the shots  sprayed out of the Kalashnikov  hit the door in the rear and the clinkering sound of bullets striking the iron could be heard all over the place. He had no time to see if any of the bullets fired by him had found their targets amongst the occupants sitting in the seat at the back of the vehicle. He had seen that the Home minister Aaham had ducked underneath the rear wall of the front seat.

But there was no time to wait and check the effects of the hundreds of   bullets that had materialized from his fire emitting gun. Ranjit fled towards the residential sector adjoining the lake road on foot and soon he would have been lost himself into the swallowing up fog.  But it appeared those security men who were leading the home minister Aaham’s caravan in their jeeps were too determined. They had come back after they saw the flashing fires of bullets and rising of the smoke towards the skies in their rearview mirror of their vehicles.

“There he goes”, someone had shouted in the dark. “You must take cover”, he had heard another voice from the same direction. “He may have another bomb”.   A bullet whizzed past Ranjit’s left ear without hitting him. He knew he had been dotted by the hawk’s eyes of the elite commandos who had been especially trained to provide security to the very important politicians of the country.

He was well aware that very soon all these security men will outrun him if he continued running in the open like this. He jumped over the first boundary wall that he came across and ran towards the back yard of the house. “I should find a way out from the other end” Ranjit thought aloud.  To his dismay the back yard of the house ran into a mesh of sharp edged wires that separated the two grounds falling into the middle of two adjoining bungalows. He knew he had been cornered and it was not possible to jump over the wired mesh.

“I wonder if it is the end of the world for me today” he told himself “I have hardly been able to savor the love of my newlywed for a few hours to go away like this.  She does not even know that I am not at home sleeping next to her.  She was in too deep a slumber after intense love making on her first blissfully wedding night”

He heard the human shouts were moving towards him and then a loud shriek of some one having been hit by a gun shot in the front of the house. “Who is it”, an authoritative voice boomed in the courtyard as the overhang lights came on. Ranjit fired towards the tube light shattering it into many small splinters.  The dweller inside the house put off all their lights.

“It was now or never”, he thought and ran towards the front gate spraying a volley of bullets from his Kalashnikov.  The security officer from the home minister Aaham’s entourage on his trail was taken by complete surprise. His still body behind the cover wall of outer boundary had been hit by the spray of bullets form Ranjit’s gun. It flew a few feet into the air and slumped back into the ground. Ranjit saw another figure slouched into the small plants of rose bushes.  One of his   companions had been done away with mercilessly by some of the security men. He did not stop by to look back who it was. It will be a while before some one from the house will find courage enough to come out and realize how many have been killed and by whom He sprinted   at frightening speed   till he had covered the distance of a few lanes taking him away from the house under the siege of the security personnel. He slowed down his pace after he noticed that he had come a long way away form the scene of the shootout.  He showed no hurry as he walked towards the main four lane road leading away from the residential rows of huge compounds. It appeared as if he had never missed his morning sun rise and today also he was out on a morning walk to take pleasure in looking at the sun coming out of the hidden blue skies behind the fogs that emanated skywards from out of the fresh airs of the lake waters.

“It will be a long  while before some one from the house will find courage enough to come out and realize how many have been killed and by whom. By that time I will be back with my beloved”, Ranjit told himself. He found his sweat shirt and the track suit including Nike joggers in the back seat of a car parked by one of the boys on the far end of the road.  He changed into the track suit and did not forget to tie the laces of the Nike joggers.  He told the boy to drop him a few paces ahead of the house on the opposite direction to the one from which he had been running away.

The falling drops of sweat on his brow could tell any one that he has had a long jog. But his ordeal was not over yet.

“Hey you, in the blue track suits”, he heard a voice from behind “what are you doing here on the road at such an early hour”.

It was a police inspector walking towards him. The inspector raised his baton he was carrying in his right hand and beckoned him to stop.

“Oh a running freak’, he pointed towards his track suit and joggers, “but you better be careful schmuck, winter is at its peak and you may catch cold”.

The inspector was observing him very carefully and closely. “Are you not the same guy who got married at the shrine yesterday? How can you leave your newly wed asleep in the bed alone? Do you come here for a morning run? Do you not know the times are bad for even an early morning run? There are prowlers on the road.  You could get killed. There has been an attempt on the life of the home minister Aaham, a few minutes ago. We shall have to haul you up for questioning”, the police inspector shifted his baton to his left hand and took out his revolver from the holster. He pointed it towards Ranjit. “You thank your stars that I am a disciple of the shrine and hence I am not firing at you.  Otherwise I have orders to shoot at any one found running on this road. Come let us get moving fast before any of my seniors pass through here”.

Ranjit behaved as if he was mortally scared to hear the news of attack on the home minister Aaham’s life. He spoke to the cop in a stammering tone, “oh my god! Do you mean sir they had tried to kill that minister who had come to the shrine to bless us on our wedding day? He is a very nice and gentle human being.  I sincerely hope and pray that nothing happened to him. How bad are the times .I did not want to break my routine of daily morning run. But how the hell would a common folk like me know what lies  in store for him on the roads .I thank my stars that I did not strayed too  much away from my home. I must get back home instantly.  I thank you for informing me that you are a member of the shrine. That means we are co brothers. Then we must have a similar bent of mind.  Will you please let me go? I must reach home early”. He folded his hands in a gesture of having been obliged.

“Thanks” Ranjit said. He started running in the direction leading towards his   home on the double.

The inspector fired a bullet shot close to Ranjit’s legs. Ranjit could smell the burning fire from the burnt cloth of his pajamas.  The heat of the fire was very close to his knees.  He by instinct knew that any further move by him to run away from this spot would mean his legs will be definitely broken by another pull on the trigger. He stood still and waited for the police man to come near him.

“If there are others of his fellow officers they should soon join him. Then the odds will be against one to too many. If I have to save my life then I must immediately take control of the situation.  As otherwise the entire struggle of the fight to freedom will come to a naught”.

The police man by now had come too close to his attacking vicinity. He pressed the muzzle of his revolver close to Ranjit’s head. “One more move by you and you will be dead. Just board the vehicle quickly and quietly”, the inspector shoved the gun into his left side lower earlobe. He pushed him towards the police jeep parked on the other side of the road.

“It is now or never “thought Ranjit and went straight for police inspector’s two eyes. He jabbed his fingers into the sockets of those eyes. The inspector shrieked in extreme agony. The revolver in inspector’s hands could not take the pressure of his finger on the trigger; a stray shot from the firearm hit the ground below. Ranjit gave one more chop hand blow on the officers’ neck again and with one strike he had broken his wind pipe. Blood started oozing from his victim’s nose and mouth.  The instant gush of fluid choked his nostrils making it extremely difficult for him to breathe.  The police inspector had fallen on the cold and damp earth below on both his knees. Ranjit snatched the firearm from his hand. He   put two bullets into his forehead creating two gaping holes.

Ranjit raised the revolver close to his lips and blew into the smoke coming out of the barrel. “Thanks for the souvenir but I do not need this”, Ranjit wiped off his fingerprints from the metal and put the revolver back into the holster hung onto the dead body of the police inspector. He kicked the corpse into the ditch dug up by the road building department onto the roadside.  Ranjit knew that soon it will be discovered by his fellow officers, when they would notice the lone vehicle parked on the road. He started his jog towards home blowing a whistle to the tune of latest film song. “The occasion calls for an early morning repeat of the fete performed by me last night along with my newlywed” he smiled to himself.

Ranjit slipped himself quietly into the small entrance to his home.  He picked up the bunch of garden pipes lying in the front of the green lawns and started spraying water on the plants, “the gardener should also be on his way to tend to them”.

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Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 39

The press photographers representing various newspapers were vying with each other to get a complete coverage of the event for their readers. They had been requesting Ranjit Sehgal and his newly wed to pose for photographs so that they could get a wider coverage in the evening issue. Howsoever hard he tried he could not avoid being clicked by almost all of the photojournalists present on such a grand occasion. Ranjit wanted to get away from the venue where his marriage was organized. He was afraid of not only his past activities but he was also anxious that his relationship with the great priest Rajamantran will be give him an unwanted  exposure in the eyes of the police and other investigating agencies. He was apprehensive that the sleuths of the investigation bureau will begin smelling through their many noses around. His basic strength so far has been to remain as unassuming as possible and here too he wanted to perform the role of a commoner so that his freedom to movement was not hampered. He was never in favor of solemnizing his marriage in the public eye. It was great Priest’s habitual practice to rather give a widest possible publicity to all his activities in order to attract not only the common village folks but also the politicians and the bureaucrats of all kinds. He considered them as prize trophies to be displayed on all occasions. It was General Durjan who explained to him, “You must not behave like a touch me not in front of the press and the politicians. They are all here every year.  These functions have been organized during this part of the year for past many centuries. There are no ways that any one tying the matrimonial knot under the auspices of the shrine can be associated with the political aspects of the shrine. The act of getting the young couples married is a mere social and philanthropic act of the great priest.  However if you act like as if you are trying to hide something that may give the press as well as the police a reason to look for meanings where there none exists so far. In case you are worried about your family coming forward to claim their relationship with you and giving out your real identity to your bride rest assured they have already donated you to the cause of the shrine. Your parents have accordingly been informed of your decision to spare them the pain and humiliation of falling into the hands of investigating agencies; should you get caught any time in life. In the records of their life no son ever existed by your name. They will simply disown you in the event of any one asking them about their first born son. You must be and remain the persona you have created for yourself i.e. Mr. Ranjit Sehgal from England whose dear mother breathed her last waiting for her wayward son to return home along with his newly wed bride”.

“But I always thought there was glory and fame attached to people who have led their nation to the path of victory. Why would then my original parents be ashamed of their association with me. In fact I am afraid they will be too keen to come forward and claim all kinds of relation with any one who serves the seer and his mission. And that is what I am afraid and apprehensive of; as I do not want the fact known to the world that a father who works for the police establishment has a progeny who have crossed line to a point of no return, that he is a declared ultra fighting against the same establishment”.

“These are simply your misgivings. You better get rid of such thoughts at the earliest and start accepting the fact that you and only you will be the next in line to the legacy of the great Priest. He does not have any one in his lineage to carry on the work started by him. The sweet nectar of fame, power, political heritage and the wealth of large fortune awaits you in the very four walls of sanctum sanctorum. It is the time to rejoice and celebrate. I will see  that  you and your family are driven down to your new home immediately but do not forget to seek blessings of pontiff before you leave for your honeymoon”, General Durjan winked at him mischievously.

Ranjit saw his mother in law walking towards them; she was accompanied by her husband and a few other friends, “young man in case we do not have some other ceremonies to attend   to we can go home. You and your wife will also need rest as you must have been exhausted after a long day. You can see Koena is not able to walk even; she has been on fast for the entire day and insists she will have some thing to eat only after saying her prayers at her new home. Since the great pontiff is busy with his other political guests. It is time to make our move; if we walk out quietly no one will even notice our departure”.

Ranjit felt General’s hand on his shoulder, he was pointing towards pontiff  coming out of his chambers, stooping low and brows held high as if he was in great rage but smiled returned on his celestial face as soon as he saw Ranjit’s “you are still around my children,  your  family members are waiting  anxiously to take you home . Go my child go, the world of heavenly pleasures welcome you because every thing else in this world is temporary except the fact of procreation. The family life must be started by you on the auspicious note. May you and your beautiful wife produce as many soldiers for saving the honor of our nation? Go and lead a blissful married life but do not forget you also have a duty towards the religion and the community which must be honored when the time demands”, the pontiff moved on towards other couples to bless them.

Ranjit’s mother in law bent low, she folded her both hands and requested the pontiff, “I shall be too thankful to your lordship for giving us the honor of retrieving the trust of the community. Ever since my wedding I used to worry whether my children will ever be accepted back by the members or will it is that they too like me have to be married outside our marshal community. I am willing to work for the shrine at any time. Please do let us know if I or my progeny could be of some service to the faith”.

Ranjit felt quite amused, he knew the old lady’s quest for money will lead her too ultimately to become a part of the movement led by the shrine. . There has often been discussion for forming a women’s wing that could bring about the revolution amongst the fairer sex. He however wondered if his father in law was aware of the seeds that were being planted in his wife’s mind. She was virtually falling into the same trap of money and political power that had lured Ranjit into it.

He opened the door to the rear seat to the plush luxury car, presented to him by the shrine on his wedding day. The gift wrap and the ribbons from front fender to the bumpers at back were still intact; he asked Koena to cut ribbons barring entry to the rear seat and slid himself next to her after she had settled down on the extreme left corner. He prevented his mother in law to get inside the car and requested her to join them in the vehicle that was following them. He did not want any one else to sit near to his bride, “no one except me will sit next to her. All of you can come in the other cars”, he had to tell his brother in law and father in law. Though Munna insisted for a while to sit near to his sister but was told in hushed tones by Koena to listen to what he was being told. She nudged Ranjit on his rib cage when he sat next to her “you are   being over possessive. I will not say that I do not like it; I am being flattered”. “Yes I am being jealous of the beauty, a beauty that no other woman possesses. You look like a fairy to me and I do not want any other human being near you except me”:  Koena kind of lost her consciousness for a minute when he spoke these words passionately into her ears. The words were spoken so softly that the driver in the front could not hear any thing; otherwise also he too was lost in looking at the out of this world beauty of celestial nature. Ranjit jokingly asked him to turn the rear view mirror to the other side “you can stare at your own bride when you reach your home. This one strictly belongs to me”.  Koena hid her face behind her henna colored hands in sheer embarrassment. Ranjit kissed her hands and realized he was getting excited. The sweet smell of her youth mixed with the fragrance of the perfume she was wearing gave him the feeling of possessiveness he had never felt before. His heart and mind started to pound and the throb of hardness between his loins reminded him, “He will finally have her all to himself tonight and for the rest of their lives”.  The thought started massaging his ego as well. There will be  no fear of any Arabian sheikh or the cigar smoking boss playing at back of his mind when he finally gets down to business of celebrating union of his manhood with the woman of his dreams. He felt stronger today, stronger than any other male of the species.  He wondered how the journey of life progresses; from a vagabond to drug courier to a gun carrier, to a mercenary, to the savior of the nation; the supersonic fast progression was beyond his comprehension.

Last words spoken by General were still echoed in his ears, “you are the natural heir to the throne. He is preparing you to take on should any thing happen to him”. He could visualize a sea of humanity lying prostrate at his feet, till he was woken up by the sound of music being played out side his own house. His friends from shrine had decorated his house to accord a grand welcome to him and his lovely bride. He extended his hand to help her alight from car. She was almost as tall as him, he noticed for the first time, as she took her soft steps into her new world.

Koena saw bevy of flowers arranged into bedroom to which she was led by the boys dancing to the tunes of love lyrics played by the orchestra downstairs. She noticed the soft psychedelic lights playing in the room and sweet smell of perfume pervading all over the place, she asked her mother, “are you enacting the part of my groom’s mother as well tonight by arranging my marital bed and the décor?” “Not me, these are possibly his friends from the shrine. The great priest Rajamantran must have sent them to give a memorable night to his favored nephew. Did you see the luxury car that brought you here? How lucky you are my dear! Let no evil eye be cast on you my child. I want both of you to remain happy and content forever in life”.

“I know mom I shall never forget the stance you took against dad. But his apprehensions were also not uncalled for; we have been reading about the great priest Rajamantran and his boys in the newspaper often. He has virtually become a threat to the communal harmony and peace in the country. I sincerely hope Ranjit has nothing to do with the political heritage of his uncle”.

“These are simply your misgivings dear, how can a man handling a multi millionaire worth of business afford to even indulge in such pastime. In any case both of you will be moving out of this country soon and then god willing we will also join you there”.  Koena crossed her fingers but she still had a fear gnawing at her heart, “what if she had taken a wrong decision, what if her love could be blind thus preventing her to see the actuality? She jerked her head “let me not think of any negatives. Ranjit can never have betrayed me, but if it so happens,” she decided, “that will be the end of their relationship”.

“Do you intend staying here in the same room overnight mother in law”, Ranjit amusingly winked at her “in that case I better go back to the shrine to please gods so that they could help me possess my bride from her mother even after I have been legally wedded to her”. Koena knew these words were said in pure innocence and her husband meant no offence to her mother, still in order to bring down the impact of any unintentional insult if at all felt by her mother she took cudgels against him, “sir you dare not touch me till the final permission is sought by you by promising my mother that you will never ever be the cause of any tears in her daughter’s eyes”. Ranjit pinched at his throat “I swear by all my love for your daughter madam, you will never find me ever the reason for any misfortune or misbehavior to your beloved child. But I can also assure you I will give her so much love tonight, if only you will leave us alone for the night”.

“This man is all in a mood to make it special for his wife tonight. He does not recognize any relationship or friends.  Let us leave him alone with his bride madam”, one of the boys who had brought Koena into the room led her mother away to the other portion of the house.

Ranjit held his wife back by the hand as she got up from the bed to make some space for him, “come my dear you do not have to accompany your mother to the door.  I am sure my boys will take care of all her necessities. We have lot of things to discuss tonight”, he pulled her close towards him and looked meaningfully into her eyes. She could not avoid the intoxicating stare and was lost into the love filled depth of his eyes. “Will you please permit me to close the door”, she wanted to tell him but was stopped from speaking any words. He put his hot lips onto her soft petals, pulled her towards him with his right hand and bolted the door with the left hand. He lifted her off the ground and took her to the bed with their lips sealed till she found it difficult to   breathe and virtually forced him to take his lips away by pinching his nostrils by her two fingers. “Easy be the Youngman I am your law fully wedded wife now.  No one is going to take me away from you”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 38

Chief Minister Pratap was explaining to the state police chief Nirbhaya, “I am aghast at the invitation extended to me by the great Priest. Not only that he also had the temerity to spite me by telling that my rival will be presiding over and blessing the newly weds. This tradition which was established in the fourteenth centuries to marry off the young ones at the community gatherings to save them the cost of weddings and to eliminate the bridegroom price is virtually degenerating into show of public followings and the strength thereof by the rivals in politics. We must somehow both take it out of the hands of the so called social reformers and bring it under the control of administration. We must device rules for not making the function a political platform by any one. But I know my own party members have been quite keen to start using this platform for their political mileages which I have been resisting all along”.

Nirbhaya, “You are in the wrong profession sir! I do believe a person of your vision and principles can take the state and country too far and show a new path to the builders of nation. But I also know that the likes of big man will hardly allow you to survive. In fact he must already be plotting your obituary with Colonel Bangru and you can get the summons in no time. I have not come here to rub salt on your wounds but to tell you that I too am suffering from the same injuries. My team’s entire efforts will come to a naught should the Governor write the death knell of the state assembly. But before that happens I will ask you to sign the orders permitting my men to raid the sanctum sanctorum and arrest the great priest Rajamantran and his protégés. We have picked up sufficient evidence from the two boys who had been   caught by Meena and his officers from the railway station. They were initially a tough nut to crack; but when they were made a target by their own companions from the shrine they decided to sing a song”.

“You mean Meena is still holding on to those two boys; but his report states that the boys were killed in the bomb blast at the office of the senior superintendent of police”.

“It is certain that no judicial officer will sign his own death warrant by permitting us hold these boys for long with us. Hence they have not been produced in any court. We shall of course do that when we have to make use of their witness for damning the great priest Rajamantran and his men”. Nirbhaya knew that Pratap will never be able to sign a search warrant that could damn him for many generations, “none dare do that. The sanctum sanctorum is too sensitive and sacred a place. Yet the great priest Rajamantran was committing sacrilege with the connivance and the cowardliness of some of the selfish and self centered political heavyweights. Still there is no harm in convincing the most pliable politician. May be he can see reason and prevent the disaster we   both anticipate. He has so far been able to resist adopting the double edged face of a politician and I am sure he will never be able to adopt one”.

The chief minister Pratap was expressing his sympathetic consideration to the state police chief rather than agreeing to sign the search warrants “I do understand your eagerness to bring the offenders down to their knees. I also can see the pain and frustration of you and your colleagues for not being able to do so. But let me tell you in politics it is not always the law of the land that is upheld. Even though we are the makers of laws of the land yet we scoundrels many a times pretend ignorance to the legal prerequisite. We create our own convenient interpretation of the law to suit our convenience. In this case too I will permit you to raid the peripheral offices to the sanctum sanctorum.  It will be up to you and your team to either challenge the culprit to move out of their hide. You must be able to otherwise on your own initiative get inside to fight it out and bring him to the book. I am sure you would not want my entire successive generations to suffer the stigma that I permitted you to defile the sacred territory”.

Pratap had stretched himself on the table to pick up a pen from holder kept on to his left when he heard a knock on door to his private office, “ come in “, he shouted back, “ it was the protocol officer from the Governor’s house along with Pratap’s secretary, “ You did not have to barge into my privacy like this. In case you are carrying an urgent invitation please leave it with my secretary. I shall attend to it as early as possible”.

“I have been told sir by his Excellency the governor of the state  to hand it over in person to you and make sure it is read in my presence because I have to carry your acknowledgement from your good offices” , the protocol officer told him curtly. Pratap gave a wry smile as he read aloud one line message from the President of the country, “on account of deteriorating law and order administration by ministry headed by you;   the president regrets to announce the imposition of the central rule in the state of …… with immediate effect. The state henceforth will be directly governed by the governor” signed and sealed”. He read aloud the office order twice to make sure the chief of the state   police had heard him properly, “that also seals the fate of democratic traditions in this country. Your friend the big man has been able to wipe out the will of the people of the state by one stroke of pen. He forgets that the same people will not allow him to come back too. “I am sorry I do not hold the authority to sign this. Let the governor’s office decide the fate of great Priest and his men. As for the nation’s welfare I will have to consult my party members and other allies to chart out a new agenda. We will have to lodge a formal protest with the public and proletariat’. They heard a big commotion outside the chief minister’s office, “long live Pratap” “long live the democratic spirits’, “down with the central government”; Pratap beckoned the chief of the state   police to follow him to the corridors to see what was happening. His ministerial colleagues had gathered outside his office and they were expressing their solidarity with him. Brahma came forward and hugged him, he spoke with tears in his eyes, and “we heard him on the television boss, he has dismissed our government. He did not even have the courtesy to come personally and speak to you. It is the most cowardly act. He and his mentor in the central government will have to pay a heavy price. The people of this state are being taken for a ride. We must go to the common folks and take our case to the man in the street. Let them create a revolution. We must fight till we reestablish the right of the common voter to be the judge of the representatives elected by him. The Governor or even the Union government has no authority to dispense with the duly elected legislative at the state level. We will challenge the draconian step in the highest court of this country”.

Pratap had allowed him to speak so that he could take out his bottled emotions; he also waited if any of his other colleagues too were willing to speak. When none else spoke, he poked them further to find out “if any of you wants to take it out please do so. We will have to drop emotions to sit and discuss seriously the next step proposed for matching the gimmicks of the big man. He has not only deceived all of us; rather he has played with the trust of the commoner of this state. We will have to go to the men on the streets to explain to them the fate that lies in store for each one of them henceforth. The Governor’s report has been obtained by coercive methods. The poor chap had to; otherwise he would have been hauled up for the corrupt practices he indulged into when he was heading procurement wing while in active service. We however forgive him for the act of cowardice shown by him”. “The election schedule mentioned by him in his address to the press is also a big farce”, this was Dhanwan speaking, “chief he wants to hand over the state on a platter to the great Priest”.  Chief Minister Pratap who was not aware of the press meet addressed by the big man, the home minister Aaham of the central government was in for a surprise when he heard what his own colleague had to tell him. “We saw his press meet on television a while ago, he has straight away gone to the press rather than speaking to you which does not tell of the good parliamentary tradition being set by our rivals. It would have been appropriate if you had been called in by the governor to discuss the subject of law and order. Should it have failed to satisfy him he could have got you and your government voted out at the floor of the assembly”.

“Yes, you are correct my dear friend and colleague but if he had adopted the constitutional method; he would have not been able to usurp the powers from under our feet. We will however ourselves go to the people to seek their cooperation and from this moment onwards, the movements of boycotting the central administration will start. We shall not allow any elections to take place in the state till the legitimate government which was already in position is restored by the Governor.  We shall all of us including the members of the legislative assembly of all allies will lay seize to the Governor’s office”, Pratap who had been the guardian of the civil administration in this very office was pained at the words used by him. He looked at the police chief, “now that tables had been turned by our dear friend the big man from the central government you may have to take all of us in, as state guests for a few days. It appears to me that the law of the charlatans and the gun totters will rule the country side hence forth. Your predictions are finally finding expression little too soon and I wish I had the courage to sign this paper even on my way out. But cowards as we all are; do not dare defy the fear that governs their mind and hearts. I hope some day I may come back and be able to face the challenge thrown to me by the nation but not at this juncture when I may have to go back to people with bowl again and seek their support, who knows my party may enter an alliance with the great priest Rajamantran himself”.

“I know boss I can understand you. If only you had not brought police under home department, each of us would have done our job as expected by the people of a state. Politicians of this country have created home department to shield their own failings from any kind of police action. They wanted to remain above the law of the land by making law subordinate to bureaucrats”, Nirbhaya walked back towards his official jeep parked on the ground floor of the secretariat building. He may have to make arrangements to contain hostility and demonstrations which were certainly be carried out by the demonstrators in front of the gates of the Governor’s house.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues -36

He looked at Koena who was leading him in the front. They had been walking around the holy fire for the last round of marriage circles.  The other couples too had completed their seven rounds along with them on their respective holy fire pots set up for each couple who was getting married on that day, separately. The great priest Rajamantran was explaining to them the meaning of the husbands leading their wives into the matrimonial bliss. “You will take care of your wife through all walks of life. Even when she is not well you will look after her. It will be your pious duty to provide for her and her children etc”. He will ask them to stop in between the circles and explain to them the meaning of each round taken till they completed the seventh round. “We declare all of you husband and wife respectively. All of the newly married couples should seek the blessings of your elders”.

The great priest Rajamantran personally introduced all the couples to the gentry of the highly placed people of the society of the town present on the stage. Ranjit and Koena were being led to the home minister Aaham when a commotion was noticed outside the marriage pandal.  The guards deployed by the shrine were preventing two men from entering the marriage pandal, “you may be the officers from any big department. We will not permit you to enter here. Our great priest will be free in a couple of hours.   Then only we will permit you to come inside the pandal. Or otherwise you can go and meet the home minister Aaham at the state guest house. We have orders from our great Priest that no one other than the specific invitees will be permitted to enter the marriage venue”.

The home minister Aaham beckoned his secretary to go and enquire into the matter. The secretary listened to the visitors and came rushing to the home minister Aaham and whispered a few words into the ears of the politician.  Ranjit and his newly wed were standing next to the minister. They  overheard the following remarks, “warrants being issued, murder of bus passengers and the killing of the police deputy chief”.  He covered his face with the flower mask worn by the bridegroom, it had become apparent they were talking of the blood chilling murder of Tanwar committed by him, but he was still not sure they were actually looking for him; unless someone from the shrine has sung a song to the police.  It was impossible to link him to the crime. Then someone mentioned the name Parma, cops were looking for Parma and they have information he should have come to wedding ; hence the plain clothes men from the investigation cell had discretely come to the function to inform home minister Aaham about the search warrants issued by the local  police after they had obtained permission of the chief minister. They wanted to come inside and without disturbing the wedding function wanted to give advance intimation to the Home minister Aaham who otherwise would be embarrassed if the fugitive was found and apprehended here in his presence.

” Has your chief minister gone out of his mind? Does he think that we shall be attending a function where criminals abound? This is a place of God. Our dear children are being married off by the blessings of the great priest Rajamantran of our community. We do not ascribe to the view that the person by the name you suggested can be even allowed to come any where near to the holy men. Go back and tell your bosses that I have ordered them to stop all the nonsense of this search etc at once. In case they do not, we shall see to it that the government that has signed such a non sensical orders should fall.  Your chief minister then my dear friend will have to give lots of explanation to the new administration”.

“Sir we are simply obeying orders that have been issued from the top and in no case we shall be undertaking any step that could be against the ethics of decency. We have worked under you when you were at the helm of the affairs of the state.  In fact I was directly attached to the security wing at your residence; so how do you expect my lord that I will allow any of the warrants to be operated against any one even distantly associated with you”.  The home minister Aaham closely looked at the balding man whose smile appeared familiar and then he placed him, “I see you are Ralla Ram who used to accompany me to the morning walks.  Thank god it is you.  I am sure you will not permit your subordinates to create nuisance here”.

“No question of creating any unpleasantness here sir.  We will rather prefer that you come back to the state.  This new government is of no use. They are neither allowing us to do our duty, nor do they allow the antisocial elements to do their work. How do you expect we all can survive? I am sure one day we all will perish if we do not get from the law breakers what is rightfully due to us”. The home minister Aaham and the great Priest; laughed out aloud on the joke thrown by the petty police officer. He ordered two chairs to be placed for the investigators and told his men meaning fully to look after them well.

Ranjit heaved a sigh of relief once he heard the name of another person being mentioned but it had become apparent the local police was still investigating into the murder case that happened inside the shrine. Unless the current administration changes and the forces closer to the sage come to the thrown; he will always have a Damocles’ sword hanging on his head.  He will not be able to function the way the great priest Rajamantran wanted him to. He was feeling scared.  He felt that the law will some day catch on with him.

A large number of people who had come to attend the mass marriage function were getting restless. The sage addressed them in his most endearing tone “it is nothing my children. It is only a small disturbance from the local administration. We have already taken care of the same. The food for every one is being served at the community kitchen. It is my earnest desire we all sit together and partake what the lord has kind fully sent for us along with his heavenly bliss”. He   personally went around to the newly weds and led them towards the inner courtyard of the temple shrine.

Koena who had been worried about her father’s state of mind wished to reassure her self that Ranjit is not involved in any of such nefarious activities the shrine was suspect fully  being associated with.

“I sincerely hope you will keep your self away from the activities of the sage and his men”.

“Believe me dear I have my personal business to attend to which has been started recently by me. Once we are finished with our job of getting married, we may migrate abroad as the business of hardware exports and imports can be handled from there too”, he deliberately spoke in the louder tone to make sure her father had overheard whatever they were discussing. He went and sat next to his mother in law. He beckoned Koena also to do the same. He spoke to the family as one of their family member “I think the time has come to put a morsel and two in mouth and believe me I am absolutely famished. I can eat plenty of food. This exercise of going round the fire for such a long rounds, really tires you out”.

“Yes dear but it is only the beginning.  You will have to do this running around all through your life since you are a married man now. This wife of yours used to make me dance to her tunes all my life. We are sure now she will have you responding to her finger’s movements”, Munna spoke in a very serious tone.  Every one burst out laughing. Ranjit knew he had to make extra effort to remove any doubt lurking in the family’s mind about his association with the great priest Rajamantran and his men.  He did not want his marital life to start on a sore note “all of us shall be hence forth living all together in my house. I want you dear dad to leave your job to help me in my business and guide us with your wisdom”.

“But that is impossible I have never handled any kind of commercial business in my life. It is however reassuring to note that you are serious about your business. I pray that you will remain away from the dirty politics of your uncle. It is not meant for simpletons like us. We are better off in our small little world of family pleasures”,   this was the first advice given to him by his bride’s father.

The great priest Rajamantran who had been controlling himself during the public function; flew off his handle once he found the home minister Aaham alone with him, and in his uncontrolled rage gave a warning note to the big man, “if the state government does not stop prying into the affairs of shrine, lots of skeletons will fly out of different cupboards.  Your name could also be dragged into whatever has been happening into the public life. I will tell you either you dismiss this chief minister or we know how to take care of the enemies of the shrine. You must speak to the governor of the state here in our presence and like you had promised; carry out the agreement of imposing the central rule on this state. The agreement of handing over the powers to one of our nominees must be honored by you. We on our part have created situation where the common man today is scared and terrorized of stepping out of his abode without a threat to his life and liberty. If you still believe we have not done enough; the violence in common man’s life can be escalated to unprecedented levels. But we are afraid then our boys will have reached a point of no return.  The state will have to pay a very high price to yours and our ambitions”. The great priest Rajamantran lifted the telephone receiver and handed it over to the home minister Aaham, “please you may dial the telephone number of the governor’s house. You may tell him that the administrative powers of the state ministry must be withdrawn immediately.  You will tell the governor to issue orders forthwith, lest the state police apprehend any of our men”.

“I will have to consult the prime minister and it is not desirable from the public propriety point of view that such a step is initiated at the times when I am enjoying your hospitality. The press could kill my political career.  In any case it is time to declare fresh elections to the state assembly.  I will ask the prime minister to hasten up the process of dismissing the state assembly”, the home minister Aaham wanted to gain some time to talk to his mentors.  Besides he did not like the manner in which the sage was ordering him to do things. He wished he could tell this preacher of no importance to behave himself. “Howsoever big and mighty this sage might have become he has been the creation of my diabolical mind and the creation can seldom be bigger than the creator”.

“You can not declare election to the state assembly even if you dismiss the incumbent ministry. General Durjan public does not want to vote under the existing franchise and the constitution. We have all along been asking for an independent state.  I strongly believe you will support us the way we have been doing all kinds of favor for you and your party. We must have a separate identity as an independent country. Since you have been the foremost propagator of an agitation against the existing government; we sincerely will provide you with the highest office in our independent country. You can be the president of a new nation, a nation which will be based on the purity of caste, creed and community, where you and I will get enough authority to promote our own culture, and heritage”, the great priest Rajamantran thundered in front of the home minister Aaham.

“I do understand your concern for the nation and the religion but believe me we had never thought of severing you and your people from the main stream.  It has never been the ideology to separate your community from the national reckoning. You have always been the front runners in this country and you will remain so for centuries to come. My party and the high command would hate to be associated with any separatist demand that creates a gulf between the existing constitutional system and its provisions of accommodating different flavors of minorities in this vast country. You have always been given a fair deal by the successive governments that have been at the helm of affairs in the central government. May be it is the state units who have acted discriminatingly whenever they have had a mandate for the party other than ours .This time too the people of this state made a blunder of voting for a party that had its roots in two different ideologies. This marriage of political convenience could prove very dangerous for such a large democracy in the world.  The political parties of different ideologies had   come together for the sake of defeating the oldest representatives of the people. We are the born aristocrats and rulers of this country. We have always supported a strong opposition given to us by the people so that our successive governments over the years are never mistaken for one party rule by the supporters of democratic traditions. The opposition has always been our guiding torch for devising the pro people schemes. Now that we have been virtually forced to move to the left, the opposition will cease to exist. That is why we want to give one more chance to    people of the state to use their franchise again.  We will let them help the opposition sit in their proper seats in the state assembly.   I must say that your boys have done their job fairly well but it is time they went back to the shrine. It is high time they  concentrated on the study of theology and religious sermons. Your services rendered will be well rewarded.  The police cases pending against you and your boys will be taken care of once we regain control of the state after removing our arch rivals, which will be done immediately. I shall be personally meeting the prime minister and sending the communiqué to the governor to recommend the end to the state assembly on the grounds of deteriorating law and order in the state”.

“Do you expect the enemy to wait till the fall of the ministry? I am surprised to see the naivety being shown by you. My boys are getting desperate ever since two of their companions have been picked up by the chief of the state   police and his henchmen. The public frenzy can not be built time and again to support any move that creates havoc with their daily living. There may not be enough public support should the police come up with the charges against my men. Why they may even nab me for engineering a murder of the police officer; though it may not hold in the court of law.  But I will hate to be hauled up and put under any kind of forced captivity. You and your party may not come to our rescue should that happen,” the seer was visibly upset and apprehensive.

The home minister Aaham hated the day he had gone to the small time preacher for help; it was getting out of his hands now. He knew that unless he takes control of the situation in the state immediately he may regret it all his life later.

“You have a complete control over the Sanctro sanctorum. None dare touch you here so long as we do not permit any one to enter.  Believe you me the common folks will protect you at any cost as long as you maintain the facade of being their religious savior and protector of their ethnic identity. We are not asking you to play down the role so devised by the circumstances. In fact this garb of religiosity will fetch us the record numbers of votes in the ensuing elections. We will offer you the seats in the constituencies falling within the jurisdictions of your shrine. That will enable you to maintain your grip on the masses of your flocks. You have a complete control over the finance of the Sanctro sanctorum. We will ensure you win hands down in the next managing committee’s election. Let the new elections be completed without any kind of disturbances.  You will hold your boys till the final day of the mandate. The boys will move back to the shrine in case we win.  Otherwise we will let leash the arsenal you have been secretly getting into the country. I hope by now you must have fortified your self against even the mightiest attack”.

The religious preacher, the spokesperson for the souls of his parishioners, the king’s soul keeper had very amusingly been listening to the proposal of the politician par excellence.   He was amazed that this person has been playing dirty politics not only with the state subjects but also with the likes of the pontiff himself. But he said to himself, “this is not the right time to react and antagonize this python in the garb of a   chameleon.  We will have to toe the line drawn by him, till we get the current state government removed from the position of power. As soon as we are able to achieve this we will strike back against this so called big man and his manipulating godfathers in the central government”.

The sage put on his most endearing smile and in sugar coated words asked the home minister Aaham from the central government “sir I do understand your concern in getting back the powers to the state assembly and as guided by you we have created enough havoc already for the electorate.  The common man has been cursing the state chief minister and his protégés for their failure to control the every day macabre incidents. They will be very happy in case you are able to do away with this state administration. Accordingly I have been requesting that this must be done when you are on a visit to the state. You have assessed the failure of the state machinery to prevent attacks on poor public hence on the recommendations of the state governor please have the assembly dissolved. Thus you will be   paving way for fresh elections”.  The great priest Rajamantran continued in his honey dipped words “I am sure the prime minister will understand that it is required to give a sense of confidence back to the voter. Nothing can be more important for any political party than to regain its trust, faith and   face with the electorate. Should you want me to speak to the common public on the dismissal of their elected representatives I shall be too happy to do so. Just remember we were partners in turmoil’s and will remain so even in reconstruction and rebuilding exercise too”.

The home minister Aaham who had been on the look out to rebuild the burnt bridges with the state subjects could see a silver lining in the clouds that had appeared on the political horizon of the state, “you should understand that in this entire political game plan we may have to at times condemn the activities under taken by your shrine.  Will you be prepared to face that kind of flack and take it in the right spirits? Of course we will also find a route to the main stream for all your boys by offering them the prized positions in the party, government and public life. The hype their surrender will create will add a new chapter to the political maneuverings managed by me. Let me speak to the governor and arrange a fax on the deteriorated administrative situation, to the prime minister. I will immediately thereafter speak to him for getting the necessary presidential orders signed. Who knows I may give you an invaluable gift before I leave this state. You and your buddies will always be thankful to me for getting them into such a prominence though”.

The home minister Aaham undertook the journey to the governor’s house immediately thereafter. The oncoming darkness of the times when both ends of day meet i.e. when the sun has just set in and the stars and the moon have still not found their way high enough in sky to provide a little light to the weary traveler was making it difficult for the home minister Aaham’s driver to find his way through “you can slow down a bit, I know with growing age it is difficult to see in the darkness of the ensuing dusk. The headlights of the oncoming vehicles simply throw flash of their head lights in your eyes. These flashes are virtually blinding you”, he told his driver.

“The high speed at this age is bad for health in any way. I wish I could say the same about your public life. You should also slow down a minute and pause to redirect your way through. Let the things mature and may be then you can find better grip of the situation”, the driver who had seen his master go through ups and downs of political life for past thirty years, and had been with him through all kinds of conditions could afford to speak so.

“Oh shut up you are still a novice to the world of royal intrigues. What do you know how kingdoms are won? Your only job is to steer the car through traffic snarls. hence pay full attention to your job only. I have seen of late you have been poking your nose around too much”, the politician got irritated on the advice rendered by his chauffer, “when I need your advice I will ask for it.  Do not just sit morose on the wheel. Pick up some speed too”, the driver knew such minor clashes between him and his master were quite frequent during the day.  He just laughed it out and shrugged his shoulders as if he was saying “what is it to me”.

The secretary to the governor of the state was waiting for him in the front security office. The official ran up to car of the important visitor. He opened the front door, hopped into seat next to the driver and directed the chauffer to drive down for the meeting at square room. The square room was a small hall whose four walls ran parallel to each other. It had been named so by one of the last British residents and ever since the name stuck on to the room.

The home minister Aaham noticed the military discipline visible in the governor house managed by the state administration. It has so been because most of the occupants who lived here have come to this position after they retire from the active service of the armed forces or even the civil services. The current incumbent Colonel Bangru belonged to the supply corps of the armed forces where he had helped many of his politician friends dig gold through supply contracts to the armed forces. One such tender in which the home minister Aaham’s relatives had shown interest brought him closer to the politicians. Aaham   have always preferred non-active politicians to be placed on the gubernatorial positions. He always felt that the non partisan approach of the representative could not be maintained. Besides the politicians will willy-nilly ask for certain favors off the civil and military officials which definitely had to be paid back in terms of such prized positions to them when they retired. Such carrots were necessary to be dangled in front of the adamant and “stick to the file policy” civil and military servants. The British who ruled this country for a long time were quite wise in devising such plum postings in almost all the colonies they ruled over. The availability of such plum positions after retirement ensured a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood prevailed amongst the officers posted within the colonized countries.

Aaham was happy to see that “the governor had the necessary courtesy to meet him at the entrance to the square room.  Otherwise some of the latest lots appointed to these posts were always behaving in their own peculiar and idiosyncratic ways. They carried with them the burdens of their earlier lifestyles. They still were loaded with disdain for public representatives even though they knew the term of governorship depended on the politicians”. He remembered the constitutional crisis they had to face in one of the large lingual state where the governor simply refused to tender the resignation demanded by the central government. Eventually the home ministry had to dig out the pending cases of criminal corruption against the bureaucrat turned governor to force him to step down. Thereafter the prime minister had taken charge of all confidential dossiers of such appointments. Colonel Bangru the man waiting for him, spread both his arms for the home minister Aaham for a warm and friendly hug. He has been anticipating his visit ever since he came to know that the big man has come to attend the marriage fair organized by the great Priest, “it is good to see you back in your home state after such a long time Mr. Home minister. I am sure your visit will bring some sanity back to the life of common man otherwise the entire state has been turned into a slaughter house by the extremists”.

The home minister Aaham extricated himself from the bear hug. He selected a prominent seat on the sofa laid in the square room from where he could have a commanding position in the conclave with this ex- military officer and parked himself therein. He mentioned the governor to sit too, “Yes but as administrative and constitutional head of the state it is equinamally your responsibility to keep the central government informed of the law and order situation in your state. We have to yet receive a formal report from your end. Surely you can not be the silent spectator to the inefficient and ineffective state administration. The prime minister has been quite upset on the recent spate of killings in the state. You can not have one community being subjected to all kind of annihilation by the criminals running their murderous gangs. The prime minister has asked me to convey a note of serious concern. The state administration, who has been fiddling like Nero when Rome burnt, has lost all moral grounds to remain in power. We will like to have your recommendation for dismissing chief minister Pratap’s ministry and dissolve the state assembly. This state must have a fresh election to find another legitimate ruler. I am sure you will not mind mounting the horse of administration and get into active life once again”.

“But Pratap’s ministry has been elected a short while ago only. He needs sufficient time to prove himself to the common publics who have elected him. Whatever violence and reaction we get is a spillover from the poll setbacks to selfish factions of the religious body. I am sure this will ultimately die a natural death. Soon we will have peace once again”. Colonel Bangru’s statement angered him but the home minister Aaham kept his cool, “I did not know you are still such a novice in the art of politics. Can you not see that if that happens and this ministry runs its full term , people of the state will by then get used to be ruled by the likes of Pratap who bring with them the reconciliatory policy of having trucks with the fundamentalists. There exists in this country an unwritten code of keeping fundamentalists out of power. However by the coming together of two different religious thoughts they will form a strong awakening amongst the masses that the administration can survive on two different legs too. That might spell a doomed future for a secular party of our standing. You must understand it is dangerous to have that kind of rising amongst the masses.  Hence the government must go”.

“I beg your pardon sir but I do not subscribe to the views expressed by you. On the contrary these fundamentalists have always been closer to your regime. There have been instances when their powers were enhanced by you which should have been instead curtailed. The shrine that is purported to be behind all the violent activities has not come up all of a sudden.  The successive governments much prior to the current administration have always stood behind these religious exploiters of mass mentality. Once you pull back your support to these leaches and suckers of the society’s blood they will automatically stop acting like parasites of common good. I do not have the moral courage to ask Pratap to step down.  His mass support base will catapult the state into a riot of no return. At least at this fag end of my carrier I do not want to carry the burden of having put the state on fire”, Colonel Bangru did not know how he was able to utter the words just spoken by him. He had no intentions to spoil his relations with such a big man yet he could not help himself.

“Mr. Governor I have all respects for the moral pangs you are suffering from. But what about my conscious, it too is burdened with many moral thoughts; for example your daughter’s industrial empire which has come up on the funds siphoned off from the state exchequer, your sons’ visits to foreign countries when you were heading the state public commission to stash the illegal funds collected by you by doling out the appointment to state executive positions.  It is difficult for me to contain within my pure conscience all these moral pricks.  Plus you also must remember the court marshal held in abeyance when you were a serving soldier. All of your misdoings hang heavy on my mind and heart too. I think you will not like me to unburden myself by spilling out every thing to the press and public. The impeachment could rather be expensive for your entire family. You could all be doomed to stay behind bars for many years. I suggest you weigh the outcome as against the signing of a simple law and order report”, the home minister Aaham knew he had hit the right cord with the governor.

He called the secretary to the governor on the intercom, (each official of the state was known to the politician by first name) “Ramkishore your boss has some thing stuck up in his throat.  He may not be in a position to dictate the correct vocabulary. Since I am not very familiar with the English language I will tell you in short to address a letter to the President of the country asking for the dismissal of the present state government. I do not have to spell the grounds of dismissal to you.  I am sure you are literate enough to use your discretion”.

He thrust the letter under the governor’s nose for his signatures “do not raise your blood pressure.  We will not prefer losing a friend of your stature. However you could instead ask either your son or daughter to apply for an election ticket to the forth coming state assembly.  We will reserve one seat for one of your family members”.

“Mind you sir! You have forced me to sign a letter which will prove very expensive to the nation. It is not the dismissal of Pratap’s ministry.  It is possibly the death knell for the century old communal harmony and the brotherhood of different minority groups living in this country. One day the great priest Rajamantran will bite the hand that has fed him the poisonous milk”, Colonel Bangru’s emotional outburst was dismissed with a shrug of both the shoulders by the home minister Aaham. “You will have to accompany me to the press meet”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 35

The great priest Rajamantran had ordained that mass weddings be organized by the shrine on the first moon day of the month for couples from all over the state. All those who could not afford rising wedding expense could bring their wards whose matrimony will be blessed by the great Priest. He found a solution for those sections of society and the people whose wealth and the social status gave them a kind of inferiority complex by marrying off their children at such social philanthropy. They were asked to donate their proposed budgets to the shrine. The shrine in turn will announce their names and the amounts contributed at these social gatherings. The shrine would make gigantic arrangements for visiting VIPs and the common folks. Barricades were put up to separate the main marriage pandal from the gallery where visitors would be seated. The high and mighty form the state politics and the bureaucracy always looked forward to the invitation from the shrine for such occasions. It gave the ideal platform to the political aspirants to get mixed up with their electorates and woo them for the oncoming elections. The bureaucrats will always be eager to find out and gauge the moods of the commoners for the ensuing elections. The bureaucrats of the babudom will accordingly form their loyalty clubs in a way to earn the maximum mileage from political bosses.

Many a time’s reigning politicians from central government too had addressed their meetings on such mass marriage fairs organized by the holy man. This time too the sage had personally spoken to the chief minister,” it is a social occasion of grand importance and I wish that you grace the function and bless the newly weds on the auspicious beginning of their marital life. Weddings will be followed by the common feast.  I wish you join the commoners in the community feast. We have also extended special invitation to your predecessor and arch enemy, the big man Aaham. May be on this grand day you both can set aside your difference and join the constructive forces of our religion represented by our shrine to rebuilt and regain the lost glory and honors of our nation”. The General Durjan who had been listening to the invitation being extended could not control his laughter.  He rather suggested another diabolical plan to the pontiff immediately after the great priest Rajamantran had finished speaking to both the gentle men on the phone.

“We will release the text of the invitation extended by you to both these gentlemen to the press. Let the press note explain that they have agreed to bury their hatchets and come under your banner of religious umbrella to serve the community. I swear by God no denial on their part can later wipe the mud flung on them by their party members and the voters of their constituencies”.

The chief minister even after accepting the invitation did not turn up at the weddings.  He had though sent his blessings through a representative of his government. Ranjit looked at his would be father in law, who was made to sit next to the big man. The big man Aaham by now had been raised to the position of the home minister at the central government. The home minister Aaham of the central government obviously had been given a place of the most importance.  The shrine had also accorded Mr. Kumar a great honor, as after all he was handing over his daughter to the blue eyed boy of the pontiff. His mother in law proudly sat next to the wife of the home minister Aaham. Her body language suggested she was enjoying her new found status.

Ranjit remembered his mother in law’s discussion with her husband when they called on him at the new bungalow given to him by the great Priest. He had been sitting with General Durjan inside the house. He saw this couple enter the main gate; on the close circuit television placed in all the rooms. The old man was hesitant to come in. He did not push the ringer of the calling bell of the outside door on his own. He had to be coaxed by the lady to put his fingers on the doorbell. The old lady   had also wanted to give her husband a sense of confidence. In order to cheer up her husband; she marveled at the architectural beauty, “is it not such a lovely house? After all he is a nephew to a great Priest. I am sure he must be heir to the vast properties our great Priest possesses. I am told he owns almost half of the village land he lives in, in addition to the many other properties spread all over the state. Why the income from the shrine itself must be running into billions. Our boy must have had a share in every property owned by the great priest Rajamantran by virtue of being his brother’s son. Our daughter will rule like a queen”.

Mr. Kumar who had never ever been to a house of such a vast expanse stood speechless. He was wondering if they have reached the correct address.  He double checked the address written on the slip in his hands.

Mrs. Kumar had been noticing his quandary.  “What is it my dear, you seem to be lost somewhere. I knew from day one that our daughter will roll in riches all her life. But I do not want you to show your anxiety when you speak to the boy.  You will let me handle all discussions with him. I do not want to put him off and spoil the chance of a great opportunity of life time for our daughter. You had unnecessary shown your doubts on great Priest’s proposal. If I was in your place I would not have questioned his intentions. He is but a well-wisher of all his devotees.  Once we are related to him can you imagine the kind of status you and your progeny will enjoy?”

Ranjit Sehgal who had seen and heard them on the close circuit television from his bedroom was equally anxious on the other side. He wondered how he will answer their question related to his work and job etc. but this was not the first time he would be answering such queries. The parents of all the girls he had earlier been supposedly married to have raised similar inquiries. Each one of those enquiries was deftly handled by him. This time however a strange fear of losing the only girl he ever loved gnawed at his heart.  Hence he had asked General Durjan to come over and help him face the interview in front of the parents of the girl. Though the sage had assured him, “no one dare disobey the dictate issued by the shrine. In fact the mother of the girl who had married outside the community and had virtually been outcast will be too keen to get back into the fold of the shrine after so many years. She will see to it that she makes her husband and daughter agree to the proposal. She will herself break down any kind of resistance. That woman is also very ambitious. The flash of your wealth will tempt her to ensure her daughter gets into the riches through matrimony”. How correctly great Priest had predicted her behavior. This was amply proved when Ranjit himself went to the main door to welcome them in side the house.  She proudly hugged him and kissed him on the forehead,” I knew our girl will find a gem for herself. You are living like a king all alone in this house. Let her come over. She will fill your loneliness with her presence.  Such a big and lovely house will echo with the laughter of many of my grand children”.

Both Mr. Kumar and Ranjit felt embarrassed on her spontaneity. Her exuberance was forcing Mr. Kumar to contain the enthusiasm shown by his wife, “but dear we have to decide first and ask Koena’s view point too. Are you not being little too hasty about the whole thing. I am sorry young man but can we go inside the house and have a few words with you? ”.

“But of course sir! Please do come in’.

Mr. Kumar who did not expect General Durjan to be present at this meeting was startled. He was little agitated to see him sitting in the room to which Ranjit had led them.

“We expected to see your parents here. We have come to   discuss the marriage proposal of our daughter with you”, Kumar had told him, “could you please tell them we are here?” “His parents do not live in India.  In fact he lives under the guardianship of our great Priest whom you have already met.  Should you desire to find out about his means of livelihood let me tell you he owns  enough riches to last a life time of ten generations”, General Durjan spoke back. Mr. Kumar who was put off with General Durjan because of the virtual kidnapping of the other day; shot back, “that he is from a rich background does not answer my query. I will definitely like to know what this man does for a living so that I as a father can be convinced that he can support his family even when he does not have access to the riches owned by his   family”.

“But Mr. Kumar”, his wife spoke up.

She  was cut short by the hand raised by him, “ let him speak dear I am sure he must be doing or planning to do something to meet the family expenses and fetch two ends food  for his children and wife as well”.

“I have a business of export and import of hardware to and from different countries. I shall soon be setting up offices in different parts of the world’, Ranjit knew at least he was telling a truth to this old man, “my turnover will soon run almost into many millions. I shall be providing employment to many and not looking for one for myself. I am sure I need not depend on the riches that belong to my ancestors”, there again he mused within his heart “I am not telling a lie because my forefathers do not have any riches to provide for”.

Mr. Kumar, “I understand my daughter also likes you. How long has this been going on”?

“Oh come on dear you are embarrassing the young man in front of his friends”, she pointed towards General Durjan, “this gentle man here will also feel bored to death with your kind of   questionings. I am inviting you to join us for a dinner at our place this evening. You both must come. Ranjit sonny you must bring your uncle along to our house. We have seen your house. Whatever we have seen here is sufficient enough to tell us that the great priest Rajamantran will never want to do any thing disparaging and damaging to his flocks. We shall of course be proud to have you as our son in law,” she   again brushed aside the eyebrows raised by Mr. Kumar.

“Oh come on dear I knew Koena was into something and we will know her mind too by the evening”. They declined any offer of some snacks or drinks by their host, “we shall of our right eat a lot of things here after your wedding to our daughter”.

Mrs. Kumar had come in like a storm and she left like one. She had forced Ranjit to wonder what had hit him. He came to his senses when General Durjan pulled him from his chair, “you must dance with joy young man. Let us put the music on”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 34

“The police headquarters which are situated close to the civil secretariat will be the first target destination by the other companions of the boys captured by us. The building block housing the police office headed by Senior Superintendent of police of Baikunthpur district will be the last place the terrorists will look for their friends”; hence the chief had told Meena to divert the jeep carrying the injured boys to Baikunthpur.  This office had been converted into a fortress. No one was being allowed inside without a physical frisk, not even the senior most police officers lest some one from within the force could provide either a message or a mean to commit suicide to the young boys caught by the team led by DIG Meena and his officers. In fact when chief of the state   police got the information on wireless network about the catch, his immediate advice to his deputy had been, “in all such information henceforth use the secured line of transmission. The wireless lines could be monitored by any one. You must at this instant remove the capsules of potassium cyanide from the person of those boys captured. Otherwise they will swallow one as soon as they regain consciousness”. They found it tied on to their necks with a black thread, and DIG Meena quietly pocketed both the capsules, however he did admire foresight shown by his boss.

A  Doctor from the Police hospital had given the necessary medication to the one who had suffered bullet injuries on both his knees. The bullets had broken bones of both his legs from just below the knee caps. “He is a very lucky chap.  His knee caps have not been hit by a hard blow near the brain on the skull. He should come by in an hour or so”, the medico had told DIG Meena. “He must come by doctor. I am waiting for him to sing for us. My friend Tanwar will not forgive me if I am not able to punish his killers. That aside we need to reach the machinery and the mechanics of the entire terrorist operations in a state shattered otherwise he would never have walked again. The other friend of ours has been that has been brought down to its prostrate position. It is for the first time we have been able to catch the robots”.

Sunny, Senior Superintendent of Police for Baikunthpur whose peaceful service record of more than ten years had been spoilt by the recent spurt in violence could not contain himself on such compromising position of his fellow officer. He angrily retorted, “These fellows are only the front activators. I do not believe in incarcerating such small fries. This will not serve any purpose. If you take my words, these guys should be eliminated at the spot without any warning. The higher the number of such front workers is killed; closer we will be reaching to the hands that are making these puppets dance to their tunes. After all the supply source for the puppetry can not be endless. One fine morning the sage will find himself without the front coverage. That is the day when I will love to put my finger on the trigger against his head. Till then we will have to make believe ourselves that we have found the murderers and eliminated the scourge from our midst. How long do you think these guys will take to regain consciousness” he asked the doctor, who was operating upon the one with broken legs.

“Well like I said earlier his head injury is not very severe. He should come back in another hour or so.  But this one in my hands will take longer to recover.  He has lost quite a lot of blood.  We might need a unit of ab+, to ensure that he survives”.

“Is it not a very strange coincident?  We are trying to save the one who was determined to eliminate many others of his fellow human innocents. Well I guess if we do not have a choice doctor, the police hospital will provide the units required. Since it is a common group needed by you, it should not be difficult to get one from the local blood bank. I will order one immediately”, SSP Sunny picked up the telephone to speak to someone at the police hospital.

DIG Meena stopped him instantly, “that will arouse lots of tongue wagging. This will jeopardize the secrecy of our mission of bringing the boys here. You must arrange it from a private source so as to keep their being taken as prisoners   and kept in our custody under wraps”.

“In that case doctor you can take a unit from my body. I do possess ab+ group and have not donated one drop for a long time. It is possible that my blood was kept flowing through my veins for this occasion only. I believe this job too is part of serving my country”, Sunny extended his left arm towards him.

“I as a doctor can not differentiate between a good soul possessing the bad man’s body or the bad conscious kept by the creator inside the good human form.  It becomes my utmost duty to save a human being irrespective of such creation.  In the same fashion I believe that as a police officer you are trying to keep a human being alive until he is proved guilty by the law of the land. I salute your objectivity” the doctor admiringly held his hand and made him lie down on the couch next to the injured boy. The doctor wanted to draw a unit of blood from his veins. The other boy who had been hit on the neck started making some vague noises.  The doctor patted him on the cheeks.

“Wake up dear friend you are at your father in law’s place. We have to accord you a formal welcome”. DIG Meena sitting on the side stool flashed a smile on the young man as he opened his eyes. The young boy furtively searched for a thread on his neck.

“If you are looking for this baby then you will have to be disappointed”, DIG Meena took out a handkerchief from his pocket. It was containing the potassium cyanide capsules. “Your own death will not be such easy young man you can trust me. We will not allow you to go even from this world till you have paid for the lives of hundreds of innocents, with your blood. Can we take him to the adjoining room doctor for interrogation if it is disturbing the other’s treatment”, he had asked the doctor.

The young boy saw a police officer in uniform donating blood for his companion.

“This is very strange spectacle for my eyes. Are you the cops or are you one of us trying to save his life. I saw him falling from his motor cycle. I do not know what happened thereafter. In case you are from the mission then you must not help him regain consciousness. It will be easier killing him while he is still asleep. And if you will hand over the mother dear to me I will swallow it without any hesitation”. “The law of the mission must be obeyed by all of us and you do not have to show any mercy towards any one. In case you are from the police even then let me tell you your incarcerating us will not help you either way. We do not know the forces that control all of us. We are mere pawns in the entire activity. You can save his life momentarily only. The death warrants must have already been issued for both of us. No power on earth can stop the execution of the orders issued. We were supposed to have eliminated your “stem I “as you would like to call him along with the train passengers. But to the good fortune of your stem I he can too survive a few days longer till our people catch up with him”. He looked at SSP Sunny “it is rather unfortunate that people of your caliber are still on the other side. Our great movement will not like to disband brave officers like you.  But since you are a friend of the enemy, your name too has been included in the list of probable eliminates in addition to the good name of the chief of the state police and DIG Meena”.

“Did Tanwar too fall a victim to the machinations of your great Priest”, DIG Meena categorically asked him.

“Tanwar had to go sir as he was getting too close to the heroes who had master minded the killing of the bus passengers’. Besides our movement of highlighting the strength of our sect got a momentum by the sacrifice of the senior police officer. His death made every one take notice of our might. You see in the path to freedom from state oppression many an innocents will have to lay their lives before the surviving of the lot attain an ideal system of religion and politics”.

“Bull shit! Your great Priest has filled your brains with hatred and scorn. You do not realize that every citizen of this free country has as much a right to live as you or your great Priest does. There is no place in this country within the boundaries specified that could be said to have been reserved for any kind of caste, community or creed. The law of the land applies equally to all citizens. The great priest Rajamantran and his men are criminals in the eyes of the law if they have committed these murders. We can assure you complete safety of your life in case you agree to our proposal of becoming an approver and testify against the sage and his men in a court of law, otherwise …” SSP Sunny deliberately left the sentence unfilled.

“Otherwise what, what will happen officer.  You will put us on trial with the law that specifies death penalty to the maximum. Of what use will that activity be since we already have a death penalty hanging on our heads. I hope by now some one from the police itself would have sold our whereabouts to the mission. Before the dawn breaks you will have two or three more dead bodies to account for. One of these could be yours too”.

DIG Meena knew that every single word spoken by the Youngman had spelt nothing but the truth. It was suicidal to keep them hidden here for a period longer than what was necessary. The police department had all kinds of people on its pay roles. He had compiled a list of the officers who owed their allegiance to the shrines of different cultures. He had counseled them many a times to keep their loyalty to the duty above any thing else.

“But in a country where every single living minute of the individual is spent in bowing to gods how could the duty become primary to the religion. You come across gods of all kinds on each street corner, on almost all traffic lights either deified in different shapes of stones or resting majestically in the hand trays of beggars’ women or children.   Each time you come across one of these carriers of gods you are supposed to pay your obeisance as otherwise the gods will get annoyed; and to keep these gods happy you have to first of all keep their human representatives pleased, who could be found only in all big or small temples, shrines and other places of reverence “he had often mused. He knew that many of the police officers of his force, keep their faithfulness to such human gods above every thing else. Any one of them officers would have informed their human god and sold their soul to him by now.

DIG Meena thought of making immediate alternate arrangements for the youths arrested by them. This must be done before the killers could reach them. Nirbhaya had suggested moving the boys to the neighboring army hospital.   It was impossible to think the terrorists will dare to strike at the local military base. He told the guards to direct him to the nearest telephone available.  He must speak to the chief on land line telephone as his walky talky set could be monitored by the enemies. Police network also could be easily accessible to the terrorists. The guard led him to the street across to a public telephone booth from where he rang up the commanding officer manning the local army unit.

“Well your chief has already spoken to me on this. Under the normal circumstances it could be only a civil administrative problem. But I understand these are not the normal times. We have made arrangements for your charge to be admitted to the military hospital. Their being under our custody will remain a top secret till you take them away from our hands. But I am afraid it can only be a temporary facility”.

Meena felt relieved on hearing the army commander acceding to their request. He did not want to produce these boys in the judicial court in next 24hours or may be for many days to come till he was able to nab the person who had actually pulled a trigger on his friend and colleague. In addition the killers of the bus massacre need be dealt with differently.  The judicial courts at best will simply commit them to the police custody for a few days and thereafter release them on bail or personal surety so that they could still be at large  and perpetrate more heinous crimes against the innocent citizens.

“We will have to move the state guests immediately to another more comfortable place”, he had dialed the residence of Nirbhaya on an unlisted number. He hoped it could not be scrambled. Nirbhaya had seldom used this line for dialing.  He knew it must be his deputy for there was none else who had access to this telephone number except the chief minister on whose insistence the unscrambled line had been provided at the residence of the police chief. DIG Meena still spoke to him in coded and covered language. “The front office at the hotel had confirmed he will look after your comfort and privacy. You will find the stay a pleasant experience”. DIG Meena put the receiver on the cradle and put his left foot forward to come out of the telephone booth when he was blinded by a lightening flash from the building housing the offices of the Senior Superintendent of police. The roof top had been blown away in one single piece by the first explosion. The second explosion had dismantled the four walls of the concrete building into millions of smaller debris which flew into all directions.

He threw himself into the ground below to escape a volley of bullets that was fired in his direction from a moving vehicle. The guard who had accompanied him to the telephone booth fell on top of him absorbing a number of bullets into his own body. DIG Meena started rolling like a rolling pin. He was moving away from the lights created by the fire that had engulfed the entire building. He wanted to move over to the darkness behind the telephone booth. Another volley of bullets hit the space he had just vacated near the corpse of the police guard. Before another round could be fired by them he jumped behind the wall adjoining the telephone booth. He did not stay back to see the damage done to the building. By now even the vehicles parked in the compound had caught fire. It was impossible to come out alive from that inferno. He found a bicycle parked outside a small house and without giving a second thought he rode the bicycle. He started pedaling on furious speed in the direction going away from the police head quarters. He found the   army jeep and the ambulance moving towards the cantonment on the main grand trunk road. The soldiers sitting in the rear of the army vehicle extended him their hands from the moving vehicle. It took him a fraction of a second to jump into the rear opening of the vehicle. He knew  that SSP Sunny along with the injured boys  had made it to the ambulance a split second before the plastic bag brought in by the guards along with the food trolley had  exploded. He wished the doctor had not gone back to the building to pick up his medical care briefcase after he had helped them push stretcher along with the injured boys into the ambulance.

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 33

Mr. Kumar did not want to unload the burden he carried on the serene atmosphere of his home. But at the same time he could ill afford to forget the threat hanging on the neck of his family. It was a choice between the fire and the frying pan. He dare not ignore the dictate of the shrine.

“Shall he go to the law”? “Will it help?’ he recalled the drama that took place outside the shrine on the holy day. The great priest Rajamantran is a law unto his own self. The law of the land had crumbled in front of the so called religious center and its occupant. He witnessed it on television.  Does his daughter know the boy she has befriended belongs to the same shrine? He was sure the innocent girl had been duped by the cunning impostor. At the next instant another thought came to his mind, “what if he is genuine? He is still a student. He could only be distantly related to the pontiff. Only time itself could resolve the riddle they all have got into.

He found his wife quite worried about him when he reached home.

“Where have you been dear?  We have been waiting for you on evening tea”?

She looked at his ashen face and swollen eyes. She showed her concern.

“What’s the matter dear? You do not look well. Do you have a headache?” She called out to her daughter, “Koena fetch a glass of water for your father and put the kettle on the stove to prepare some hot tea”, and again she came back to her husband.

“Come let me keep your Tiffin box and files away. Oh my god you have not had your meals too. The food is left untouched. If you were so unwell you should have come home earlier. Why do you bring the entire office work to home with you? I will not allow you to work here”. She put the files away from him and addressed her daughter.

“Koena you bring the tea to bedroom”. She was handing over a glass of water to her father Mr. Kumar. Kumar was led into the sleeping room by his wife.

Koena saw her father’s deteriorating health and got worried, “you should take a few days off from your job father. Look at yourself. The hard work and no rest are definitely telling on your body”.

Mr. Kumar who avoided looking at his daughter closed his eyes and thought “how could such a prodigal, docile and innocent girl be wed away like a cow tied to the hook, simply because some great Priest wants it”. He thought of fighting it out and saying no to him and facing the consequence thereof.

“Where is Munna?” he asked his wife who caught the immediacy in his voice.

“Don’t you spare a worry about him?  He must be playing outside with other brats. I shall soon call him back. You should finish this tea.  Just lie down and close your eyes. Soon you will go to sleep. We shall wake you up when it is supper time”.

He started snoring in no time. No one woke him up for supper. His wife looked into the room two three times and found him in deep slumber. She decided not to disturb him.

“The poor chap must have been tired. He had a lot of work in office to do. He could not find time to have a morsel of food too”.

“Both of us are not going to our works today”, she declared as she handed over the morning cup of tea to him the next morning. She kissed him lightly on his lips.

“The kids have already left for their school and college. You had a sound and long sleep. We intentionally did not wake you up for dinner last night. I hope you are not tired anymore. We shall have a hearty breakfast. I have planned a special menu for this. We will have stuffed omelets, porridge and sandwiches. I am sick of fried stuff that we have to gobble every morning in a hurry. I have kept the bath room ready for you. Will you please freshen up and come to   kitchen. In the mean while let us get some fresh air into this room”. She was quite chirpy. She withdrew curtains, and opened the window panes.

“By the way I found this book in your office files. It is a book of hymns in praise of goddess. Since when have you become so devoted?  I have never found you reading such religious stuff earlier.  You must be getting old”.

“I had gone to the sanctum sanctorum yesterday”, he solemnly told her. “I had been summoned by the great Priest”.

“What were you called for? Why should he summon you from your office? Did I hear you say the great Priest Rajamantran?  His shrine is so far away. How could you have made it and come back well in office time?”

“Some of his boys drove me in his car to the shrine”. He wanted to get it off his chest.

“The great priest Rajamantran has recommended a boy for our daughter”. Mr. Kumar did not use the word ‘forced’. He waited to look for his wife’s expressions and reaction to the statement “he has sought our daughter’s hand for his nephew, who happens to be her class mate”.

“I am not surprised. Our daughter is quite beautiful. The young man must have been besotted by her charms. But if the young man is still a student, we will have to wait till he settles down. Is he capable of earning bread for his wife as well? I know Koena, she will also like to complete her education”, his wife casually told him.

“Just forget about the entire thing. I hope you have told the great sage we are not interested”.

“He wants us to marry her off within this week”, he again told her “other wise our son will be kidnapped by the goons of the sage, should we fail to do so”.

“He must be playing a prank on you. A pontiff of his stature can not indulge into bullying his own followers. He is quite a pious man. I have been visiting local worship hall, where cassettes of sermons delivered by him are played for benefit of all devotees present. Yes he does advocate piety and purity of the faith. But so have all religions of the world been doing it for ages. They have all been propagating their own trumpets. Look how Mughal fundamentalists during Mughal rule had subjugated us for centuries. They even went to the extent of forcible conversions. If any one did not agree to their religious overtures they had simply beheaded the opponents. The Christianity that supports charity of all kinds wants to bring the members of other communities into its fold by offering financial, educational and other vocational incentives of all kinds. Why should they do it? I believe they do it because they want their race creed and community to expand and become a major force in numbers. If our preacher is preaching a separate identity he must be having similar thoughts of ensuring the survival of our race for many generations which otherwise in the modern life style is being merged into other majority society. It may so happen those centuries later some one will find a specimen and mention of our existence only in museums and history books”.

Mr. Kumar was losing his nerves listening to her ideas and thoughts on the pontiff and his philosophy.

“Are you regretting that you had married some one outside your community”, he asked his wife. She belonged to the same creed as that of the seer. While Mr. Kumar himself hailed from a different section of society.

“No I am not. Please do not make it a personal affront. I am not the only one from our family who has gone into an inter caste and intercommunity marriage. There are millions others like me who have done it prior to us.  There will still be many couples doing it centuries later. Marrying some one within or outside one’s faith is a personal decision. I have never even pondered over my decision; because we have been quite neutral over our ways of following a belief. All these years I have been following my faith religiously. You have not ever forced the thoughts, rituals and the preaching of your ancestors on our family life. Our children have learnt good or bad, merits or demerits of both our ways of worshipping the creator. And I am sure they are capable of deciding for themselves when it comes to adopting a particular sect for appeasement of their souls. But some where I do feel and believe that our pontiff is leading us to the correct destination, even though I do not agree to the means adopted by him. He has been able to bring a sense of pride amongst our nation after many ages”.

Mr. Kumar, “my dear wife we are not holding a debate on the political thoughts, philosophy and isms of the world. The painful dilemma that we are faced with is a question of our daughter’s life. Do you want me to go down on my knees and with folded hands tell the great priest Rajamantran that we have agreed to his proposal”?

“No I do not want you to do that. If our daughter has been a friend of this boy then I will prefer that she takes a decision about her future life herself. We will anyhow speak to him, meet his family, analyze and examine if he is capable enough to earn his bread for a decent living. We must leave the decision to be taken between them to themselves alone”.

Mr. Kumar did not believe this catch-22 situation of their life time could have been solved so easily but then his wife is a strong woman.  Her decision making capability had amazed him many a times earlier too. She had always been proved correct over any of his doubting

Thomas’s.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 32

Mr. Kumar reached his office like any other day.  Today also he had wished every one on the way like he had done on any other normal day. He parked his scooter and took the stairs to the second floor of the building. He put down a bundle of files he was carrying. He shoved the Tiffin box into the side table and pressed the calling ring for the office boy. There was nothing new in this routine. He has been following this routine for last many years. Except that today he was surprised to see the director of the office he worked for, waiting for him. The director had been occupying the chair meant for the visitor placed in front of Kumar’s work desk. Kumar in his eagerness to start the day’s job of the day had not noticed the visitor waiting for him.

“Good morning Mr. Kumar”, the director wished him before Kumar could so, “I sincerely apologize for not having noticed your presence in my office. It is an honor to have some one close to the great priest Rajamantran of the great shrine working for us. You never even mentioned it once that you are related to the sage”.

The office boy had brought two cups of coffee on Kumar’s table and asked the director if he wanted it to be served there. “You take it to my cabin. Mr. Kumar I hope you will not mind joining me for a cup of coffee in my office. I have personally come to make this request to you”.

Mr. Kumar’s working in the office has always been unassuming, quite and strictly adhering to the rules. He was somewhat taken aback to find the director pleading for his company for a cup of coffee. He wondered if “the director has lost his balance of mind. May be he is annoyed at him for some reason. The director is taking it out on him in this fashion”.

“I am sorry sir! But I do not want to have coffee such early in the morning. And by the way you mentioned something about being related to some great Priest. I am sure there must be some kind of mistaken identity.  I do not know any great Priest.”

“Oh come on Mr. Kumar I am impressed by your modesty and humility. If you do not mind can we discuss this in my room”? He held Kumar from his elbow and led him towards his room. He offered a chair to Kumar and moved on to the other side of the table to sit into his own chair.

“Look here Mr. Kumar, I have been instructed by the pontiff of the great shrine to provide my personal car to you to visit the Sanctro sanctorum. He wants our Mr. Kumar to have an audience with the pontiff. He wants to meet you. He has sent two of his emissaries to escort you to the holy shrine. The sage had also informed me that you will also be escorted back by the evening. He was very particular that full honor should be accorded to you henceforth. That he will soon visit this office too to see all of us in person”.

“I am sure it must be a prank played by some one.  I do not know any sage. I do not want to go. You can check up if there is some other Kumar working in various branches.  It must be for him”.

The two emissaries from the shrine who were sitting in the adjoining room walked into the office on hearing the discussion between them.

“Please accept our Greetings Mr. Kumar. Our great Priest has sent for you only. He has requested that he will feel honored if you could give him an audience this afternoon. It is some thing very personal. He will like to discuss with you only. And we have double checked it sir he is referring to you and you only in particular.  So please do us the favor of accompanying us to the shrine. We will be back by the evening before your office gets over. We will make sure that you are not unnecessary put to inconvenience”.

Kumar looked askance at his boss.  He felt as if he was being kidnapped, “but me”.

The visitors did not let him complete his sentence, “you will have to believe us sir. There is nothing to fear about.  We shall get you back by the evening”.

Kumar who did not seem to have any other choice left shrugged his shoulders as if he resigning to his fate “it is all right. But you make sure we come back before my office closes for the day”, he told them.

Once at the shrine he was led to the public relation officer’s room which was just outside the main shrine. “The seer will shortly be seeing you sir” the emissaries told him. “In the mean while we will arrange some food for you”.  They left him alone in the office to wonder again as to why he has been called.

“How nice it is to see you here”. Mr. Kumar looked back towards the direction of the voice.  This was a stranger’s face. He was certainly not the great Priest. Kumar had often seen the sage on local television. “I am sorry! But have we met before?” he asked the new comer.

“How silly of me but of course I should have introduced myself. You can just call me General”.  General Durjan extended his hand towards Kumar which was accepted hesitatingly. “The great priest Rajamantran is ready to see you now.  You will come with me to this side please. We are sorry to have put you through this inconvenience. In fact you must be aware of the security hassles that can be created for the great Priest’s safety if he has to go outside this place. Hence he has asked us to fetch you here. Otherwise you must believe me we would have personally come to see you”.  Mr. Kumar felt as if the humility and the courtesy was the hall mark of people associated with the great Priest.

The great priest Rajamantran extended both the arms when he saw Kumar coming into his room. He was accompanied by General Durjan.  He had not seen Kumar any time earlier in his life.  He behaved as if he had known him all his life.

“How happy we are that you decided to come.  Brother Come you will sit near me.” The great priest Rajamantran was squatting on the floor with both of his feet spread out in front of him. He picked up a round cushion and set it on the floor next to him. He beckoned Kumar to come and sit into the cushion on the floor.

“Can we have something to eat and drink for Kumar”, the great priest Rajamantran clapped with both his hands summoning some one from the wings.

While Kumar was being served his food and the soft drinks, the great priest Rajamantran started his address to him in direct tone,  “Mr. Kumar I understand that you are fortunate enough to have a daughter and a son.  I know it is very difficult to rear up children in the hard times today. The society of our times has been losing its grip on the moral and ethical system of living. We should all be held responsible for the moral degradation.  The weak character of the modern youth has been eating into the very social and righteous   thread of this generation. The youngsters want to be left alone. They want to become the arbiters of their own decisions in their life. Come you must start eating”, the great priest Rajamantran pointed towards the food tray placed in front of Kumar.

“While we are talking you can continue eating simultaneously”, he told him.

“Thank you sir”, Kumar took a bite. “Why is he discussing this with me? Has he called me here to give me a sermon on the morality of the society”, Kumar thought aloud.

The great priest Rajamantran continued “it is still acceptable if the child happens to be a boy. The society is little more tolerant towards the waywardness of the male of the progeny. But heavens forbid. Ones existence in social circles becomes all the more difficult if a daughter has to be brought up in the modern scenario. Our society expects the girls and the female of the species to be nice and good all the while. It wants the parents to act as a watch dog for whatever their kids do in their free times”.

Kumar who was listening to great Priest in rapt attention interrupted, “yes sir but my kids are quite well behaved”.

“I know. I know Mr. Kumar that is the reason we have summoned for you here. We appreciate the fact that you and your wife have brought the children as they ought to be. I understand your daughter is very intelligent. She is very well behaved. She is quite civilized and is a simpleton”.

The great priest Rajamantran was praising his daughter which made Kumar feel proud and at the same time he was feeling little ill at ease too while listening to all the praise of his children from a man he had never met in his life before .

“I think it is your daughter’s decency that has besotted our young man. He has fallen head over heals in love with your daughter”.

“I beg your pardon sir”, the glass of cold drink slipped out of his hands, the liquid spilled over Kumar’s clothes.  The great priest Rajamantran handed over his scarf to him.

“Never mind Mr. Kumar we will get you another drink.  I was referring to one of my nephews who have been smitten by the charms of your beautiful daughter. He obviously has been bitten by the cupid and seeks your permission to marry your daughter. I am sure you will also like the young lady to settle down well in life and the sooner it is done better it will be”.

“My daughter is yet to complete her education.  Besides we are not prepared for such a decision. It is little too early to decide. She is quite young yet”. Kumar got up from the cushion he was sitting on. He was apparently quite agitated with the ridiculous demand made by the great Priest, “If that is what you had fetched me here for, please excuse me. The proposal is absolutely untimed besides its being totally absurd. I will like to go back at once”, Kumar retorted as he was walking out of the room.

General Durjan, who has never interfered while the great priest Rajamantran spoke, physically forced Kumar back on the cushion, “please do sit down. Do not get worked up.  You must listen to the great priest Rajamantran. Do not interrupt till he has finished speaking. Your insolence towards him is uncalled for”.

The great priest Rajamantran lifted his right hand to hold back General Durjan.

“Easy, please do not be harsh on our dear brother Mr. Kumar. His reaction is reasonable. It is expected. It is not uncalled for. Any of the parents will react in the similar fashion.  But Mr. Kumar you have not listened to our proposal completely. Once I finish explaining the entire situation to you, this matter will become logical to you. Can we get another drink for him?” he looked up towards the passage where his body guards were waiting upon him. “Mr. Kumar, the young man I am discussing about, is a college mate of your daughter. It is a plain truth. They are well known to each other. We are sure their love for each other could be mutual and this attraction exists both ways”.

Kumar wanted to speak.

“Do not be in haste my dear brother.  Such matters need to be handled tactfully. You might tell me that your daughter is unlike this.  I agree with you we are not casting any aspersions on the moral character of the young lady. All we are suggesting is the arrangement of marriage between the couple with your blessings. If you agree to this proposal it is very magnanimous of you. Well otherwise we are afraid their marriage ceremony will be arranged without your blessings too. This young man happens to be my nephew. You would have heard of the kidnap marriages in certain parts of this country”. The menace and the threat in the voice of the great priest Rajamantran were quite apparent. “I do understand you will like your young son to grow up and give you a helping hand in your old age”.

Kumar shuddered at such a naked warning, being given to him “Munna his son was too young to be referred to in a discussion of this kind. He has hardly seen any of the life so far”.

Kumar covered his face with both his hands. He  started crying and with tears in his eyes he looked up at the priest  , “ your lordship I do not know what kind of crime me or my family have committed that you are subjecting all of us to this punishment. Please forgive us if you are annoyed at some of our mistakes. But we are wiling to atone for the sins. I will request you to spare me and my family from the pains we are being subjected to”, he fell on the feet of the great Priest.

General Durjan told him, “Will you stop this melodrama at once. Pay heed to what we tell you. First of all the marriage proposal will be taken by you personally to the boy at this address. He should be waiting for your visit. You will take care of any objection raised by your spouse or any other family member. Your daughter as we said earlier is not to be blamed for this. In fact you must encourage her to take decision for an early marriage, which in any case will be held under the aegis of this shrine. We have a few community marriages scheduled for next week.  This couple will also be blessed on the same day. Your daughter is very fortunate to have found a young man who is completely committed to the religion. You must trust me. One day this boy will become an icon and a celebrity of our great nation. I can assure you, we have your welfare at our heart. We will not force you to do any such act that is not in favor of the young lady”.  The great priest Rajamantran helped him get up.

He handed over a small book bound in red cardboard. “Here you can take this book full of verses eulogizing the goddess. This will keep your mind in peace”. He clapped his hands loudly, “will some one take our brother Mr. Kumar back to his abode”.

The young men who had fetched Mr. Kumar in the morning from his office appeared from the wings in the corridor adjoining the room the sage was occupying.

“Go Mr. Kumar go with them. They will reach you home safely. You must keep in mind that we have a date next week. You must attend the wedding of the young couple, along with your family”.

Mr. Kumar wondered how he will break the news to his wife, and Koena. “The sinless angel that his daughter was has never ever kept a secret from them”. He in his heart of hearts refused to believe that she could have fallen in love. “She had not told her mother about this. It will be absolutely derogatory to confront her and find out the truth, but it has to be done”. The threat made out to him by the great priest Rajamantran and his henchman hanged. His mind was filled with hatred and loathe for the great priest Rajamantran.  But he fully well knew his helplessness to escape the situation. It would be easy for them to pick up the small boy any time. Then they can and hold the entire family to ransom.

“Do not overburden your mind with unnecessary fear old man. The great sage Rajamantran will not suggest any suitor unworthy of your daughter. You have to have a look at the hero of the story.   Only Then it will be appropriate for you to form an opinion about him. Everyone says he is the right hand man of the pontiff. He is loaded with money. He keeps his dollars and pounds stashed abroad.  The young lady will lead a blessed marital life. I wish I could be like him.  It is a very rare fortune to get a son in law of the kind that this young boy is. In any case, this marriage is bound to take place, whether you agree or not. Now that it has been ordained by the shrine, it will have to be done accordingly. It is better you also accept this as your fait accompli” the boy who had been driving the car spoke to him.

They dropped Mr. Kumar outside his office as they had promised him safe and sound. But his visit to shrine had created a turmoil boiling and seething within him. He did not acknowledge the greetings extended to him by one of his colleagues on the staircases of his office. He continued sitting on his office chair long after every one had left.

“If you want to sit any further you can take this bunch of keys to lock the main door later when you are ready to leave”, it was the office peon. He wanted to finally lock the office. He brought him back to his senses. “In case you have some of the office work left over I can help you carry the files to your home”. He had many a times earlier too carried office home hence the suggestion.

Mr. Kumar, “no thank you Dhani Ram one must be capable of carrying his own burden on his shoulders”. He hurriedly collected his Tiffin box and walked out of the office. But he made a decision on the way.

“I must confront the girl and if it is her choice so be it. Each one of us has to live the life earned by us. If she is destined to, so be it. I must give her a fair chance to explain”.

The road to his house appeared to be much crowded today. It took him long to cover the distance between his office and his home.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 31

Ranjit did not expect the kind of reception being accorded to him on his return from Mirpur. He was staring at the bunch of garlands covering his neck and face up to the nose. The flower petals were still strewn around the dais, which were showered upon him by the delegates to the conference called by the sage in his honor. The unit heads of the movement of freedom had been invited to the sanctum sanctorum to introduce him to all of them. Hassan the man in charge of training of the new recruits in the camps across the frontiers of the country was speaking on the mike “our great seer Rajamantran the savior of the nation has found a gem and a diamond in you. The sharp mind exhibited by you in getting the big consignments of arms and ammunition through the air route while the security agencies looked for them elsewhere is a master stroke. No amount of praise can be sufficient to pay for the services rendered”.

The speaker kept eulogizing Ranjit’s feat, “The manner you have solved our problem is unprecedented.  I am sure you will be able to find a way to take our young recruits out of the country for training across the borders and bring them in. Now that fake chief minister Pratap, the stooge of the nonbelievers will find his way out soon. Our boys will use the arms to kill the ones who voted for that goon. We will take the flight out of the reach of the security forces. His own people will force Pratap to step down; when the violence escalates”.

“That will not be possible” General Durjan spoke up, “ The air route one day will definitely become known to the forces and we do not want to risk the life of our boys by making them sitting ducks at the mercy of the security forces. Just remember the land provides enough coverage to escape. The aircraft this time has been able to hoodwink. Who knows the next time it may not be possible to”; General Durjan had come to his rescue.

Ranjit sat amused listening to the views expressed by different speakers on the stage. Each of them made Ranjit a hero against the incumbent Chief Minister. None of them ever touched the thoughts of gaining freedom from this country. To them the word freedom was restricted to only bringing in their own man as the next chief minister. They wanted to exploit the fruits of the power to their benefit and advantage. He looked towards the sage to see his reaction to the statements issued by different speakers.  Ranjit was expecting him to clarify his stand on the kind of freedom the great sage had ever wanted his people to attain. And none came forward.

General Durjan was addressing the members who had been highly elated on the feat achieved by Ranjit. “First of all I do not want the fact to be publicized like the way it is being done by most of us now. The secrecy of operations is always the major factor behind its success or failure. I am overwhelmed by the praises thrown by all of you on this young boy. However I do believe he has done some thing special. The blessings of our great seer Rajamantran are always with all of us and with the pious well wishes of the god in persona that nothing seems to be impossible to our people”. The small hall resounded with clapping from the gathering of people.

He continued, “Our great mission of freedom is known well to our neighbors across the frontier too. They are all willing to extend their help and cooperation for the attainment of liberty of our greater nation. We all should know that it is a dream of our great sage are to attain complete freedom for us. We are not merely fighting a man who just happened to win an election. The great sage wants all of you to challenge the very system of being ruled by the constitution of an alien community.  Hence I do not think our fight is against one politician.  It is against the bunch of them who have exploited the election system to their advantage since they controlled the majority sentiments.  They have devised the voting system to suit their needs. He wants all of you to come out of the clutches of these manouverists.  I really think that the time has now come for taking up the struggle to the international level. Our war is similar to the wars of the Palestinians and the Irish, the Afghans and the Afrikaans. So far we have been fighting the battle with a mere politician of the local standing. We have been asking for the emancipation from the misrule of the local government. But if the dreams of the great sage Rajamantran are to be realized then we need to wage a full scale war against our enemies for which our friend Ranjit has just brought in the first lot of arsenal.  It is possible he will have to bring in many more of such consignments. May we all seek the way to our destination through the good advice of our great pontiff who shall lead us to the victory”? They all loved his speech.

Some one shouted from the rear portion of the hall from amongst the audience, “Make Ranjit the in charge of the international wing”. The voices of “yes, yes, you must do it” welcomed it back.

The pontiff Rajamantran raised his hands to let people know he wanted to speak. A pin drop silence had fallen into the room.

“There is no iota of doubt the young man here has done a good job.  But we should not get carried away by small little successes. There is need to concentrate on the bigger job ahead of us. We have woken up the conscience of our nation for dreaming bigger things. Like my young brother has said we need to ask for freedom from the very constitution. We must devise our own systems. We musty have our own laws and the constitution for the nation that we are dreaming of. We shall not only fight the battle at the doorsteps of the local government but the arms will also be drawn at the world forums to get the international attention and sympathy. I welcome the sentiments expressed by all present here. We propose to make Ranjit the in charge of the international wing. He will be representing your sentiments through lawful and if need be through unlawful activities to gain the attention of the world freedom fighters to our cause”.

Ranjit felt as if a brick had hit him on his head.  He had not wanted to hold the reigns of the horse of terrorism he has been riding directly like this.  It was a different thing to act as a hit man, a courier, a go between amongst the parties wanting to bring in the contrabands, but to lead a movement at the forum suggested by the sage, belied his faith in his capabilities. He looked protesting towards General Durjan and then at the sage. They just ignored his eyes contact.  The sage continued with his speech. Ranjit could not pay attention to what was being said further until every one got up to honor him with garlands and flower petals for the second time that evening again. He felt as if he was being worshipped before being led to alter of the sacrifice … soon some one will come to chop his neck off.

The opportunity to lodge his disagreement to the proposal appeared in the next day when he was meeting General Durjan alone in the evening.  “I do not think I am fully prepared to shoulder the responsibility you all want me to. I have not ever been a part of any kind of political activity in all my life, nor do I intend to get me burdened by any such task in the near future. I have always led a life away from the public eye. That has always helped me in achieving whatever I wanted to, be it handling the drugs deliveries or the procurement of arms for your movement. Once I come into the limelight, the incognito role that I have played in these tasks will lose its advantage. I will be no longer useful to your movement nor will I be able to earn my bread the way I have always been doing. I will pray to sage to let me live the life in the free way that I am used to”, he told General Durjan.

“On the contrary I think we are giving you an opportunity to expand your portfolio from that of a mere courier of arms to that of an international negotiator of armaments.  You will be representing our movement to the entire world. Imagine when the world over the strugglers for freedom will look upon you as their icon. Your foresightedness has impressed the sage tremendously. He is fully convinced that you and only you can make the world see our point of view. Our nation is spread in almost all countries of the globe but it lacks cohesion and direction.  Because there has not been any concerted effort to let the universes feel our presence. We want you to carry out some specific tasks abroad to awaken the world to the birth of the new nation. Let the world know that though our nation had lost its glory it has not died and merged itself with others in the volatile times. We have to tell the current generation that we are still a force to reckon with”.

General Durjan’s sermon would have gone on and on, had the sage not personally walked into the room. They both got up from their seats and bent down to touch his feet. The pontiff was followed by a group of boys carrying a wooden chest. The sage Rajamantran ordered them to put the wooden chest down on the floor.  He bade them to leave the room. He opened the chest and took out a musket. The handle of the firearm was ornate with gold and precious diamonds.  The valuable stones studded on the top of the muzzle were shining like the stars. It created an aura of lights around the hand of the sage holding the gun.

“This treasure here belongs to one of our forefathers who had waged great battles against the foreign invaders. History has been witness to his soldier like loyalties to the then Indian rulers. He had never ever lost a battle. He had helped the kingdom of his times expand in all four corners of the universe. This musket has ever been his most favored arm. He carried it with him in all his conquests. We want to present this to you as a token of lucky mascot.  That will inspire you to serve and expand our small shrine into all four corners of the world. We have no intentions to spill any bad blood any where. But the times have ordained that we create a dread of our might amongst the developed nations too. That will make them force the rulers of our country to grant us the freedom that we are seeking. You will have to organize such assault as can draw the international media attention to write about our existence. Such acts of international destabilization will convey the representatives of the world forums to talk to us. We have devised a strategy, which will be explained to you by General Durjan later. I had seen a doubt lurking somewhere within you at the function organized yesterday hence I thought it prudent to talk to you in person. This musket is being presented to you as a token of the high honor we accord to your dedication to our mission.  We expect you will still be stirred to lead us to the future victories like our forefather had done”.

Ranjit overwhelmed by the love and affection showered upon him by the sage accepted the gun by both of his hands.  He raised the musket to his forehead as if acknowledging the piece of firearm to be a gift from lord the almighty. He had tears in his eyes and fell on the feet of the great sage.

The hypnotist was smiling at General Durjan. They had been sharing the joke he played on the vulnerable boy. They knew this   young man will henceforth never ever think of going against their cause.  They knew they have won over this boy’s unquestionable loyalty and blind faith forever.

“And by the way it is time you settled down in your life too. We believe the family life is as important for the individual as it is the spiritual life he leads. Mr. Kumar has agreed to our request to marry off his daughter to one of our brave soldier. He shall be calling on you. He wants to seek your nod for his daughter’s hand in matrimony. We will organize your wedding in our own special way”.

The sage had left the room a long time ago. Ranjit still sat there looking admiringly at the musket. He was completely in a trance. He had never been blessed so much in his life.  He did not want to get up from the chair he was sitting into lest the dream was snatched by any movement of his body.

General Durjan nudged him awake, “Will you not like to call on your lady love after a gap of so many days? She must be waiting for you”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 30

The two boys police had picked up were much younger in age than they had appeared. The growth of hair on their faces had hidden their actual age. Besides the long gowns they were wearing further added to their facial look more number of years. It was not so easy to identify the killers of the bus passengers, but the analysis of the film at last provided some clue to begin with.  DIG Meena’s tenacity to solve the case at any cost had paid dividends. It was on his instructions that sleuths from the special investigation squad had parked themselves in the village where the old shrine was situated, “the co- incidents are just too many to be digested easily. The seer’s call for independence, his warning to the other community, and the blind devotion of the young blood towards the sage can exhort the young people to indulge into any kind of criminal and nefarious activities. Besides the massacre of the unknown bus passengers could serve only one purpose i.e. isolate one community from the other, widen the gap to create the wedge in relationship built over many a centuries. Once the differences are created amongst the communities; the government will have no moral right to continue and thus anarchy will cause the kind of confusion that prevailed when the Britishers were handing over the powers to Indian leaders on this side of the borders”, said Meena to the group of officers from the special investigation cell who were being detailed to keep an eye on the village shrine, where young boys of the cadres run by the sage were still living.

The shoemaker in the main crossing of the village had brought one of his relations from the native place as an apprentice. The shoe mender’s kiosk was situated on the street leading to the shrine.  He could overlook the main door leading into the God’s house. The new boy who was related to the shoe mender would go to the shoes stand where people took off their slippers before going inside. He rendered free service for shoe shining to the devotees. The pilgrims and the daily devotees were too pleased to see this young man cleaning and dusting off their slip-ons before handing it over to them.

Such devotion did not go unnoticed by the inhabitants of the sacred house. The contact from inside, with the shoe shiner was made after he had undergone the ordeal of shoe shining continuously for two weeks. “What kind of sins are you atoning for by rolling yourself in dust like this? This is not the age to waste time, at your age you should be serving the nation and society by more active role”.

“And pray how do I do it “, he had asked the visitor who took him inside to meet their leader. “You are not from this part of the country nor you belong to our religion, why do you then undertake the shoe shine service? Mind you if you have been planted by the local police amongst us then you will have to pay it by your life “.

“No sir! I am not from any kind of police. I am a poor boy from shoe mender’s native village. My folks are hardly able to make ends meet hence they have sent me to this village to earn my livelihood.  I shall thank you if you could give me some small employment so that I could feed myself and may be save a penny or two to send back home for my younger siblings also”.

“Have you ever held this before?’ the leader threw the gun towards him but did not let it go from his hands. The shoe shine boy caught both of his own ears “please forgive me sir! But only the rich landlords of our village owned guns. But those guns were big and crude looking, unlike the one you have in your hands. This is very small and sophisticated. It must be automatic”, the shoeshine boy asked him. “Will you like to fire one? We will teach you?’

“But sir what will a poor boy like me do with a gun. I do not have any enemies in this world. I pray, you will permit me to stay here and serve all of you “.

The leader who was taken aback by his simplicity thought “such boys can be initiated into the movement and their naivety will come handy to use them in furthering the cause of the great Priest. “You see we are all employed by the shrine to protect the pontiff. You know like the big landlords of your village the owner of this shrine too has many enemies who are always on the look out to take a pot shot at the seer. You too will be engaged as a bodyguard like all of us. You will have to teach a lesson or two to the enemies of the great sage. Will you do it”?

“Of course my dears’ sir I am prepared to lay down my life for the service of the god”. One of the boys laughed aloud “and take a few lives if need be “.

The sugarcane juice seller outside the shrine had seen the shoe shine boy being escorted into the holy fort. He anxiously waited for the outcome; in case he has been found out to be a police officer the gun shot will be heard any time. But his colleague and friend have been through many such masquerades earlier; and he should be able to carry this out successfully.  He was quite confident of the acting capabilities of the gentleman. Two boys came out of the main gate, and went to the old shoe mender’s kiosk. They spoke to him for a while. The shoe mender took out an old dusty album. He was showing them the photographs of a small child .The shoe mender raised both hands to point out to the investigators that the same boy who happens to be his nephew has grown up. The boys appeared quite satisfied with their queries and returned to the main door again.

The juice seller too heaved a sigh of relief. He eased his fingers on the trigger of the rifle; he was clutching in the lower portion of the push cart. He must speak to the control room immediately and confirm the successful transplantation of “stem I “the grafting has been completed successfully”, he whispered through the cash chest which was fitted with a sensitive mike.

The herd of cows returning from the grazing fields made too much noise; some of them were announcing their arrival to their owners by braying loudly. He pushed his cart to the other street and moved out of the village. He found the transport waiting for him on the road leading to the trunk road. The” stem I” should be able to get the head of Tanwar’s murderer soon, he hoped and hopped on to the transport.

The message from the” stem I “was delivered ten days after he had gone inside the shrine, through the old shoe mender. Though he had been forewarned by the leader against making any contact with his so called uncle, he took a chance after the morning prayers one day. The crowd at the shoe stand had thinned out and the boys too were busy preparing for a mission given to them by the leader. He had been privy to the discussions when the leader had called him,” it is a big day for all of us. We have information that some of the enemies of our great sage are planning to eliminate him within next few days but before they do so we will strike at their roots and finish them without giving them any chance to react and retaliate. Today is also the day when your training with the gun will be put to test.  You shall be accompanying one of the teams assigned to track down the enemies at the railway station”. The leader had not divulged any details further but the persistent questioning to the young team members he had to go with gave him enough details.  The youngster in his excitement had told him, “It is a biggest strike plan. We shall be hitting simultaneously at many places. The teams to cover the bus stand and the one to strike at the city school have already left. We shall leave immediately after they have carried out their strikes. The cops will deploy their full energy at the school and the bus stand and we will have a field’s day at the railway station, imagine getting them like sitting ducks.  They will hardly have a chance to get away. We should have done the same to bus commuters too.  I do not know why Parma took the trouble of taking them to the forest”. Parma was the leader of the gang that struck the bus that day became clear to him but who was this Parma , how to reach him and most of all how to prevent further massacre of the innocents hung heavy on his mind; when he decided to take a risk of his life and took quick strides towards the kiosk. If someone had seen him; the end could come even now but he was not afraid of that; at least he will be able to save a few hundred innocent lives. These murderers were merciless and ruthless in their act of spreading terror. They are not even sparing the schoolchildren. He jotted down the few lines on a piece of paper with the black shoe shine cream, provided by the shoe maker. “A police man is posted at the main road controlling the traffic. Please ensure the paper reaches him without any further loss of time otherwise many of the unknown will be laying their lives at  alter of communal hatred”, he had told the old man repairing shoes.

Meena looked aghast at the paper, “the pigeons will be flying in three pairs.  Two of the pairs have already left their nest. They will be hovering over the bus stand and the school. Ensure they do not spread their shits around.  The group of two for the railway station flies in the evening along with the maiden dove”.  These pigeons that had already left their nest were difficult to be halted by now.  Still he tried sending the alarm signals to the security staff posted at the local bus stand. He asked for the additional security to be sent to the railway station. The name of the school had not been mentioned in the slip of paper.  That created a real panic when he informed the chief of the state   police on the wireless net, “How do we know which school. What locality and what time they are planning to strike.  We have although taken adequate security measure at the other two places”.

“There are more than forty big or small schools operating in this town. With killers lurking free, they can strike at will any where they want. Should we want to inform all schools on telephone it will create a big terror all over the town. You will have to then face the traffic chaos at all intersections with harried and worried parents trying to reach their children and fetch them home”, Meena was aware of the impossibilities they were faced with to control an unknown missile that could have hit the youth in their schools any where in town.

“You should immediately get in touch with the inspector of schools. It must still be the morning assembly time in all the schools, tell him it is an emergency. No student will be allowed to remain in the assembly grounds and that we are sending police force to man the main entrance to all the schools. Flash the executive order to dispatch the group of four guards each in schools situated in the localities closer to the police stations, to guard their entrances. Any suspicious looking intruder has  to be shot in the legs as we would like to hold them for questioning into the bus case and also may be find a lead to the killers of Tanwar” the chief of the state   police was issuing instructions to Meena, when he heard the other telephone line ringing persistently. The chief of the state   police barked instructions to his personal staff that seemed to have been paralyzed by the emergency, “Pick up the phone dammit!” Thakur his personal assistant listened to the incoming call and his face went pale with the news.  He extended the receiver towards the chief of the state   police who could understand that the worst has already happened.

“Sir there has been shooting out at the morning assembly in two government schools. We have received the information on phone and I am leaving for there at once”, it was the city superintendent of police on line.  He mentioned the names of the locality and cut off the line. The chief shouted back the locality names to Meena on the other line and asked him to rush there. In the meanwhile he decided to handle the bus stand threat himself and dialed the walky talky number of the station officer under whose jurisdiction the area had been assigned.

The officer in charge came on line “hello” and then he heard the big bang that had torn a bus apart.  The fire ball reached out to the other buses parked nearby and set them aflame too. There were people running out of the burning hells. “They have struck here”, he spoke through the walky set and rushed towards the burning buses. The chief of the state   police who had heard the bang on the other side rushed out of his office, the set of four commando guards were already in the jeep.  He jumped into the front seat next to the driver and said, “The local bus stand on the double”. He came across the fire brigade vehicles moving towards the same direction, some one did have the presence of mind to call up the fire brigade. The flames were   still leaping in the smoldering buses when he reached there. The stink of burning flesh was too much to bear.  The human body parts were slashed into small pieces and were strewn all over the bus stand. There was no semblance of the cheerful yet hurried atmosphere that normally surrounded this bus terminal, instead he witnessed hue and cry all around. The social activists have brought ambulances and other small vehicles to carry those injured to the hospitals nearby.  The dead were being lifted and put on the side for identification. He wondered how the naked burnt out cadavers will be recognized and identified by their kith and kin. He found out from the station officer if his men will take care of the dead and injured; the forensic experts will soon be here for investigation. There was nothing he could however do at this stage.   He rushed to the schools where the shoot out had taken place.

The terrorists had sprayed bullets from Kalashnikovs at the outer boundary of the school ground, where a few young children were busy playing football. There has not been any casualty so far but the injured have been immediately rushed to the hospitals in the near by locality. The stray bullet had hit a Gardner who  died on the spot .The young children were too petrified to come out of the school building in spite of the fact that principal had declared immediate closure of the classes   and arranged for the buses to carry the students  home . The chief of the state   police thought of addressing the young students. He assured them “whatever had to happen has already taken place and nothing untoward will be allowed to occur now”. “The young students will be escorted back by the police squad under protection”, he had told the principal. However the students replied in one voice “we do not need this but please take care of our friends who have been injured and if it is required we can stay back for giving them our blood”. He felt overwhelmed by this gesture of the future of the nation, “the humanity survives in spite of the demons “, and the chief of the state   police told the principal, “ We have enough police force to donate blood for the hopes of our country and I salute all of you for showing exemplary courage during this hour of crisis. No my children! I rather assure you the innocent blood spilt will be avenged soon and the murderers will not be spared” he raised his hand in salute to the children, who replied in unanimous voice “Bharat maata ki jai” .He held back his tears from swelling up his eyes and asked the principal of the school to accompany him to the hospital where Meena had already taken the injured students.

However Meena’s mind was at present too obsessed with the letter that he had read. The “stem I” had said “three pair of pigeons will take off on flight “that meant the third pair of pigeons should be on its way to cause another havoc, “oh my GOD! The railway station! Express to national capital leaves in the evening”, he issued frantic instruction to the bomb disposal squad to reach the rail terminal, and he himself rushed there instantly. He found the platform fully crowded.  It was difficult to walk through the evening swarm of daily commuters and locate the pigeons. He spoke to the station master, “The train must be vacated immediately without causing any kind of panic. We are afraid there could be a bomb on the train, or there could be firing of bullets by the terrorists on this train on the way. It shall be our task to prevent either of this at any cost.  We do not know if it is a timer device or a remote controlled that would trigger the explosion”.

The station master understood the emergency, and agreed to help them on the condition that, “we can not create bomb scare amongst the common public.  It can cause a stampede which will then be difficult to control”.  “Let me handle it my way. I will announce the cancellation of the train on the condition that another rake will have to be arranged due to mechanical fault in this set of coaches. The entire process will take two hours and hence passengers will be requested to come out of their compartments. But I cannot ask them to vacate the platform”.

The announcement took everyone by surprise.  People had crowded the information booth wanting to know the reason for the delay and why the change of rake at this stage?  “Where will the new rake come from? How long will it take for the new rake to arrive?” they all were eager to know. The announcer declared “due to malfunctioning in the air conditioning duct of the train compartments it will have to be attended to immediately at the station workshop. Please vacate the same so that the train can move”. Some of the passengers were getting agitated. They were abusing the railway authorities. Then some one from the crowd pointed towards the police dog squad and the sniffers moving towards the train, and he said, “Why do you not tell the truth? It seems like there has been a bomb threat “. The statement had its immediate impact. The passengers rushed back to their compartments.  Some of them lifted their baggage and hurried out of the platform, running towards the gate leading to the parking lot.

Plainclothes policemen were keeping watch on any suspicious move in the crowd, “you should look for the youngsters. They could be three of them together or may be they have split up and spread out. Overpower any one making a suspicious move. Watch out for signs if someone is hiding a gun under his clothes or may be even in a hand bag”, the instructions were issued to every one of the team member. DIG Meena accompanied by the special squad man (who could identify the “stem I”) parked himself at the strategic location from where he could look at the entire stretch of the railway station. He was looking at particularly the ticket windows, the eating stalls and the doors leading in and out of the terminal. He was losing his patience thinking it must be a hoax played to divert attention from other vulnerable points in the main town. After all it is such a big city. It is well neigh impossible to provide protection to each nook and corner of the growing populace. The terrorists can strike any where at will.

He saw a greater number of policemen on the platform than the passengers.  He could identify his own men by their body language and the hawk like eyes looking for the criminals. It was likely they may not strike at the railway station when they see so many policemen at the terminal. The crowd had thinned out to the open grounds out side the parking lots. The weather in the lawns was too cold with the chilled breeze blowing in from the snow capped hills nearby. Some of the passengers had cancelled their journey plans when they saw the canine squad. They were conjecturing what might happen and no one wanted to risk his or her life.  Only a few brave ones were waiting for their rescheduled train journey. “ we wait here for  twenty minutes more  and we call off the exercise” he spoke through the walky talky set for the benefit of the plainclothes cops engaged in keeping vigil and also to preempt the terror strike. The radio came alive again. One of the officers whispered into the system “look at the parking lot for two wheelers. The black and red motorcycles; they must be armed. They are two on the red bike and one on black”.

DIG Meena came in again “No one fires till we move close to the targets, four of you   move in towards the parking lot with adequate cover. Duck immediately if they start firing. I want them alive”. The plainclothes detectives near the railway enquiry window moved to the entrance to the railway station. One of them had, picked up the hold all baggage already placed on the road side there and hung it on his shoulders.  They pretended to be passengers coming out of the station to go to the town.

The three boys from the shrine were in their mid twenties attired in fashion leather jackets generally worn by the college students to protect themselves from the chilled weather and also to make a fashion statement. They started moving like eagles on the prowl towards the railway station, looking in all directions through the corner of their eyes. The one of the boys who had alighted from the red motorcycle cracked a joke. He patted the other one on the back and they all started laughing loudly. “Stem I” was walking in the middle of both of the attackers. He carried a small hand bag into his left hand. The bag had been handed to him by one of the boys while alighting from the motorcycle. He told him “the apples can be used by you to give a better health check to passengers. Only make sure you pull out their pins before throwing them” they had laughed then too. Any one who did not know why and what they were there for would by mistake take them to be college boys out on a loitering trip.

The security men kick started their own motorcycle. The pillion rider was carrying a hold all hung on to his shoulder. As soon as the first rider came near the boys, the pillion rider let go his hold all letting it fall on the ground below. The driver stopped the vehicle for a minute to let the pillion rider pick up the fallen piece of luggage. The boys from the shrine hearing the noise at their back got alerted and put their hands inside their jackets. “I am sorry, my baggage has fallen. Could you please help me pick it up”, the pillion rider put the boys at ease. As soon as one of the boys bent down to lift the baggage, the pillion rider hit him hard on his neck with the iron trunk he was carrying in his other hand. The boy fell on his knees, the detective jumped from his seat and hit him once again on the head, and the boy fell down limply losing consciousness.

His companion drew a Kalashnikov and pointed it towards assailant.  He had not anticipated the bullet that came from behind and hit him on the lower leg. The boy let go off his gun and he ran towards the red motorcycle. He wanted to get away. DIG Meena shot him again on the other leg, below his knee. He fell with the machine falling on top of him. The security men threw themselves on top of him, lest he reached for his gun again. The entire drama took less than three minutes. A third pair of cops drew their guns and pointed towards “stem I” DIG Meena stopped them from firing with a big shout “not at him you fool, he is one of us”. “Stem 1” had raised his both the hands and stood still. They threw the boys in a police van and took off at break neck speed towards police headquarters.

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 29

“Mirpur is a small hamlet situated across the banks of the river dividing the line of control on frontiers of both the countries. It is situated almost equal-distant from the main border towns of the two countries that form as the life line to the supply of daily needs to the poor villagers. The road to the village is fraught with many dangerous situations.  It is hazardous to travel on this road during day time as skirmishes between the border security forces of your country and the Pakistan rangers keep taking place almost every second day on this road.  We will have to travel overnight through another torturous route that  crosses through the long mountainous range on one side and a steep downward  alight into the valley down to make it to the village”, his guide who had introduced himself as Pathan was a tall, lean man in early thirties .  He had the glow of a fresh red apple on his face. He looked almost eager to pounce upon any one who would try to fiddle with him. The no nonsense attitude adopted by him gave a serious look to his otherwise fine chiseled features. Any one meeting him for the first time will mistake him to be a film star. He had re-joined them at the birth place of the social preacher where their accommodation had been arranged by the host government in the temple itself. The government of the neighboring country wanted to make sure they stay in the group together. The government agencies did not want them to unnecessary wander around like aliens in a foreign country it was apprehensive of their picking up contacts with locals.  Pathan came over to them at the airport. He was dressed in a porters uniform, “may I take your luggage sir!” he had asked him at the transit lounge at the airport.  Ranjit resisted initially.  But he eventually handed over the trolley when the porter uttered the code given by General Durjan   “General Durjan will be too pleased to know you met your mother’s son in here”.

“I shall be too happy to hug my long lost brother” was the reply given by Ranjit.

“We will have to start immediately after you are through with your prayers. The others have been waiting for you since morning. Their flight from London had arrived early morning. They have already paid their respects at your temple”, Pathan had informed him as soon as they reached the destination.  Ranjit was not too keen to go to temple as he had never felt the need to except when he had to perforce accompany his grandmother for fear of incurring her wrath and losing his pocket money.

“None the less you must once pay your obeisance along with the group to establish your credentials” was the advice given by General Durjan. He took a quick bath and joined every one in the hall below where special thanks giving prayers were being held.

Ranjit finished his meals too very quickly at the common feast. He followed Pathan and two others gentle men to the jeep which was to take them to the small town of Mirpur. On the way Pathan was trying to give a familiarization note to Ranjit on   the major arms hot hub, from where the supplies were being managed to numerous rebel groups across the borders of different countries.

“It is an undeclared and unofficial international market for the most sophisticated arms from across all major suppliers of the arms producing nations. We will not call it a clandestine business because many a times the administrations of the legitimate governments too do their shopping from the markets of Mirpur. They may not be involved directly. They refer all their needs through the middlemen and agents. Yet in the world of dark deals nothing remains secret for too long. One fine day these toys resurface in some part of the globe. It is easier to make the connections and find out not only the source of purchase but also the source of supplies too. It is also the hub where the so called super powers of the western world unload their arsenals to be sold. In fact it is always in their interest that the unrests, revolutions, infightings, social upheavals, religious disparities amongst different dissatisfied fractions and the rebellions continue in almost all parts of the world.  Otherwise where will they find the takers for their firearms factories? They must keep not only different factions fighting, but also ensure they do not allow them to come to a compromise.  Because if it was permitted so; can you imagine the kind of unrest it will create back in their own regimes due to all the arms factories closing down”.

Ranjit was too tired to pay any attention to the sermon delivered by the Pathan. He wished this fellow would shut up for a while. He wished he could get a wink of sleep. The man sitting next to Pathan had been smoking one cigarette after the other. He seemed to be lost in his own thoughts. He suddenly came alive, “oh shut up Pathan, it is not necessary that every one who comes here has to listen to your theory of big nations and their strategy to provide employment to their burgeoning population. We need to know more about the kind of armaments that have arrived at the marketplace .we also want to know the cut you will be expecting from the deals”.

“You do not have to act as a first timer on each visit major Yusuf khan.  The ISI is well familiar about my little requirements of making both ends meet. Except this time the Israel’s demand have gone quite high as they would not like to sell any thing to your country.  Every time they have trusted you; the consignments have ended up in the Arabian world in spite of their embargo imposed on the use of such arms in the Arabian world. They are now extra cautious to deal with ISI due to the escalating enmity between the warring nations of the Arab world. Nor would they like to deal with you upfront as they are wary of annoying United States by supplying goodies to Pakistan which may find their way to the Al Qaida routes”.

“Rest assured Pathan the friend here represents neither.  In fact the agency will be too happy to know that you are helping us on a project against our permanent neighbors. Of late the big bosses of the CIA too have been worried about the growing clout between the Russians and Indians. If they can help it they are too willing to find a base some where close to the biggest democracy, to ensure they clip the growing wings of the anti US forces.  They have always supported our clandestine operations in different parts of their country because of their fear of the potential might of our neighbors. We have always been present there through the Nagas, the Ulfas and the nexalites by proxy. But the northern parts of India have always been a thorn in our plans.   We have any way found it difficult to raise a sufficient reason for dissatisfaction and distrust amongst the common people. They have always stood like a solid rock wall against all kind of aggressions and designs of foreign powers. It however appears the small unrest in the most developed state of that country may give us the required support to our designs of a break away splinters from their whole; like they had   broken our country into two parts”. Major Yusuf asked the vehicle to be stopped for a while. The gnawing cold was getting into his bones.  He felt pressure on his bladder becoming unbearable. His need was getting too urgent.

Ranjit who had dozed off for a while too came out of the jeep. He had not had a good look at the major; who had joined them on the way. He saw a man into early thirties, with beard neatly trimmed. He had a pee cap on his head to save himself from the biting cold. The smart crew cut was visible at the nape of his neck. He walked defiantly with head and shoulders held high. Each step he took convinced Ranjit that this man was still in services. He was representing ISI in official capacity. It was surprising that a government agency of foreign intelligence was officially extending all help to the sage and his men.

“It is certain that the roots of the organization headed by the seer ran too deep and wide and this was possible only if he had the sanctions and support of high and mighty powers in world politics”, thought Ranjit. He could hear Major Yusuf khan’s foot steps coming back towards them after he had relieved himself. Major Yusuf khan parked himself at the end of the ridge. He stared into the blank darkness below into the valley. He beckoned Ranjit to join him, “Do you see those lights in the distance?”  Ranjit had to strain his eyes to look at the small flecks of the lights at the distance.

“Yes there must be habitation of some villages down there”, he told the army officer then he saw the lights were moving “these are the vehicles moving. It is some kind of highway, and is that the convoy of your army”.

“No these are the military vehicles of your country in movement. If only this portion of land had been included in our territory by the British, we would have taken the entire Kashmir valley away from the Indians. And any how some day we will cut off the entire valley by destroying this highway. If your sage can succeed with his revolutionary mission and get the plains separated from the control of our enemies; we will make sure we cut off the hills too. Then only the incision of our country will be avenged. I still can not forget the humiliating surrender of thousands of our soldiers and the insults inflicted on our General Niazi, by your forces under the pretence of gaining freedom to the Mukti bahini. I wish I could rewrite the history of Muslim World to remove the blot of the defeat in eastern Pakistan. The Indian forces are too big and too mighty ferocious. We are aware that a direct fight can never be fought against the most disciplined army of the world. That is why We will do every thing to engineer a revolt in any part of our enemy country through direct or indirect support and for which reason I have been specially deputed by ISI to help you select the right kind of ammunition as can be easily used by your mercenaries to inflict the maximum damages”, Yusuf khan spat in the air below towards the caravan of the flickering lights. “We believe the jihad against the Kafirs will be a long drawn out battle. But we are prepared for many hundred years of war. I lost a grand uncle in 1965 war. Another cousin of my father had laid his life in the skirmishes that occur every day at the border on Kashmir. He was leading a band of freedom fighters detailed to cross over to occupied territory across the borders when they were way laid. But each one of them went down fighting. May be one day I will join you in your battle for freedom”.

Ranjit had been politely listening to him so far. He could take it no further and said, “I am a novice in world politics. I am also not very familiar with history. I am here like our friend Pathan had mentioned to make my both ends meet. Each one looks for his own fodder. If some of the warriors are fed on the thought of avenging a defeat, or generating a win in the war some others will surely be going with all intentions of returning rich with the exploits gathered from the vanquished territory.  Let us say I am looking for the riches”.

Pathan burst out laughing. “Very well said young man, many a times I have told Major Yusuf to look for the reasons to locate a smile in life. He is always finding the logic to shed animosity and scare.  I think you should take him with you to your country for a change in climate .that will do him good”. And then he focused on his driving again, “I suggest we move fast as we have still to cover a distance of over three hours before we hit our destination”.

Pathan told them “once our jeep arrives at Mirpur you may not be able to get any kind of rest as from there we will have to travel on the mules to get across the valley. The road to the armaments bazaar has not been allowed to be built.  The primitive conditions of the mountainous terrains are preferred to keep the civilization away from the dark valleys of insidious deals. I will suggest you take short naps while I drive the vehicle so that we can start immediately after reaching Mirpur”.

Yusuf was already snoring along with his companion.  Ranjit too closed his eyes to get a wink of sleep. The pushes and the pulls hitting the wheels of the vehicle from the unmetaled road below hardly let him snooze .They were stopped at the check post out side Mirpur. Ranjit looked at his watch. He was immediately reminded that he had not set his watch as per the local timings.  His rough estimate told him “it must be around five in the morning.  That normally used to be the time when his grand mother would wake  up and go for her morning prayers after her daily  ablutions and  bath,”  Ranjit had been conditioned all through the years to open his eyes once at least at the particular time and though he may fall asleep again after looking at his watch.

Pathan had alighted from the jeep to get the papers checked.  Ranjit too came down. He was not sure whether he should have. Two soldiers were sitting next to the small fire trying to keep the severe cold away. One of them called out to Ranjit “welcome brother you too can sit for a while close to the fire. The arduous journey of the long night must have paralyzed your body parts. The warmth of the stove will open up your hands and feet”. The soldier brought a stool for him to sit “you can rest for a while, till the paper is verified. It may take a little longer as you can see the waiting vehicles on both sides”. Ranjit extended both his numbed hands towards the flames leaping out of the bonfire. “You can order some tea from the shop”, one of the soldiers told him and before he could order one, the soldier himself called out to the small tea shop owner “Ahmad!  Sahib wants to have three cups of tea. You can bring some biscuits too”.

“You will have to pay ten rupees to the man”, the soldier told him.

“Yes I do need one right now”, Ranjit wanted to send some tea into the jeep for others too but they were fast asleep. Major Yusuf khan that is what the name he had told him had been snoring so loudly. His anger and the heap of insults on the Indian forces did disturb Ranjit for a while.  He knew he was there in a foreign country and that his job was to procure the arms for the fight the sage has started. He did not want to get into an argument with some one whom he had never met in his life before. He was reminded of Abdul who had mistreated the girl Ranjit had transported to Sharjah. It appears these tribal do not have a civilized way of expression in any thing in their life. They must be vocal, provocative and at times damn insulting in all their talks. May be they have their own reasons to, for the centuries of living in primitive conditions does leave its impact on the human behavior.

The soldiers had stood up to start another round of the barrier where the vehicles were stopped for checking of the documents.  “You can have the entire fire to yourself. Thanks for the hot tea. May be when you come back we can have one more cup together. And by the way, you must ask for Mark IV schindler guns. These are very accurate. A single gun can take care of more than one thousand kafirs in one shot. We are told the kafirs have been eliminating our brethren in Kashmir by the hundreds. They have now started the similar annihilation of your community too. This great Priest must be a reincarnation of some great god, to have taken on the mighty government of the heathens, may Allah be with you all “. The soldiers had moved away, leaving Ranjit stunned with remarks. “It seems there is nothing the secret in this country. How did these people know he was here to procure arms”? It completely baffled him. He saw Pathan coming towards the jeep, “you did not have to come out of the vehicle. It is too biting cold outside. The place is notorious for swindlers of all kinds. The soldiers themselves will rob you of whatever you have on your person. I hope you have not paid any money in the shape of bribe to them”.

“On the contrary they were extra nice to me. They had asked me to sit next to the burning fire to warm up for a while and keep the cold away. May be not all of them are the demanding type”, Ranjit had all praise for those soldiers. He found a human touch in their talks towards a stranger from the neighboring country.

“Do not be under any illusion dear friend. They will get their cut from the large booty that I had to pay at the check point. Every one here is aware that visitors come for heavy purchases of arsenal and armaments which will be transshipped to other countries illegally. The loads of arms are clandestinely traded out of this place to the burning holes of the common man’s world in various countries. Do you know the large part of the economy in this country is financed through the sale of such arms? Why would an ordinary soldier not look for his cut when the politicians and the leaders themselves are filling their coffers in banks abroad”? That answered the query going on in Ranjit’s mind about soldier’s remarks to him. “You see the moment you had got in touch with the ISI for your requirements; your profile is sent to all levels of authorities in the organization. It is expected officials at all levels will show their decency, be extra polite and helpful to you so that your business   becomes a permanent source of revenue for our country”.

Pathan stopped the vehicle outside a large building in the middle of the huge mountains. The building looked like a government guest house. He woke up the other passengers in the jeep traveling with him.  “We shall be stopping here for a while. After we have had a quick shower and an early break fast we will have to change our transport from here.  And in case any of you is not used to ride a mule or horse, I will suggest that in that case you will keep  your stomach as light as  possible .I have seen people throwing up on the tough ride of the horse back . We will have to trek eighteen kilometers on the hills before we reach the valley of the arms below “.

The sun was gradually rising from behind the hills, as Ranjit came out of the jeep to proceed to the guest house, which was situated on top of the cliff of a large mountain. He looked around and was very pleasantly surprised to see the scenic beauty surrounding him. The high rising mountains on all four sides were covered with a thick white and green pine forest. He could see the slopes of silver and blue snow shining under the golden hues of the sun rays, making him feel blind folded for a moment with the reflections of different shades. Down below at a distance he saw the river waters flowing speedily.  The sound of the running of the waters in the hilly river echoed musically and too melodiously into his ears. He had never been witness to such heavenly sight before. He saw a number of  small girls coming out of the hamlet close to the guest house, they were carrying pots and pans on their sides to fetch,  may be drinking waters from the river below. He wanted to join them to go down to the river to touch those lovely blue waters. He saw some houses on the other side of the river and wondered how far or close those people were to the cities and towns.

The inaccessible paths many a times were acting as a boon to the sublime beauty of the raw nature that benevolent had endowed this earth with. He remembered having been to the hills close to the capital town of Depalgarh once and was too disappointed and disgusted to see the filth of human excreta and disposals all over those hills. The greens were turning into grey due to lack of water in those hills. But this was a different scene.   He wanted to copy the imprint of this beautiful sight within his memory before getting back into the world of guns, maneuvers and the treacheries.

“The houses you see on the other side of the river fall into your part of the world. The river is the dividing line between two countries. If only we can have complete control over the other part you will not have to visit this beautiful place via such a longer route” Major Yusuf was at his games again.

“Yes you are right but in that case I need not come to this place at all.  You see we all are equal partners in the world of upheavals and terrors. Your need is as important as mine for I need guns to sustain the movement of freedom struggle in my part of the world as badly as you need such movements in any part of the planet to keep your rule running, so henceforth we will not refer to any thing as your or mine .  Every part of the earth is ours so long we can subject it to our evil designs,”Ranjit wanted to add laughter in his tone to convey the message that he was jokingly saying all this.  But the seriousness of the statement issued by him was not hidden from any one around.

“Very well said young man “, this was the armed expert who had joined them at the beginning of the journey and had uttered his first word after such a long time, “this business of ours make the entire world our kingdom, beginning from the Chechens of Russia, to the rebels of Spain, the Afghans in the frontiers, the Libyans and the Mossads and Shibnets of Israel and their shadows e.g.  Sachar and Isprex, the Jews and the Germans all have been colonized by the mercenaries and the gun couriers of the world. The brokers like Pathans exist in all the civilizations of the world to make the devastation negotiable. You have rightly said that every corner of the world belongs to us whether it is the bye lane of Karachi or the banks of Brahmaputra in Assam or the villages of Hyderabad wherever the ISI or some other agency like ours, be it the FBI, the CIA or the Taliban’s or even the defunct KGB is active.  The place per say belongs to us because we find outlets for huge armaments factories of the world. Even though each one of us has given a different name to our requirement, you the money, the Pathan call it earning his honest bread and Major Yusuf can name it Jihad yet we all are brothers in needs”. “We all know that ultimately it is the desire to feel the thrill of control by some of those who build up this brotherhood of annihilation and destruction, over the hapless and downtrodden billions of the world”,

“I heard you saying we will have to ride the mules to alight into the valley, will they take time to come”, Ranjit had asked Pathan immediately after they had finished breakfast, “in that case I can go into the woods for a small walk”.

‘You need not go anywhere.  the path of the ride itself is through the deep woods and you can enjoy the greens as much as you want”, the Pathan took  them to the back yard of the guest house where four mules were ready to move and virtually waiting for the riders to hop on and sit into the saddles kept ready for the climbers.

“I do need the guide to hold the reigns of the animal as I have never mounted one even in the plains”, Ranjit looked helplessly at Pathan.

“These mules here do not need any kind of guidance to reach their destination along with the load they carry. They have been fully trained to not only carry human beings but they are also entrusted the task of delivering the ammunition across the frontiers. They are fully familiar with all the routes leading to all frontiers touching our territory, be it the Russian, the Chinese, the afghan or the Indian control line. The mules have been trained to identify and distinguish between the friends and enemies and take cover whenever necessary” Major Yusuf told Ranjit. “In fact should you want to go across borders into the territory of Indian control we can have you sent across directly. Many of the young fighters have been sent across through this route on the mule’s back and the small consignments of arms are regularly sent to our friends in the fight for liberation of the occupied Kashmir”.

Ranjit sat scared on the mule’s back but having experienced no jerks and pushes even on the bad stone laden hilly route his confidence in the animal grew and soon a rapport was established between the two.

Initially it was a steep climb of two hours to reach the top of the adjoining mountain; thereafter they started the down ward climb towards the valley, after passing through a very narrow tunnel.  It was so narrow that every rider had to go in one by one. There was just space enough to allow the passing through of one healthy horse at a time; “the adjoining tunnel will be used on our way back” they were told by Major Yusuf “these tunnels are the only life line to the arms bazaar and the training camps run by different revolutionary organizations of the world unless you take the air route”.

He saw the security sentinels in the tribal dress guarding the openings of the tunnels. They were unmindful of the visitors but were ready enough to shoot and kill should they suspect any thing untoward from the visitors.      Ranjit could reach out and touch the roof and the two sides of the hill earth covering the tunnels, “this route does not get blocked in even the heaviest of the snowfalls as the hill slopes carry the snow down to the glaciers in the river”.

“The tunnels were dug by the great army of Babar to find a shorter access to the mountain ranges of Hindukush”, the arms expert told them. ‘But Hindukush will mean Afghanistan, does that mean we are close to the Taliban area; I mean are we going to visit Afghanistan”, Ranjit excitedly asked the arms expert. ´yes and no, I mean though the area falls under the Afghanistan map, is not under their control.  The warrior tribes of Hindukush exert a complete rule over this place and their grip on the terrain is so strong that till date no one has been able to subjugate them. Alexander the prince of Macedonia, had to go back from this door, even Babar had to befriend them and married one of the tribal girls to escape the roughness of this mountainous tribal terror. More recently though Russians have been able to win over the softer targets in Afghanistan   they have not been able to look towards this portion of the country for they know it is beyond them to bring this tribal belt down to its knees. The only king who ever ruled this afghan tribe was Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whose court’s brave general Hari Singh Nalwa had won many a wars against these ferocious fighters”. Ranjit felt it to be a good omen for himself, as his name too coincided with the great ruler, “my winning of the world will also begin from this”, and he told himself.

The tunnel ran deep under the mountain mist covered by thick foliage on both sides. He could hear the droplets of water falling on both sides of the tunnel yet he did not see the wetness on the floor ahead.  The water outlets were allowing the small stream to pass on its own on the sides and thus keep the tunnel’s passage dry. They could hear the hoofs of the rider ahead and make out his outline in the small light that was coming through the small openings allowed every two hundred meters. It seemed the mare in the front was the leader of the pack; as the sound of her trot fixed the speed and the pace of the lot. The moment she stopped the others will halt too, and whenever she moved the others followed likewise.

Ranjit was too amazed to see the marvel of such a great engineering feat built thousands of years ago. He wondered if the builders had the necessary tools with them or was it all a result of the labor of two hands. They had reached the middle of the burrow. The leading mare on which Pathan was riding stopped for some rest and to drink some water from the small pool built on the side.  He raised his both hands signaling others to stop too. He saw two men emerge from the sides openings to the subway carrying food baskets on their heads.  The aroma of roasted lamb, mutton chops and the naans to go with raised their already hungry appetites. They relished the offerings devouring it in no time even though it was served to them while they continued sitting in their saddles on top of the animals, as there was no space to get off the back of the mules. The men who had brought food did not utter a word and they spoke to none. The men vanished as soon as passengers travelling on the mules’ backs finished their eating. The men did not forget collecting and carrying away the refuse along with, “so that the narrow passage of the tunnel does not get clogged. The leftover food could also have attracted the other wild animals unnecessarily”, Pathan told them later.

Their journey began once again “we have to track for another an hour or so before we reach the outside world. You can wear the dark glasses hung on your side satchels before reaching the light as otherwise the glare outside will blind you until your eyes get used to the natural light again”, Pathan had called out from the top of the horse back leading in the  front. The darkness had deepened further when they put the dark glasses on, but in no time he could see his way through. “These are the infra red glasses and you can see through even in the pitch dark” Major Yusuf who has been the last to enter the tunnel called out from behind “I recommend Ranjit you must buy lots of them as you will need them to wage battle in the coming winters. These goggles will come handy in the foggy cold when you cannot see one hand from the other hand”. Complete silence had fallen on this remark of Major Yusuf. The trotting animals were making synchronized sound of their hoofs and iron shoes.

They could hear the noise of some large wheels grinding and moving somewhere nearby “You can take notice of the sound of the hydel power house that provides light to the small openings we saw every two hundred meters. The lamps are lighted to give a feel of natural day light and the natural openings. Otherwise the fear of claustro- phobia can kill the people inside. The architects of medieval years had also put up the small fans along with the lights, to provide for the natural air in side the tunnel. Imagine, the entire army of the early invaders used to pass through the tunnel, carry out their loot in our part of the world and get lost in these mountains again. Babar was the last to have used this secret passage and he ordered their closure too when he decided to settle down and make India his home. These tunnels were thereafter lost to the world until a British cavalry soldier discovered them again during Second World War.   The afghan tribal and pakhtoons have been maintaining the openings to the passage way ever since then. A secret understanding has always prevailed between the rulers on both sides to let the channels remain open for the arms deliveries and if need be the   passage is also frequently used for helping out the necessary escapes to the fugitives from the laws of different lands”.

Ranjit saw a distant round dot of light opening up.  It seemed they were approaching the end to the tunnel. The mules too had slowed down in anticipation. Pathan had covered the eyes of the mule he was riding with the wooly cover; he took out from the bag hung on the side of the animal. He advised all others to do so, “The animals need to protect their sight from sudden flashes, as their retinas still take longer to adjust to the extreme changes”. Pathan bent his body almost parallel to the back of the mule and he forewarned others to do likewise lest they banged their heads against the low ceiling of the opening which was too small on this end, “so that even if some enemy is able to come thus far into these tunnels the low height this side will not allow him to come riding high and the afghans can finish the enemy before he raises his head”.

Ranjit and other riders were helped to alight from the saddles by sturdy and hefty looking tribal. They also helped the guests balance themselves on their feet as such a long ride gave each of the riders a severe pain in the back and legs. He noticed the same tribal gave them a frisk too for any kind of weapons. That was quite strange while the place was known as the World’s arms bazaar you can not bring in your own weapons. “That this was a rule adopted for all visitors”, was explained by the arms dealer at the bazaar “The traders here have to pay a hefty tax to Afghans on each arms’ piece sold hence even a small bullet is accounted for by the tribal committee during periodical audits. You can neither bring in any of your personal arms from outside nor can you take one out from here without paying the tribal tax”.

They were led to the small office outside the tunnel, “you will have to obtain valid identity and passage passes to go to the main arms bazaar which is just below the next small hill. Your own papers, currency and identity kits if you are carrying any will be sealed in separate envelops and will be given back to you at the time of your moving out of this place, which could be either through the same route or you can use a special ferry service on World War II special spit mouth aircraft, flown by the tribal airlines. This service is available for ferrying out and not bringing in people from Pakistan. However if you want to fly towards Kabul the service operates on both sides. In fact there is no other way to reach this place except by air from Kabul. No other airline except tribal airline is allowed to fly this route. Others can not even come any where near to the place; even if any one gets into the sky by mistake, it is shot down by the anti aircraft guns fixed on all hill tops”. They all looked skywards and found the hills too high to give any indication below of any life on top of them, “yet if the afghan is saying then it must be true”.

The formality here earned them the identity numbers in terms of their uniqueness and was put up on their breast pockets in bold letters. These identity numbers glowed from a distance and distinguished them from the local tribal. The glowing numbers also signified they were not intruders but businessmen on their business calls and no one was supposed to ask them any question so long as the numbers were not covered or hidden by them. The tribal signaled them to hop on to the rickety Bedford one tunner driven by the driver whose face was completely covered by the hair growth of many years. They could see only two large eyes from behind the steering wheel. Ranjit saw the anti aircraft gun mounted on the truck too “the Russians are always on the look out for any object on the road and drop bombs without warning. The ack ack gun can fire and bring them down in no time. I have brought three of their fighter planes down in last few months.  They have thereafter been weary of coming closer to us any more”.

The one tunner Bedford drove on top of the small hill and as soon as it started its climb downwards, Ranjit was too dismayed to look at what he saw. The hills were too barren, not even a speck of grass could be seen in stark contrast to the lovely green and white mountain of the other side. In the middle of the naked hills he saw mud houses every where and the movement of people in different colored uniforms added color to the barren atmosphere. He saw what looked like training camps all over and the tribal instructors giving instructions to young boys and girls. They crossed a camp where the instructor was taking parade of the youngster’s clad in all greens. “They are being prepared for the Kashmir front and will be pushed across as soon as the snow starts melting”, the tribal driver told them. A few houses ahead he came across what looked like a contingent of Chinese young boys and girls, he asked Major Yusuf “is there any revolution on in China too”.

“They are not the Chinese, but Nagas and the boys from the Assam Liberation Front.  Some of them also have come from Yangoon and have been sponsored by NSCN through ISI. They went through the initial training in Burma and Bangladesh and have come here for advanced training in firearms”. Their truck took another turn towards right and crossed another small hillock. “They must be the afghan boys and girls “, he asked Yusuf again. “No they are from your part of the world and are the recent addition to the training camps “but General Durjan never ever discussed with me about them”, he felt annoyed. “You do not have to know every detail. The first and foremost principle of any revolutionary movement is to know only that portion of the undertaking which is assigned to you. Their command must be different from that of yours and you do not have to know what is not expected of you. Besides you should know that there is hardly any nationality that does not come here for training in subversives. Be it the Spaniards, the Tamilians of Sri Lanka, Or the Irish. The revolutionaries of the ANC have been to the same camps”, the arms expert who have been to these camps himself earlier informed him, “my advice to you is do not pay attention to what you see and simply believe that you have seen nothing here.  It keeps lots of unnecessary load off your mind”.

The truck had now entered the market place, which appeared like any other weekly bazaar of an ordinary town. They saw young girls and middle-aged  ladies in burkas covered from head to tow manning the shops with their ware of weaponry spread like vegetables on the cots and wooden tables in front of muddy shops. They were selling bullets, gun powders boxes and missiles in front of their shops.  He was surprised to see the large rocket launchers hung outside some of the shops. Many of the shopkeepers started hawking their wares in typical market style. An old lady who was covered herself by a sheet called burkha, filled her both hands with bullets came towards them, she addressed them in broken English, “absolutely fresh and deadly for your Kalashnikovs”. The next shopkeeper pointed towards what looked like Wembley and Scot revolver “this is the latest model, you will forget the big guns if you use this one “.  Still further down in the street a young boy picked up a pair of missiles in both hands, “the prize winner from afghan war. We killed Russians with these, very effective and cheap to go”. The driver of the one tunner shooed them away. He pointed towards a door, “you will get all your requirements here under one roof”. He then beckoned to an old man who walked on crutches towards them, “he is the veteran of many wars and will act as a mediator. He will make sure you get the best bargain”. Pathan spoke to the one legged lame man in pushto, the local language asking for the whereabouts of a person named Whahab Abdulla. The lame man beckoned towards the small broken door leading into a courtyard and asked them to follow him towards the row of shops inside the compound, where small guns , bullets, and grenades were displayed in majority of the shops, the size of these shops was not more than 8’x10’. Major Yusuf picked up a grenade from the lot displayed and showed the same to Ranjit, it carried Pakistan army marking.

The lame man spoke to the shopkeeper in pushto; he looked at Major Yusuf, saluted him in the regimental style and gave a warm smile to Ranjit, “Khushaamdeed! It is a rare honor to serve some one from Hindustan.  Will you please come with me”? He took them to the interior of the small shop. The stairs at the back of the shop were leading to the basement below. The room in the basement was furnished with a conference table on top of which a slide projector had been kept. He asked them to be seated around the table on the small stools. “You must have a look at the actual performance of each one of our items and ticks mark the one you will like to buy on the folder so that we restrict our discussion and negotiations to the one that interests you. That ensures faster and quicker business as you have to return in time”.

He started the slide show after he had finished the preliminaries introduction to the visitors about their limitation of time. He had first of displayed different kinds of   rocket launchers which could be mounted on the shoulders of human carrier or fitted on the carrier of a bicycle.  These rocket launchers could also be dismantled. These rocket launching machines could be   packed comfortably into a small hand bag. Next on the display were the self directed missiles of the size of a small arrow which were fired from a missile launcher. The missile thus fired had, on the slide screen, split into many heads after coming out of the launcher. The scatter of the missile heads covered a large ground equivalent to the size of a football stadium. Its splinter heads could kill hundreds of people at one shot. Then he changed over to the slide of Mark IV schindler gun.  The voice over was announcing  on the slide screen , “it can fire 1100 rounds in a split second and kill as many at one go”. The slides for aircraft split shooters were also displayed thereafter. The shot from the split shooter followed an aircraft, hit the fuel tank and burst the airplane into a fireball on the screen. The slide show displayed the tanks of all size and shapes with the gun carriers placed on different locations.

The armed expert who had been accompanying them from Pakistan advised Pathan, “We must stop here. We will immediately need the rocket launchers, Schindler Mark IV Guns and the aircraft chasers. The goods will be delivered by you at the destination  within India we will of course  specify the place where your courier will have to give us a safe delivery of each piece of armament  ”. They haggled on the price of each item till they finally got stuck on the quantities they had asked for “I do not think such a large of armaments can be delivered by any courier into the Indian Territory all at one go. We will take a minimum of three months time to deliver the quantity you are asking for “.

“Why is that so? I always thought you carry ready stock of all items here. In case you find it difficult to meet our current demand we will have to shift the entire demand to some other friends. My client wants to buy the entire lot that we are ordering here under a single contract. He wants to maintain discretion. He also has to ensure a complete secrecy of the whole deal.  He is equally worried about of the friends of the law. The government spies and the spies of the border security force who will be snooping around everywhere even at such distant place”.

“That is what precisely we are afraid of too”, the shopkeeper of the arms had pleaded, “such huge consignment of the arsenal can only be sent by a truck. Our apprehensions are that given the current situation of alert on all the borders, is impossible to cross into Indian Territory.  The only way out for us is to send the consignment through the mule carriers. The mule carriers will have to do it in parts. A single trip of a mule takes more than ten days. The entire consignment can thus be shipped in eight to nine trips spread over a period of three months”.

“We do not have that kind of time at our disposal to wait that long”, Major Yusuf had intervened.

“Could all of you please hold on for a minute?  If I understand all of you correctly what you are saying is that this consignment of arms can not be delivered by the land route.  In that case can we look for a passage through the skies then?  I understand that the regular air route can be dangerous.  but if we could find an aero plane that takes off from one of the Pakistani airports which is closest to the Indian air space and enters the Indian air space at a very low altitude it can possibly evade detection by the radars and the Indian space authorities”, Ranjit put forward the proposal which set all the members of the group thinking.

Pathan snorted his nose at Ranjit “could you please tell me what will happen once it has taken off.   Where do you propose this plane should land, in the back yards of your shrine?”

“No, in fact this aircraft does not have to land anywhere. The pilot of our aircraft will drop the material at a predetermined spot. Having dropped this consignment, he flies out of the Indian skies taking the same route on the way back too”.

“However if the aircraft is detected by the authorities, it will definitely be shot down.  Or even if it is forced to land, the pilot and the crew must be prepared to get their heads chopped off”, the arms dealer made a sign of cutting his neck from the shoulders.

The lame one legged man, who was a silent spectator to the whole discussion, banged on the table, “Bakhtiar “, he said, “Bakhtiar can do it for us. He owns a Cessna aircraft. He was running a one man airline in Afghanistan till the Russians came in. He now flies sorties in and out of the arms bazaar. Though the Russians have tried to bring down his plane many times but he loves playing hide and seek with them.  So far he has been always lucky. He has always managed to give them a slip. He was employed as a pilot with the allied forces during World War II. Thereafter he had purchased a plane from the defunct airline he worked for. Let me check if we are fortunate enough to get him”. He moved to the muddy wall. He took out the telephone receiver hanging from a hook. He spoke to the operator on the other side and gave him a telephone number. He waited till the man on the other end came on the line.

“Bakhtiar will be with us in an hour’s time. In the meanwhile a round of Kahwa will do all of us good in this dry and cold weather”. The Kahwa was brought in by two young boys. They laid the small Persian carpet on the floor and placed six low lying cushions around it. The silver samovar containing Kahwa appeared too ancient and classic so was the set of cups in which Kahwa was poured by the boys. The sweet fragrance of herbs and brewed tea filled the atmosphere with pleasant flavor. The boys mentioned them to come and sit on the cushions laid on the floor. So that they could relish the traditional Kahwa, the way the Persians used to in their own royal style.

Captain Bakhtiar possessed a huge physical figure. He   wore a large salwar and kurta on top of which he was wearing a khaki woolen jacket. The jacket proudly exhibited a Victoria Cross, stating the honors he had earned during the world war. He had a long flowing beard reaching out to his belt; he had tied on his jacket. The unkempt hair were coming out of the hurriedly tied headgear on his head ,one end of which was touching his knees on the right leg . It was difficult to believe that he was ever a part of civilized society. The unpleasant whiff of the locally prepared liquor had preceded him as he climbed down the stairs to the cellar. The lame man made the introductions, “Captain Bakhtiar “, he announced his name in a slurry voice as he shook his hands with every one around. He saluted Major Yusuf in a mock and asked him “so how you are; the famous go between the Indian revolutionaries and the ISI.  I thought you were still stuck up somewhere in Bosnia. That was a wonderful job done by you and your friends. . The poor countries will not believe that peace ever existed there due to the operations carried out by all of you. Tell me what is it now? The north east has already been put on fire by you.  Young people everywhere have been falling a prey to your fanatical antics of various interests. How many more such hellish burning holes do you want to open up in the world all over? Does Kashmir bring you here? Oh I see!”  He looked at the arms expert “it is the toy shop that brings all of you together. Tell me how I can be helpful”. He flicked the ash from his cigarette he was smoking, pulled a deep and long drag from it before stubbing it under his foot.

Pathan explained to him the plans for airlifting the arms and dropping them into the Indian Territory. “That is almost as much dangerous as it sounds easy to handle. Though this time we may not have an active surveillance yet I do not accept the onus of the safety of these arms from the armed forces of any country.   If I happen to get detected, chased or shot down across the borders. Besides it will cost you $ 50000, in advance in addition to the fuel cost. Oh yes the drop will be made at the place I show you here”. He took out a soiled map of the Indian Territory, spread it on the table and zeroed down on the small remote site in the north western part of the country. “I shall be over flying the Arabian Sea, enter western India and take a detour to make the drop near the basin of Ganges. This route will have a regular traffic on upper heights and the small aircraft on low altitude will not attract much attention”. He brought out a small bottle from his pocket “that calls for a celebrations. Will someone join me”, he took a swig of the spirit and extended the bottle of the liquor he was holding into his hands towards others, when none of them accepted he finished the entire lot in two gulps. “I will give you a complementary ride up to Mirpur”, he told Ranjit

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 28

Pratap looked through his tearful eyes at the flames of fire which were leaping up to take the dead body of DIG Tanwar into its arms. The dead body of the slain police officer was   covered with the wreaths of flowers placed by him and his cabinet colleagues. The entire police department was present there. Each officer of the police had saluted the last remains of their dear departed colleague who it appeared was equally popular amongst the rank and file. Pratap saw some kind of resentment shown by the young officers towards the representative of the shrine who had come to the funeral to place a wreath on behalf of the great Priest.  He could identify the last circular wreath visible on that funeral pyre which had come from the shrine the HOUSE OF GOD. He smiled wryly at the irony of fate; the same people who had taken away the life of the young promising police officer were applying a soothing balm on Tanwar. He had gone miles away from any kind of fragrant or foul smells of the evil deeds of the society of wrong doers. “This is certainly the great sacrifice of an upright officer in the path of truth and duty towards the nation. The bullet could have hit me directly had he not stood like a shield between the killer and me”, he had told the journalists later.

Nirbhaya too had wept bitterly when Pratap broke the news to him on wireless. Though the protocol demanded the presence of police head at any official function attended by the chief minister, Pratap himself had advised him to abstain from this visit. He had instead deputed Tanwar who was his deputy. Chief Minister Pratap had felt that it was a personal visit to pay obeisance to God and seek his forgiveness for the misdeeds of the murderers of Bus passengers. Nirbhaya was asked by him to take care of the families of those killed in the bus, when they were going to offer the last remains of the dead to the holy river. The presence of a higher authority from the state government will at least be able to keep the opposition silent who were out to grab the neck of the state ministry. The opposition had been making the breakdown   of law and order a major issue.  “Little did anyone know of the plans of the enemies to get the chief minister killed in the holiest of holy places?”  He looked at the poor widow left behind by Tanwar. She was consoling her young children. She had been forbidding them to weep at their father’s funeral, “your father was a very brave officer. He has laid his life honorably. He preferred sacrificing his life to save our chief minister.  It is the most honorable exit for any soldier. We should not defile his great sacrifice with our tears”, she was telling the old mother of Tanwar.

Pratap silently saluted such a brave lady from the inner core of his heart, “we will continue to provide full salary benefits to the family till the age when Tanwar would have attained retirement from the active service. His family will carry on getting the same benefits meant for an active serving officer. In addition the police department will arrange an executive job for the widow of slain officer.  I have signed the orders to the effect” he declared to the mourners gathered for last rites. “I have brought the letter mentioning all these facilities as a small token of our tribute to the glorious sacrifice rendered by the brave officer. May I request the lady on your behalf, if she will be kind enough to accept the same”? Mrs. Tanwar led the old mother of her husband to accept the role of honor issued by the government of the state, along with other papers from the hands of the chief minister.

Pratap left the funeral place immediately thereafter. He wondered how many more such functions he will have to attend and hand over such letters if he continued to hold this office. “Shall I hand over the letter laying down my office, to the forces opposing my elections? but that will tantamount to surrendering in front of the negative forces and allowing them to play havoc with the democratic sentiment. It shall also set bad precedent for future that the writ of such evil forces can prevail through terrorist activities. I have joined the public life not to be brow beaten by the enemies of common will. Let the common determination prevail.  If the public is with us we will fight the battle with them till the last. I am not to be cowed down by any such future attacks. We are taking necessary steps to provide adequate security to the common man on the streets. We are also strengthening our security forces by providing them the essential moral and financial strength”, he mentioned it to the press who had accompanied him on his way back to the office. “We shall be upgrading our police weapons to give befitting replies to the traitors who are out to thwart the path of peace and progress”.  “ I shall be taking up once again with the central government to provide additional finance through central aid though we do believe such request may not be acceded to due to certain interests opposing any such move of the state administration “.

His statement was quoted by the press verbatim, in all their leading papers. The Daily News carried this news on their front page under the heading “State To Fight It Out With Befitting Modern Weaponry”, another vernacular carried it in the editorial under the title “Selfish Interests In Centre Fuel The State Fire”, and the editor ascribed the source to Pratap when he raised the pointing finger at the big man in the central government.

Pratap was met by his cabinet colleagues in the corridor leading to his office, as soon as he reached there. He felt as if they have been waiting there for his arrival to discuss the newspaper reports. Both Dwij and Dhanwan were carrying the copies of morning news paper in their hands. He saw Brahma too coming towards his office, “chief I believe we have touched the hornet’s nest with this statement. Where are we going to get the kind of finance required to fight out the menace of terrorism spreading its tentacles in the entire state. The modernization of the security forces will mean sparing huge funds and cutting down on other allocations”, it was Dwij who spoke up while walking along with him to the office. The firm hand shakes offered by his other two senior colleagues made it clear to him that they were there to extend to him their whole hearted support.  He wanted them to open up their view points in front of Dwij. So that he could stop the further rising of any kind of upheaval.

“I think it is for the finance minister of our state to find a way out.  I am as curious to know his views as you are. I suggest we get into my office .We will look at all possibilities while we have a discussion over a cup of tea. If you do not mind gentlemen”, Pratap lead all of them into his office.  He winked at Dhanwan to play down the seriousness shown by Dwij. Dwij had often worried his head over matters that did not concern his ministry .He had always appeared overburdened. He was always carrying everyone’s worries on his shoulders; even though handling of his own portfolio left a lot to be desired.

“I think you have hit the nail already on the head, when you mentioned about getting additional funds and forces from the central government. You have literally taken two pot shots at the central government with one statement. Our dear friend ‘the big man’ will have to spell out his stand on his support to extra territorial demands of the great priest Rajamantran on one hand and at the same time arrange forces to fight out the allies he had indirectly been favoring against the state government. He will find it difficult since he is the boss of the home department for the union government”, Brahma had remarked, with a glint of brother hood in his eyes.

He and the political party he represented had always remained at the receiving end from the big man when he was the head of the state prior to his losing this election and moving to the union government.

“The big man Aaham would not have made it to the position of a minister in the central government if he were to fight direct elections to the upper house.  The routes to indirect entries were encouraged by all political parties to accommodate their aging members. This also opened a route for those members whose credentials ran out of public demand”, Brahma had often held this view.

“The direct hit by you chief will definitely antagonize the big man Aaham and his mentee. He can react negatively by asking the pontiff to speed up the violent incidents further.  He could try to maneuver your ouster by referring the law and order situation to the Governor of our state.  After all this governor too belongs to his party”.

“Yes there is a very remote possibility of dismissing our ministry at this stage. However we believe things have still not gone out of control to satisfy the electorate on our dismissal. I will however agree to your second statement. The big man Aaham will be forced to ask the ultras to step up their violence.  At the same time he may agree politically to send the central forces to the state as a face saving devise”, Dhanwan had summarized the entire scene. He waited for Pratap’s reaction to the dialogue.

“It is better to adopt a policy of wait and watch.  But I am afraid we hardly have much time at our disposal.  It was one police officer saving my life at the cost of his own.  But how many times can that be possible.  We will have to fight out the battle in their court. For that I need funds to modernize the outfit. The outdated guns and the low morale of lower ranks within the police force is hardly a match to defend the attacks of highly motivated mercenaries with their sophisticated weaponry”.

“Yes but where is the money for this kind of expense. You had agreed to allocate more budgets for the development of my constituency. That allocation has also been curtailed by the finance department for the balance period of the year.  Now this statement of yours may take away the salaries of my department”.

“Dwij is really worried about his salary boss.  You will have to ensure no pay cuts will be introduced by you if we buy some guns for the boys of your police”, Dhanwan had spoken to Pratap with a real worried expression on his face.

Dhanwan looked for some kind of assurance for his cabinet colleague.

Pratap knew that until he gave that kind of surety to Dwij he will not let them work in peace, “you have my word that henceforth no amount will be curtailed from your constituency development funds.  Nor will any one’s salary be stopped in the entire state. As for getting money for the modernization of our security force you may leave that matter for us to think of”.

Dwij shook hands with Dhanwan. He had extended the other elbow to Brahma “see I told both of you, I will get the funds for my assembly area reinstated”. He left the room while thanking the chief minister with folded hands “I knew you will help me out chief”.

“Politics is a strange field. It brings up many a tycoon from public life. At the same time it throws up enough opportunities to buffoons too”, remarked Pratap, “this fellow Dwij used to be a mimic and a comedian in vernacular films. He had been engaged to woo the voters during different campaigns by the party.  His contract included a ticket to such a constituency where we had least expected to win. Yet he won over the public by his buffooneries. He was returned to the assembly by the maximum ever margin over his nearest rival. He had virtually snatched this seat from the sitting candidate of the rival party for the first time after independence. This also earned him a right to get a berth in the cabinet. His winning majority was too big to be ignored.  It is another matter that his contribution in all cabinet meetings is nothing more than bringing a smile on the faces of his colleagues even in the most serious discussions.”

“Any how gentlemen I stand by my statement I have given to the press.  You have to find a way out of the political and moral crossroads, we are facing today. We have to lead the nation back to the road to development. We have had the warning signals from the police and intelligence agencies.  If Only we had the sagacity to pay heed to the apprehensions shown in their reports, things would have been under our control much earlier. Possibly we would not have reached the stage of impasse that we are facing now”.

Pratap stood up from the chair he was sitting in. He walked across to the door leading to the outer balcony of his second floor office. He unbolted the door and came out of his room.  He stretched out on the iron railing of the balcony. He had done that for the first time in ever since he occupied the office of the chief minister. The police guards standing on duty on the ground floor became alert. The guards came to attention position.  Pratap ignored them.  He was staring at the spot on which the seer and his boys had parked themselves. They had been making a mockery of the entire law and order machinery of the state administration. Brahma and Dhanwan too joined him there.

“I wish we had the courage of conviction to act decisively on the day when it all started. We mortals are basically cowards. We are afraid of losing so many things in our life. Our fears of our losses begin with by starting with the life of our own self and the lives of other near and dears.  We are afraid of losing our wealth, status, position in life, in our society, and in not so well known World all over. We live with our own insecurities all our life, whatever the ladder. In fact higher the status an individual has greater is his levels of insecurities. We were afraid of losing our face in public by arresting the pontiff. We allowed him go scot free. We are again scared because they have had the audacity to hit back. They killed one of our key officers. We apprehend further violence at their hands. We are also afraid of losing our official chairs in case our good friend in the central government is able to prevail upon the governor to suspend the assembly. He can order the dissolution of our ministry. Again we are worried about the violation of peace and security of the common man.  Some times I really wonder if it is all worth it.  You should look at the birds perched on all the floors of this building.  They are also the denizens of this fort of politics where we all run our regimes, yet they are not afraid of anything or any one. They frequently fly in and out of the fortress we claim to be our seat of power. I wish I had the freedom enjoyed by these winged creatures”, Pratap absent-mindedly remarked to his friends and colleagues.

He looked up from the terrace where he was standing and counted the floors. It was a massive, and an eleven stories high structure built of concrete and steel to withstand the onslaught and vagaries of natural forces for centuries to come. “Yet it is an irony of fate that many a times so called powerful people like me have felt so much powerless within its confines. They were not able to last even full tenure of their office”.

Pratap looked up again and looked down to fathom the height they were standing at.  He felt dizzy with the whole exercise. It seemed to him he was getting struck in the middle of both the height and depth. It was a never ending abyss that was pulling every one lower and lower. He could not stand there any further. He put his weight on his colleagues’ shoulder. He requested Dhanwan to close the door leading to the balcony and the free world outside.

He found Nirbhaya waiting for his return from the balcony into the office. He wanted to console the police force, “It is time to face the onslaught with courage and fortitude. We all know it is tough for our police force to fill up the void left by a young and promising officer.  Yet he has also prepared our boys for the tougher days ahead. His sacrifice will not go waste.  Each one of you will have a resolution of steel to erase the menace of terrorism raising its head in our peaceful state. We do believe this is a self-inflicted and self invited disease, by some antisocial and anti national elements present in our midst. But like we have to go for an operation to get the damning portion of a diseased body removed. This ailment too needs to be treated in the same way. The police force will hence forth be given wider powers to get into some of the out of bound precincts to look for what is actually happening in such places. We respect the religious sentiments of all communities. We also have due regards for every citizen of our state. Yet you cannot subject any privately run shrines to search operations without offending any one’s sensibilities. You may find it difficult, to explain to the public and the moral law enforcers the motives behind your actions, even if they are hiding any criminal elements within their four walls. In case of any kind of suspicion, you do not today have the authority to pick up people for investigation.  Of course this will take place, if we amend the state constitution.  But as per the procedure established by the law of the land it is a very cumbersome process.  No high handedness will be permitted to you by almost half of the government machinery who still owes their allegiance to the earlier regime. In such a situation only a special ordinance from the governor can authorize you to enter some of the religious places for search and investigation operations. But I still feel if you are able to get a break through in the bus massacre incident, which may take you closer to the murderers of our DIG Tanwar.  You might just stumble upon the life time opportunity to get our biggest foe in the dragnet.  I want you to personally handle the entire investigation under a close blanket of your most trusted officers.  You may have to send them over to the other side of the law to may be joining some unit of the offenders. That should help you to get any kind of clue or a lead. The boys who committed the most heinous crime against the innocents should not be allowed to remain on the large for long. They can inflict further damage any where”.  Pratap felt he was almost embarrassing his chief of the state police by elucidating the investigation procedure to be adopted by him. He added a mild dose of friendly touch to the entire discussion, “it is not an official order but many a times an opinion from the outside agency can help you look at the total picture from an entirely different angle, which even if you thought of earlier, would have been dropped or rejected by you as not very important”.

“Oh!  My god! It was Tanwar who was handling the entire case of the bus massacre and he wanted me to have a look at the footage of the film shot at the shrine which he was supposed to show to me on his return from the Sanctro sanctorum.  If you will excuse me”, Nirbhaya got up “I will have to rush, the film must still be in his office”.

He noticed the lift to the chief minister’s office had still not returned to the floor on which his chamber was situated.  It was possible some the ministers had forgotten to close the channel doors after they alighted on their floor. He made a mental note of issuing instructions to security for keeping one lift set exclusively reserved for the chief minister. He will also ask them to make   the door operations automatic and install jammers for all kinds of firearms in that lift. It was no time to take any kind of security risk any further. The lift was taking too long to return.  He took the stairs to the ground floor. He was jumping three steps in each fall. The security men at the main entrance to the secretariat came alert as they saw the chief of the state police Nirbhaya running towards his car. Their mandatory drill required that any kind of commotion would necessary call for the danger siren to be blown at once by the guard on duty. However, the guard on duty was in a double frame of mind. The senior police officer must have had a valid reason to run towards his car. The security guard too started following Nirbhaya on the double.  He heard the sound of the military boots following him. The chief cop slowed down.

“Could you please page for my car”, he told the guard following him.

“Oh sure sir, but the officers from your personal security staff are still in side the building. Shall I fetch them too?’

“Never mind the car is enough, I will not need the security. They can reach office directly”. He took to the wheel himself after pushing the driver to the left and shot off on the double speed towards his office.

Tanwar’s personal secretary a timid looking man with spectacles falling out of their place met him in the corridor downstairs. Nirbhaya had instructed him to meet him at the entrance itself.

“Just tell me if any one has been to the office, either just before Mr. Tanwar left this place or after he had gone to the Sanctro sanctorum.  Did he speak to any one on the phone, or wireless”?

“No sir he spoke to you only.  He had specially instructed me to not to allow any one inside while he was watching the recordings of the function at the shrine”.

“How do you know he was watching the cassette of the recordings?” Nirbhaya wanted to make sure Tanwar’s killing was in no any way associated with this film. There was a remote probability that Tanwar might have identified the killers and spoken to some one. The police chief wanted to rule out all such possibilities. “Sir I had got the film cassette issued from the record room.  The entries in the official register there do not mention the name of Mr. Tanwar. These were procured by me to get another copy duplicated.  The original had been placed back by me in the store room. Should you however want me to find out if any one else too knew about the issuance of the material cassette, I can, because the staff at the departmental record room   is well known to me. They will go out of their way to do any thing to nab the criminals who killed my boss”.

Nirbhaya felt the personal secretary will not be able to contain his emotions if questioned any further, “forget it, I just wanted to make sure no one else had the privy to the information your boss wanted to convey to me “.

Nirbhaya had seen the film cassette umpteenth times. He was still not able to make head or tail of whatever Tanwar wanted to highlight, nor had he left any markings or any kind of clue to the kind of discussions he wished to have with. In fact after he had gone through the cassette and its contents he was fully convinced that Tanwar’s discussions did not relate to this recording. May be he had another piece of recordings and only Meena could throw light on that.

His wife had called him to come down from the study and take some rest before the break of the dawn. That means he had been sitting almost all through the night. If he calls up Meena now he can come for his morning jog .That will not be unnecessary calling attention of the people who have killed Tanwar. And if as per his suspicions Tanwar was the real target of the killers and not the chief minister, then Meena and his own life was in danger too. The killers will not spare them given even half a chance. Meena’s house was only a few lanes away from the residence of the chief of the state police. He did not have to go out of the safe police campus. It was unlikely the killers will dare touch any one within the police lines.

“Can you come over for a morning tea in your joggers”, he had emphatically told him. Meena did not take long to understand why he has been called.  He expected this call. Tanwar did discuss with him the suspicions formed on the basis of certain mistrustful looking characters and activities he had been able to pinpoint in the function held at the shrine. Every one in the police department knew their closeness to each other.  Yet they themselves never discussed about it to the third person, not even with their chief. Although the chief knew that each day these two officers will speak to each other on the cases they were handling ever since they have been room mates at the police academy. As luck will have it they both had opted for the same state cadre and were posted for their initial training under the police chief Nirbhaya. Their careers had progressed all through the years at the equal pace. They were both commissioned in the police department the same day. Many a difficult cases and situations have been solved and handled by them with each other’s help. Their chief Nirbhaya was certain that they must have spoken to each other on this case as well.

“I wonder if you could help me identify some of the points your friend Tanwar wanted to discuss with me from this cassette. I have seen this tape for the umpteenth times.  It is definitely very provocative speech and sermon delivered by the great Priest, for which I do not hold the religious fanaticism responsible. I would rather attribute the entire thing stage managed by the politicians, through the religious overambitious overtones of the once forgotten small time shrine who wants to come back and hold reins to the large coffers of money and power. The combination of religion and politics provide in all societies of the world. Such a situation has been witnessed historically by almost all religions and societies of the mankind.  The Satan and God have always been on loggerheads in all ages . I believe our times are also fallen prey to the devilish aspirations of the princes of Hell. We will perforce have to submit to the schemes of the devils for a short duration.  The will of God will ultimately prevail. The Satan’s will be thrown into the burning fires of deep hole”.

Meena felt that his chief was being too philosophical.  He was aware of his fondness for Tanwar. Tanwar’s demise was more of a personal loss for the entire force. He too had felt a pain of having lost the closest friend. But this was not the time for getting philosophical. A quick action was called for immediately to get the falling image of the police department ameliorated to some extent. The denizens of the Press and politicians of all hues were tearing the police apathy and inaction apart. Every morning editorials were seeking blood of the killers who had killed the senior police officer that too in the holy premises of the most sacred of all places.

“Morale of the police force will further touch its lowest nadir if we fail to nab the killers of the innocent bus passengers Tanwar had last spoken to me.  He strongly believed it was somehow connected to great Priest and his men.  But he was not able to exactly pinpoint the people involved and used by the pontiff. If we are able to identify any of the boys, that can help us make breakthrough in both the cases”, Meena was informing the police chief. “He spoke to me last on the day he was to accompany the chief minister to the Sanctro Sanctorum. He told me “I am disturbed to see some of the young boys giving a gift of sugar cane sticks to the great Priest, on a large public gathering. That too at a place where the pontiff is virtually sitting in the middle of the sugar cane farms. If you notice the saint’s own farms are replete with the sugar cane crops. In fact right behind the dais from where the pontiff had delivered the sermon, (on the day bus passengers were butchered), a vast tract of sugarcane fields owned by the religious preacher can be seen. So why bring something as a gift that is already available in plenty and in abundance.  There is every possibility that these boys were also bringing in some other things hidden in those bundles of sugar canes. Tanwar wanted to develop the profiles of the young men to be shown to the survivors of the bus tragedy. He felt the sketches of the suspected murderers drawn by the police artists and given to the press have failed to bring in response. These sketches were too incoherent due to the mental disturbance of those affected by the tragedy. We must take up the case further from there only. Please allow me to have a look at the film”.

“That is why I have called you here so  early morning. Come we will have to analyze this film once again”, Nirbhaya was taken aback by what he saw on the film. A close and enlarged portrait of the gifts presented by the boys to the priest on the public function held by him on the same day when bus passengers had been massacred , clearly distinguished the metal tubes of the guns hidden in the  lot of the sugar canes they were carrying. “So this is what they want to fight the might of the state with and win over the War of the Satan and   Gods. I wonder how long can they hold on against the power of the state. But we should not underestimate them. All this could only be the beginning of the full scale warfare to follow”.

“We will have to discreetly pick up one or two of the boys seen in this film”, Meena brought the faces seen on the screen to a pause and enlarged them one by one, “do you want to publicize these faces. In that case we may not get the chance to find out their real game plan. I advise no one should come to know that we have identified them.  By doing this you will invite them to come out again. That is the time we pick them up for interrogation”, Nirbhaya was confident that Meena could handle the murderers who had killed one of his closest friends.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues -27

Ranjit was riding on his motorcycle back to his home when he was waylaid by two burly looking boys “we have been very keen  to get in touch with you  while you were travelling on the bus itself but we did not want to scare off the beautiful girl  sitting next to you.  We knew you will come to pick up your motorcycle from this place. Please do not have any misgivings.  We are not the policemen but we are definitely the followers of the shrine.  General Durjan has called for you. He wants to hand over the reward to you personally for your achievement. If only you will come with us”.

“I think there has been some kind of misunderstanding. You have caught hold of the wrong man. I do not know any General”, after all these guys could be from the police.

“I am a student of the university and I am not from the army”, he told them.

“We knew you will not trust us hence we have brought this along”, one of the boys took off his jacket he was wearing and displayed the gun.

“Now if you still refuse we will have to take you there forcefully. You should trust us”. They also showed to him the capsules tied to their necks.  “We are brothers in life and death and carry our dear mothers with us’.  One of the boys spoke the code given to each one of them for the cyanide capsule tied to their necks.

Ranjit recalled General having told them once “this is your dear mother and whenever you get caught and find there is no way you can escape just bite this. Like a dear mother’s love this capsule too will put you to instant sleep”.

“Yes but I had been directed strictly not to get any where close to the shrine for next few days.  The police investigators could still lie in wait around to investigate” said Ranjit.

“We are going within the university campus only and not to the shrine.  The meeting with General Durjan will not take very long. It will be over in a few minutes. You must be rewarded for the excellent service rendered to the cause”. The younger looking of the lot told him to follow the other motorcycle driven by the senior boy. He jumped on to his pillion.

They took him to the boys’ hostel at the university through the back door.  They asked him to wait out side the warden’s room. He was not surprised to see General Durjan in the boy’s hostel.  By now he was convinced that these guys could reach anywhere and at any time. Their far reaching tentacles were too strong. They had their control spread in all the echelons of the society. He for a slight moment wished he had not involved himself with all of them.   “But what the hell, every one appeared to be on their side. The government machinery was too helpless to control or combat any of the activities undertaken by the boys set enlarge by the sage and his General”.

Ranjit was anxious to know the aftermath of the shoot carried out at by him the shrine. He was astonished to see the farcical reaction of the police. The men from the state security force covering the politician had thrown themselves on the floor as the bullet hit Tanwar. The guards themselves were looking for the covers instead of coolly finding the source and the direction of the gun fire. The clumsy reaction of the police force had given enough time to Ranjit to run away from the scene. It all appeared stage-managed to him. It was as if some force had been controlling the entire show. They were all it seemed to him working on a pre-planned arrangement for getting their senior officer eliminated.

General Durjan came out of the room himself. He hugged him so firmly that Ranjit’s feet got lifted from the floor.

“We are so proud of you young man.  What a perfect shooter you turned out to be.  It was a fantastic job done. The great priest Rajamantran advised me to congratulate and honor you in person. Come, come there is no point being modest. We know you have dug the first nail in the confidence of security forces of this state. No one and I repeat no one prior to you have achieved such amazing task. We must facilitate you for this brave act”. General Durjan held him by the arm and took him inside the room.

Two gentlemen seated inside in the warden’s office. One of them belonged to the group of well known singers of the local folk music. He recalled having seen him on various ceremonies in local cultural festivals and meets. He was also a regular performer on the annual gathering of the shrine on each New Year’s function. This year too he had begun the proceedings by singing the ode to goddess of power, at the function when Ranjit had gone to seek blessings at the shrine along with his mother. He was not sure who the other guy was. The unknown guy was carrying a bag on his shoulders that looked like a photographer’s kit. “May be he is one of the press reporters”, thought Ranjit, “but why should General Durjan bring a newspaperman with him”. Ranjit was getting apprehensive by now.  He looked expectantly at General Durjan, “is he trying to regale me by their singing to celebrate the achievement. If it is so then this is certainly not the place for such kind of celebrations.  Or is he trying to publicize what I have done to serve the mission. Either way, my patience has always led me to get answers to all the queries in the world.  This riddle too will solve itself,” thought Ranjit.

General Durjan ordered both the boys who had brought Ranjit, to wait outside and keep an eye on any visitor to the warden’s office, so that no one disturbs them in their discussions, which were to take place for next two hours.

“Ah let me first of all give you the prize for your achievement. There   is something for you waiting to be acknowledged inside this envelope”, General Durjan handed over to him the envelope containing the slip on which were mentioned the code number and the account code to a deposit of us $ 100000/ in a Swiss bank. “You can access your bank any time from any part of the world and after verifying the code mentioned by you the money can be delivered to you wherever you want.  This account is totally untraceable.   It can not be referred to by any government agency. There is a complete assurance of secrecy vouched for   by the bank. Congratulations, from today onwards you are part of the inner close and exclusive strategic decision making committee of the shrine”.

“I do not think I will be able to use this kind of foreign currency in India.  I definitely will request you for the conversion of this money to Indian currency. I think I need to take care of my living in India.  My father has been talking of throwing me out of the house I have been staying in”.

He was cut short by General Durjan, “besides you need to get married to the girl you have been meeting recently”.

“Yes but all this money can hardly take care of all my other needs. In case the great priest Rajamantran is keen that I   support and work for the plans of the shrine I will have to lead a life style that does not attract the sleuths of Indian agencies. That would mean I settle down at some place in life and get married. You will agree that here it is taken for granted that the familial responsibilities will often weigh down the person to think of any kind of subversive activities”.  Ranjit was in no mood to hide his plans to get married. He continued, “My experience so far has proved that whenever I have traveled abroad as a married man the customs and other immigration authorities have either allowed me to get through freely from the green channels. They always trusted us whatever we declared. They have been lax in their search of whatever they were trying to find”.

“Yes but some day your luck may run out. That could be the end of all the smartness shown.  I think you are not able to comprehend the bigger picture we are preparing you for.  We are neither talking of smaller money nor are we looking at you as a mere courier and a sharp shooter. We are looking at you as a harbinger of the new movement of courage and defiance. We are looking at you as a leader who will lead all our boys as their lead commander. Believe me not many people in this country are lucky enough to get the head of a police deputy chief in their kitty as a trophy. Well done my boy. Believe me you will have to cross many such mountainous journeys to reach where you are headed “.

“Yes but I have no such plans. It all was done to prove my faith and loyalty to the mission our sage is running. I have no wish to continue murdering people to further any of your personal aspirations if that is what you are looking for. Just pay me the adequate reward.  Let me get on with my life”.

“What lives are you talking of young man.  That life is behind you now.  It is the shrine that will decide the future fait accompli for the people of your caliber? You have been god sent to this earth. It is a pity that you are not realizing your own task cut out for you by the God almighty. You have been sent to us by Him to rewrite the history of our community, faith and religion. Our mission needs your services. That is what you will live for henceforth”. It was the singer talking to him.

“Cut down your voice, I think the young man has recently met the love of his life and is undergoing the moral pangs of the right and wrong in life. He will soon understand what we are suggesting to him is much above the evaluations of the common men. We are talking of achieving the heights that could be visualized only by the great sacrifices and the great martyrdoms of our national heroes. The contributions made by you to the mission’s success will go down on the pages of national history. You must however take it that, you can not be allowed to reverse the entire process by one stupid decision of yours”, General Durjan put his hand on Ranjit’s shoulders to let him feel at ease, as the atmosphere was getting too charged up by now. “The money is not the criterion, you will forget the counting once you have a look at the picture we are about to unfold in front of you. Just bear with us. Let me unfold the entire game plan of the operation started by the great seer”, General Durjan raised Ranjit’s curiosity further.

“First thing first, the gentleman here needs your photographs. We have to get the official passport issued in your real name. We know you have been crossing borders so far on fake documents. It will not be necessary henceforth if you have to serve our mission in the commanding position. It is not time now to let go of the other activities you were involved in earlier.  I mean you will not henceforth act as a transporter of females. Nor will you be getting involved in false marriage ceremonies. The mission wants you to operate as a negotiator for the arms supplies, for our cause. It will be your prime responsibility to ensure the suppliers deliver the consignments safely to the delivery points. In addition many a times you may have to deal with the opponents of the shrine through the small army of the marksmen attached to you. The gentlemen here have been doing it on a smaller scale through the cultural troupes’ tours abroad. But the small consignments have not been enough to wage a full-scale war against the armed forces. We have to now give momentum to our fight against the injustice met to our simple people. The declarations of independence from the colonial rule of the current rulers necessitate the formation of the underground cabinet of different portfolios. You are from this minute onward made a member of the inner cabinet of the independent country of the greats. This country needs your services. We believe no one can let down the faith shown by the nation in our great priest Rajamantran. The fight against the society of the perpetrators of inhuman defilements will henceforth be fought in the open. In addition to the guerrilla warfare by the leaders leading from the front though you will have to, many a times prove to the boys that you are not merely a dummy head. Hence you may have to pull many a triggers yourself too. We want to strengthen our armed position. You will have to visit the neighboring country for finalizing the deal for advanced armaments. You will also make arrangements to get them safely delivered within our territory. The payments for such supplies will have to be authorized by you only. We will open a separate account under your direction. To begin with we are placing a fund of a hundred million dollars at your disposal”.

Ranjit felt his throat choked on hearing the amount mentioned by General Durjan. He literally jumped out of the chair he was sitting in “will you please repeat what you said just now, did I hear you correctly that you want me to buy arms worth how much the amount?”

“I repeat worth one hundred million dollars” General Durjan repeated and paused for a while to let him absorb the impact of the statement. “You will be met by our armed experts in Mirpur to help you select the supplies as per the list already sent by us, a copy of which is given to you here for your reference. The mode, the moment and the day of the delivery will have to be worked out after discussion with the Intra Services Intelligence wing of the neighbors. They have been so far very helpful in furthering our cause from across borders”.

“You are talking as if I will just walk across the vegetable market to pick up a few eggplants to be cooked. I am sure you understand we do not get access to the neighboring territory without a valid visa. In the current political scenario when the countries are virtually at a proxy war with each other it seems next to impossible. Unless you are suggesting to me that I cross over like some of the boys who have been sent by you for training in camps across the line of control.  In that situation, I do not think any kind of travel document or the identity papers are needed”.

“Precisely that is what we are suggesting.  You will be going across to the neighboring country on valid papers. You will be accompanying the cultural troupe visiting the neighboring country for a religious congregation   which is falling due within next two weeks. The folk singers group has received the official invitation to organize an evening of devotional psalms and odes, from our brethren managing the shrine in that country. You will have people coming in from many of the countries from across the world. The international council of our mission is likely to announce the secession of our people from the constitutional territory of this country on that eventful day”.

“The seer himself is likely to be there along with some of the top functionaries of the movement to pay respect to the elders.  But that is simply a camouflage to seek support from the international body. Your trip is not meant for this event. Even though you will initially report at the shrine but will be taken to Mirpur the same day for completing the arms deal. The function at the shrine will be spread over three days. Our friends have assured you will be brought back to join the singers’ team on the last day.  You will accompany them back to satisfy the visa requirements”

“But why should you suggest this circuitous route. I can simply walk across like all the other boys have been doing with the help of local contacts. I can go across even with the help of the drug suppliers. After all it is a porous land frontier where the farmers’ fields too run into each other at the line of division of the two boundaries of these countries’.

“Yes but you are not just any other boy. We can not put you at the mercy of the border security forces. That is if you are able to escape then you are on our side otherwise you become just another dead body collected by the security forces for their day’s counting to be announced to the media and the world”.

“Your political mileage will be driven after you have been to the other side officially a few times. There can not be a better opportunity to begin this than the religious troupe to commemorate a social festival. You are the face we want to project as the future leader of our movement”.

General Durjan took Ranjit’s silence as the consent to whatever he suggested. He continued “we also believe you have every right to win over the love of your life. The mission will ensure that you are married off to the girl you are in love with after you successfully handle the assignment at Mirpur”.

The words spoken by General Durjan sounded too sweet to Ranjit’s ears.  He looked outside the windows of the room into the blue skies. It was so pleasant. The sun was smiling for him.  He felt the trees were dancing for him. The birds were singing for him. It was as if General Durjan had ordered all of them to wish him a great day. Nothing in life could be sweeter than the time spent with his beloved. And here he was being offered, a living full of honors, riches and respect by this representative of the seer. Yes there was a graver risk of his getting caught on the wrong side of law.   All his life he has thrived on the games he played with the laws of different countries. This path would bring along with it the supremacy. He will be able to attain the command that he witnessed had kept low and mighty bowed before pontiff.  He could visualize himself sitting on the thrown at shrine, with Koena on his side.  He anticipated the same General Durjan lying prostrate in front of him. The General was seeking his blessings. He raised his hands to bless the audience present there. But he said instead “I completely surrender myself to the will of our guide, philosopher, and leader, the great sage Rajamantran. I will do whatever he has ordained me to carry out. All tasks assigned by him will be sacrosanct henceforth. Please lead me to alter if He so wishes.  I am sure my emancipation lies in following the path set forth by Him”.

The photographer had finished his job of taking Ranjit’s photographs for the necessary documentation. He was asked by the men in the room to put his signature to different papers. He wanted to leave the room assuming his job had been done when General Durjan told him “the journey is planned for the Friday of next week. We will make sure all papers are delivered to you well in time. You may have to undergo training for a few days to identify the weapons we have asked for. It is essential that you accompany me to the camp where you underwent the firing practice. This gentleman here who shall be accompanying you or rather whom you shall be traveling with will help you practice and remember a few hymns and songs to be sung at the function at the gathering. Who knows when you may need them?”

Before their conclave got terminated General Durjan threw another inducement for him, “these are the keys to your new house. You should be occupying after you get back from there. The last thing, a car is already parked for your use in that bungalow”. Ranjit caught the keys thrown towards him in a cricket ball style.  There was a golden slip attached to the key chain on which was written the address to his new abode. Ranjit noticed it was in the most sought after locality of the town.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues -26

Ranjit had been warned by the General Durjan to not to get in touch with the people from the shrine for next many days, “you be little careful, lest the cops pick you up for questioning.  It is certain the forensic experts will go through each and every face that will be seen on the live coverage of the chief minister’s tour to the shrine. The live coverage had been undertaken by the television cameras of the government channel for broadcast across the nation. The police department will definitely try to mark out and identify each person who had been attending this function at the shrine on that day.  The sleuths may get in touch with all of the persons so marked for verification. It is also true that the investigating agencies will attribute any case of murders and lootings at the public places to the hands of foreign powers with the connivance of local militants. It leaves a lot to be desired about the efficient handling of all such cases by the sleuths of the state police. However it is always better to be careful”, general Durjan had been advising him. . “We will ensure the promised reward reaches you. We do not short change any one. At the same time it may not be your last job. You should be prepared to hear from us at any time of the day or night. How and where, we know how to”, General Durjan had told him.

“Does that mean I am under watch all the while? I hope they do not put her also under their observation list. I may have to eventually speak to the great priest Rajamantran to leave her alone”.

The great priest Rajamantran had addressed the press meet in the shrine two days after the killing of the police officer. “We are the worshippers of peace.  Even when the state machinery had manhandled us, we remained unprovocated. It is for every one to see that the murder of a senior police officer within the god’s premises is the handiwork of the politicians. It could be agents of the state government on the prowl. They can commit such heinous act within the place of worship. They will do anything to malign our sect and people. It is only the government machinery that had hatched this conspiracy. We will urge for an unbiased investigation by the central agencies so that the truth comes out. That only will make sure, that our stand gets vindicated”.

The messenger from the big man in the central government had assured Rajamantran of a favorable report from the central investigation agency should the state government decide to go for it. “Your task is to report the truth to the public”, General Durjan had interpreted, “and then let them see for themselves who is the villain behind the entire controversy”, and he told the press reporters.

“We have heard that you maintain a list of people who are opposed to your rise to the fame. You want to eliminate them one by one. We understand that each time a slip is taken out from the list of probable people on the hit list.  The next day the man gets killed. Is that true”?

The great priest Rajamantran kept a straight face. He answered him point blank “we do not have any one opposing our rise, nor have we risen to a level. These are all mere hearsays.  We are the humble servants of our people. It is our mighty religion to serve them. We can sacrifice our life for the cause. We will always claim another life of piety from god to serve. Your accusation is absolutely ridiculous. In case you come across any such list please do give a copy to us also to see if our name too figures on that list.  Who knows our enemies may have included our name on top of the list”.

General Durjan who was sitting at one corner of the conference venue made a mental note of getting this reporter investigated. “What he had mentioned was too close to the actual facts.  If he has obtained the inside information from someone of the shrine it was time to find the source of the leakage and block it” General Durjan told himself silently.

The reporter belongs to the rival language newspaper, which was always reporting the activities of the great priest Rajamantran and his men. The last time the big man from the central government had visited the shrine this scribe did question the relationship between him and the seer. The newspaper article written by him had gone to the extent of reporting a conspiracy being hatched at the shrine to throw away the legitimately elected state legislature. The press reporter had ascribed the increase in violent activities in the state to the conferences going on in the shrine. General Durjan brought it to the notice of the great priest Rajamantran and the big man. They had advised him “you should know any retaliation to the writings of this reporter will establish the truth of whatever he has been writing so far. The best way will be to just ignore it in Toto”.

“This time it seems the member of the third estate has gone a little too far. We will have to deal with him”, General Durjan was addressing the inner circle meeting in which the great priest Rajamantran and the press advisor to the great priest Rajamantran were the only ones taking part.

“We have so far not gone into the direct fight with the press.  In fact the members of the press have always been supportive of our cause of reviving the customs and traditions of our culture. In case we decide to do away with a member of their tribe it will become difficult to win them back to the cause of our nation. I think a meeting should be arranged between the reporter and the great seer to clear away their way of thinking. We must put forward our point of view to him to make sure he understands us better”. The press secretary wanted to avoid a confrontation with the media at any cause. He knew things have not gone too far yet.  The law agencies were always too afraid of their negative reporting. They had always taken press along. In fact no revolutionary movement can sustain itself for a longer period if the media gets against them.  He did not want to lose support of the third estate just because one small timer has been reporting against them. “I can bring him round to our way of thinking after you have had a meeting with him. I will make sure, a favorable report can be planted in his paper eulogizing our seer “he told General Durjan.

“I am surprised at your knowledge of events. Are you forgetting the same newspaper had opposed selection of the language? He was the one who urged the citizens of our state to report an alien language as their mother tongue. He did not want our mother’s tongue to be placed on the national chapter lest it gave way to creation of new states on the language formula”.

“Yes that issue has since been settled in our favor why rake up this again. Believe me any kind of dispute with the press will cost us later. Allow me to handle it”, is all he could say.   “Many a times a proactive action is better than the reaction later. I think General you will have to find out how this man gets privy to our list and other information etc.  You will deal with him. You will have to make sure it all happens quite far away from our linkage. Let the boys carry him to the other state if it is required. Then they can do away with him”.

The press secretary could not hide his discomfiture from great Priest Rajamantran, “I think we should consult the big man who happens to be close to the members of the press for any kind of action.  Ultimately every finger is likely to be pointed at him. I do not think he will relish any kind of conflict with the members of the third estate.  We should think of knocking off any one of the journalists of the state only if the big man agrees”.

“I will give my consent to whatever you have said just now.  However I still believe a warning need to be issued to this reporter to mend his way of writing his press reports. Otherwise we feel he can get really close to our plans. He can become a bigger pain in the times to come”, the great priest Rajamantran averred.

“We will arrange the set about on him in such a fashion that he gets our message very loud and clear”. General Durjan had to give his reassurance in order to keep the press secretary free from his worries.  “The press secretary after all had been correct.  It was not the best of times to keep the members of the third estate on the wrong side”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 25

Koena was wondering if Ranjit had gone back to England.  She looked around for him in the final year class rooms.  He was not to be seen any where around.  She could neither ask any one around about his welfare. She was afraid that her fellow students will place two and two together. They could make out that something had been going around in her mind.  Her everyday bus ride to and from the university was getting quite boring and lonely after the day she had gone for a walk through the botanical garden along with him. She was still wondering how she had agreed to his request, “it was not in her nature to speak to strangers leave aside going for a stroll with any one”.

They were walking through the garden silently when his hand brushed for a while on her waist. It gave her strange shivers down her spine.  She was sure he could feel her fear.  That’s why he took his hands off her instantly. But his electric touch lingered on for a while. It was for the first time she had been touched like this by a male stranger.  She wanted to tell him to put that hand back on her waist again.  It was a feeling of possessiveness. She felt a strange sense of security.  She had not experienced any thing like earlier even with her brother Munna who would often hold her with both his hands on her back. He would put his hands sometimes even on her shoulders. She was wondering if Ranjit also had felt the similar electric currents by that touch. It appeared to her that he was too shy to stroke her back again. However it was absolute electrifying feeling when that hand held her once more.  He gently pulled her towards him. He gave her a small hug from the side of her arm gently brushing his hand against her. This time she did not shiver.  Rather she felt his emotions of affection passing through that touch. She did not know if this is what “a love feeling” is between the boy and the girl. He did not utter a word. He but held her gently close to him while taking a stroll.  They continued walking down the green grass of the lawns for an unbelievably long time till he pulled her face towards his and gave a gentle kiss on her lips. She could feel the fire burning within her mind and body. She felt as if they have spoken so much to each other without even uttering a single word. The calm and tranquil of the endearing silence was not allowing them to break apart from each other.  They both wished their heavenly hug continued like this forever. They were both lost into another realm of human emotions.

However the group of students from her class who had come out into the lawns broke their sequence of dream run. She was not in the mood to go back to classroom but bunking class lectures was not permitted.  She will not speak an untruth at her home. She reluctantly bade him a silent farewell. She joined the other fellow students to walk into her classroom. She some how could feel that henceforth she would not be able to sleep peacefully.  Nor would she be able to concentrate on her work at home during the day. She knew that her day dreaming has already begun.  She will be looking at the stars during the full sunshine too.  “She was after all in love with him”. “But was that short-lived embrace an expression of love by Ranjit too?” she was not very sure about it.

She was in no doubt at that moment that the silent talk and walk with him had conveyed her feeling of love in her mind to him.  “It is not necessary to use the language of alphabets and words to convey the matters of heart. Married couples hardly speak of their love to each other yet their love is evident all through their lives. My parents have seldom proclaimed their love to each other so loudly yet their communication is always based on great attraction and longing for each other. I can always read the language of love in their eyes for each other. Their smallest actions speak of the great adulation for the other partner. They do not need the crutches of any vocabulary. Their silent and unspoken dictionary of small nuances, gestures and signs are enough to convey the desire, affection and pining for companionship,” thought Koena.

However the other second she receded into the cobwebs of doubt and skepticism “what if he fails to take the necessary initiative to convey his feelings to her.  This one time I may have to somehow convey my longing for his love. I know I have to. My feelings of my love for him are too intense “.

Her mother had noticed that her daughter had not been her own self for past few days. That she had been facing an acute mental disturbance.  “You have been depicting a lost and forlorn look. Is there any matter with you? I hope no one has entered your world of dreams. I must know if there is any one in your dreams.  I am your best friend.   You should know that when children grow up, the equation of our parent child relationship moves from that of filial to friendship. You must tell me if you have anything on your mind”.

Munna jokingly teased her, “you know mom this stammered little sister of mine is very shy. She is afraid of speaking to her own shadow too. How can she converse with any male member of the species .I bet she can never fall in love? By the time she says “I love you” to any one he will be long gone to the next female available”.

“You talk as if you are the great Casanova”. She hugged him.  But she felt that hugging her younger brother did not result into the same physical sensation as was provided by the sudden sensuous touch of Ranjit’s hand.

She found it difficult to concentrate on the   lecture being delivered by the professor in the classroom. The professor read on “in the room the women come and go thinking of Michelangelo”, he was explaining to the class the connotation, similes and metaphors used by the poet. He was amplifying to them about the lonely and depressed mindset of the protagonists created by poet in the poem. When the professor had referred to the stanza, “shifting across the floor of silent seas”, Koena had felt as if the professor was specifically addressing these lines to her. “What does the poet mean by shuffling across the floor of silent seas, in this stanza young lady”?

She felt embarrassed when she could not find a reply to this direct query raised by the professor.

“It appears to us that there are many tumultuous emotions hidden behind the facade of your silent exterior too young lady. You do not seem to be focused on the subject being taught in the classroom”.

“Please Excuse me! Sir” and she walked out of the room. She heard a loud laughter by the other members group of students as she crossed the door and came out of the class room.

She took a small leisurely walk to the library building. She was thinking that the serene and tranquil ambiance of the reading rooms in the university library will help her spell out her cerebral dilemma. That by doing this she will be able to spend some of her time. She did not want to leave the university premises for the day till she was by the spirit and body prepared to go to her home. This peculiar yet wonderful feeling of longing for some one was keeping her heart throbs jumping.  This painful yet sweet emotion of love for another person was gnawing at the core of her heart.  She was definite that her loving pain would not be cured till she was certain of Ranjit’s feelings towards her. She noticed him coming out of the reference section of the library. He was walking towards the main exit door.

She decided “I must talk to him now or I will have to hold my feelings of love for him to myself forever”.  She called out his name loudly. All the people sitting in the library reading room raised their eyebrows. They very consciously looked at her. She was too preoccupied with her romantic feelings to bother about paying much of the attention to the amusing glances being thrown towards her. She ran out after him. She held him by his hands. She clasped both of his hands in her own hands. She started asking him “thank god finally and at last I have been able to locate you. Where have you been hiding yourself away from me for so many days? Do you realize that I have been looking for you all over the town? You did not even leave your where about with any one? I hope nothing is the matter with your health”.

Ranjit had least expected this kind of emotional welcome from the young lady that too at a place full of as many public. He immediately held her from her arms to lead her out of the reading arena of the library.

“Come on let us go out of this place. People are getting disturbed here”. They had moved out of the library. He made her sit on a bench under the shade of a gulmohar tree. “I did not know you will be missing me. I did not know that my absence could mean so much to you.  Otherwise I would not have gone abroad even on my grand mother’s demise”. He had deliberately emphasized the word abroad, knowing fully well that he has till date not revealed his local connections to her.  Nor did he mean to tell her any truth about himself till he had finally won her over in marriage.

“I am sorry I did not know about that.  You poor soul you must have had a terrible time.  But you should have sent a message through someone. Or you could have at least come to see me before leaving for abroad.  I am sorry for the poor grand mother of yours who died”.

‘Oh just do not spare a thought for her. She was too old.  It is in a way good that the God Almighty called her back. Her living was causing a pain to many others too. She was spreading lots of soreness around for others too besides, she had been leading a miserable life for herself”. “At least this one line is true”, he smiled within, and “if she had not died she would have been a real pain for me”, muttered Ranjit very too softly to be heard.

“Come you seem to be famished.  We will have some thing to eat. I believe a cup of coffee will do you good. You seem to be lost too”, his remarks virtually brought tear to her eyes.

She wanted to tell him “it is all because of you that I do not remain my own self.  I have been like this ever since I have felt my love for you. My mind and soul will not take it easy till I declare my feelings towards you.  I want to hug you once again. I wanted to check if I get the same sensation that I had felt the first time when we had gone for a leisure walk and you had held me tenderly yet sensuously  from my waist”.  She was however apprehensive that such haste on her part could also have put him off. She did not know what feeling he had carried about her in his mind and hearts as yet.

He ordered a cup of coffee each for both them.

“Do you not feel that you should have asked me if I wanted to eat any snacks?  I am feeling voracious. I have not eaten a morsel of a good meal for a long time.  I suggest you too can join me in eating a hearty snack if you wish so. I am ordering myself a queen’s meal”. She ordered the steward to serve them a large toasted chicken sandwich along with the plate full of wafers.  “I hope you are carrying enough of cash in your pocket”, she told him.

Ranjit was at a loss to express his surprise. He was fumbling with words. He had never been a witness to this side of her personality.  She has always been very detached and reserved kind of person, an introvert. She would hardly utter an expression even in an hour long meeting that day when she had met him all alone the other day while they had walked through in the lawns. He had that day some how expected her to respond to his conversation, but she always communicated by monosyllables. Even while she was commuting by the bus to her residence he would often sit next to her to engage her in some kind of small talk. Yet she always acted as timid, scared and lost kind of girl. Her silent and balanced exterior was a quality that had pulled him towards her.

He asked her “I hope you do not have any kind of fever or any other such ailment”. He wanted to make sure she was not unwell of sort.

“Why do you want me to fall sick? I am perfectly all right. Oh I see you are worried because I am acting like a chatter box.  That is so because I have had an insight which I am sure if I tell you, you will also start jumping like I have been. Do you ever realize what it takes to fall in love? I am in love.  I want to savor the benign feeling till it lasts. However my only apprehension is so far it is only a one-sided affair”.

Ranjit was amused at her girlish pranks. “Is it the initial flowering of youth in a small girl”? He dare not ask her. He was wondering who the person on the other side of this awakening would be. “It is quite evident that my charm has found another victim.  But I must wait to hear it from the horse’s mouth or mare’s mouth. I do not want my haste to result into a big disappointment later on”.

“I hope the person on the other side is also as much in love with me. It depends on you how long you want this feeling should last”, her casual remark spoken in a very non expressive manner did not make much impact on him initially.

She burst out laughing by the time he understood her statement, “You are a stupid fellow. Do you not see that I am talking to you?  It is your acknowledgement of my love that I am desperately hoping for. And you are sitting like a dud. Can you not see that I am in love with you? Will you now acknowledge your love for me?  Or do you intend wasting the god sent opportunity to you”.

He held her right hand in his both hands. He kissed her lightly on her palm “let me admit that to you. I fell in love with you at the first glance. But I had always feared your rejection. I felt that my telling you that I am in love with you, will take you away from me.  I dared not open my mouth. I admit now many times all over again times “I love you, I love you, I love you and I love you”.

She put her hands on his mouth to stop him from speaking any further as his words were becoming too louder now. However his gesture had completely floored her. She would have thrown her into his arms on his emotional declaration of her love, if they had not been sitting in the coffee shop. People sitting on the next table could hear his acknowledgement of lady’s love in such a vocal manner. Those people just stood up from their seats.  They had started clapping for the just fallen in love couple. Ranjit and Koena both felt embarrassed.  They hurriedly got up from their chairs. He put a few ten rupees notes, enough to cover the bill, on the table and they walked into the world outside. .

“I do not think I have to travel with you in the bus again after today onwards if you consent to sit on my motor cycle, I mean on the pillion of my motor cycle. That means may I drop you home my lady if you do not mind”, he asked her.

“What do you mean by driving me home? I never knew you owned a bike also.   Just a minute, if I can understand you correctly, you are telling me that you used to travel in the bus all the way to see me and come back to this place to pick up your bike? You must be crazy. Like a fool I have been worried if you will ever tell me about your love? I do not find you a shy personality or an introvert type. Then why did you take so long in admitting your love to the one whom you have adored for so long”.

“Please do not expect me to answer all your questions in one breath. You will allow me some time to assimilate the feeling of love for a few more days.  It is only then may be I will tell you all that I had to undertake to gain your majesty’s attention”, he told her.

“Yes but for a few more days you will have to carry on with the bus journey. Once I introduce you to my parents and if they approve of you then may be we can travel back together on your vehicle’.

“And what if they say no” he put a question mark.

“Then I am sorry, sir, please forgive me”, she giggled. She also gave him the intense smile that had exuded complete love for him.  Ranjit wished he had a camera to capture her lovely smile and the twinkling of her eyes which were full of love for him for perpetuity. The two love doves could not hide the aura of affection and sensuality for each other. Their love for each other became evident to the other students traveling along in the same bus. One of the passengers passed a comment to his fellow traveler, “it seems the cupid has decided to travel with us in this bus to spread the fragrance of new valentine season”.

Ranjit knew that he had lied to her about his living in the boarding house, when she asked him about his residential address. Till date no girl had wanted to know so many details about him. They were always blindingly overawed by his make believe status of a non-resident Indian who have come from abroad to study. He felt little scared to think of the outcome after she would come to know of his real position in life.  A murderer, a smuggler and a courier of arms will certainly not be the kind of mate she had aspired for in her life. The bus took a sharp turn to the right throwing him out of the seat.  She held him back by both her hands “you must be careful lest you fall out of the seat”.  She indulgently helped him pull his weight back on to the seat again.  Her hearty care and concern for him moved him emotionally. He pulled her closely towards him.

“You are a shameless creature.  Do you not realize that this is a public place?”

“Then let us go to a place where there are no people around “, he started laughing.

“Why do you not wait?  That time will also come, after we have got married. Then you can hug me as much as you want to”. She covered her face with both her hands out of embarrassment.

Their bus had arrived at their stop too soon. She hurriedly collected her baggage and got up from the seat she had been sitting in.  Ranjit too got up. He also wanted to get down along with her. But he was pushed back by her “I am sorry you can not come with me, not today.  You go back to collect your bike. I will take you to my home at the appropriate time”. “I hope it comes little too soon” he wished. Her forthright answers, her spontaneity in acknowledging her love for him had disturbed him. “I will give up anything in life to obtain her love yet the very thought that I had been cheating her scares me.  I know it will be a short lived affair from the very beginning, because the moment she will come to know the truth about me she will not accept me. The painful thought of losing the love of my life is eating at my heart. But what the hell, I will cross the bridge when I reach there” Ranjit had been indulging into self talk with his own self.

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues chapter 24

Ranjit was traveling in the tractor trolley along with the laborers. The laborers were fetching the debris, back from the shrine to dump these outside the town limits. He was dropped on the main road by the trolley. The hue and cry caused after he had shot Tanwar gave him enough time to jump from the pillar directly into the backyard of the   Sanctum Sanctorum. He ran towards the trolley parked in the street behind. The trolley took off immediately, before the police and the security forces could come into action and stop the movement of traffic. They were still looking for the shooter from amongst the crowd of the pilgrims, at the main gate and the other smaller exit points of the shrine.

The bullet he fired had punctured Tanwar’s neck from behind.  Tanwar fell just in front of the stairs leading from the periphery to the outer gate. The earsplitting music being played on the shrines’ loud speakers drowned the pitch sound of the silencer fitted gun used by Ranjit. The other police officers walking down the outer circle first thought Tanwar had slipped on the marble floor, soon the blood gushed out of wound created by the gun shot. The Chief Minister Pratap had almost fainted when he saw this ghastly sight.  The senior officers accompanying him thought of the worst. They feared that Pratap too had been shot at. The bewilderment amongst all the people running towards the fallen chief minister gave Ranjit enough time to jump from the temporary platform put up for the repairs of the pillar.

He boarded the state transport bus going towards Depalgarh. His uppermost thought told him, “The news of the shoot out will soon spread and I must cover as much distance as possible between me and the holy place”.

General Durjan had instructed him “you can use any of the means available so long it was not a private vehicle e.g. a two-wheeler or a private car or a jeep. These vehicles will be searched at all points and are likely to attract attention. The safe mode to travel away from the shrine and the city could be a train”.

“But I do not want to waste time waiting for one”. Ranjit had said “the schedule for the next train may not coincide with my plans”.

“You must jump into the first public bus available and move away from the town. The cops will not be able to catch you.  But you must remember that every young man found in the vicinity will be the likely suspect.  A rigorous questioning by the police could break any one down.  The police officers will be at their most ruthless after the murder of their senior officer.  You must go away from the scene of the crime as soon and as fast as you can. We do not want you to fall into the hands of the police .Your falling into police hands can jeopardize all future plans of the organization”.

General Durjan was too keen to save this boy for his future plans. They had long felt the need of such a courier, who could move the consignments from the drop points in different parts of the country to the shrines and their other storage hideouts. Besides he also had the experience of getting into different countries borders without having been caught by their customs even once. A clean record was always helpful with the customs and other authorities at different check posts. The movement of the clandestine arms was a job of a professional. It was certainly not the job of the amateurs of the cadres employed by General Durjan through the shrine. Such amateurs from the shrine had proved quite expensive.  Their unprofessional handling of the consignments had alerted the security forces and other anti subversive agencies. The inept handling by such layperson resulted in capturing of the arms and the couriers themselves by the security forces.

Ranjit found a seat for himself in the crowded bus. He went to sleep. He was exhausted by a long wait on the wooden platform all through the night. The severity of the  cold winter night and the fear of being found out by the cops below kept him absolutely still and virtually on his back all through the night. The arduous task of staying immobile was attained through the military drill he had undergone at the camp. The instructor will often repeat “you must stay still. You must stay calm.  There is death waiting for you if you move. One little movement of hand or the foot means the instant death. You can defy it by being momentarily dead rather than going up permanently”. The instructor also taught him the art of breathing without feeling the noise of air in his nostrils, through the yogic exercises. “Be mentally alert and physically dead. Think of a tiger in the forest who waits on his prey without letting out any sound and then suddenly it pounces on its prey when the moment arrives”, he would often say.

Frequent progress of the boarding and alighting of the passengers after every few kilometers failed to disturb the sound sleep he had gone into. He dreamt he was back into the university. He saw a beautiful and charming female figure emerging from the dark in a distance. She was Koena coming closer to him. She would yet get away the instant he reached out to touch her. He dreamt of traveling in an aircraft along with her.  They were both landing into some international airport.  But when the aircraft landed she was not on the seat next to his. He saw two hands pulling her away from him.  The hands gradually formed a human face. The face belonged to Abdul. He dreamt of fighting it out with Abdul.  Ranjit managed to snatch her away from him.  He was embracing her too tightly now. She squirmed under his weight and protection. He would not let go of her.

The noise of the voices of many people woke him up. He was holding on to fellow passenger’s handbag, whose stop had arrived. The fellow passenger wanted to get off the bus, “you seem to be quite sleepy and tired. It appears you have not slept for many days “, the passenger remarked as he picked up his baggage from underneath him.

As the bus reached Depalgarh he heard a vendor selling the afternoon edition of the newspapers shouting at the top of his voice “shootout in holy shrine .DIG killed. Narrow escape for the chief minister Pratap”. Ranjit picked up a copy of the vernacular newspaper and started towards his home. The bunch of extra keys handed over to him by his grandmother when she was alive would still be available at the place he had hidden them .He wanted to get away from the entire world for the next few days till he was mentally and physically fit to come back.  “There could not be a better place than your own shack”, he told himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues Chapter -23

The news that the state Chief Minister Pratap had plans to come to the Sanctro Sanctorum, to pay respects and to pray for the evil deeds of the killers of the bus passengers had been telecast by the evening news bulletin. The newsreader also mentioned some of the names of the state officers who will be accompanying him to the most sacred shrine. The intended target’s name though was not mentioned.  It was unlikely that he will not be there. He was the in charge of the entire area and the security of the very important dignitaries will have to be handled by him personally. He knew that these were not the times to depend on the customary posse of a few policemen posted within the area only.

General Durjan was fully convinced, “It is definite that he will come. Your prey will accompany the troupe. We will not find a better chance to get him. You should be fully prepared to make the best use of this opportunity. He has been dispatched to you by the God himself. Can there be better signal than the fact that the sacred forces themselves are bringing forth the target to your fort”.  He had called on him in the evening to break news to him in person.

“But the security cover for the chief minister and his officers will be too alert and sensitive to any attack. How do you expect to reach him when covered by so many guns totting soldiers? I will rather look for a situation when we can get him alone”, he told General Durjan.

“The carrying of the arms by the security forces in this holy place is considered irreverent. We can assure you that it is not only our marked target but even the others can also be getting rid of.  However as you know the great priest Rajamantran is very conscious of protecting the innocents.  We will ensure you have to make use of only a single bullet to get only our wanted criminal man. We are not interested to harm even a fly beyond that”.

It sounded strange justice to him.  Yet the religious jurisprudence was beyond him. “So why should I waste time and brains on what can not be explained and understood.”

He spent his entire next day in locating the spot from where he will take a pot shot at the target and at the same time will be able to immediately vanish and mingle into the surging crowds which will be there at the time of most auspicious New Year day. The farmers from around many of villages will be coming for the Holy Communion to this place on that day.

General Durjan knew from his experience how a sniper operates. He did not want to waste the young man’s life and skills after a single job. Such committed youngsters are quite rare and if utilized in the right manner can yield much bigger advantage to the cause. They have to be trained to give themselves completely to a single mission in their life.  Even though this boy started with a mission to make the extra money, he had the mercenary zeal and the spirit to do or die for his mission. Such impossible to find trait must be honored, nurtured and protected.  Their suicidal tendency though must be curbed. Because for them a failure to accomplish what they set out for often results into loss of self respect. In such an event of failure the ultimate result brings a self inflicted death by such intense personality. Many a great men have laid their lives cheaply for want of any anchor that could nurture their talent. General Durjan knew if their mission of complete freedom has to spread to the grass roots, boys like Ranjit Sehgal will have to be turned into formidable foes to the opponents of the duty. Though the arms  couriers were available a dime a dozen, the willingness to die for protecting the consignment meant for the cause will come only after each worker has been fully involved in some subversive activity that could act as a deterrent to his moving away from them. As only then he will feel a part of the activity. This is like unleashing the first volley of bullets into the enemy territory by the soldier.  Thereafter he gets into the thick of war.  It becomes too late for him to look back.  He either has to fight it out and come back alive or he may fall a victim to the enemy fire and be declared a martyr. This makes a game of psychological warfare a win win situation either way for him. This human weakness has often been exploited to the hilt by General Durjans of all warrior tribes ever since the beginning of human history. The sharing of the exploits of the loot though from the wars initially were strong incentives and motivations to volunteer for the battles; but it takes lot of courage to shoot and kill the first enemy.  Any General who can get his army’s soldier does that; can only come out as a winner. He too wanted to come out a winner even though he knew from day one, “it was too difficult a task”.

General Durjan after the thorough debugging and sanitation of the shrine’s outer areas, zeroed down on the spot where Ranjit will go into hiding. One of the three ancient pillars situated within the shrine premises was under repairs. The sand bags and the wooden planks were still strewn around on the narrow stairs leading to the upper stories of the pillar. The security in charge had asked the laborers employed on the job to repair the pillar,   to remove the same so that nothing could be hidden in the bags or wooden logs.  He had some how overlooked the temporary wooden platform erected by the workmen to carry out the repairs on the upper outer walls of the pillar. The wooden platform directly looked over the periphery of the sanctum sanctorum. Yet if some one hid on the platform; he could not be seen by any one from the ground below. Ranjit who had dressed himself as a workman joined the laborers to remove the material as directed by the security- in- charge. He stayed back waiting for the target to appear. The others laborers came back from the stairs after their repair job was done. He was hidden from the world below but he had to lie still lest any of his movement could be felt or heard by the people down there.

 

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues . Chapter-22

General Durjan took him to a street leading out of the main town in a jeep and he himself drove the vehicle to a farmhouse, a few kilometers away from the last octroi post. Ranjit sat in the front seat along with General Durjan. As soon as the vehicle took off two boys came running towards the open jeep and jumped into the rear seat. They too were carrying similar weapons, “may be, they are also on the familiarization and shooting trip”, thought Ranjit.

A cut out of the targeted person had been placed before each firing stand and the instructor will exhort each one of the shooters while practicing target shooting, “you warriors you have to remember that it is either you or the target that will come out of this mission alive. If you miss, then it is you who will die. You are not looking at the card boxes but the traitors and the exploiters of society. They are your enemies.  They are not the dummies. Look at them as real faces and then fire”. If some one hit the flag, he would personally go to him and congratulate.

The training in the art of escape from the place of attack made it clear to him, “we value your life; so long as you do not get caught; hence you must try to come out alive from the enemy’s fort. Should you fail to come out bite the chocolate tied to a thread on your neck; this will give you instant relief, which will save you from the torture, pain, and humiliation at the hands of the enemies. Each on of you will have a cover up following you; to ensure he kills the one who gets captured. The cover up process is adopted as a back up exercise to ensure elimination of either the target or the missionary who fails to achieve the mission assigned. The mission is supreme to all of us. You know the reward after accomplishment will take care of you and your family for generations to come at the same time though the family will be taken care of even after failure but you may not be there to share the booty with them”.

General Durjan himself who elaborated on the great sacrifices of their predecessors and preachers handled the period in theology. The perpetrators of the atrocities on the believers of faith and the trials and tribulations of the faithful to religion; had to undergo; taught them about defiant and relentless fight carried by the braves in all ages. “This training is only an introduction to the intense and the deeper training to be followed at the other side of the frontiers which will make a complete, fiercer and stronger warrior out of you as compared to the ones created by the armed forces of any country”, General Durjan would often tell them.

He briefed them about the intended target’s movements, his location advantages, and disadvantages, possible proximity they could attain to the target or the improbability of achieving the given task were all explained to them at the intensive training schedules. “Remember the task will have to be finished at the first go. There will never be a second chance. In case you are not confident of cent percent success, you must have the patience to wait for precise moment.  You should always remember that it is you have who have decided the hour and the minute of death of your target when he is put on the list of defaulters. This minute of his death will definitely come. Your courage from within will give you desired results”, General Durjan maintained.

“The minutes for accomplishing the task should come to me sooner than expected”, thought Ranjit. Two boys were assigned the job of keeping surveillance on his movements all the while lest he wanted to give it all up and run away. He had resolved to give it a try to lead his life as suggested by the seer.  Yet many a times he wondered if the promised wads of foreign currency will ever be used by him.  “What if he fails to get at the target? What if the return fire of security forces kills him?  Even the boys from the shrine who had been deployed to keep an eye at him can finish him to remove all traces of his connections back to the pontiff. At least his family will be able to come out of the rigmaroles of day-to-day pangs of wants and shortages in their life, he thought to himself. This will also tell his father that he was not a worthless son after all”.

“If he comes out of the task successful he will be able to get married to the girl of his choice. How can the parents of the girl refuse if the shrine puts pressure on them?  Otherwise also till date they have all fallen to his charms.  This girl will be no exception”. He could feel the closeness of her warmth even today. He remembered the day she agreed to accompany him to a walk through the lawns of the university gardens. She was coming out of the classroom when he accidentally met her on the way. He was in no mood to go to the university but a sense of idleness was eating into him and out of sheer boredom he drove to the building that housed her classroom. He did not expect she will agree to accompany him but still he took the chance to ask her out for a cup of coffee.

“No I do not relish it much “, she had told him.

“In that case if you have some time, can we walk through the lawns? I am sure a walk in this nice weather will do well to both our moods. I am not able to sit through the class out of sheer boredom”, he told her.

During walk through the botanical gardens he tried holding her softly on her lower waist. She trembled at the first touch. He let it go after a while. But a few minutes later had put his hand again on her waist and finding no resistance continued placing it there all through the walk. He desperately wanted to hold her still closer and give her a big hug. The scent of her body was having a strong aphrodisiacal effect on his mind and heart. He knew that she was equally affected the way he had been. A few more seconds of this heavenly togetherness could have made them forget about the worlds around them. But They had hardly walked through for an hour or so when a group of boys and girls from her class appeared on the scene. She had to go with them to attend the next class. A little of her company was enough to convey to him that she too was interested to make friends with him, but the fear of betraying her parents’ confidence in her was holding her back.

“They have sent me to complete my higher education with so many expectations. I will never ever be able to let them down”, she told him.

He felt her priorities were completely different from other girls he came across earlier. Those girls were always too eager to find out if he will marry them and take them abroad with them.  She had always refused to keep the small gifts brought by him for her.

She will say “I do not use any kind of cosmetics or perfumes hence they will be of no use to me “. He was always at his wits end to understand as to what could impress her till one day she herself suggested, “I am too fond of reading. Please see if you can come across some old fiction and novels.  I shall of course pay for the same. He had not read any such book in his life and had to seek the help of the shopkeeper to select a few books on English fiction for her.

“I hope you have already gone through these “. Her question had put him in a little discomfort him but he felt relaxed when she said, “now do not tell me the stories, I will not be able to read if you unravel the whole thing in advance. I always like the eagerness to find out what happens next. Yes I do not have the money right now and will pay it to you when I get my pocket money next month”. It was her simplicity and honesty that was getting to him besides of course her untouched and unexplored beauty.

“She carried a whiff of heavenly fragrance around her, like the first shower of the monsoon. She was like the only rose bud that raises its head when the spring breaks after a long autumn season” he told himself. She is meant for me only and I will never ever tell the boss about her, what if the gang ever comes to know about her and want me to do the same to her that I have done to other girls, “I will tell them she is my actual wife and not the pretended one like all others were”, he convinced himself.

Once or twice it did occur to him to talk it out with the boss, and settle once for all that she was meant for him and only him. “I shall do that when the necessity arises”, he had always thought.  “And now with the support of the seer, no boss ever will be able to touch what is rightfully my own”, he removed the fear on his mind.  He dreamt of the luxurious life he would be able to lead staying abroad with the love of his life Koena.

The little doubt still persisted, “what if her parents will not agree to their matrimony, have not the parents of other girls agreed to, whenever he proposed”. He had by now lost the count of the number of marriages he had embarked on. He started counting and recalling the names of the girls he had dumped in different countries. After a few of the names he lost count and gave up the effort.

“Koena was different; she will remain as my wife and bear our children. She will stay with me all my life. I will not travel to the places where I have taken the other girls”.

 

 

 

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – Chapter 21

The much-anticipated invitation to Ranjit for a meeting with the seer Rajamantran came late in the evening. Ranjit had taken his dinner at the common feast organized at the community kitchen. He was impatiently waiting for the summons

from the pontiff since he had sent a message across that he should wait for his call.

 “You can not leave until the saint orders you to do so. He wants you to have your dinner at the common feast. You must wait for an audience with him” the boy had told him.

Ranjit was led to a room upstairs for the interview. The saint Rajamantran was sitting on the floor with both of his legs spread in front of him. The gun brought by Ranjit was lying on the right of seer. Two boys standing behind the seer looked quite ferocious. They had their fingers on the triggers. Ranjit knew the volley of fire could kill many people if boys put little more pressure on those fingers. He was trembling.  His fear had engulfed all other persons sitting in room. Ranjit touched the feet of Rajamantran. He stood with head bowed and hands folded. Ranjit had been expecting some kind of reprimand and admonishment from him.

Instead the pontiff spoke to him in most endearing tone, “you should relax young man. I know you are the son of this soil. Every son of the  soil has to pay a price for having been born in the toughest of times. You’re taking to drugs smuggling initially. Thereafter you have been betraying the young women around every where. Finally you have been employed in the act of bringing in arms from across borders and beyond seven seas at the cost of your life and freedom. It points to only one fact that the country has not been administered in right manner. The young ones of this country cannot find their bearings.  They do not quite know how to live a pious life.  They do not quite know what is right or what is wrong. They are desperately searching in the dark for all the answers…. The politicians have not been able to ameliorate the masses from the shackles of poverty.   Their filthy greed and hunger for the lucre has brought in them their overwhelming sense of servitude towards the capitalist countries of the west. Even today they want to remain the stooges of foreign powers through the pawning of the agriculturist, the industrialist, the educationist, the banker and so much so the common citizen to the alien powers by the economic policies dictated by big financial muscles of awful domination. I believe the time has now come to turn the tide. Our religion teaches us tolerance but not at the cost of subservience. Our self-respect, our human self-esteem and above all our right to independent thinking must not be subject to any cause. I beseech all rightful thinking people esp., young blood in the countryside to come and join our movement.  That will take our nation to new heights of independent edict. As for you young man we are not sure of your intentions. You are free to go back to the life of making a few dollars cuts from the contrabands. One-day you will fall into the net of the lawmakers.  That will be your sure ultimate end. On the other hand should you desire to join our fight for survival of faith which I believe you are; you have to prove your allegiance to the faith.”

“And how do I do that my lord!” he heard his voice getting hoarse due to excitement. Rajamantran the seer beckoned to one of the boys to bring forward the small urn kept in one corner of the room. The urn was decorated with fresh flowers. Ranjit remembered having seen this pitcher at the shrine where he had gone along with his mother to pay obeisance to the seer on his grandmother’s last rites. “Do not worry your mother has reached home “, he told him.

Ranjit looked at the pot, and wondered if “it contained some one’s ashes and saint wanted him to immerse them some where.  May be he wants him to make some monetary contribution in the decorated vessel for the faith”.  He did not count how much money he had in his wallet, when he left home along with his mother, besides he had to pay for the tickets on the way.  There will hardly be any amount left. But a pontiff of his status, who can bring the entire state machinery to its knees, will hardly be looking forward for an offering from a small time courier. The young boy kept the urn at the feet of the seer.  He addressed one of the elderly gentlemen, “General will you do us this favor please”?  The Gentle man named General Durjan got up from his seat, picked up the pot and brought it to Ranjit “you will take out one slip out of the many slips available in this container pot. The mission wants you to prove your loyalty, pledge your willingness to join the faith by punishing the person whose name appears on the slip, within seven days from today. And in case you fail to do so within stipulated time our boys will take your life. So before you really take one slip out you better make up your mind; because once you have seen the name written on this piece of paper, you either eliminate the man whose name is scribbled or you pay with your life in return”.

“But why should I kill any innocent human being “, Ranjit asked General Durjan and wondered if the pontiff knew about grandmother as well.  “We can assure you their names in this warrant list are added only after we are fully convinced that these people are not innocents. They are the enemies of our faith, the nation and the community. Any one who opposes the system of belief of our society does not have a right to live. Let me tell you further that in case you are successful in this mission the riches will be yours for the asking. We plan assigning you the task of organizing arms procurement for the mission on such a large scale that you could take home sacks full of dollars “.

There was a pin drop silence in the room. Ranjit had put his left hand in the urn and took out a slip that contained death warrants for some one. Ranjit handed over the piece of paper to pontiff. He asked General Durjan, “Let the boy read aloud the name.  Let the august audience gathered here realize that we do not forgive the betrayers of faith, nor do we kill innocents”.

The name announced threw a pall of fear on some present but it also made some of them ecstatic. If this could be achieved, their mission will become a force to reckon with in this country.

General Durjan took Ranjit away,” come young man, let us initiate your baptism and training thereafter”. The initiation took place by sprinkling holy water and tying a new bandana on him. “You can select any of the guns from the lot available and accordingly we will train you in the use of fire arm. Though I feel as a courier you must have had the opportunity to play with a few of these. I will suggest you need to get familiar with these two main weapons initially”. He picked up a long-range rifle with binoculars and the other was a smaller gun similar to the one that had been brought by Ranjit. Ranjit wondered how many couriers were operative in the country. He was looking at the number of arsenal displayed there.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues Chapter 20

Security forces had put up large barricades of iron railings and other steel fortification just outside the main building of the secretariat where the procession lead by the cleric for laying down their arms was to be stopped.
“The entire group can not be allowed to go inside the chief minister’s office. I shall request that you along with few of your trusted lieutenants can come with us. The others will remain in our protection formally till the government holds parleys with you and decide the final outcome”, chief of the state police had not bargained for what the civil administrator had brought upon him through his wily manipulations and he wanted to avoid another fiasco at this stage lest they were made to prove fools again in the eyes of the entire world watching them through the lens men of the media. .
“Yes, but that tantamount to putting all of us under arrest, which violates the very agreement that it is surrender and not the capture? We are not going inside that macabre construction. You can call the chief minister right here on the road and the rendezvous can be arranged in front of the media, the press and the other public; otherwise you can take us to the place where this administration wants to keep us as captives” the holy man knew that he now had the government by the neck and nothing could prevent its faltering once again.
At exactly the same time the Home Secretary who had gone to the shrine to negotiate was briefing Pratap. Pratap was exasperated at the way things had been handled at the shrine. He did not want to have the seer on his hands, not where the world media could expose the helplessness of his government. The law of the land had been turned into a mockery by the evil machinations of his predecessor, through the Home Secretary. He understood the faux pause created by the bureaucrat’s agreement of surrender. The chief of the state police had briefed him in advance of the home secretary’s return from the shrine, on the wireless network while he was traveling back. He did not want the seer along with his goons to enter the state head quarters.
“The state police have virtually become a pawn in his hands, they could neither let him get away scot-free absolving him of all the explosive utterances nor could they take him as a prisoner without glorifying his sacrifice. The public sentiment can flare up and cost heavily in the elections of the local bodies”, thought Pratap. He called in two of his senior colleagues to deal with the situation. Brahma could not be sent to meet the saint, whose abhorrence and hatred for the party Brahma represented was well known over all political circles. He often referred to the party as the party of traders and shop keepers, who have always exploited the poor peasantry of the nation either through the religious superstitions and blind beliefs or through the malpractices of the trades adopted by the neo literate traders of the state, since most of the peasants were illiterate. The seer often referred to them as “the leeches stuck to the body figurate of the farming society”. Yet he called him in to get as divergent views as possible for coming out of this imbroglio.
The finance Minister Dhanwan represented the same area as that of the seer. In fact he comes from the same tribe the great priest Rajamantran belonged to. His forefathers at some stage were directly associated with the shrine the pontiff controlled, but ever since one of the granduncles of Dhanwan had gone abroad for higher studies their family had gradually drifted away from the shrine. The spread of education brought a new awakening to the family whose members carved out a name in various fields. Dhanwan’s, father was a judge of the supreme courts. Dhanwan himself was highly educated; his interest to develop the backward areas in his district brought him into state politics. A highly respected member of different committees of various shrines and social institutes can help in easing out the crisis and could possibly influence the way a great Priest thought.
“The irrational clairvoyant is determined to achieve martyrdom at the cost of our government, Chief, as any sane man can see, it is a deliberate act instigated by the powers at the centre. The home department has not failed to handle; they have definitely allowed the situation to get out of hands, in order to make your government a scapegoat. The game on this chessboard has reached a point of no further moves. If we send him to the gallows; the public outcry will become difficult to control, at the same time if let him go scot-free from here his temerity will increase. One day he will take the entire state and the community down with him, the centuries of brotherhood, the thread of communal harmony, and the sacrifices of all the greats of our nation have been put to test by the negation of people’s will power. The erstwhile chief minister and his mentors at the central government have gone too far this time. This proverbial camel will throw every one out one day, you mark my words “, Dhanwan had remarked.
They saw the swords and guns being raised by the boys on the ground in a distance as they looked out of the windows in the chief minister’s room. The seer was exerting pressure on the police outside to take a decision.
Brahma suggested, “But you can have him sent to the government guest house and put him under house arrest. May be you can release him later through a magistrate on a mild charge of creating public nuisance”.
“And become a laughing stock for the entire media and the opposition”, Pratap wanted to retort, but this was not the time to show resentment. He needed the support of his allies as much as he needed the support of his own party members to diffuse the situation created by the pontiff.
Dhanwan came to his rescue, ‘I do not think it is necessary for you to go down and meet him, Incase he is not interested to come upstairs alone. Nor will I suggest he should be allowed to go scot-free and without a charge. Since the surrender technically took place to the police at the shrine, he should be released from the police custody through a magistrate who will have to be brought to the scene outside your office. In order to take care of the political compulsions, I shall personally go down on your behalf to meet the pontiff. I will accept the memorandum if he has any, or even if there is no written memo I shall speak to him on behalf of the government. If I have to sacrifice my position for letting him go off the hook that will at least save the state from getting deprived of your leadership. The people of the state need you at this stage. The poor peasants of the state cannot afford another election at such short intervals, nor can the state exchequer bear the load of these elections if our ministry is dismissed by the central government. The governor’s report will not be able to make you a scapegoat if you seek my resignation for letting the seer and his goons off”.
The magistrate who was literally hauled from the court in session knew that he had to carry out the directions of the state administration. He was too happy to go along to do what was directed by the finance minister Dhanwan. After all it is not every day you get a chance to oblige a politician of his repute. The magistrate was fully aware that the favor done will be definitely paid back without even asking. He was asked to “order release of the seer and his boys out side city limits under the maintenance of public peace act. He was asked to ensure they were delivered from the judicial custody on the spot. This act of capitulation by the state government (which was managed by the home secretary on the intriguing orders of the big man) should not be mentioned in the court order. That will also make sure that the big man and his people in the shrine will be given the least possible publicity advantage”.
The jubilation of the unconditional release by the sub divisional magistrate outside the city territory was celebrated by the firing of the guns into the air by the boys. Ranjit was all along overawed by the drama unfolding till now. He was too stunned to see the state government agencies kneel down in front of the seer. This was virtually abandonment and surrender of the public authority by the police and the politicians alike.
He knew that “The seer Rajamantran certainly has some other plans beyond merely showing down the state agencies. His vision possibly can show me the way to my life. It is likely that my rudderless life may find a direction and an anchor in him. It is probable that I could lift myself in the eyes of my family and most of it in the opinion of my father, in whose mind I am still a good for nothing fellow, a progeny who has brought a bad name to the family”. He thought of Koena, “with the blessings of the great seer if I could attain even a percentage point of self respect while working for his mission, the respect thus gained can get me the love of my life. I must open up my doings to the saint and seek my way through in my future life”.
He started moving himself closer enough to where pontiff was seated in order to catch his attention. In the melee he started inching his way towards the throne on which he saw the seer had been standing in a regal posture. The seer Rajamantran had raised both his hands towards the sky. He was seeking the blessing of the lord Almighty. The pontiff was addressing his disciples. He threw a glance at Ranjit, who was completely hypnotized by the mesmerisation of the seer.
“We all should know that the battle has not been won as yet. It is the only beginnings of making these non-believers see the strength of our powers. We have the powers that are drawn from the Holiest seat of our faith. We shall visit the Sanctro Sanctorum to pay our obeisance and gratitude for this victory. We shall organize special prayers in the Sanctro sanctorum in order to extend our thanks to the common people. We must show our gratitude to the innocent multitude that has stood by us in this hour of trial. We will seek blessings from the greats of our religion, whose teachings are enshrined in the fountainhead of the Holiest of the Holiest scriptures. We shall further seek direction to our movement from that holy place only. Are you all willing to join me in this crusade”?
“Yes” the crowd shouted at the top of their voice. Ranjit could hear his voice was the loudest in that chorus.
“God we pray you to lead us to the destiny decided by you”, Ranjit uttered these words along with all others present there.
The cavalcade of the jubilant saint and his followers began its march towards the grand trunk road once again. The policemen were now walking at a distance behind the march past very reverentially. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya did not think it prudent to accompany them. His presence had been replaced him by Tanwar. Tanwar too maintained a discreet remoteness from the main entourage. Ranjit had by now managed to reach quite near enough to the pontiff. The great seer Rajamantran kept his hands on Ranjit’s shoulders to alight from the throne he had been standing on. He looked at the young boy and recognized him at once.
“You are the police inspector’s son. Where is your mother? Have you sent her back home safe with some one?” Ranjit was touched to find the saint’s concern for his family.
“You must have an audience with me when we get back. I am sure our social order can make use of your skills in meeting and countering the moves of the enemies to the faith”.
The Statement by the seer completely stunned him. He never expected such blunt and to the point description of his activities by the religious head.
“Does that mean he has been spying on me through someone? Is it possible he is also in touch with the suppliers of armaments from abroad?’
The saint spoke again “you should not burden your brains so much? We shall have answers to all of your equerries after we have reached the sanctum sanctorum “.
The welcome to the entourage lead by great seer Rajamantran at the Sanctro sanctorum was a grand affair. The leaders of the community garlanded the pontiff ….. They lifted him on a palanquin to carry him around the boundary of the Sanctro sanctorum. After having finished this ceremony they delivered him on the inner boundary of the sanctum sanctorum. The crowd that had thronged all corners of the Sanctro sanctorum was shouting the slogans eulogizing the deeds of the great seer. They wanted him to lead the prayers of the evening at the altar. Some of the devotees handed over the baton of religious authority to him to begin the proceedings. The evening prayers to the lord had begun in the most solemn atmosphere. All the People listened to his sermon in a very enraptured silence. They stood with their heads bowed in reverence and they prayed with both their hands folded in front of their chests.
He was the God personified once again as he spoke, “We have drawn our powers from you the great God! We have declared a war of emancipation of our trust from the perpetrators of crimes against our faith. Please deliver us to the altar of truth. Let the victory be with us. Let the children of truth win. The brave must be able to reinstate them. We bow before you. We take an oath in your presence today. We will fight all oppression of our faith and community till we have our last breath in our body. We will fight for the cause of our nation. We will not stop till we attain full freedom for our brethren. Be it economic, political, personal or even religious. Dear God all your children standing in front of you and also those of you who are not present here in your kingdom need your holy light for their path. Please lead all of us from path of the darkness to the openness of your light. We seek the light of your greatness. We seek your generosity. We seek your goodwill dear lord”, the pontiff Rajamantran was praying at the altar “oh god you must have mercy on your children. Please let your blessings are present with us all in these difficult times!”
After the prayers Rajamantran moved over to the eternal throne of religious authority. He sat over it.
“I have today attained, with the master stroke; the highest seat of religious authority”, he thought aloud, “The mortals who have been controlling this seat prior to me dare not stop me from this day onwards. It is time I should reinforce my authoritative claim to the fountainhead of all sanctions”.
And he declared to the surprise of many, “from today onwards the war against the nonbelievers will originate from the place where I am sitting right now”, he beckoned to the boys accompanying him, “this is our fortress henceforth. I advice you to ensure that reign of our movement is run from this supreme spot”. He virtually found no resistance from the earlier occupants. “They better not show any unless they do not wish to live “, seer was quite sure about it, “the boys are prepared to eliminate any resistance to my plans”. He smiled at the realization of his dream of” controlling the right power wing of his dream destination. “The left power poll of the legislative will also soon be taken over by me. It is possible to do it from where I am sitting,” the saint said to himself.
He was issuing his instructions clad in the form of a powerful sermon “The common devotees who shall be coming to this place to pay their obeisance however will not be harassed by any of us. We want to create a rule based on the authority flowing from the supreme seat. It is essential that the commoners are encouraged to throng the place in large numbers. The coffers will be filled by the offering of these people who will always remain faithful to the highest seat, irrespective of who the occupant is”.
“I must some how get access to treasury”, he was again talking to himself. “The committee members can be won over by creating a rift amongst them. The moderates will always remain with the government. It is only the extremists whom I must win over to my reason. We have already initiated this process of disintegration by challenging the might of the popularly elected legislature. I have won over religious power. If only bullets can create necessary scare. The ballots are bound to go in our favor henceforth “.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – Chapter – 19

The Home Secretary and the Chief of the state police were stopped at the front entrance to the shrine. Some of the boys on the main gate insisted on physically frisking both of the officers before they allowed them to enter the holy place. The village head along with a few other elders from the village harped on the futility of this insistence, “the administration so far has been quite cooperative and well behaved. They have not so far ridiculed or insulted our pontiff; besides the entire world is watching through the media. There is no point in humiliating the senior officers of the state”, a head from the adjoining village was speaking to the boys. He was asked to shut up, “let the world see how our great seer has forced the government on its knees just as his ancestors had done to the Moguls and the British”. “The perpetrators of the atrocities must atone for their sins” another boy was arguing. The Home Secretary who did not anticipate this kind of reception was too stunned to speak up. After all he had been told by the big man from the central government, “You may come across a mild resistance at the shrine but under no circumstances the police will be given to deal with neither the situation nor you will permit the police to take any action against him. He said everything on our instructions. The call for separation is just the beginning of the turmoil that is likely to follow in the state giving us the opportunity to remove the elected government from the state. This will also fetch you a lifetime plum posting with the centre government if you are able to pull it through. The chief of the state police must not be allowed to initiate any kind of action. You must take control of the entire negotiation. The great priest Rajamantran must be enabled to come out of it scathe free”. “But how do I manage to go to the place which is prima facie a jurisdiction of the police department”, he asked the big man. “You can leave that to me. The crisis management group of state administration will suggest your name. You must grab the opportunity. You will use your glib talk to find a way through this crisis for the Great Priest”. The big man still controlled the strings at the state secretariat. But being frisked by the boys of the shrine in the presence of entire fourth estate could cripple his total career. He had not bargained for this kind of humiliation. The chief of the state police who had been enjoying the discomfiture of the bureaucrat all along remarked, “Under the law of the land, they have a right to frisk the police when it comes for a raid, lest the policeman carry anything incriminating on his person. His placing such an article in the premises being subjected to raid can jeopardize the innocence of the victims. So I think we cannot refuse the frisking, at least not me”. By now the hesitation of the administration had been conveyed to the pontiff by one of the villagers. He evolved a solution to reach a compromise with the boys. “Our great Priest is well aware of the honors that must be accorded to you as a guest. He appreciates the fact that you have pulled out the forces from out of the shrine. You obviously have paved a way and have come forward to have meaningful discussions. At the same time the great priest Rajamantran will not like to disappoint the boys. He can not put off his disciples who have so tenaciously stood by him. Since you cannot be frisked nor can the great priest Rajamantran be asked to come out and meet you at the door, he has decided to give you an audience from the outer balcony of the first floor. The meeting will proceed in the presence of the members of the press”. Nirbhaya saw through the shrewdness of the pontiff. He knew that he was making a mockery of the state government in front of the entire world, with him standing on the upper storey and the representative of the law talking to him while they were standing on the ground floor outside the shrine. He could visualize the photographs on the front pages of tomorrow morning’s newspapers with the head lines “Law of the land dwarfed by the great Priest’ and “The administration looks up to the humble Great Priest”. But the boys frisking the police could be equally deploring “The pontiff has played his cards well”; he told the civil administrator and moved to the outer periphery. The majestic appearance of the great priest Rajamantran on the first floor of the shrine left every one awestruck. He was in his traditional dress, a bandana on his waist, from which a long sword dangled up to his knees, the crown he wore and long flowing gown gave him the majestic persona, his head held high in the air, he looked like the royal reincarnation of a Greek god on the earth. The great priest Rajamantran majestically walked to the railing of the balcony. He looked down upon both officers of the state government with a contempt he bore for all kind of authority. He knew they were feeling a pain in their necks as they looked upwards at him. “I thought you would come with the strength of the entire force of your country. The small bunch of poor policemen you brought to arrest me will end up losing their lives. We do not want to waste the blood of the innocent youth of this state. Our fight is with the entire country and not with one state. We have declared secession against the union and as such we will like to negotiate with the leaders of the union always. However as an affected party the chief minister of your state Pratap too can join the tripartite discussions. If you want to arrest me you can come upstairs and do it. But I shall not surrender to the state being currently ruled by a nincompoop of a chief minister. He has not been able to do any benefit to the common people of the state. He is bent on assimilating our nation into the majority community. He is interested in annihilating the very signs of our great history. That is the reason he agreed for a poll alliance with the fanatic party of non-believers. He is a criminal of the nation. He must pay for his omissions like a traitor pays through his life. You can tell your chief minister to step down. He should hand over the reigns to us. Let us decide the fate of our community ourselves”. The seer spoke in a self-aggrandizing way. He was enjoying the attention he was getting from the press correspondents around. The reporters were scribbling their notes in frenzy. Some of them wanted to move forward and raise a few queries to the pontiff but they were stopped by the press advisor to the seer. The press advisor was always too eager to cultivate the press for the benefit of the religion, “the signed statement will be issued to all of you later. Let him continue for the attention of the masses around”. The chief of the state police knew it was a deliberate ploy by the seer. He wanted to draw as much mileage from the presence of the press reporters as possible. The rhetoric used by him was also meant to animate the masses that had again gathered out side the shrine when they heard the pontiff speak on the loudspeakers. “Your government is supported by the people who have sold their own mother. They have denied their very existence by declaring their mother tongue different from the one they speak. A few minutes ago you spoke about our sedition. If protecting my own identity and defending the identity of my community is a crime of treason then yes we are the traitors. If speaking my own language; the language that has been learnt by me through my mother’s milk is the cause of breaking away from this country, and then yes we want to be free. If utilizing the waters from my own resources for irrigating my fields that produce wheat for my brethren is against the laws of the country then so be it. We will defy such laws. If following the tenets of our heritage and culture gives the other community sleepless nights then they have to go from here and vacate our land.” People were enraptured by his speech making. There was a pin drop silence around. The photographer handling camera of the government controlled electronic media recorded every statement. He focused his camera’s lenses on the defiant body language of the great Priest. “In spite of the draconian laws and the oppressive attitude adopted by the government, we will give in but not in front of you. We want to surrender at the seat of the power of the state. My men and me will hand ourselves to your police at the town of Depalgarh where your secretariat is situated. You will have to wait till all of us are ready to move”. The Home secretary standing underneath had not bargained for this. His instructions from the big man were quite expressive “no arrest of the great priest Rajamantran will be permitted. Allow him to get away with an upper edge over the state government”. The chief of the state police realizing it was getting too far intervened at this stage, “you are a subject of the state sir! And the laws of the land govern you as much as they rule over the commoners. The laws of the land will undoubtedly be adhered to as set in the IPC or Cr PC. The question here does not relate to your conceding. We have the authority to put you under house arrest. But keeping in view the services rendered by the great shrine to the society we are not taking any such step. But it is obvious the laws will become operative the moment you or any of your boys decide to take the laws into your hands. We agreed to withdraw the forces from around the shrine to let you come forward to discuss and negotiate with the chief minister any issue you want to. I am sure you do understand the position of the state police and the home department. You can move to any part of the country should the state decide to withdraw the accusations against you. At this stage I am afraid I have to perform my duty as the police chief of this state. Either you will come with us or we lay a siege to the shrine and put every supporter of your shrine to inconvenience”. The great priest Rajamantran saw his predicament. He knew that he was in no situation to fight his battle with the police any further. “The confrontation must be avoided at this juncture, any police action at a time like this can jeopardize the whole game plan”, he thought to himself. “We shall travel to Depalgarh in our own vehicles along with our men and not sit in the police vehicles “. “That of course is acceptable “, the Home Secretary blurted in a hurry. “That will at best be a face saving from the political bosses in the center” he mused. The chief of the state police spoke to Tanwar on the walky talky set. He briefed him on the proposed plan of surrender. The police escort will be reduced to the bare minimum to accompany the caravan of the seer. The rest of the forces will drive on at a distance at the rear should the same be required for any last minute change in the moods of the great Priest. The automobile in the front had been decked up with flowers beads and garlands. Two of the hymn singers sang an ode to the Goddess of Power, which was followed by the religious hymns. The women traveling along with will repeat whatever the main singers sang. The motor vehicle in which great Priest traveled carried a large -size chair which had been decorated with marigold and rose flowers. The boys from the shrine had put on the colorful balloons and multicolored festoon on the vehicle carrying the great priest. The great priest Rajamantran sat like an emperor on this throne like pedestal. A good number of young men carrying guns covered his chair from all sides. The truck behind was full of young men armed in traditional war dress; each of the Young men carried a gun, and a sword hung on his side. The villagers were lined up on both sides of the streets as the motorcade started its journey towards the capital town of Depalgarh. “Long live the great Priest”, “truth will ultimately triumph” and it is time of the brave to rule”, the slogans were heard from all sides. The air around was charged up with emotions. Some of the women devotees threw themselves in front of the convoy. They were beating their chests “you can not take him away like this”, they were shouting. The police station in charge of the area looked towards the seer for intervention. Nirbhaya wanted to get the women forcibly removed but the pontiff had alighted from the vehicle he was sitting in. He was addressing the women with folded hands,” our most august and revered audience! I shall request you to please allow us to move. We are going with the servants of the law of the land of our own free will. The police have not had the temerity to put us under arrest. We are surrendering of our own. They should be allowed to do their job. The duty towards the Almighty, the religion, and the faith or even to the job for which one gets some remuneration in return comes foremost. It was the duty of one of our greats to lay down his life to save the community form the draconian rule of the Mughal. It has become my religion now to relinquish my freedom to save our community from the tyrannical and oppressive measures adopted by the state. The Aurangzeb’s of the world cannot repress the risings of the rebellion of the great society like ours. A thousand years of rule of the Mughal could not change the mind set of the multitudes willing to lay down their lives for their faith, how can a government which is there only for a couple of years do it. Have faith in Almighty who shall soon deliver me back amongst you”. The women got up from in front of the caravan. They stood mesmerized on one side of the street with their hands folded, tears rolling down their faces. The cavalcade started its onward journey. As it gained speed people started running along with. The flower petals were showered from the upper floors of the houses on the seer, as he sat on the majestic throne. The motorcade soon reached the main grand trunk road and took a turn towards the capital town. The pontiff asked the chief of the state police if the journey could be stopped for a while. He moved his face in the direction of the “Sanctum Sanctorum” and said his prayers. He was vowing to himself to soon reach that great seat and rule the masses from there. The events were leading him towards that. The people gathered there went crazy. They adored him. They worshipped him. They all loved that even in this hour of crisis he prayed and paid respects to the gods. Any iota of doubt if any one had about his sincerity vanished with the catharsis that followed this gesture. The rivers of salted waters from their eyes washed the accusations of his being a rebel, a terrorist or a non-conformist. The confirmation was reestablished at this point. He addressed them again “from here onwards we will not want any one of you to accompany us. Please go back to your homes to attend to your daily routine and the normal course of life. Your children need you. Your fields need tending. Your families need the warmth of your presence. I will not like any of our mothers, sisters and brethren to forget that the duty towards God and the religion should not prevent us from the worldly responsibility. The religious politics are not meant for the familial folks. Your sons are with me. They will protect me along with their faith. We will soon be back. I assure these young men will soon become capable of fighting the oppressors. Each one of them will take on a millions of perpetrators of crime against us. This is ordained by our founders. It is bound to take place as fated”. People reluctantly moved back towards their villages. The chief of the state police heaved a sigh of relief, as the column started its onward journey to the capital town.

MADDENING CORRIDORS OF INTRIGUES CHAPTER 18

The ancient shrine standing tall and chiding the tiny village mud houses had been built many hundred years ago. It stood like a vast mansion in the open fields surrounded by a large cluster of villages. The massive stricture had always been defying all authorities of the destructive nature of time. Its strong and thick walls were raised to a greater height to prevent outsiders to see what went on inside the four walls. The wooden planks on the front doors had given the shrine the look of an ancient fort. These planks rose from the ground level to the upper most storeys in a single piece. It was well neigh impossible for any invader to break these planks even with the help of mightiest elephants in olden times.
The same shrine has been consistently under police seizing for past two days in a row. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya after getting authorization from the chief minister Pratap to enter the shrine had personally given the directions to the team lead by Tanwar.
“I believe that the great priest Rajamantran some how had got wind of what was coming. We have found the entire place barricaded by hoards of villager. The masses of villagers have covered the shrine up to a few kilometers. Each road, each bye lane and the routes through the maize fields have been occupied by humans. We had to stop the police posse much before the periphery of the shrine. The local police area in charge, the area magistrate and the collector all have reached the place but they are expressing their helplessness. I cannot move the forces further until an order is issued to remove the accumulation of humanity encircling the shrine. Either we issue order to the cavalry to move in or a few rounds of firing will be essential to clear the people. I doubt if either will help. We can expect a tough resistance from the boys of the great Priest. These boys could be armed very heavily. We can see them just behind the surge of villagers. There can be virtual bloodshed at this place”, Tanwar’s report had come in immediately after he had reached the spot. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya had informed chief minister Pratap of the seizing of the shrine. He was also informed about the large battery of the local national and international press correspondents. They had gathered there to pick up the latest news and report the scoop to their respective readers.
The electronic media has been covering the happenings. It had put up the live coverage on the main news bulletin of their network for their viewers’ benefit, and curiosity. A telephone call from Pratap to the station director and the threat to close down the station brought some sense to the officials of the television. “Sir you must understand our position. We have to report to the Ministry of Information and broadcasting that is under the control of the central government. It is their insistence that the coverage be shown live to let the common public view what is happening at the sacred places”.
“In that case you may have to move out of the state within next hour. I will ensure a case of subversion is registered against you and your staff at Baikunthpur for instigating the common man against the state. I hope you can make your bosses see reason and understand the legal implication of such an action by the state administration. The local police will bundle your outfit out. Your reporters will be put under house arrest in such a situation. You are aware that I do not believe in the intimidation of the press yet this onetime please refrain from forcing me to take steps that could be detrimental to your freedom”.
“In that case I may have to get permission from…” the director was about to utter when Pratap gave him a way out “I suggest you carry a news capsule rather than showing the entire episode live. You can send someone to record my appeal to the villagers surrounding the shrine”, that brought the station director to his knees “you see sir, I was confident we will find a way out “, he had finally relented.
The helicopter of the state government was approaching peripheries of the village where shrine was situated. The Home Secretary who found it difficult to speak due to the noise generated by the rooters of the helicopter, bent out of his seat. He brought his mouth close to the ears of the chief of the state police Nirbhaya “I think we are aggravating the situation. These are religious people. They themselves many times do not know what they talk about. The great priest Rajamantran must have been intoxicated by the religious fervor and uttered these words. We should give him a chance to explain his position before we precipitate any kind of action against him”.
“Yes but this time the new combination of the religion and politics has made him too heady. Such deadly combination of the preacher and the politician can prove very costly to the peace of entire state. This can even cause disintegration of the very social thread that binds the two communities in the state for centuries. It can result into a complete breaking of the trust and faith which has kept the people in the neighborhood of each other without raising the boundaries of their dwellings too high. I am sure you have been to the villages of our state or even the old localities of the old towns. Have you looked at the heights of the walls separating one household from another in these villages? These are raised to the level of the human chest and not up to the eyes and heads. It has been proved over the centuries that, in our countryside no barrier exists between the two neighbors, not even that of faith and religion. The kitchens of neighborly households virtually extend into each other’s courtyards. The common mud and brick stoves fixed up into their courtyards bind them together. The fire that is lighted into these community stoves cooks bread for all of them irrespective of their cast, creed, status or religion. Such fanatical statements as delivered by the great priest Rajamantran today have taken away one such part of our community to the distant lands. The wounds of that separation from our brethrens are still raw in our memory. I am confident the common populace will not like to put up with a repetition of the same dissection once again. Yet the same people are out to protect the fanatical and communal mind of the great priest Rajamantran again. This myth must be broken. He should not be allowed to go any further”.
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya saw hoards of villagers standing all around the shrine, from his helicopter. He told the pilot to take a round of the entire area before landing in the school grounds little away from the crowds. Some of the village children started running towards the helicopter. They were chased away by the security forces. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya saw snipers on top of the shrine. If any of the snipers wanted to he could have hit the chopper but better sense had prevailed. The villagers gathered there started raising slogans against the government as soon as they saw the chopper. They had been thinking that it was the chief minister Pratap who has come to the spot to speak to the great priest. The people were disappointed when they saw that it was only the police official accompanied by the state civil functionary.
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya assessed the volatile and charged atmosphere in the air. The home secretary too could sense the tensions prevailing. The villagers had blocked the entrance to the shrine with their tractor trolleys, pushcarts and wooden planks. The home secretary spoke to Nirbhaya “we must find a way out of the situation. Nirbhaya could feel that any kind of police action at this stage will make a hero out of Rajamantran. “The chief minister and the cabinet have sent me along with you to avoid any kind of undue action that can propel into mass agitation. We need to remove the populace from the middle of the police and the shrine. That can be done only if we are able to take their leaders into confidence. We will have to meet their village head. We will speak to him to see reason. You will have to send an emissary to fetch him. Or it is better still if we can make an announcement on the public address system to all people to understand the situation. It is possible then they will move away. You have to make sure your men from the police department must show their restraint under all provocations. Even if the villagers resort to any kind of violence, we will use the force only as a last resort. This was also the feeling of the crisis management committee”.
“Sure I do agree with you but I am not willing to risk any one of my men to be sent as an emissary. We can address common public from a distance. The riot control van is fitted with the Public address system. We will have to walk towards it. Any kind of vehicle movement at this stage can trigger the panic reaction from villagers”.
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya looked at DIG Tanwar for his response to the suggestion. Tanwar has always held the views that “any kind of reconciliatory move with the exploiters of common faith virtually meant the extension of support to the socio-criminal element”. He firmly believed that “only those who contributed to the cause of social reforms and universal welfare through philanthropic activities were real saints. All others self professed preachers were manipulators of man’s search for the illusive peace of mind. The religious preachers were good enough till they propagated the teachings enshrined in the holy books. But if they assume the role of God themselves they become exploiters of the first order. Some of them even get converted to sex – exploiters as women tend to submit to the religious swooning quite easily as compared to the male of the species. The words of the conjurors simply hypnotize them into giving all away. The women then often get stuck in a situation from which there was no turning back”. He felt frustrated often for not being able to stop the mushrooming of such magicians and hypnotists. He believed that “the state will often protect the hideouts of such criminals through the systems that prevented police from entering their so-called religious places”.
“I think we need to issue a warning to the crowd about the causalities they can suffer if we resort to the direct action. We are ready to use the mounted police to chase them away and force our way through”.
“However Mr. Tanwar we can leave that kind of action to the last. Let me speak to them,” the Home secretary made his annoyance quite obvious.
The slogans shouted by the villagers had become louder by now, when people saw senior police officers and the home secretary walking towards the riot control van. The home secretary started his communication with them “Blessed are the souls who join me in paying respects to the great Gods! I am speaking to all of you on behalf of the chief minister of this state and his government. All of you jointly had installed the government of this state through the validated voting rights given to you by the constitution of the country. Our constitution has bestowed us with the best democratic system in the world. Each one of you has made use of the ballot to elect the government in power. You must remember that if you do not like the current administration, you have every right to change the rulers at the next polling. Why should you therefore take law into your hands for an act, which can be handled peacefully and legally? Our great Priest is a well-revered man. He heads a shrine that has been the fountainhead of spiritual guidance for many generations in this area. If he is upset with the system of the state, we are willing to sit in consultation with him and thrash out the differences with him. We are even willing to bring about the necessary changes into the systems that can fast forward the development of the common man. He has incited all of you to disobey the laws of the land, not pay revenues and not subscribing to the administrative systems. Let me remind you that this amounts to incitement to rebellion. I am in a quandary to understand as to how a small area which is land locked from all sides can have its own entity. You will perish in no time if you follow what is suggested by the great Priest. Be wise enough to pay heed to what your government says. Please send your great Priest to talk to the government. We are not using the word surrender. Because you and I, we all still believe he is a great religious and pious man and not a common criminal. We all bow before him in respect. I am sure he will honor the wishes of his own people. The great priest Rajamantran will not want us to make use of the force which could result into loss of innocent lives”, he took a pause to see the effect of his remarks.
The murmur in the crowd was getting louder. Some one from amongst them shouted loudly “you can reach him only on our dead bodies. We will protect him till the last drop of blood”.
The home secretary kept his cool, “that I can assure is not needed. We are not going to arrest him. Some of the elders from your village can come forward to hold discussions .or it will be better if you permit us to talk to the great priest. We will make him realize the effect of his futile utterances. I give you my promise that no harm will come to him”.
A rustic tall gentleman with a hefty built who had come forward from the crowd, volunteered “We have received message from inside the shrine that our great Priest will speak only to the chief minister Pratap. You can call for him here. Otherwise we will not budge even an inch from our stand”.
“I am afraid that will not be possible. However we can work out the modus operandi. It is essential that we sit face to face for negotiation with your great Priest”.
“Then call off your forces. We guarantee your complete safety. You along with one of your officers can come inside”, said the old man.
Home Secretary looked at the chief of the state police enquiringly to the suggestion thrown as a way out by the villager. Nirbhaya reluctantly ordered Tanwar to move the armed forces a little backward and away from the shrine.
“But chief!”
“Tanwar you are not going back. You can but ask the police forces to take positions a mile or so away from this place where they are at present. Should any thing untoward happen; we will send the envoy immediately. You can leave the local police station in charge and two of his men posted at this place”.
The police forces started pulling out. All the people who were watching the police move away from the shrine had become jubilant. The cry of victory ranted the skies. The crowd was shouting slogans “long live the great Priest”, and they were shrieking on the top of their voice “Down with the state police!” The shouting could be heard all over.
Nirbhaya wanted to ask the home secretary “What now?”
“I have my brief from the department. It is obvious the chief minister Pratap did not discuss with you because these instructions have been issued by the central government. You will not be arresting great priest Rajamantran. We will deal with him with tact and diplomacy. You can discuss with your chief minister when you get back. I am sure he will appreciate the way we have solved this catch-22 situation that this government of our state had been subjected to”.
Nirbhaya wanted to tell him to go and sock it up. but things had gone too far by now. He could see a few of the village elders moving towards them.
“The great priest Rajamantran is ready to have an audience with you. We will not allow any of the armed men from your police inside the shrine. We will lead you personally to go into the shrine”. They moved towards the shrine. He noticed people melting away but not without raising slogans once again. They were raising their fists skywards.
“His vicious hold on the mass mentality is complete. They are absolutely spell bound by the charlatan. Nothing can prevent them from laying their lives under this hypnotism” thought Nirbhaya.
Inside the shrine in one of the open courtyards the great priest Rajamantran sat majestically on a thrown. He was enjoying the epithet used by people from surrounding villages in his eulogy. Some one called him the lord the Almighty; another woman addressed him as, “The Remedy to All Ills of Society”.
This lady wanted to bequeath a large portion of her farm land to the shrine. “No one is there to look after my land. It is not being tilled. All my sons stay abroad. They have virtually become strangers to the earth. They are neither interested to plough it nor do they know what to do with it” the woman was praying with her hands folded, “Your lord is well aware that I have inherited it from my father. He did not have any male progeny. The land given by my in_ laws is sufficient for my sons for their survival. I have already gifted this to your holy shrine. Please grace me by accepting these papers. I am sure you can put it to better use”. She handed over the set of papers to him. Then she lay prostrate in front of the thrown he was sitting in to touch his feet.
Ranjit who was watching this amazing communication between the priest and the lady wondered, “How could people do this? How could people gift everything to a human being simply because they thought he was a messenger from God? This is impossible but it is taking place in front of my very own vision. How can this man who is accumulation of flesh and blood like any other human being influence the minds of others to such an extent that they will give every thing to him just for one blessing”?
He looked at the great priest Rajamantran. He was wearing a kind of dress that made him look more like a warrior than the holy man clothed in the traditional robe. The great priest Rajamantran was fully dressed to go to war. He held a long gun on his left side and a sword dangled from his waist, as he walked in. He wore a military costume of the ancient times with full decorator’s honors of wars which must have been earned by his fore fathers during the reigns of Mughal kings and British rulers. It was a well-known fact that his ancestors had been the paid soldiers of the ruling elite before one of them took to religious services. That forefather had laid the foundation to the much-needed Godly solace for the wandering soldiers in the shape of a small shrine where Rajamantran had been holding his court now.
The guests who had come to Ranjit’s house on his grandmothers’ demise had departed to their respective homes after all the rituals related to the death of Ranjit’s grandmother’s had been completed. The altercation between father and his son made them leave sooner then they had planned. Ranjit’s mother was keen to visit this shrine to pray for the peace of her mother-in –law’s departed soul.
‘We shall go direct to the shrine after we have immersed her ashes in the holy river. It will be closer to the shrine from there. It is your obligation to the elders of the family. You must pray for the soul of your departed grand mother. She was always so much distressed about you. She loved you more than any thing else in this world. I shall request great holy Priest to bless you with strength and intelligence. He must bless you to overcome your problems in life and get into some meaningful living”. Ranjit’s mother had to pester him the entire day till he finally agreed to finally go along with her to the shrine.
However he was at a loss understand as to why were there the gunmen standing behind the great Priest. And then he looked at the guns they were carrying. He recognized the guns and smiled at the irony of fait. These were the same guns that had been the cause of his grandmother’s death. He had least expected to come to such a place to pray for the liberation of her soul. He was keen to find out how these guns found their destination here. He was standing in a queue to reach the great priest Rajamantran to seek his blessings when the commotion outside drew everyone’s attention
“My lord the police is here to arrest you’, a villager came running to the inner portion of the shrine where the great priest Rajamantran had been holding his court. People sitting on the floor got up to look for some security and protection for themselves. They were running helter and skelter. The Cleric grinned and asked all of them to sit down. “Do not worry my children! You should not panic. These poor mortals cannot even touch any of my disciples in the entire area. The police will have to cross thousands of human bodies outside before they are allowed to enter the shrine and reach here. They will find a sea of humanity outside to welcome them”.
They could hear the slogans being shouted in the exterior compound. It appeared as if the entire humanity had gathered outside to form a wall of protection encircling the shrine.
“It is impossible to penetrate this kind of fortress by any force in the world”, Ranjit thought to himself. He did not notice any fear on the face of the sage. “It may be that he is the smartest actor of the world.” The defiance of the law of the land by the great priest Rajamantran had been reported by most of the press. Ranjit had read the news while traveling to this place. Every one had anticipated that “the denizen of the shrine was playing with fire”. They anticipated that the shrine will get into trouble with the law. But the common men loved such heroism. They were all over awed by the sermon delivered by the great priest. Only the last of the great had the courage to challenge the might of the Mughal rulers. The leadership that emerged thereafter did threaten the might of the British rule but there was a basic difference between the political non-compliance and the religious fervor generated amongst the common folks. None of the smaller shrines had ever challenged the powers of the Victorian rulers. Even if they did they were always under the influence of one political alliance or the other. This smaller shrine situated in the remote corner of the countryside can evoke so much emotion baffled him. The crowd was inching ahead one by one towards the great priest Rajamantran to pay their respects.
Once in a while he will speak to the devotee, “how is your father now? He asked a young farmer. “Is he taking his medicine as prescribed by his doctor”?
He asked another one, “Has your daughter started going to school? You must be aware that the education of the girl child is as essential as that of the son. Do not be miser while spending money on her education. In case you do not have enough money I will pay her school fee”, he told him.
Yet to another farmer he asked, “I believe you have dug a tube well recently? Does your village get enough water for irrigation of the farms? I have been talking to the authorities to divert the canal water to your village at least for the period when the crops need irrigation. I have been promised by them that it will be done soon. You should ask your village head to remind the concerned chief engineer of the irrigation project to speedup the process of providing more waters for agriculture”.
All the people sitting on the floor in the court of the great priest Rajamantran will repeat in unison, “You are great. You are the greatest your lordship. You are concerned about all of us. That is why you remember everybody’s cause of happiness and misery”.
“He has mastered the art of building up public frenzy. And he also has the knack of controlling the mob psyche to his advantage,” thought Ranjit.
It was only after a long wait that their turn to meet the great priest Rajamantran had been announced. His mother fell on the feet of the seer. She had put her forehead on the floor. She directed Ranjit also to do the same. Ranjit remembered how his grandmother used to implore him to bow his forehead on the ground “for praying and seeking absolvence of the sins of human birth”, she would say. She said “the bowing of the head in front of the representatives of Gods was meant to exhibit the man’s subjugation to the Almighty up there and a submission to His Will”.
“Is he also one of the Gods?” he was not sure but since mother wanted him to show his respects towards him he bowed and touched his feet. Ranjit knew that this was not the right time and place for raising an argument with his mother. He was trying to look straight into the eyes of the ecclesiastic.
The great priest Rajamantran “I have seen you lad toddling here on the grounds of this shrine, when you used to crawl on your knees. The old lady, God blesses her soul! She has brought you up very well. You have turned out to be a sturdy and a strong Youngman. You must devote this handsome physique to the cause of community. We need youngsters like you to keep the faith and our race alive”. The priest looked towards his mother. He asked her “will this son of yours also become subservient to the government that corrupts our common folks. Do you have some better plans for his future?
“He is a grown up young man Milord! I want you to give him the common sense and intelligence. Your honor can make him see the light of the day. You must make him understand the ways of the world. There is no one in our family to look after him after the death of his grandmother. I have brought him here to your court so that you can caution him against the waywardness of life that he lives. I pray you to give him a sermon for his well being. Possibly he has been converted into a blockhead by his vagrant life in the city”.
“He must spend A few days at the shrine. This will bring him closer to gods. The stay here will also do lots of good for him”, said the great Priest. “Let us urge the forgiveness of the benign for your grandmother’s soul, which is what you are here for primarily”. The pontiff began chanting a verse from the small holy book kept next to him.
The drone of the helicopter was heard moving towards the shrine from a distance. The war cries outside in the court yard were becoming louder and shriller. “It appears they have decided to drop in from the skies”, one of the bodyguards shouted and requested the seer “please milord you must get inside the protected room”. He pushed people away and led the pontiff to the inner room.
Another gunman ran towards the stepladder but instead of climbing the stairs he went to the small spacer under the stairs. He removed large bundles of the sugarcanes kept on the floor and took out the wooden cases of guns from underneath them. He started throwing the guns to other young men present, “everyone moves to the roof but no one will use the guns for firing till I ask you to do so”. Some one had put a gun into Ranjit’s hands too and told him to rush upwards. Ranjit’s mother and other ladies along with older men were asked to vacate the room immediately and go out in the courtyard. “They can blow the building hence no one stays inside”. In the hustle bustle and confusion that followed no one realized that helicopter had already moved away from the building and landed in the school building a few meters away.
When no such attack came from the skies the young men hidden behind the pillars came out in the open on the roof and became jubilant with the victory cries. He too joined them though he did not know what made him do so. He pulled the trigger and fired a volley of bullets into the air. He felt adrenalin rushing through his veins the way it had felt earlier, when he had killed his grandmother. A strange sense of calm prevailed upon him after he had fired the entire lot.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues Chapter 17

17
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya was surprised to find two of his deputies drinking tea in the sitting room of his residence. They had been waiting for him during such early hours of the morning. He had gone for a morning jog to the police grounds. It was his routine activity from the days when he underwent the police training at the police academy to go for the morning run. This habit of the chief of the state police Nirbhaya was well known amongst all people working in police circles all over the state. They knew that the chief could be contacted at the police grounds in the morning. It would so happen that many of the young police officers would deliberately come in their tracksuits and joggers to run with him in the morning. The chief was always amused knowing that the person is there to ask for a favor of him. He also however knew that within a few days of running his request will be granted. The gentleman thereafter will obviously get busy either with his new routine; or the interest in jogging will wane away within a month or so. Yet the chief welcomed such attempts from his juniors; as it gave him a chance to know them intimately in an informal atmosphere. It encouraged free and frank communication too.
It was obvious these two gentlemen officers were not there to ask for some kind of favor nor had he asked them to come to his residence such an early morning. He could feel there has been a major fiasco somewhere. Both the deputies stood up simultaneously and saluted him in the true regimental style. He saw that Dammi his wife had already served them tea and snacks. He told the servant to get him a glass of fresh lime and water. He mopped his face and hands with the towel handed over to him by servant and looked skeptically at the two officers of his police force.
Meena spoke first “We have had a massacre of bus passengers early in the morning. The bus passengers were shot at point blank range near Baikunthpur. The details are still coming in but I spoke to the Superintendent of Police and the Station In charge, who have reached the spot already. The first bus that had originated from Baikunthpur in the early hours of the morning was hijacked to the dense forest. Some of the passengers were obviously let off by the marauders. They were able to reach the near by forest check post and that is where there they were able to give first information on telephone about the killings of bus passengers to the nearest police station”.
The Chief of the state police though was disturbed for a while, had composed him self, “is it possible that this could be a revenge of a personal feud? It is common in that part of the state to avenge and settle the personal scores. Have you sounded the border posts of the district? He shot so many questions all at once, “ has someone been able to point out the killers’ identity?” realizing his own anxiety in the matter he cut his questioning short and issued fresh directions, “ I want to speak to the district Superintendent of police immediately and if possible ; the police Station In Charge too should be present with him. I want you to issue my orders to seal all roads going out of state. You should instruct security forces to remain absolutely on the alert on the border roads leading to the neighboring country. The killers will try moving out.
How far is this place where murders have been committed? We shall personally visit this place. I shall see the Chief Minister for a while, on my way. He must be informed of this before the members of the press report it. You must censor all outward press notes from the department. No comments will be made by any of our officers till we actually find out motive behind such ghastly killings. Is that clear?” He wanted confirmation from his deputies in affirmation.
Meena looked imploringly at his colleague Tanwar as if expecting him to speak up. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya had hand picked these officers from the best of the lot. Their commitment to duty and loyalty to the force was unflinching and unquestionable. DIG Tanwar was obviously disturbed by whatever he wanted to present to his chief. He also wanted a go ahead from his boss. “Come Tanwar can we have your report now”? “Boss I am distressed by this report from the shrine areas. The great priest Rajamantran has called a meeting of the village populace from the nearby vicinity. We have information that he is on the rebelliousness. We have been keeping an eye on him and his boys, so far we have not been able to nab him. But this meeting that he has called for with his followers can prove to be the crucial one. Our detectives are deployed at the shrine. Some of our sleuths have also been able to infiltrate his ranks. His proximity however to the erstwhile chief minister has prevented us from picking him up or any of his boys. Now that the protection accorded to him by his mentor is no more available to him, since the erstwhile chief minister is gone out of our state, we want to hold him up for questioning”.
“I am sure Tanwar you will have to have a solid reason to do so. You are well aware of his immense following. There can be bloodshed in the villages. Let us not do anything in a hurry. Keep your ears to the ground. Get a report on every single word uttered by him in meeting. I am sure soon he will give you the opportunity”. The Chief of the state police got up “Gentlemen if you do not mind, I need half an hour and then we will move to the place of the incident. In the interim please ring up residence of the chief minister and ensure that no news reaches him until I have met him. Tanwar I believe that your rapport with the personal staff of the chief minister should come handy. You can of course inform them that I shall see him on the way out”.
The Telephone call made by Tanwar to the residence of the chief minister came a little too late, a journalist from the town of Baikunthpur had already been in touch with the chief minister. “We are trying to locate the Police Chief. The meeting with the Home Minster and the Home secretary is already in progress’’; he was informed from the residence, “They want him in the meeting immediately”.
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya found the rush of the morning office goers’ was delaying the movement of his entourage. The traffic was getting onto his nerves. He did not want to declare his urgency to General public, but was helpless today.” You can play the hooter’ he told his driver. The wailing sound of the siren cleared the way in no time. He made it to the chief Minister’s house in less than three minutes.
He found the meeting in progress at the ground floor convention room. The state minister for home affairs looked up at him, “You are behaving in the typical police style. You are turning up at spot after all criminals have fled. The Intelligence wing of your outfit should have known what was coming in advance”. He thought it prudent to ignore the remarks of the politician and saluted the Chief Minister. Pratap looked pail and pained. Possibly he could sense what was in the offing in future times for the people of the state he was heading. “I believe you must have been to your regular morning jog. The news had already come in direct from Baikunthpur. We want to visit the place and possibly meet some of the people who were lucky to be let off”.
“I do not think the time is right for you to visit the place. I am going there along with my deputy inspectors’ generals of police. The Station In charge and the district Superintendent of Police of Baikunthpur have already been there on the spot. The extra force has also been dispatched. The anger of the public can build up any moment and we do not want to jeopardize your personal security. It appears to be the handiwork of sheer madness. Some group sooner or later will speak out if it is intended otherwise. You will get the report by the afternoon positively. In the meanwhile I will request you to holdback all statements to the press, till we find out the reason or the motive behind the killings. It can be due to personal vendetta too”. The chief of the state police wanted to tell him, “probably the guns brought in by others were being used for the purpose”, and however he could not have said anything in presence of other functionaries sitting in the meeting.
It took him three hours to reach the place of killings. The farmers carrying their produce of sugarcane to the mill in tractors, and bullock driven carts had been blocking the rood to one side and even the blaring siren of the police vehicle failed to get the necessary speed on the road.
The corpse of the bus driver was found a few miles ahead of the other dead bodies. The policeman guarding the dead body saluted the pageant of the chief. A sub inspector of his department came forward to escort him from the car.
He noticed that gun bullets had hit the rear side of the driver’s head and came out from the front of the face. It was quite a macabre sight to see a dead man lying like this. The dog squad and the finger print experts were doing their job. Tanwar checked up with the sub inspector “has any one passing by had seen what happened at the site or inside the bus”. “Nothing has been traced so far but we are searching through the forest and not an inch will be spared. I am sure the killers will still be hiding in the woods”.
“That does not seem plausible to me, looking at the traffic plying on the road”, DIG Tanwar pointed out towards the main road on which long queues of trucks and tractors were still plying on a snail’s pace. “By now they must have crossed even the state boundary”.
The traffic movement was getting hampered when the drivers of the vehicles were slowing down to look at what was happening. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya directed the police inspector to speed up. He advised them to remove the corpse of the dead driver of the bus from road to ease out traffic. He saw two constables searching vehicles on both sides of road and he pointed to Tanwar, ‘Stop that nonsense, the killers will not be sitting in there waiting for our guys to come and grab them. Let the traffic flow normally and we must move”. DIG TANWAR addressed the cops on duty, “Find out from the road side eateries, tea stalls and other nick knack shops if they noticed any suspicious movement or strange people. You will submit your report to the station in charge”.
The scene at the place of the mass killings was too grave. There were Women wailing. Children had also been crying. When the people found the senior police officers coming towards them, a few of the women from amongst them started running towards the car of the police chief, “We have lost everything. Look how they killed our men, husbands and sons. Why did they not take us with them? You can finish the rest of us. Please kill all of us now”. One of the old women had caught both his hands. DIG Tanwar and Superintendent of Police Sunny detached her from there and told the constables to console her and take her away.
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya folded his hands towards the grieving women, “We shall soon catch the criminals who have committed this heinous crime. I assure you justice will be met. We will not spare any one of the criminals. They can not get away from the law”. He moved towards the dead bodies. The bullets had pierced all the bodies like the sieves. He could make out the automatic weapons used for killings. The Deputy Commissioner of the area came forward to meet him, “Sir! The Chief Minister has announced the ex gratis payment of rupees one hundred thousand each to the family of the victims, if you deem fit we can announce that here and now”.
“The atmosphere is too charged right now. I do not think now is the right time to do it. People may react violently to any half hearted attempt to cover up the let up on the part of government agencies. However please you and your colleagues must take care of the women and children. Some how take them away from this place so that the investigation team can work without interruption. You must cordon off the area”.
The Deputy Commissioner made the announcement on the mike requesting the crowd to move away so that the police could do their job.
A team of press correspondents had reached the spot. They were questioning the chief of the state police Nirbhaya “Sir Do you believe this is job of communal forces. Is our state falling pray to their ghastly plans?” He looked at the lady journalist who had raised the question.
“I mean people from a specific community have been victimized”.
Another press representative, “Who will you attribute this to? There has been no looting”. He controlled his irritation” We are in no position to answer any of the queries. As you are aware we have just reached the scene. We are investigating. Hopefully we will not spare any one behind this dastardly act. Whosoever is behind these killings is definitely an enemy of mankind. It is the most brutal offence against humanity”.
A lady scribe asked “there have been reports of armed bandits’ crossing over from across the border. Could this be the handiwork of our neighboring country; to disturb the peace?”
‘Any thing is possible,” the Chief of the state police Nirbhaya replied “now if you will allow us to do our job”.
He moved forward leaving the group of the journalists, behind, to speak to the bus conductor who was totally incoherent and shivering with fear. The chief told the police doctor “You need to examine this man first. I do not find him capable of answering any of my queries in this condition. How many people were there in the bus?’ He asked the man to test the almost swooning bus conductor. Instead of answering his queries, the bus conductor had fallen on his feet, “I have not done any thing sir! They had guns. They were four of them. They shot. They could have shot all of us. Look I do not have any weapon”, he brought forward his bag for inspection by the police officer.
“I suggest you take this man and the swooning ladies to the hospital. You can arrange a bus for transporting dead bodies. You can get their post mortem also conducted. The earlier you manage to remove the bodies from here, the better it will be for public peace”. He looked away from the dead bodies. It was quite a grisly and poignant scene to look at all those dead ones staring back at you through their blank eyes. All of them were shot at from such a close range that their faces had been completely disfigured. The forensic experts will be required to establish their identity. He had expected such a heinous act but not so soon. He had forewarned the chief minister about the possibility of such a desperate action from the harbingers of death on some of the administrative representatives. It was beyond his imagination that they would be firing their guns on the common travelers. Even chief minister Pratap could not anticipate guns being brought in will be aimed against innocent citizens of state. The chief of the state police Nirbhaya knew that whosoever was behind it, he fully well understands it is well neigh impossible for any level of state intelligence to prevent attacks on softer targets.
That reminded him how desperately chief minister Pratap will be waiting for a call and a detailed report from this end.
The wireless connection was established in no time, through the network of forest department. Pratap sounded quite firm and in complete control of himself, “Has there been any agitation from the common people”.
“No sir, not so far because the killings took place very far away from the main town. There is no any habitation around. We do however expect strong adverse reaction at the time of cremation of the dead bodies. We will have to tackle any such retort with firmness. Yet we will have to respond to the public outcry very sympathetically. Though the passengers who have been killed belong to only one community we do not foresee any kind of communal backlash. It is simply not expected in this part of the state. Some one is trying to wedge the divide. The killers will be nabbed soon is all I can tell you at this moment”.
“You better do that”, the chief minister Pratap advised him. “You will have to come back immediately I have called the meeting of the crisis management group to discuss the security plans for the entire state. Your presence will be necessary at this meeting”.
The chief of the state police Nirbhaya nodded on the wireless speaker set and confirmed he will be starting back soon. He asked Tanwar to stay back for the handing over the dead bodies to the next of the kin and arrange for the funeral as early as possible.
“You may call for the extra force if needed,” he had told him. “Thank God the electronic media is still controlled by the government. The news will be released as and the way they want it to”.
His journey while returning to the capital town was absolutely back breaking. He saw people already out on the streets in Baikunthpur town. They were raising slogans against the government headed by Pratap. Some one was preparing a massive showdown. He thought of imposing section 144 immediately, but decided otherwise. “Sometimes it is better the emotions of the masses are allowed to flow freely, containing them can prove explosive like the bottle of aerated water. It can cause more damage”.
He spoke to his wife Dammi, “I am on my way to the secretariat. I will not be back till late night. You can finish your supper and go to sleep”.
“On the contrary I suggest that you come home, freshen up for a while and then you can go to the meeting” his wife had pleaded, “Do not forget your juniors and subordinates too need rest for a while. You have been through the tremendous strain since morning. A wash otherwise will also be essential. You must have been amongst the dead bodies all through the day”.
“These women will never change “; he told DIG Meena who was travelling with him in his car.
“In our profession handling of a corpse is like a doctor touching and dissecting one for investigation. It does not leave any ghost with us. Yet she feels we need a wash. I feel it is a ridiculous idea. I suggest you can also take rest for a while before getting back to work. I want you to find out if any major land dispute had resulted into mass killings earlier. Even though I am sure the community killings are no way connected to the land disputes. You can ask your boys to verify the records of the police stations in the nearby villages too. Tanwar’s men must be back from the shrine. If you two can piece together today’s happenings at the shrine please have a report sent to me,” The chief of the state police tipped the driver of his car on the shoulder and directed him to stop the car.
He told Meena “you can move back to your vehicle. It is not necessary that you come with me till my residence to see me off. The escort will take care”.
“Right boss”, Meena saluted him and moved over to the jeep coming behind the car of the police chief. His car took the right turn towards the residence. He saw Meena’s jeep whizzing down the road going straight.
The crisis management team was gathered at the office of the chief minister. It consisted of the state minister of home affairs, the home secretary, the chief secretary, and the secretary administration along with the secretary law department. A strong sense of resentment could be read on the faces of all the bureaucrats gathered there as they have been called for the meeting at a short notice. Some of them had to change their plans for the rendezvous elsewhere for the evening.
The chief secretary addressing state Minister of home affairs had remarked, “It appears to be a pure and simple case of some kind of personal vendetta. There has been no looting of the passengers. Why will someone kill so many innocents unless he is insane or blind with a personal revenge’?
The half agreeing with his statement added “it appears to me a failure on the part of our police administration. We will have to tighten the vigilance for any such madness as a repercussion of these killings. I believe the other party can definitely retaliate”.
Chief Minister Pratap who watched the reaction of his cabinet colleague had to intervene. He said, “We do not know which other party you are referring to. It is certainly not the case of personal vendetta. The hidden agenda behind these killings should be visible by now to all of you. All of those who boarded the bus had their full trust and confidence in law and administrative machinery of the state. All of them who got killed did not belong to one family or one village but to one particular community. The killers whosoever they are want to ‘A’ Create the sense of fear amongst the common people. ‘B’ they want to sow the seeds of communal discord between two communities by hitting at one and letting go the members of the other community. you have all the liberty to correct me if I am wrong,” he looked up at the chief of the state police enquiringly, “ In fact I have been wanting to discuss with all of you all the recent events that have taken place in the border zones of the state. There has been sudden spurt in the Trans border crossings. The inflow of the illegal arms into our state has suddenly been stepped up and so have been the distribution of drugs around the villages at the line of the control. We have had such evils prevailing earlier also but not to the extent that we see now. In spite of the best efforts and round the clock vigilance by the security forces at the frontiers our neighbors have been able to push in the insurgents. The training camps of the terrorists can be seen just across the line of control. We have information that our young men in large numbers have moved across to get trained in the subversive activities in these camps. These boys are not from the eastern part of the country where unrest has been going on for long. But these boys are from our very own state. The profession of mercenaries has never been part of our society so it is wrong to assume that these are mercenary camps. We do not see any other war around in this neighborhood. We are apprehensive that these guns are being trained for use against us. The enemies of peace are not happy with the progress our state has witnessed. They want to erect the barriers of destruction in the path of our growth. The common general public must be scared out of their wits to be deprived of the enjoyment of fruits the new dawn brought about by our winning the elections. Our enemies want to take them back to the darkness of the medieval times and the dirty politics of the earlier party. That is the sole purpose behind the murders of ordinary people. Though some of the people present here may not agree to what I am saying (His oblique reference hinted at the bureaucrats) who still owed their allegiance to their earlier masters. They should not forget that we all remain in our jobs only if peace survives. If need be I am willing to step down from the chair of the chief minister. But the mandate given by the people is stronger than my thinking or the wishes of our enemies. My government has firmly decided to deal with this menace with a strong hand .we will not permit any communal backlash. I am going to attend the funerals of the departed. We have also decided that the arrangement for all funerals will be paid for and managed by my government. I will address the public at the sight of funeral once the ceremonies are over”.
“Do you want us to impose prohibitory orders so that the agitation can be kept under control” this was the Home Secretary.
“I do not think that will be necessary,” the chief minister Pratap mentioned “We will deploy big force to prevent any untoward situation. Any kind of control at this stage will prove counter productive. People must be allowed to participate in the mourning. After this I shall be visiting the highest seat of our faith, where the Timeless will of the God prevails continuously, to pay my respects to the ALMIGHTY .He may forgive us for the sins committed by the evildoers. We shall also be praying for the souls of those killed so that their souls may rest in peace. That I believe is the least we owe to the common man. We must as governments of the state give him a sense of protection he looks forward from my office”.
The private secretary to the chief minister walked in into the room where the crisis meeting was on, “I would beg to be excused sir. I would not have disturbed your meeting. But I believe there must be an emergency”.
They both looked apprehensively at the man coming in with such an urgent message. The private secretary however addressed the Chief of the state police Nirbhaya, “It is DIG Tanwar on the other line. He must speak to you urgently”.
“You can take the call in my rest room”, the Chief Minister had told the cop.
The rest room was adjoining to the office of the chief minister. It had been converted into an absolute soundproof section by the earlier occupant. Once he went into the room no one not even the personal secretary was permitted inside the room. The scene however with the current occupant of the office was different. The new incumbent believed in a policy that was more open and trustworthy. It was apparent he did not need any private chambers to cater to his carnal or intriguing desires.
“Yes Tanwar tell me what is it? It must be urgent”? The chief of the state police Nirbhaya came straight to the point.
“It is boss! Otherwise I would not have called you from the meeting. Did you see the afternoon news papers today? It is mentioned all over the papers. The press is screaming hoarse about our man from the shrine. He has declared a war on the state. It is nothing short of sedition. He has given a call for independence and separation from the union. A videocassette of the address delivered by him to a religious congregation at the shrine has been sent through my men; who already have reached the chief minister’s office. I request you that the cassette must be viewed by you immediately. If you permit we will like to move immediately. We would like to nab him before he goes underground like the professor. I am at the collector’s office and awaiting your clearance”.
The chief cop looked at the private secretary enquiringly “There are two guys waiting in my room to meet you urgently”, he said.
‘Listen Tanwar the crisis management group meeting is on. I assure you we will view the contents forthwith. You will stall any action till we get the directives from the chief minister. I repeat all action stalled till we get the permission from the chief minister”. He heard Tanwar swearing “I told you so “on the other side. There was no time to counsel his junior. He rushed to the secretary’s room personally. The members of the Crisis Management Group looked at him bewildered, watching him rush out of the room in such a hurry. Two policemen saluted him and handed over the videocassette and the afternoon tabloids. He read the main news in a glance while moving back to the meeting. His one glance was enough to read the explosive skills exhibited by the great Priest. This time he has really crossed limits thought the police chief “I wonder if he had discussed this kind of public speech with his political mentors in the central government. If so then the centre itself must begin to disintegrate”. He was reminded of a poem of S.T. Coleridge he had read in his college “things are falling apart, the centre can not hold”. He spoke a few words into the ears of chief minister Pratap. He handed over the tape and the newspapers reports to him.

A list of the elite leaders and innovators included in Who’s Who in the World 2012 and my name figured there too. Indeed a very proud moment :

Dear Ramneek Kapoor,

Who’s Who in the World 2012 (29th Edition) has just been published and I’d like to share with you some of the fascinating people whose biographies will appear in the book – alongside your own – for the very first time.

Each year our staff researches people from around the globe who merit inclusion in Who’s Who in the World. Beginning with the first edition of Who’s Who in America in 1899, which featured such luminaries as Thomas Edison and Mark Twain, Marquis Who’s Who publications have represented the most comprehensive sources available for information on human achievement.

Here are just a few of the latest leaders and innovators to be included in Who’s Who in the World:

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (née Kate Middleton), named one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2011 by Time magazine.

Women’s rights activists Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, co-recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with longtime listee Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Didier Faivre, recently appointed Director of the Galileo program and navigation-related activities for the European Space Agency.

Professional cyclist Cadel Evans, winner of the 2011 Tour de France.

Dilma Rousseff, inaugurated in 2011 as the first female President of Brazil.

Architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, known for such works as the Paula Rego Museum and recipient of the 2011 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

Activist artist Ai Weiwei, topped ArtReview magazine’s 2011 Power 100 and runner-up for Time’s 2011 Person of the Year.

Carolyn S. Miles, newly appointed President and CEO of Save the Children.

We are proud to have you as a member of the Marquis Who’s Who family and to welcome you into the 2012 Edition of Who’s Who in the World. On behalf of our entire team, congratulations and I wish you the best of luck for your continued success.

Sincerely,

FredMarks
Editor-in-Chief

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – chapter 16

16

 

The great priest Rajamantran had finished his practicing of the last asana of yoga. He opened the small window opening of his room and looked outside into the large compound spread into many acres. He noticed the mammoth crowds were beginning to gather outside in the big lawns. The disciples and other volunteers from the shrine were making sitting arrangements for people. They had been requesting people to take their seats in the separate queues meant for men and women. The people attending the ritual of annual worship were coming into the enclosure. They will bow in front of the Holy Scripture. They will also pay their respects to others present in the audience. And finally they were proceeding to take their respective seats in the arena meant for them.

The office of the great priest Rajamantran had sent invitation to all and sundry through the public address systems fitted in all the shrines located in the area. The shrines in surrounding villages too had made public announcements on their public address systems in very loud tones, “Dear brothers and sisters, the great priest Rajamantran of our parish will be addressing all of us on the important religious, social and political issues that concern all of us. The congregation will take place on the Holy day. You must reach the shrine one and all and make the religious gathering a grand success. The right time has arrived to contribute your might to the protection of your religious, cultural and ethnic heritage. The sect needs your services. Please, do make all efforts to come one and all. You must come to listen to the preaching of the great preacher and great Priest. You must imbibe his golden saying in your life, and adopt them to lead a better life. Teach it to your young ones. Bring them along to the grand occasion; so that they can be baptized in the great traditions every single one of us have followed all our life. Remember ultimately it is the religion commemorated by our great Priest that will outlast all of living beings. We owe it to our future generations to perpetuate the greatness of our mighty faith, so that they live with their heads held high in the times to come”.

The villagers came; the ladies and women came with the kids in their arms and toe. The townsmen arrived in groups. They came in Lorries, trucks, tractors and animal driven vehicles. Some came on foot walking many miles overnight in groups, singing their prayers and hymns on the way. After all this occasion comes once and twice a year and such ostentatious festivity should be shown to the children too. Their caravans were coming in from all directions dressed in their festive best.

The great priest Rajamantran looked through the small opening in the door and saw faces all around. He saw human frames everywhere, waiting patiently yet expectantly to listen to his sermon. “Now is the time to make my imposing entrance”, he thought to himself.

He beckoned to the first contingent of armed guards to lead him, two of the armed guards will walk in the front, two on the side on to his left and the other two on his right, six of them will follow him in the rear. They will walk with their guns pointed towards the sky and no sooner he reaches the Dais, the guns numbering eleven will fire their guns salute to him.

The speaker on the public address system using numbers of loud speaker fitted into the congregation premises on the poles erected all over was making the ostentatious announcement. He began the minute he saw the great priest Rajamantran coming out of his room. “The savior of the mankind, the reincarnation of all gods, the Almighty personified, the leader of all the leaders, the brave of the braves, and the greatest Priest of the great Priests is here to give you his blessings. Bow before him the big and the mighty, bow before him the young and the elders, bow before him the rich and not so rich He is here to lift you all from your daily grinds of life. Make sure no one turns his back towards him; one momentary look of the great will charge your entire existence. Savor his Presence and get the heavenly bliss showered upon your near and dear ones”.

The entire assembly like the regimented march past of the soldiers of a well-disciplined army turned their faces towards the door from where the great pontiff made his entry. They all bowed before him, some were lying prostrate on the floor to seek his blessings. He raised both his hands in sanction to bless all of them. Contingent of the gunmen prevented people from going near him; the entire public was overawed by his majestic presence. He walked on to the left of the crowd. People turned their heads in the direction in which he moved; like the shadow of the Sundial. He reached the end of the congregation; crowd had also turned half circle by then. People had gone hysterical and they were raising slogans “Long live the great Priest, long live the god”.  They were chanting the hymns composed by him. By now he had reached the right side of the pandal, the worshippers moved their faces in the same direction. He picked up a bunch of flowers from the baskets being carried by the devotees, and threw them back at the crowd, who had become delirious by now “God bless our soul. We are lucky to have witnessed his holy presence”, some of the old ladies were singing. He stopped midway, lifted a small child from a woman’s arms and kissed him on the forehead “Have you given a   name to this child of god?”

“I am here at your feet your lordship to seek a blessed name for him, me poor human being can not decide. Please bless him and baptize him”.

“In that case let him be known as the unvanquished. I name him Ajay”. The woman took the child back from him and lay face down on his feet. The gunman picked her up and moved her to aside “Let the great priest Rajamantran move, make way for him” they told parishioners.

The great priest Rajamantran took the left turn again reaching near the podium.  The people in the audience had taken three hundred sixty degree turn by now, as they considered it sacrilegious to show their back to the messenger of god. He climbed three steps to reach the stage. The entire gathering of people present there had put their foreheads on the floor. They were worshipping him. They lay down there completely prostrate on the ground with both their hands folded in the form of greetings while they were paying their deference to him.  The great priest Rajamantran enjoyed the sight. He absorbed the entire scene of people lying on the ground to worship him (for a few seconds) and thus he began their discourse “Rise my children, rise from the depths of   abyss. You all must rise to the new awakening, grow to the new dawn. The novel Sun of spiritual knowledge beckons you to keep the blindfolds of ignorance away that you have been wearing for centuries”. The multitude rose from the floor and stood in reverence. He mentioned them to sit.

A few musicians on the stage started playing their musical instruments of harmonium and tabla.  The young girls who accompanied these choirs sang the ode to the Goddess of Power, “Oh mother, and Dear mother! Bless us; bless us to face the good deeds of life. Bless us to lay down our lives for the resurgence of our great nation. Empower us to sacrifice our life for the good of our religion. Bless us to give up our all worldly possessions for the common cause of society. Oh Mother! We are but the mortal souls.  We beseech you to bless us with immortality so that we depart this life for the greater cause and live a pious living for ages thereafter. Bless us to drink the nectar of your eternal power to make us become fearless, courageous and truthful”. The group recited the hymn resonantly.  All the people present at the congregation joined in and sang. The great priest Rajamantran lent his voice in between to lead the chorus.

He asked the microphone to be brought to him once all the singing groups had paid their ode to the goddess.

“ Bang”,  the first gun fired the salute,’ Bang’, ‘Bang’; ‘Bang’ the third, the fourth, the fifth and finally the eleventh gun fired the salute from their guns  towards the skies . Having emptied their cartridges the gunmen moved behind the stage to take their positions. The participants of this serious gathering looked at their great priest very reverentially. There was an apprehensive   pin drop silence in the jamboree of men, women and children.

The cleric cleared his throat and started speaking, “Dear Children of God! The Society of the wisest, May the wiser counsel prevail amongst this noble audience? We all are gathered here today to commit to our memory the sacrifices made by our great forefathers to perpetuate the faith that we live with today. This faith has been the bane of our lives through many ages. This faith has kept the bonds of our society strong. This faith that has seen the survival of our religion through the atrocities the Mughal and the British committed on our people. The strong bonds of our community kept our trust alive in the tenets of our religion during the worst of trying times. I pay my tributes to the tenacity and faithfulness of a great nation of braves”, the great priest Rajamantran bent downwards and rubbed his forehead against the floor of the platform, as if he was paying homage to the unknown and unsung braves of the faith. People echoed in a single chorus, “You are the greatest of all, may you live long to lead us to the glory of our religion always”.

The great priest Rajamantran raised him to the level of the microphone again and continued his sermon,” However we find a weakening of the centuries old faith today amongst our younger age group. Our youngsters are being misled by the flawed social norms of modern society. Our very organism of heritage and culture of century’s old richness is getting vitiated by the misleading propaganda propagated by the enemies of our faith. There are many instances that have of late been the main cause of consternation to our mental peace.

The education policy adopted by the governments successively both in the state and the centers have been the cause of our children getting astray. They have today been moved away from us by this ill equipped education system. Those nincompoops and frauds who devised the new and modern education syllabi and study schemes have a scant knowledge of our rich traditions and culture, or our vast inheritance. We are being herded like the sheep of the same flock with other communities. Some of our brethren were wise enough to ask for and insist on a separate native soil for themselves after moving away from the British. They fought for a place of their own; they stood their ground and won it. Their leaders had the foresight to see that if they do not get a separate homeland, there community may not retain their distinct political identity and will get submerged into the vast ocean of other cultures. They maintain their independent nation today based on their religion, their scriptures, their faith and their way of living.

Look at yourself! Can you say that the enriching, social, and ethnic individuality of your families’’ has been preserved by you. Has it been allowed to flourish by the regime that we got for ourselves? Our learning institutes, religious shrines and so much so our means of living are all being subject to the rules and regulations adopted by the voice of vote.  That obviously will always be in favor of the majority community. They did not relish our landed assets hence they had cut the arms of our peasant community by introducing the draconian laws related to the land holdings. They cut short the size of our fields by the mandate in the name of distributing excess territory to the landless. In this process they diluted the very social and cultural milieu of our society. We have become losers today in our own homes, because the political set up have been devised to benefit the numerous. The religion has moved from our hands to the politicians of questionable allegiance. They owe their loyalty to vote banks and not to the great preaching enshrined in our holy scriptures. Do you really want to be a part of such an immoral society?  Please answer me” he exhorted the audience to build up a sense of frenzy amongst them.

“I want your feedback to the conditions and atmosphere in which our agriculturists are laboring. What do they get out of their toil? They cannot arrange proper food, shelter and clothing for their wards. The free trade is curbed by the lollypops of governmental procurement systems and crutches of support price. Our farmers’ brothers cannot decide the price of their own produce. Our brethren are forced to sell their produce from their farmlands to the government agencies and brokers patronized by these agencies.  You will all bear with me that the poor tiller was much better off during the Mughal regime, even after paying the jajia (revenue on land holdings imposed by some of the Mughal kings)   on land. What have our fate come unto?  I want you to be aware of your own worth. Self sufficiency of the economy can be attained if we have our own separate nation, our own separate laws, social traditions, and our very own religious and ethnic culture not polluted by the ills of the other communities. We are a race of the wisest; a race of the purest. Raise my children, rise from the ashes of oblivion, and throw away the curtains of slavery that are blinding you. It is your own motherland that seeks a separate state, a homeland of your own. Defy the draconian police rule; defy the laws that do not permit you to maintain an exclusive identity”.

He helped himself to a few sips of water offered to him by one of his bodyguards. He surveyed all around him. The gathering of the people were sitting with their hands folded in reverence to him, he carried on with his communication, and “In the institution of marriage ceremony too we have been clubbed with the jurisprudence of the community that enjoys their numerical majority.  We refuse to admit this kind of treatment at anyone’s behest. From today onwards our ethnic community   will devise our own laws. We will have our own social code of conduct to govern our institutions of social living.  We will have our own trading and commerce agencies that will lay down the norms for all our business activities. We will have our own jurisprudence.   We will have our own security agencies. We have always sent the highest numbers of our boys to the defense agencies of this country. What for? Does the government want them to use and direct their guns on us only? We will not provide any more hands to hold these guns”.

He looked through the corner of his eyes; three young peasants carrying the bundles of the sugarcanes on their heads were approaching towards the stage. He knew in these bundles they were carrying the guns used to eliminate and massacre innocent bus passengers. He told one of the armed guards to let the boys come in. They put their bundles of sugarcane they were carrying on their heads down on the earth.  They climbed on the dais to touch his feet and seek his blessing thereof.  He knew his boys have dug the first nail in the coffin of the ministry lead by Pratap. He blessed them by raising both his hands and continued with the delivery of his sermon “Let us declare this day as the day of an absolute freedom. I want you all to raise your fists and repeat with me ‘death to the traitors of truth and religion! Let the true values of our community rule! Let there be new awakening amongst all sections of our pious society!”  The crowd that had been enraptured by his utterances suddenly woke up like a giant. They repeated three times, “death to the traitors of truth and religion! Let the true values of our community rule! Let there be new awakening amongst all of us!”

The armed guards who had refilled the cartridges of their guns by now once again raised their guns heavenwards and fired constantly till the last bullet had been spent. The great priest Rajamantran got up from his royal throne. He came to the front of the podium and affirmed “The sound of these guns herald the onset of our freedom. We declare our own rule; the representatives of the draconian rulers can go and report to their lords.  They can come and join us. It is ultimately their choice. We will praise the God again”. He witnessed the crowd rising on their on their feet and he shouted loudly “long live the faith”; all the people echoed in one breath “long live the faith”.

The great priest Rajamantran climbed down the stairs. A surge of humanity was wailing “Long lives our great Priest, long live our savior and long live the savior of our nation.” Armed guards had moved forward to cover him from all sides. None could reach him. He moved towards the door from which he had emerged in the morning. The crowd did finish anti clock movement of their heads once again.

The young boys who had brought in the sugarcane bundles as offerings were lost in the huge assembly. The offerings of the canes along with other presents and gifts were sent inside the shrine.

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues — Chapter 15

15

    The sleepy little town of Baikunthpur was opening its eyes to the first ray of sunlight. The tea stall vendor at the state roadways bus station woke up to begin his business of the long stretched day ahead of him. He set up the water filled kettle on an earthen stove and started showing fire to   light up the dry woods underneath. “The fog  that appears during the winters has started setting in”, he thought, “ the woods are little wet on the outside, a few drops of kerosene oil will overtake the moisture and the glow of fire will soon engulf mettle kettle from all sides bringing the water to boiling temperature ”.

The staff for first state roadways bus to leave out of the bus station should be here any minute, along with the commuters traveling to the capital town. Generally college students, employees of the state government offices, and a few traders who had some shopping to do in the capital town board the first bus in the morning. The same bus will return late evening from there carrying most of its commuters back, unless of course it carried guests for someone in the town or any one decided to stay back. He could hear self-starter of the bus making a big racket; it seemed the driver would call him out to push the bus from behind for the initial start up. After a few rattling noises it picked up the fuel spark and the engine started roaring. The bus driver Dhanna called him “Chhotte (my little brother) prepare a strong cup of tea with two hundred grams of milk. It should give a speed of seventy kilo meters per hour”, which meant he wanted lots of tea leaves, little water and two hundred grams of milk boiled to the extent that the color of the milk will be fully tanned to blackish red, “And do not forget to add sugar to the tea you  will be serving me .  I need lots of it. Do not be miserly”. Dhanna called out “Yes I know your taste buds are fond of too much of sweet. You do not have to remind me every morning about it though”. He woke up one of the servants from behind the shop and ordered him to carry the pot full of tea to serve it to Dhanna in the bus.

A stranger came to shop with his face wearing half a veil of a blanket and ordered the tea stall owner to give him a cup of tea. The tea stall owner looked at him strangely; it was not cold enough yet to cover face like this.” May be he was still sleepy or may be he suffers from the cold and fever. What do I have to do”, thought the tea stall owner.

He saw another young man coming to his stall, soon after. The stranger ordered him to make one more cup. “You are new here “, he wanted to ask them but the rush of a few more passengers made him busy tending to their orders. “ It seems our town is growing big. We see new faces here every now and then’, he remarked to one of the old regular customers.

The bus conductor was yelling from the rear door of the bus” Capital Town! This bus leaves for Capital Town!” The bus was overflowing with passengers in no time. The driver looked back and asked the conductor if he could send the bus rolling. The conductor blew a long whistle indicating the driver to move. The bus starting stirring, just then the two strangers got up and ran towards the bus; one boarded it from the rear the other had jumped in into the front gate.

The one who was in the front sat on a seat near the driver. The other one occupied a seat next to the rear gate.” Some seats are still vacant.  You can check if we pick up passengers from near the railway crossing and we will go non stop thereafter” the conductor had shouted at the driver,” We will not stop anywhere halfway. If there is anyone going short of capital town please get off as the bus will not stop middle way”, he called out to the passengers. “Let us move”, he indicated to the driver.

Two passengers came into the bus from the railway crossing and moved into the center of the bus. They surveyed the vacant seats and one of them selected the seat near to the front exit. He requested the old lady to move to the central portion of the bus., “Old mother can you shift to the vacant seat in the middle I am not feeling well”. The old lady smirked a little, but realizing the young man may actually be sick gave up her seat. After all he had wrapped a blanket even when there was a moderate cold. The bus began its journey towards its destination.

The driver took the right turn from the next crossing, a passenger requested him “Dhanna dear friend can we hear some devotional music.  I am sure people will enjoy it’. The person sitting next to the driver asked him,” Could you increase the volume of the music system? These devotional songs are too appealing. I am a great fan of this singer”. Dhanna the bus driver looked back and smiled “It is good to follow the scriptures, but at your young age people hardly ever listen to these songs. They are keener to listen to film songs though”. The music system was blaring, “We are born to one father, we are the people of one God, and we are the sons of one father. Each has been blessed with one light; no one is good or bad”. The driver was singing along with the singer somewhat at the top of his voice. He did not hear the loud horn being blown by the truck driver who wanted him to get on to one side of the road so that his truck could move ahead after overtaking the bus. The truck driver kept pressing the horn till the young man tapped at the bus driver’s shoulders” Let him pass; he seems to be in a hurry”. “These half trained truck drivers are always in a hurry. The fellow who issued the license for driving to truck drivers must not have known the art of driving a vehicle himself”. The truck over took the bus from very close quarters.

The bus driver looked outside the window of his bus   and called names to the man driving the truck” Can you not see? You mother…”

The young man who had been sitting near the front exit made sure the door was locked fully. He double-checked the latch on the door. He got up from the seat and stretched his body to the full.

Watching this man near the rear gate sitting on the stairs; the bus conductor also got up from his seat and sat on the stairs next to him. “Brother you can sit comfortably, there is enough space here”, said the conductor, pointing towards the seat vacated by him.

“Thank you I have not had my morning work out. I prefer standing here for a while”. He too checked the bolt at the rear door and firmly bolted it when he noticed it was unlock.

The driver in the front was lost yelling in his not so sonorous voice singing the devotional song when he felt some thing hard and cold mettle on his neck.

The young man sitting next to him told him in a very vicious tone, “You will take a right turn from here. The bus will not go to the capital town”. The driver Dhanna “Yes but this road goes to the deep forest. Why should I take to this direction? We will get lost on the way”?

“Do as you are told otherwise I will kill you”? Dhanna felt the cold steel pressing into his neck and took the sharp turn to the right immediately, screeching tires on the left virtually got lifted from the ground. Some people who were dozing off in the early morning warmth swore names to the driver.

An old man who looked like a retired military officer shouted at the driver “What is this way of driving? You want to kill all of us”.

“No   not him but we want to kill some of you”, the man sitting in the middle of the bus stood up. He removed the blanket and brandished another gun, “No one will get up; this bus is under our control. We are the harbingers of freedom to you all; if any one dare look up I will shoot. Killing is my job”. He hit the man who was sitting in seat ahead of him in the head “You mother… close that windowpane”. Blood started oozing from the man’s head; he without losing a split second shut the windowpane.

The old lady sitting next to him started shouting “Oh God! Oh God! “Shut up you old fart”, the man from the front door called out. He too removed his blanket and pointed the gun at the old lady.  “Listen you jerk,” the Youngman in the middle had come to the aisle, “We are the messengers of God. We are the saviors of the nation. We will not harm any one who is the follower of our belief; but we will also not spare the perpetrators of atrocities on us. This government of atheists belongs to the nonbelievers. They must be driven out of our land; the land that belongs to us. The nonbelievers have exploited this land for ages. They have played havoc with our religion and social beliefs. They have desecrated our places of worship. They kill our brethrens all over the country. They have no right to live and must be done away with immediately”.

No one spoke to him; no one even dared to look at him. The bus had by now reached somewhere in the middle of the thick forest. He ordered the driver to turn the bus on a narrow muddy road going into the forest track. Dhanna the bus driver who belonged to the same community as the four men were pleaded, “For God sake I implore you.  Please do not kill the innocents. They are also our brothers. Why do you want to invite the wrath of all the gods on you? Please let us go back to the main road.” He applied the brakes all of a sudden. The gun slipped out of the hands of the young man and fell on the floor. He quickly picked it up. The driver’s behavior infuriated him and he banged the gun against his head again and again; calling him names “You son of a bitch, you also go with them”. Dhanna tried to ward off the heavy blows initially but the young man’s hands were too quick. Dhanna’s official felt cap that he had been wearing fell on the floor of the bus. He pushed open the side door and jumped on the ground outside the bus below. He ran towards the direction from which the bus had come. “Please save us, will someone save us” he simultaneously shouted. The bullets hit him from behind. He jumped up a few feet and fell on the ground with face turned towards the bus. The young man with gun in his hand was staring out of the window.

“All of you get off the bus one by one and put your two hands on your heads. I am sure no one will dare do any thing, other wise he meets the same fate as the bus driver has met”, the youngster in the rear  of the automobile opened the door and ordered every one to come out of the bus. They were all told to form a queue each for men and women separately. “The people I point out will step aside”, he ordered. A few ladies started wailing loudly. The children too joined them in crying hoarse.

A total of five boarders pointed out by the young man were asked to step aside from the main group. A lad of around twelve years also moved aside with them. “Hey you! You cannot come with them. You are too young to decide what is happening in the society and we do not kill any one for no reason. You will fall back into the group of the other passengers who are being left behind” the leader of the four men told the boy and others to board the bus back.

He virtually herded the five separated, towards the jungle. Other people who watched mutely from inside the bus were too stunned to utter a word. The old lady was praying loud “Oh God! Please be merciful! Please be merciful!” The man who had been left behind to keep an eye on them assured her, “Do not worry you old woman nothing will happen to you. You will die your natural death”.

The gunshots reverberated through the silence of the forest loud and clear. One could distinguish two different guns blaring. The sudden silence brought in the first rays of the jungle morning. The sun gradually rising from behind the tall trees gave a red hue to the atmosphere.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues — Chapter 14

14

Nirbhaya picked up the receiver of the telephone from its cradle and dialed private number of the chief minister Pratap “Sir the goody is here with me. Can I come over and show it to you? You will simply love this. I have the information that our friend on the other side and his outfit has also shown keen interest in the same. I believe three different consignments have entered the state and the other two have gone into their hands”.

“No I am busy with the cabinet meeting. We shall meet at my residence in the evening. You must come in non-formals and bring your family along. We will have our dinner together”. The Chief Minister was known for not spending his evening time with any one. He will reach home and immediately get into his office room at the residence “there is so much to do”, he would often remark. He will have sparse dinner at late night and go to bed only after all files for the day have been attended to. The invitation to the chief cop meant the matter in hand was quite serious. It also indicated that he wanted to discuss the same in absolute privacy. It also showed the trust and the confidence the chief minister reposed in his chief of the state police Nirbhaya.

The secretariat building situated at the outskirts of the main city had not witnessed many a historical feats. None of the greats ever ruled from here like many others great of history had done from the massive historical structures of the Red Fort, the Vice Regal Lodge, the White House, the Buckingham Palace or even the smaller palaces like the Chattel, the Umaid Palace or even the Amer palace. All these palaces have been witness to the rules of the greats.  They have seen the rise and fall of the kingdoms. They have also been active participants in the making and breaking of the kings that had ruled the corridors of power of these palaces. .

However the seat of the government of any kingdom though does create a sense of awe and inspiration. It evokes a fear of the mighty and powerful and provokes and incites the willful obeisance of the masses.   The one from where our chief minister was addressing the cabinet meeting was a similar seat of the mighty government. The chief minister’s office at the second floor of this building spoke of the modern efficiency. The rose wood table with revolving chair placed behind it looked like the working desk of a busy executive. The backrest of this chair rose higher than the occupant; as it raised itself higher the smaller the occupant looked into it, as if indicating the might of the chair being greater than that of the occupant.

The members of the cabinet ministry numbering eight in total were seated opposite the chief minister. He had deliberately kept the strength of the cabinet smaller. The state treasury has been in doldrums. The current deficit ran into billion of rupees .Such a huge deficit in budgetary provisions of the state exchequer did not allow him to have room for more members of the legislative assembly into the ministerial berths. That would have meant putting more burdens on the state funds.

Pratap waited till the members of the hospitality department had laid the tea trays on the table. He beckoned them to leave and pushed his chair forward   to serve a cup of tea each to the guests in the room. He enjoyed serving tea personally to the guests. The ceremony of serving tea to the guests was always accorded a great importance. It in fact followed a big ritual in his family. His father who was a big landlord during the British era used to enjoy his evening tea served to him with a great fanfare. The liveried waiters would wait upon the guests when tea was served. His father will personally pour tea liquor into each cup, adding milk and sugar as per the liking of the guest. It appeared he enjoyed asking the guest “How much please” and Pratap seemed to have picked up his father’s good taste along with his nobility.

The Cabinet Secretary was presenting the report on excise revenue collections “The revenue collections from the auction of the liquor contracts during the current year have gone up from 1900billions to 2210 billions. That should give the exchequer an additional of 310 billions. However the revenues from the opium and poppy vend went down this year too. We expect a short fall of around 20 percent. Though we have tightened the leakage yet it seems people are gradually dropping their addiction”. “But that is to the contrary”, spoke the minister of social welfare, “In fact my department has information that the drugs are finding their way to into all sections of the society in the areas bordering the neighboring country. The school going kids are getting into the habit at a very young age and the menace is all pervasive in the labor class in the rural areas. The college youth have been found in the inebriated condition once too often by many of the NGOs. Here I present the latest figures”.

Pratap raised his hand to brush aside the report and asked the Cabinet Secretary to continue. “I am seized of the minister’s concern for the menace spreading. The government vends cannot be closed simply on this account. These vends do not strictly give supplies to any one without license. A prescription from the doctor is required to buy any thing from the opium and poppy vends. It is parallel supply of the contraband that finds its way to the rural schools and colleges. The brick kiln workers, the industrial labor, and the truck drivers are all falling a prey to this disease. We need to tighten and strengthen our enforcement wing.  The haulage of the contraband has also gone up this year as compared to the previous year. There have been some of the large catches of the contraband in the border districts. I shall read out the actual figures …” he started reading aloud the tangible figures.

Pratap looked at his watch; he had invited the chief of the state police Nirbhaya to his home for dinner this evening. He was anxious to have a look at the gun once again and hold it in his hands. He had seen one during his last trip to one of the European country. The older existing guns with which state police was equipped was outdated by now. The .303 was recommended 40 to 45 years ago. These weapons had served their purpose. They were good enough to deter the criminals from acting; but these were not effective enough to fight it out with attackers. The element of surprise was missing from the earlier ordnance. It took hell of a long time to load these guns; the aiming had to be perfect to kill or maim the predator. The semiautomatics can also not match the quickness of the gun that he saw in Europe. He wanted to equip the elite unit of the state police with this weaponry.

His fundamental agenda for the cabinet meeting was to provide for the new armaments and equipment to the elite unit of the state police. “In welfare state, however, you do not talk of purchasing arms for the internal security forces” he was aware of this fact very well.  “Some of the elected members of the party still have the socialist leanings. They do not forget the origin of the roots of the peasant’s party. They still believe in the concept of comradeships. They believe state exists for the welfare of the masses and the first and foremost duty of the state lies in creating wealth for its own self; so that it can provide for the people in General. Buying arms for the police force or equipping it with the modern weapons does not fit into their agenda. They think only bourgeois society need to spend on the security network and in their opinion the current security arrangement is sufficient to take care of the law and order maintenance in the state” he had told the chief of the state   police when he had approached him to replace the outdated and obsolete weapons of his force.

However Pratap agreed with many of his fellow cabinet ministers when they mentioned,

“What is urgently required is to open up new avenues of investments by the public sector to create jobs for unemployed youths. Every year thousands of fresh unemployed literates are   being produced by the old-fashioned and out-of-date education system. We have an education system that has been evolved out of centuries of subjugation to other cultures”.

Pratap shifted into his seat, the Cabinet Secretary had finished his presentations. It was the turn of Shrinee now. She wanted cabinet’s approvals for upgrading some of the primary schools meant for girls to the level of high schools. She wanted funds for this purpose. She was pleading her case forcefully to the finance minister.

“In the election campaign we had laid emphasis on the availability of education to the girl child within manageable distance from her home. The drop out rates of the girl students has been going up for want of availability of   higher education institutes in the rural areas. The schools for higher education are placed far away in the main towns. The orthodox parents are wary of sending their children to far off towns all alone; besides there is not much of public transport available. Every one cannot afford the private means of access. Modern times are not favorable to send girls alone away from home. The drop out rate of the girl students for higher studies will come down once we have high schools nearer to the villages”. She read aloud from a news paper clipping, “ Eve teaser molests girl in the bus”, I am reading this to make you all aware of the dangers we all expose our children to when they are forced to travel all alone away from  their homes ” said Shrinee.

“Yes but that unpleasant incident took place in the state capital. I am sure it is nowhere near your village”’ wisecracked the chief minister.

“Of course boss, besides she is stepping into your territory. The law and order of the state is your problem. She should not step onto your toes. We do not mind if she piles herself onto you but territory poaching is a strict no, no” one of the young ministers had remarked. There was loud laughter in the room. Pratap too joined them but cut his hilarity short when he saw Shrinee getting red on her face. She had actually blushed. He looked at her again. Such a beanbag of a woman was not his cup of tea. He wondered what his party president had found in her. He could see her only as a sack full of hay covered with nice clothes.

She had come to the election office of the party on the party President’s recommendations for an election ticket. Her only contribution to the politics has been to lead a statewide strike of the schoolteachers. The party president was insistent that she should be given the election ticket from the reserve constituency for women. It was the inner circle of the party cabinet only who knew of their amorous sojourns. Pratap smiled, while talking to himself, “He must be holding each one of these big ones in both his hands. They were too big for a single hand”.

The finance minister had reluctantly agreed to allocate funds for upgrading two of the schools in her constituency and sought approval from the chief minister. Pratap gave his silent nod. He did not want her to create ruckus at the party meeting, which was coming up next week.

He stood up to address the cabinet, “Friends! Comic story does not hide the fact that law and order has become one of the major issues for all of us today. The streets are not any longer safer for the common man. It is a well-known truth that our friends who sat on these seats prior to our coming into power are keen to break down the governmental machinery. They want to create a sense of helplessness and insecurity amongst the common people of our state. Our public is too simple to look through their designs. The Home minister of the neighboring state who happens to be our closest ally tells me that my predecessor is already in touch with some of the seers and prophets of the smaller yet influential shrines to incite them to create disturbance in the village and countryside. Our intelligence agencies have also sent a report that spells disaster in the coming times. I have been in touch with the chief of the state police to tighten up the administration of the law and order. We are also taking measures to transfer some of the bureaucrats from the key positions to bring some kind of the sanity to the running of the state. Our state has always been amongst the most developed states of the country, but the long reign of misrule by some of our predecessors has brought in confusion and panic in the public life. We need to remove the fear that is all pervading and bring back the confidence in common public. The electorates of our state have supported us by using their franchise wisely. We must not let them down. We will have to set our priorities right and in my opinion the Police Department needs a thorough refurbishing to bring back the safety to the common folks. Besides we need to go back over our predecessors’ policy on the agriculture support price, the industrial development and the electric power distribution. The revenue collection has fallen short by a wide margin. We will have to go the central government for additional dole to take care of our budgetary provisions and deficit for this year again.  It is my opinion that this will not be the right thing to do. Since the government at the centre belongs to the political party who has not taken very kindly to our defeating them at the ballot vote in this state, they will indulge into browbeating and blackmailing us. We will have to perforce support some of their defunct policies, even though we do not agree to the same”.

“I am here to make a personal appeal to all of you to please take care of the district administration of your revenue districts.  Each one of you has been made in charge of one revenue district, along with some of the local members of the legislative assembly of our party. Please involve them in the developmental work so that the masses get a feeling of some work taking place for their benefits. I understand the problems are manifold, particularly in the areas where the local self-administration belongs to the other party but we will have to take such things into our stride and move forward. I shall beseech the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Power and the Minister of Agriculture to look at some of the subsidies that can be curtailed without affecting the morale of the masses. We need to tighten up the strings of the treasury purse to tide over the bad times. We may require some of these funds to modernize the internal security machinery”.

He deliberately did not refer to the elite unit and its requirement of the modern guns. That would have caused uproar. Even on hearing ‘Modernization of the internal security agencies’ his colleague Rudar got up “but we need to look at the health, education and employment of the common man chief. I am sure that should be given priority over the expense meant for the police department. The security agencies are already flooded with   funds. Let them make use of the arms and ammunition already lying unused at the constabularies; besides whom will they use it against? They will use it against our own people. I think we need to look at the problem differently. What appears to be law and order problem and unrest is nothing but the after effects of the tremors the erstwhile ruling party has felt. The shock of losing the long enjoyed power   has been too much for them to bear. They will get used to sitting on the opposition benches with the passage of time”.

“I wish things were as simple as you have predicted them to be. That would have made our living much easier”, said Pratap, “I will request you to ponder over the situation more seriously”.

“You do not have to worry chief, we are with you. You have led us to the victory at the elections for the first time in the history of this country. I am sure you will see us getting our government established and stabilized as the time passes”, Brahma the minister of power assured him. A few others also nodded with him in agreement. The meeting was taking a turn in his favor bemused the chief minister.

“The situation gets compounded by the fact that we are surrounded by a hostile neighbor country. You are all aware of our relationship with them. The two wars have crippled them. The incision of their country into two halves has further demoralized their army Generals and their politicians alike. The survival of all these generals and politicians now depends on the perpetual unrest created by their stooges in the Indian Territory. They have to continuously feed a false catchphrase of Jihad to their simple Junta”, he continued.

“Their army is not able to face another confrontation directly against our well equipped armed forces. But they can certainly have a prolonged proxy war. Such a long drawn out war is already being fought by them with support from some of our brethren from within our own country. Some of our politicians for the sake of a few votes or notes can stoop low enough to invite the perpetrators from across the borders to cause disturbances. My friend Revenue Minister spoke of the drugs smuggling going up in the districts situated near the borders of the two countries. This act of smuggling is nothing but the onslaught of the alternative hostilities by the neighbors. They want our youth to become dependent on such intoxicants. They do this, so that they can cripple the future of our society and their propaganda can be experimented on our young blood. I have reports of some of their agents meeting our student leaders and political opponents. That spells of the bad times to come. The recent call for greater independence and autonomy for state governments by the student federations appears to be the handiwork of our neighbors only. Otherwise the student community has kept itself aloof from such issues so far. I will request all of you to organize public meetings in your constituencies to ensure the common man does not get mislead by the nefarious designs of our enemies. We also need to look at some of the shrines and religious places getting undue importance amongst the commoners.  Even though it is said that the politics find their starting point in religion; such religious places should not be allowed to usurp and hijack the political authority enshrined in our constitution. All great rulers have found religion often usable to control the mass psychology. We ourselves have come to power because of religious overtone of our parent body but the allegiance and loyalty must be owed to the Supreme seat and not to the factions. Some of our people have been hobnobbing with the breakaway groups of minor shrines. We must be aware of any of their movements. I have information of my predecessor having parley with head of a shrine situated near the supreme seat. Such parleys are ominous of the difficult times to come. I pray to the almighty to give sense to our brethren who could play into the hands of an overambitious seer. His religious tenacity is known to have taken the connotation of political ambitions. This will prove dangerous in times to come”.

Pratap could see a number of his fellow ministers’ simper and smirk in their seats. He realized that by touching the overtones of religious tenacity of some of them he has gone a little too far. He knew he has hit the nail in a very hard way. He glanced at his wrist watch and curtly told the audience, “I hope we will keep our duty to the nation into the top of our mind. We will not get led astray towards the wrong direction. With this I bring my address to the cabinet to an end as I have another appointment to keep”.

Pratap did not wait to see the brunt of his speech on his colleagues.  He could however hear the claps of some of his fellow ministers. He knew Brahma, the Power Minister, had led this applaud. He was the first one to start clapping and that had urged all the others present in the meeting to lend their hands too. .

“I have formed this ministry by bringing together a strange combination of different political alliances.  each  one of those sitting inside represent a divergent political thought and philosophy” he thought, Brahma belonged to their political collaborator party who itself professed loyalty to another religious and social faction of the society .this political party had  driven the mass commitment amongst the voters on account of religious fervor created by it. “Politics do bring strange bedfellows together and the best part is it makes them enjoy each other”, reflected Pratap.

He dozed off in the air condition comfort of the car he was traveling in. The droning sound of the cooling machine acted as a lullaby.  He could not even return the salute of the police sentries posted at the exit barrier of the civil secretariat. The distance of the civil secretariat from the office to his house was barely four minutes; but the security drill necessitated the alteration in the route of his official caravan almost every day. It took him more than seven minutes today to reach his residence. He woke up on hearing the clicking of the boots and the blowing of the trumpet by the contingent of the armed forces appointed at his residence. His personal secretary sitting in the front seat was also nudging him gently to wake up. He rubbed his eyes and alighted from the car. He brought his left foot down and out of the car much before the police sentry could open the door for him.

He acknowledged the ceremonial salute of the police contingent and walked directly to the study room on the first floor of the residence. He had asked the chief of the state   police Nirbhaya to wait for him there. The chief of the state   police put down the cup from which he had been tea, on the ornate table and raised the right hand to the right side of his forehead for the ceremonial salute to the chief minister. Pratap stopped him midway “Cut the crap! You need not be formal with me in private.  Please hand out a cup of tea to me also, I am quite tired, the cabinet meeting exhausted my entire energy”.

A staff waiting upon them in the wings of the room emerged from the side door to look in and check up with the chief minister if he needed anything. Pratap sent him away with instructions to not to disturb them for the evening.

He spoke to his wife on the intercom “We want dinner for two served tonight in the study, the usual stuff; no formalities”.

“Why would you want to have it all alone? Dammi is also here, I am sure you do not lack in your chivalry. We will have it together on the dinner table only”. Dammi the wife of the chief of the state   police was a distant cousin of the chief minister. Pratap asked his wife to hand over the telephone to her ‘Welcome Chhoti”, he always had treated her like his younger sister. He had acted as her local guardian when they were studying in a boarding school. “I did not remember that I have invited you to come too, how forgetful of me please forgive me. We will be down for dinner but I want you to cook Chicken a la Kiev in the same way you had cooked last time, it was too scrumptious”. She was a reasonably good cook; Pratap just loved pampering the women with niceties. The stress in police service have otherwise also been mounting everyday and he wanted to ease the tension for the wife of the top cop of his government  as he felt responsible for the families of every police officer who had to undergo the insecurities and tension of every day fight against criminals and politicians alike. He realized his hands were too tied with unnecessary official procedure and protocol. He noticed the policeman was staring at him with amusement

“I think I need a lesson or two from you in handling of the fairer sex. You literally swipe them off their feet with your charm. Is that the reason they voted for you?’ the chief of the state   police had laughed at his own remarks.

Pratap hid his shyness and beckoned him to start “Come let us look at the serious issue at hand”.

Nirbhaya The chief of the state   police took out the gun and placed it on the table for the scrutiny of Pratap.

“Is it loaded?  Chief Minister asked him.

‘No but the bullets can be loaded. If you want to fire one we will have to go out in the open grounds”.

Pratap picked up the gun “How many of these can cross borders of the country, I am sure a few of them here and there do not make much of a difference. As it is some of the districts are already flooded with traditional arms”, Pratap wanted to put the cop at ease. But he knew he was giving him a false assurance He could feel the concern and consternation on the face of the cop.

“They are spread everywhere boss. From the university hostels to the residences of some of our officers, from the government offices to the village panchayats, the tentacles of our enemy are all over us. The guns of all shapes and sizes no doubt existed earlier also, but the kind we have in our hands had never found so much interest amongst the various factions earlier. I get shudders when I think of the turmoil that will be caused all around if these guns are put into misuse. These guns could be used against you, your ministers, or even   some of the softer targets but important government functionaries. The purpose of using this arsenal can be simply to create scare, the law and order break down and give the central government an opportunity to bring your ministry down”.

Pratap appreciated the concern shown by the chief of the state   police and yet he did not want to exhibit any kind of fear or apprehension, “The break down of the government can be arranged otherwise also, even without the use of guns and ammunition. The great Mahatma did have only a small stick yet his Satyagraha (the insistence on the truth) had stopped the clock of the mightiest kingdom from ticking in this country. I am not however saying these are your misgivings only.  We cannot ignore and overlook the statements being issued by the mischief mongers. The demand for the greater independence to the states has always surfaced from time to time. I too as the administrative head of a state will prefer greater freedom from the central control. The dependence on the union should be reduced to the minimum level possible for smooth functioning of the regional units; in order to make them more welfare oriented towards the people. Yet at the same time I firmly believe that the union must prevail. The center of the circle must hold in order to keep the spokes of the states intact so that the wheels of our country keep running. Our nation has paid too heavy a price for getting freedom from alien rules… We must remember the centuries of repression we had to undergo at the hands of the Mughal, Afghans and British. The scars of centuries old subjugation, carved on the psyche of the common people are too deep to heal. We Indians do not yet value our freedom.  I am disturbed at the talks of breaking away from this country. The student wing has been playing at the hands of the pariah and overambitious politicians. The demand for separate homeland is coming from the lands, which are not the part of our country. Instead of contributing to the welfare and development of the common folks the Professor ran away from this country and raised his head in the distant part of the world. His hands could be behind the illegal smuggling of the arms or it could at the instigation of the Pro Pak lobby.  But what surprises me is why bring in guns? A few of these guns will not be able to challenge the might of the powerful Indian army. It is essential for us to find out whom but more important is to analyze why. Why for almighty sake! Bring the peaceful state to the point of the disaster. The unemployment, the underemployment of young blood, the falling standards of morals in commoner’s life, the breaking away of the thread of the family relationships between different communities can take all of us back to the times when one brother invited a foreign invader to defeat his own blood sibling. I am sure no one wants it. If my sacrifice can prevent all this I am willing to lay down my office. I shall not shirk from giving my head for this country if it can prevent what you are apprehending,” The question though was not directed at the chief cop, elicited a nodding of head in the negative from him.

“But Sir there is a saying ‘prevention is better than cure ‘The modernization of the armed wing can give us the necessary fire power to contain the blood shed we apprehend ”.

“No, no it will not prevent yet it will enable your forces to face them with equal strength” said Pratap, “I am trying to bring round my cabinet colleagues to understand mine and your point of view.  But let me tell you even as the head of the ministry I have certain limitations. There are too many checks and balances on my decisions. We need a majority pronouncement to finance your requirement”.

“In that case boss I have plans to put into use the guns that we will be confiscating in various operations”.

“You will do nothing of the sort” Pratap realized he was getting snappy; he modulated his voice and politely told the chief of the state police Nirbhaya, “We should not overlook the authority exercised by the judicial officers of the state.  We have a very strong judicial system. You can be personally hauled up by small public interest litigation. But I would suggest you do not have to exhibit any kind of panic.   We will find a way out, however at present we are all groping in the dark about raison d’être. Interrogations into all such arms smuggling must be handled by you personally to find out the answer to this ‘Why’, unless the time itself reveals their nefarious designs of the agencies that are pushing these guns within the boundaries of our country”; Pratap however was quite impressed by the efficiency of the gun. He continued “I shall be keeping this gun brought by you as a souvenir though to remind me of the emergency situation that we are facing.  This gun will also help both of us to keep ourselves focused on need for better and modern armory for your department”.

The call for dinner from down stairs came through the intercom. The ladies looked at their husbands’ forbidding faces and they could guess the worries writ large on the faces of their respective husbands. The wives carried on their own small talk huddled in one corner of the table. The wife of the chief minister got up to help the guests serve their food. She knew it was time to keep the servants away from the main house. In her family all serious discussions were handled by the closest family members and settled within the four walls of their personal rooms. None of the servants employed in her parental home ever got wind of what was discussed within those bed rooms or even on the dining table. This evening also when her husband had made the demand for dinner to be served upstairs she knew the need for privacy. She asked all of the servants to leave from the kitchen and the main house. Though the entire house was thoroughly sanitized and   debugged many times by the security sleuths, the human ears could prove more damaging than the electronic devices.

Their dinner over it was time to bid goodnight to their guests. Pratap did not get up to see them off.  He vaguely kept staring into vacant space while his wife got up from the dining table. She went to see the guests off to the main door. She came back and gently asked him to come for sleep in the bedroom upstairs. Possibly she could take his mind away from the problems of the state and politics thereof. Ever since he was elected the head of the legislature, their nocturnal actions were getting rare by the night. She had been maintaining her physical health fairly well; otherwise too she belonged to the rustic clan where women retained their natural youth and body through out their lifetime. She was still a “reason of envy” for women her age that would otherwise look worn-down without the non-natural supports. She thought “possibly the time of early morning could be the ideal time to tease his amorous senses and provide him the necessary relief for now he was too much occupied elsewhere”. She was in for a surprise when he pulled her towards him and covered her lips with the fire burning inside him, “you must take out all your worries and leave them for others for now. It is time to get lost”, is all she could tell him before he shut her up again with his passionate kiss and holding her locked in his arms, he moved her to the sleeping room.

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – Chapter 13

The chief of the state police appraised the consignment of the guns that was delivered to him by the courier. He selected one from the batch; the gun was smaller than the police rifle and slightly bigger than the service revolver. The reports received about Irish revolutionaries had made a reference to the gun being supplied through KGB the Russian agency. The forces manning the borders of the country here or there had caught a piece but it was the first time he will actually check the efficacy of the gun himself. He pulled the empty trigger and fired, “splendid, this is what I have been looking for”. The Chief Minister has specially asked him to look for such armaments. During his visit abroad he had been briefed and shown the firepower of these guns. He wanted to carry one himself but the government at the centre belonged to a different party and the customs at the airport will have created a scandal. Although he enjoyed diplomatic immunity, yet the national Home minister Aaham had always been on the lookout to show him down. At the last meeting of the state Chief Ministers he had sarcastically commented, “Although the law and order is the subject of your state, but how orderly and legal it remains will be decided by the powers that are controlled by the centre. The poor peasants of the state have been duped and mislead by you into believing that a small local party of your size can deliver better. Do not forget we control the strings to all purses”. The head of the state police had worked under three chief ministers but the current incumbent was different. He had the determination of the masses with him. He belonged to the same creed as the cop himself and their villages were situated quite close to each other. He remembered the day election results were declared. He had been traveling in the districts where the fiercest fight took place between the incumbent vs. the expectant. The incumbent had always been using the fair or foul means to get the power back. This time the upsurge had been noticed even in the official machinery. The police, the executive all were in favor of the expectant, which made the job of the chief of the state police much easier. He was summoned by the incumbent chief minister to his office and was told in plain words “the election is always a test of the bureaucracy’s loyalty to the government in power. The time has come for you to take this test and prove your allegiance. The party high command has conveyed that the position of governorship will fall vacant in seven states exactly three years from now; the time when you will lay down the office of the state police chief. The solitary period after retirement can be very humiliating once you have led such an active life. I shall recommend your name for the position of the governorship for one of the states and ensure you take oath as one that will herald you grand entry into Indian politics. I am aware that you have always nursed such an aspiration’. The chief of the state police who had already been sounded of an election ticket by the other party was least impressed by this offer, yet the audacity of the chief minister to directly ask for support at the election was praiseworthy. “We have assessed the weak points at some of the constituencies and we want you to deploy men and officers who are pro our party. The list contains the names of the district chiefs, the police station in charges, and some of the lower ranking officials, who must be moved immediately to their respective positions. once The election manifesto becomes operative will prevent the issuance of any such orders hence you have to ensure summary transfers within next twenty four hours before the election commission’s orders are received by you”. The chief of the state police unresponsively looked at the list; his first glance told him that the list contained the names of the officials under whose control the voters will certainly not be allowed to exercise their freedom to select their representatives. These officials will rather make sure the liberty and the right to franchise remains miles away from the voters. He put the list aside “I need time to discuss this with my departmental officers and other section heads before the orders can be issued. The summary transfers can create administrative problems. Please allow me some time”. “Where is the time? Besides you are overlooking the other hassles in case you delay this. In such a situation we will be issuing only one transfer order, the rest can be taken care of” the chief minister had issued a direct threat. The Chief of the state police picked up the list neatly folded it into four and placed it back on the table of the chief minister “I will wait for the single order” he walked out. He could hear the man swearing names behind his back. He did not care, the pre poll indications were quite pinpointing of the outcome; this man will not find a place to hide himself if free and fair polling was allowed. The common public was fed up with the antics of the current ministry and its leader. They were waiting for the election to throw out the entire lot of the existing cabinet of ministers by the use of the ballot. The administrative machinery was equally determined to conduct a free and fair polling. Hence the chief of the state police knew the politician could issue no such transfer order at this stage. He could still feel the limp in the handshake offered to him by the outgoing chief minister after the election results were declared. He had gone to escort him from the rest house he was staying in. The crowds were surging on the roads preparing for the victory procession of the winner candidate. Anticipating trouble and rough handling at the hands of the masses this man called him on the wireless “ Could you please do me one last favor before I lay down the office! Please escort me back to my residence. I am afraid the crowds will lynch me if I travel into my motorcade”. “But you have your own elite guards and commandos protecting you. How can any body even break that cordon of your ferocious protectors?” the chief of the state police chuckled. He could see massive barricades put up on both sides of the road leading to the residence of the winning party’s hero Pratap. These barricades had been decorated with the peasant party’s banners and flags displayed all over. The public address system was blaring loudly “Long live the peasant parties! Long live our leaders! Long live Pratap, the new chief minister!” The people were forming the victory queue to welcome the new elect to the venue. They were jubilant, they were happy; they were enjoying their newfound freedom from the erstwhile party. This was a second opening for them; the oppressive attitude of the government machinery earlier was too much to bear. The autocratic rule was coming to an end. “They will obviously not spare the man if they are able to lay their hands on him” thought the police chief. “I shall be traveling back with you in your car and not the official motorcade which has already left, even the party workers have deserted me. Could you please come over”? “Safety of common man has always been our prime responsibility. I shall be there in no time”. The chief of the state police entered the guesthouse from the rear gate. He asked the man to sit in the car driven by him. Two young girls of hardly seventeen to eighteen years of age also came out of the guesthouse. The chief cop did not show any kind of shock. He ordered them to leave the place on their own and mingle into the crowds. “The bastard’ said the chief cop and spat “Even at this juncture this man has been indulging into his pastime”.

MADDENING CORRIDORS OF INTRIGUES – CHAPTER 12

12

The load of automatic guns that was brought by Ranjit from the Middle East was immediately distributed to three different places in town by him. The first few guns from the lot were delivered by him to a well-known politician named Aaham whose party had lost the elections at the recent ballot by huge margins of votes. All the candidates who had stood on the election manifesto of the party represented by him had been rejected by the electorate of most of the constituencies. The acceptance of such an enormous loss of power, political patronage and position was very difficult for the political party and its candidates. The politician Aaham at no cost could reconcile with the defeat and the loss of power that came with the ruling of the masses. He was certain that the other members of his party too were equally prepared to regain the lost power even if it meant using the force of bullets if not the ballots. The models of the guns were required to be approved by the high command of his party which was controlling the strings of financial as well as administrative sanctions for its state units too.  A representative of the high command of his party was expected within a day or two from the capital town of New Delhi, who shall be holding an inspection of the guns for approval. In case this test of these guns gets approved from the high command the guns will be spread amongst the workers of a small religious cult. These guns were to be used for creating terror and political upheaval within the state by the infiltrators of the small religious faction headed by a sage who had owed lots of obligations to the crafty politician.

“The common public who has rejected us at the ballot box enmasse, must be taught a lesson of their life time” thought the politician.

“What have I and my party not done for them? The all around development, the support price for the crops, the free electricity, the subsidized water and other requirements for the peasants was all extracted by him for these people, from the national government whenever his party had been voted back to power by the common man. The poor peasants always returned his party to the legislature yet this time they had the audacity to throw his party out at the behest of the political opponents who have always stayed in the opposition ever since the country got its freedom”, thought the bully politician. ‘It had been a very humiliating defeat and personal insult to his services rendered to common man. His party has been always a victor at the poll and this time too he was absolutely confident of an absolute majority, the counting of poll proved otherwise. The defeat of ballot must be avenged by the power of the bullet”.

The second packet of the guns was delivered to the head of a small religious sect who had of late acquired his new name as the great priest Rajamantran, on the insistence of the politician. He wanted to make sure “the guns his boys will be using should be small enough to escape detection while traveling and should be potent enough to kill a large number in a short flash of time. The instant action necessitated such weapon, as the shock of butchering so many people will give enough time to his boys to run away from the place of action after having pulled the triggers and killed the multitudes. The politician had assured him of such a requirement being met with this kind of gun, yet the clairvoyant wanted to have a look at one before equipping his boys with the same. The licensed guns his boys carried cannot be used for the purpose. They are too big, the ammunition had to be accounted for and the empties can be traced back to them. Hence the urgent need for the smaller weapons that can shower large number of bullets in a split second. “These politicians do not know anything about the guns”, thought the burly religious head Rajamantran. “These bastards always want to extract big price for the favors done. There was no doubt if the politician had not helped him he probably would still have remained a small timer, a preacher of no importance but than these politicians too amassed huge wealth from the deals in return, a large share of the offerings collected at the shrine  from  the devotees   was regularly apportioned to these brokers of power ”.

“Thanks to my friendship with the politician and their insatiate hunger to amass more and more fortune, the shrine has grown in size and stature. However every time the politicians allotted government land to the holy place, they would insist on a cut depending on the size and portion allotted by them”. He looked at the massive farms spread everywhere around; which were allocated to the shrine at the throw away price. Many had not relished his growing popularity, and the resultant attacks on his life forced him to arrange for his own private and personal security.

The cops briefed for his security cover by his politicians’ friends when he was in power could not be trusted; he knew that “they will not only betray him but will rather sell him to rivals and make wealth out of his dead body”. However his ambitions ran too high. The small holy place he controlled must be expanded into a large empire. This can be attained through reviving blind belief in religion of the faithful, their panic in the power of bullet, and simultaneously organizing their power of ballot to the advantage of the shrine. He had one power, the power of the unquestioned following of the common man in the   religion propagated by him. People bowed in front of him and paid obeisance wherever he went. His writ ran unto a few miles from the place of his temporal seat. They will willingly pay the undeclared tax to his shrine. It was believed that the part of their produce, income and yield from any profession, if offered at this shrine would bring in proceeds many times. Hence they came in drones every time the new crop was reaped or a cow or buffalo yielded the first milk after giving birth to a calf. People will bring their newborns to the holy place and put them on his feet for blessings. They will request him to baptize the child, which will be done after opening the holy book and reading the first alphabet that appeared. He had given a name to almost every child that was born within the vicinity where his summons ran.

The trunk road running a few miles away from this place however cut his authority. No one recognized him or bothered about him beyond that point. Even the highest seat did not distinguish him. He has to visit the place like any other commoner. The armed men accompanying him were not allowed inside. He vowed to himself to change all this. “One end of the road leads to the highest seat, the timeless temporal seat, from where the great religious preachers had ruled the psyche of the masses, where the writ of the founder runs even today. From there originates the very fountain of religious influence that sways the hearts of the multitudes.

The other end of the road leads to the seat of political power, the power of the sovereign, the very root of the authority that binds men into willful obedience through economic, legal and political batons, whose currency decides the fate of the billions. One day I will control both the ends”, he promised to himself solemnly.

Rajamantran had no intentions of fighting the elections himself, but the candidates came and paid respects to him. They sought his blessings. The president of the ruling party had once taken him to meet the prime minister. His stature has ever since been raised amongst the politicians as well, but that was not enough. “The king in the chess must be moved by me” he had decided for himself.

Hence he had contracted to the politician’s maneuverings of creating the law and order fright in the entire state by destabilizing the civil administration, through his boys. The boys were sent to his shrine by the ordinary people for service, for learning religious scriptures or to simply while away their time if they found the boys had nothing to do at home. Their source of employment was getting hard to come by. His closeness to the politicians will often ensure the boys got selected for the government service. In fact the marginalized landholdings had resulted into large scale unemployment every where and the plans of the crafty politician offered a chance to make the boys get into profitable employ even though temporarily, “the state should be spending enough not only to provide security to the common man but the central government will have to rush in funds to ensure integrity of the union does not get threatened” the scheming politician had told him “and therein we get the opportunity to build up our own resources which could last many  generations to ensure perpetual rule of your shrine in all corners of the state”.

The great priest Rajamantran dialed the politician’s number and spoke to him “The packet of the medicine has been delivered today I am sure this is the perfect treatment of the malady and absolute therapy to the sufferings of our poor innocent souls”.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues -11

11

Ranjit listened to the remembrance songs sung by the cleric hired by the family from a local temple to perform the last rites of his grandmother. The cleric had been reciting hymns quite dolefully and poignantly. The words of the sad song and its heartbreaking tune sung by the singer were emitting so much pain in the ambience that every one present had tears into his eyes. It was as if as if each person there had been grieved by the death of his own grandmother, who had breathed her last into the late hours previous night. Ranjit remembered how he had called out to people living in the neighborhood of his grandmother’s house to inform them of the passing away of the old lady. He had wept hysterically and uncontrollably in their presence. He requested all of them to inform his parents, who were living in the nearby village.

His father and mother along with the other relatives immediately left for the town as soon as they heard of the demise of the old lady. They had also brought along with them one more village priest for conducting the last rites. The funeral could be arranged by late evening only. The village Priest was singing hymns associated with the last ritual that follows the cremation on the death of a person.

The village priest beckoned Ranjit to light the pyre. He looked at the dead corpse of the old lady. She appeared weak, small, frail, and yet tenacious. She had fought him like a tigress for good long one hour before she had given in to his powerful blows showered by her own grandson on her. He could still see that sense of determination on her face. She wanted to live even in her death. Ranjit had no intentions to nor did he ever want to kill her. She would have lived for a long time, had she not pried into his affairs.

Ranjit hid the guns at his house as soon as he reached home from the airport.   The old lady had left for the local temple to say her evening prayers. He deliberately came home during the time when the old woman will not be around. He knew her schedule of the evening and that she will be away between 4 P.M to 6 P. M. was a regular routine known to every one in the locality.

The consignment that he had brought with him was to be delivered to three different destinations. Ranjit decided that the home of his grandmother, where he had been provided shelter by the old lady out of her love and pity for her grand son, was the safest place to hide the consignment of the guns.  He strongly felt that no other place could be better. It was a perfect as there no one else except the old lady lived besides him. He had many times earlier too retained the packets of drugs in his own room and removed them in different stages over the time. Accordingly this time too he thought it to prudent to keep the guns in his room. He would at later days take away some of them in smaller lots for different consignees. The old lady had absolutely  stopped entering his room ever since she had excommunicated him on account of the duplicate keys made and used by him to steal money from her almirah.

“Do you mind if I come in” the old lady called from outside the doors of his room.

Before he could answer her, she had walked in into the room and sat on the bed under which he had concealed the guns in a gunnysack.

“You have been missing for so many days? What are you up to? You have no regards and respects left for the family honors. I can understand that, but at least you must have some iota of self-pity on your life style. Why do you not want to   do something worthwhile in your life? Your father had visited me in your absence. He has suggested that he can recommend you for a job, in case you are willing to mend your ways and are willing to get into some kind of employment”.

“Thanks a lot grandma, but I can manage my own life very well. I have no expectations about anything from you. I do not ask for any money of you now.  See I do not even ask for food” he retorted. The old lady began to sob softly.

“Sonny I know what you are up to. If I do not stop you that does not mean I do not know your whereabouts and deeds. You thank your stars that I have not informed your father because I still believe you can be brought back to normal life. The immoral games and littlies that you are indulging into do not pay in the long run. Some day the law will catch up with you and you will end up behind bars. Why do you want to bring the bad name to all of us? Just think of your own future even if you have no remorse left for your parents”.

“So the old lady has been looking into his room even in his nonattendance. Is she throwing a bait to catch him off guard or has she been rummaging through his belongings in his absence”, he was not sure although she was capable of searching his personal luggage too.

“Oh shut up old ma! I am not doing any thing that is unlawful or even what can be called against the established morality,” he shot back. It was at this point that she had bent down to pick up her slip-ons from under the cot. One slipper had accidentally been pushed little further under the bed and she was looking for the same.

“What is this thing kept here in a gunny sack?” she pulled the gunny sack towards her. She started feeling the contents of the gunnysack with her hands. “Oh! My God!  These are guns. So you are one of the terrorists now. How many murders have you committed? How many innocents lives have you eliminated? When did you join this gang of killers?”

“I have not killed any one, nor am I terrorist” he virtually shouted back at her.

“Then why do you keep this these guns at my home. What are you planning? I must inform your father. I must inform the police. You cannot do that to your own family. You are a killer”.

The old lady caught him by the collar of his shirt in a fit of rage.

“You bastard is that the reason we gave birth to you. Why did you not die the day you were born”? Ranjit had not expected this kind of violent confrontation. The old lady showered blows on his face and she was crying simultaneously “You fool, you shameless creature! You murderer! You are bringing disgrace to the family. I will kill you”.

Ranjit realized he must stop her before the neighbors heard her wailing shouts. “She must not spill the beans to any one. She cannot demolish what has not even begun yet. It is the first lot, the future offered scope of making tons of money to him. I cannot let my dream of making billions of dollars get eliminated just because this old lady gets pangs of morality from time to time”.

“You better stop hitting me like that and making a racket to the entire world about it ”, he caught the old lady by her neck and put his right hand on her mouth to shut her up.

She bit his hand, at the same time she had been hitting him with all her strength, “you scoundrel how you dare raise your hand on me?”

“Listen to me grandma; what you are saying is not correct. These guns do not belong to me.  These are to be delivered elsewhere and belong to a friend”, Ranjit tried to reason with her .He managed to put his left hand also on her mouth. He noticed she was getting breathless; his hands were covering part of her nose too. He had been blocking the breathing process of his grandmother. The old lady fell back on the cot. At this stage Ranjit took a pillow in his hands and smothered her with that pillow. She struggled very hard to extricate herself from his death like knot of his hands. She was beating him at his chest with both her hands. Ranjit had no intentions to kill her, yet he knew the instant he lifted the pillow she will start shouting at him again. He pressed the pillow deeper on to her nose. The old lady made one last effort to free herself from his clutches. She was able to push the pillow away but he sat on the pillow.

“She cannot be allowed to do this to him; not at this stage. Once she cools down I would be able to prevail upon her and explain to her that the guns belonged to a friend”. The old lady had stopped struggling. Ranjit lifted himself from top of her face. He had a close look at her. She lay there with her head tilted to the left. Ranjit lifted her head and put it on the pillow he had now placed under her head. She had stopped breathing. He put his hands on her nostrils; there was no air felt. He patted her on the cheek; her head fell on to the other side, the old lady was gone.

Ranjit reminded himself not to panic “I must not allow the fear to pervade over my thinking faculty”.

He felt strange elation within him.  It was a sense of relief. He had never felt any lighter.

“The old lady must be sent back to her own room and put into her own bed” thought Ranjit. Her hair were always tied in neat pleats, the disheveled hair could give out the story of her struggle. He picked up the dead body. It was too heavy, yet still warm. He did not wish to drag her dead body, which could leave the marks on the floor. He carried her on his shoulders to her own room and put her on the bed.  The small wooden comb with which she used to straighten her hair was there on the side stool. He opened her hair, combed them gently and tied them in a single pleat. He coupled the rubber hair band at the end of the pleat like she used to do.

Then he remembered, she would powder her cheeks before going to bed.

“Let me apply the powder on the puff”, he lightly dusted her cheeks, simultaneously removing a small drop of blood that appeared in her left nostril. “Nothing should give away the fight; you went through while leaving this world grandma!”

He took a last look at her, satisfied with the job on her face he let her lie down on the bed with her head resting comfortably on the pillow. He pulled the sheet up to her neck. That’s how she used to sleep and will be found by the neighbors in the morning.  He has to start the hue and cry for the loss of his dear and only grand mother in the early hours of tomorrow morning. He went back to his own room.   He collected the gunnysacks.

“These guns must reach the intended destination immediately”.

He pushed the motorcycle to a distance of two hundred meters and kick started it. It took him approximately two hours to deliver the consignments and come back. He noticed the quite neighborhood, there was nothing amiss. He went back in the same fashion shutting down the engine much before he reached the house. He was hoping no one watched him. He parked his motorcycle in the garage and quietly went to sleep. He will get ample chance to show his acting ability in the morning when he will have to announce to the neighbors about the sudden passing away of his grandmother while she was asleep during the night.

Ranjit wished that if he could have his way today, he could have shut his eyes to the entire world around him. But there was no way Ranjit could avoid an encounter with his father. After offering the last piece of the firewood to his grandmother’s pyre Ranjit went to one of his cousins “I shall reach home early to arrange for some cold water and refreshments etc., for the guests. None of the guests has had anything to eat since the early hours of the morning”.

His father who overheard him came to him and retorted angrily,” How can you leave this place? The ashes of your dear grandmother are still simmering.  We should at least wait till the last of the flames of her funeral pyre go down”. Ranjit, acting as if he had not heard him took one of his cousins along and reached home thus avoiding the comments made by his father. In no way he would have allowed himself any kind of direct contact with his father lest the old man would start blaming him for the old lady’s death.

However his father cornered him again at night.  After they had finished eating their supper everyone had found a place for him to sleep. Ranjit also huddled himself into a far corner of the room.  He pretended to have fallen asleep when his father nudged him to wake up. “Thank god your grand mom breathed her last. I am sure she would have had a miserable life with a vagabond like you around in her house. I am happy that your grandmother is no more alive to protect you;   I suggest you better decide to move yourself out of this house. Neither I nor any member of our family can have anything to do with you. Your activities have been tarnishing my reputation all over the town. I thought your grandma would be able to make you see some kind of reason and mend your ways and a good sense would prevail upon you. It is now quite evident her that efforts could not yield much results and you continue to live a life on the other side of the law. I will rather not have you in my house. You could be a bad influence on the younger members of my family”.

“So the old man wants to severe all relations with me” thought Ranjit. “This man has always been worried about his own position through out his life. The petty job of a policeman was more important to him than the happiness of his own progeny, all I wanted in life was a reasonable money and decent lifestyle and yet even this is not acceptable to my old man”.

“Don’t you bother about me; I will manage my own life. As far as this house is concerned I shall soon find another place to live for my soul” Ranjit retorted angrily. He could hear his mother sobbing softly behind the veil of her scarf, “Son you must listen to him.  He is your birth giver and is your best well wisher. You should always remember that despite all the differences you both have he still remains your father. I will ask him to get you recruited in police as a constable. I wish you should also like your father one day be decorated with a shining star on your shoulders”.

“Oh shut up why do you always have to come between us”, his father admonished the poor lady. “This good for nothing fellow can do nothing of this sort. He acts as a pimp and he thinks I do not know about this. Make sure he does not cast his bad shadow on his siblings”. His mother started crying loudly. Some of the relatives heard her wailings and came into the room.

Ranjit thought it prudent to leave the area,   “It seems my father, is determined to show the dispute between both of us off to all the relations who have come for the grandma’s funeral”.

His father’s shouts for dressing-down his vagrant son had become louder “My mother died because of you. You useless fellow I would not have let you live here even for a minute if it were not for her.  You must get out of this place at once.  His mother by now had also become aggressive.

She told her husband, “What are you up to. You can not ask him to leave like this? The memorial service fires of your own mother are still burning .Ranjit being eldest son of the family has to attend to all the sacrament and observance for his grandmother’s peace and departure of her pious soul to heavens”. “Why do you not help us? She had begun her pleading to the people watching this fight between the father and son. “Please explain to his father that the eldest of the grandsons have to be the available here for all kinds of worshipping to appease the gods of death and well being”. His mother looked pleadingly at one of the relatives through her tear swollen eyes and beckoned him to take Ranjit or his furious father away from the room. .

The people took led his father to another room. The fight had been temporary resolved through a momentarily truce but Ranjit could not sleep through the entire night thereafter. It was very early morning when his mother came to his bed with a hot cup of tea to see and speak to him.  He quietly sipped the hot brew, not paying any attention to sweet-talk being indulged into by his mother.

“Do not pay any attention to the outbursts of your father my dear son. He is very grieved due to the sudden demise of his mother. He will come by and become himself within a day or two. You should not mind your father’s foul temper. Whatever he says it will be for your betterment only. He means no harm to you. All we want is that you should find yourself a nice job. I shall get you a good and attractive girl as your bride and then you can continue staying in your grandmother’s house only”.

He wanted to tell her that he has already selected Koena as his would be wife and that he will bring her only after he attains the lifestyle he considers appropriate for his wife but he just looked sympathetically at his mother and got up “I must go and find out  if servant has served tea to every one ”. ‘These people will not have any inkling of my dreams” He shrugged his shoulders.

MADDENING CORRIDORS OF INTRIGUES CHAPTER -10

10

 Masood Azar was in his early forties. He looked quite, suave, well-dressed and good to look at. He carried a small leather pouch in his hands all the times.  Every few minutes he will open the pouch select a few beetle nuts and put them into his mouth.  Now and then he will take out another small tin of scented tobacco and help himself with a small pinch. The flavor of scented tobacco filled the room with a sweet fragrance. There were two other gentlemen sitting besides him in the room. Ranjit and his bride were introduced to them. The gentleman in black suit named Abdul hailed from Pakistan and the other person had an Arabic name Ranjit found it difficult to pronounce.

“Here comes the hero and his heroine. Come gentlemen let us give them a warm welcome” the Arabic gentleman spoke. ‘She is such a lovely girl; my dear Abdul! Your man is a genius. He understands our taste. He is always picking up the best of roses from India. She will add to my bevy of beauties from across the world. I have French, Japanese, and a Nepalese and now an Indian I am sure some of my Arabian clients who happen to be very rich sheikhs will go crazy for her beauty”.

The face of the girl went ashen. She looked at Ranjit for some kind of protest reaction. “How can he listen to all such shit about his wife”?

But he avoided looking at her pleading and burning glare and addressed instead Masood Azar, “I request all this must not be done in my presence”.

“Why should I not do that sir? I am paying for her. Abdul, can I take her away right now? I cannot wait to lay my hands on her”.

Arabic got up and put her arms around the girl’s waist. He pulled her harshly towards him. The girl would have slapped him had Abdul not caught hold of her hands.

Gently pushing her hands backwards he said to her “This young man is   no more your husband and do not be a fool trying to do something funny. You are brought here to perform a specific job for which he has already been paid a huge amount as your bride price. As for you, rest assured the sheikh here is rich enough to cater to your needs. If you dare raise your voice, no one will listen to you. We will make sure you are deprived of all womanly parts and thrown into the seas” Abdul said menacingly. His behavior was so brutish that even Ranjit started trembling after listening to his bulldog like snarl. He had heard of the tribal wrath of men from the frontiers of Pakistan. Ranjit was fully certain that the man will not hesitate in carrying out the threat spelt out by him. The girl could hardly cry a small sob.

Masood Azar dismissed them and he beckoned his driver to take the girl away. She was led to the other room and Abdul followed her. Ranjit started towards the door when Abdul stopped him.

“Ranjit we have business to discuss and forget whatever has happened in this room”. Masood Azar shrugged his shoulders, “sometimes one has to take a lot in stride. Abdul is a tribal from Pakhtunistan hence the brutal frankness. You do not worry about the girl a bit. He will take care of her needs. She will come around in no time. But sheikh here was quite honest she is a real beauty, a nice piece of flesh. How do you manage such things? However you are here for a different works if you will take your seat may be we can discuss the business further” Masood Azar mentioned him to sit beside him on the sofa.

Ranjit noticed a large number of trays had been displayed by his hosts on the tables, in the room. All the   trays were covered with cloth napkins.

Ranjit could count four trays placed on the side table and more were being brought in.  Masood Azar waited till the waiters had placed all the trays on the tables kept in the middle of the room.

“I think your fortune is going to take a turn for the better from now onwards. The trading in female yields a good return but not as much as we will offer now. It is up to you to decide. If you really want to join the big times?” saying this he lifted the napkin from one of the trays.

Ranjit’s eyes got wide opened.  He could see gold bars flashing in the tray. He could count only the first 10 – 15 gold bars in numbers that were lying on the top layer. It was not possible for him to make an estimate of the entire lot of gold displayed in the room. The shining glare of the gold was too much for him to bear; he took his eyes off the table and looked questioningly at the speaker.

“So they want me to smuggle gold” thought Ranjit. “But why do they want to smuggle gold? The duty on gold has been reduced recently by the government. It does not offer any better price to them in the Indian market. Besides how much a courier can carry with him”.

Masood Azar smiled menacingly at him through the thick clouds formed by smoke of cigarette he had been smoking. He was trying to read Ranjit’s mind. The beetle pouch contained cigarettes on the other side. He opened the holder and offered one to Ranjit who declined when he noticed that it was not his choice of brand.  He took out his own packet of Charminars from his pocket and lit one for himself. Dragging a deep pull, he flicked the ash into the ashtray and waited for Masood Azar to speak. The sentiment in the room was getting tense.

Putting him at ease thus spoke the man.

“This can all be yours. You want to carry it with you or do you want us to deliver this for you in your country just let us know? Better still you can safely keep this in the bank here provided you —–”, Masood Azar had deliberately left his sentence incomplete.

“The gold bars were not being offered to him for bringing in a mere girl from India”, he knew that.

He asked impatiently “Provided what? What is it that you want me to do to earn so much gold”?

He started calculating the value of the gold shown to him. “Could this be worth one hundred thousand, two hundred thousands, no, it could be worth many millions. The gold displayed here can take care of my life for a long time. I can buy that fancy car in which I traveled to this hotel today. I can buy a house and get married to a girl of my choice”.

“Please tell me provided what. What am I supposed to do to earn this much of gold”?

Masood Azar lifted the covers from the other trays one by one. Ranjit had not seen such guns before. He had often fiddled with his father’s service revolver at home many times.  He had sometimes even fired a few bullets from a .303 police rifle at the local police range where some of his father’s juniors had taught him how to fire a gun.  But these guns appeared different. These were automatics.  The bullet case attached to the bottom of the gun could have contained hundred of bullets.

Masood Azar picked up one of the guns. He offered it to him to hold it in his hands.

“We want you to carry some of them with you when you go back. These will simply be the sample, only a few specimens as advance display. Otherwise also the hand baggage will not offer much space. The balance consignment will be sent through you separately. You will get instructions to pick up and deliver at the appropriate time and place. Our agent in India urgently orders the consignment that you will carry. You will be given the address to which these guns will be delivered by you. We understand from our agent in India that soon there will be greater demand for these guns in India. We want you to take over the management of the delivery of the consignments there. We already have the sales agent based there. He will arrange the orders. The safe deliverance will be your responsibility”.

“That’s fine but how do I carry these with me through customs at the airports. I may not be able to cross the Sharjah airport forget about National capital town of New Delhi”.

“You shall be flying from Dubai and not from Sharjah. There is a delegation of trade council representatives traveling from London to National capital town of New Delhi. It is a hopping flight and will touch Dubai on the way. The delegation comprises of a few NRIs and some of the other high profile businessmen from the entire Europe and Middle East. The trade representatives will enjoy diplomatic immunity. Their baggage will not be frisked at any airport in India and Dubai. You will form a part of the delegation as a respectful businessman. However at the International Airport in National capital town of New Delhi you simply walk out of the green channel at the terminal building into the waiting car along with the hand baggage you would be carrying.  your  checked in baggage ticket will be handed over by you to the air lines staff standing at the exit door, as you alight from the flight”.

“The guns will be in the checked in baggage”, asked Ranjit.

“No I told you, you will carry some of them as hand baggage and the balance will be checked in by our man on your behalf. However there will be some one at the airport to help you clear all the baggage from the law”.

The suitcase was handed over to him at Dubai airport. He went to the check in counter and was instantly cleared. So was he at the security checks too, where nothing was checked or frisked.

The flight took off from Dubai airport and he could heave a sigh of relief. However he was still apprehensive of the arrangements at National capital town of New Delhi and wondered “if the entire plane carried guns and the trade delegates were all couriers on the payroll of Masood Azar”.

“Sir please fasten your seat belt”, he woke up with a jolt. The air hostess was gently nudging him to wake up. “We shall be landing at National capital town of New Delhi Airport”.

He had dozed off after downing a few cans of beer. He enjoyed the sumptuous meals offered on the flight, as if he had been ravenous for a long time. The touch down of the aircraft brought him back to his waking position in no time. He did not want any one else to lay a hand on his suitcase lest the weight of the bag therein gave rise to any kind of suspicion. He was on his feet as soon as the pilot applied brakes after the touch down and the aircraft came to a halt. He opened the latch of the loft on top of his seat. He picked up his baggage and was the first one to move into the vestibule attached to the aircraft. He handed over the baggage tickets to an airline staffer that had been in the wait for his visit at the exit. He had possibly received a briefing of Ranjit’s identification. The staffer had approached him as soon as the airhostess from inside the aircraft had opened its doors and the vestibule had been attached to the front exit.

Ranjit was led to vehicle parked outside the airport by the airline staff. “I hope you do not mind finishing this cold drink. We will load the baggage in the rear of the vehicle in no time. It does not take long on the conveyor belt at the international airport”.

Ranjit saw two Labradors smelling each and every package on the conveyor belt. He wondered if the canines will point out his checked in luggage. He had decided to simply give in himself to the authorities in case of his getting caught by the canines. He would claim ignorance about the source of these guns. He had decided in his mind to run away and leave the checked in baggage to its own fate but then he saw two laborers bringing out the trolley loaded with the suitcases brought by him from abroad. It was impossible, “these guys have their men spread every where.  How could canines miss his bags?  They would have surely pointed out the presence of arsenal in his bag. That means his personal belongings were not allowed to reach the conveyor belt but were whisked away from behind the curtain that separated the passenger portion from the loading section of the airport”.

MADDENING CORRIDORS OFINTRIGUES – CHAPTER 9

9

The syndicate had approved the fresh recruitment of the new couriers. The new recruitment was taking place in his part too when boss called him; “You keep on visiting area where the university and other educational institutes are situated everyday. We want you to breaking in some girls for our job”.

Ranjit had so far known only those girls who were brought in by his friends for consideration of money for their entertainment to his grand mother’s house in her absence. Suspecting that his boss is also looking for a quick release of similar kind he fetched one of the girls to him. The girl was an uncouth and loud mouth of a commercial sex worker. She had been brought in by one of his friends for a nightlong rendezvous many times earlier too. As soon as she looked at his boss she had remarked, “You bought me here for this old crap. I am sure his better half would have rejected him and that is why he is looking for a quick entertainment outside home. Did not the pimp tell you I spend no time with old hags”?

The boss threw him out along with the girl. “This is not the kind I had asked for Youngman. I do not need a female for my personal use. I am a happily married man”. Ranjit got perplexed “then why the hell have you been asking for a female. I thought you were looking for a quick release”.

“Oh shut up, we need girls for our operations. The cops are getting too smart and dangerous. People like you who go to the university or colleges without actually studying there are the first suspects the cops look for nowadays. So the earliest thing you have to do is take admission into the university”.

“But I do not want to study any further I left my studies in the young age when I had dropped from out of school itself,” said Ranjit.

“You will have to resume it again now; we will arrange for your graduation degree from any other place along with other migration papers. You will soon be joining the university’.

‘But I said I do not want to study further,” Ranjit insisted.

“Shut up and listen to me”, the boss was losing his patience, “We do not want to make a pedagogue out of you. You have to ensure the fresh recruitment of some of the vulnerable young girls from the educational institutes for our internationally operative l wing. These girls will act as couriers for us. We cannot risk sending material through men any more as they are becoming soft targets for the authorities. The girls have to be sent to Middle East, Europe and other countries as newly wed brides. It is seen that with huge immigration rush on for these countries; the cops and customs in India do not suspect the newly weds much. There is a mad scramble in India to send their wards abroad for earning dollars”.

Thus Ranjit had started his foray into the academic world even though he had no intentions of learning the black words in his life. His papers initially had been made out for political science department; the migration papers were procured from a not so well known university of central India for having graduated last year.

“Well at last I have been able to fulfill the dream of the lifetime of my father”, he smiled to himself on the irony of fate. “If only I could show this degree to him, he will be too happy. But the old shark will know the fakes from originals and spoil the entire game plan of my getting rich and making huge chunks of money in life”.

The first victim who fell a prey to his villainous charms was a girl from some village near the border town of Amarpur. Ranjit had looked at her for the first time when she had walked into the classroom he was attending. She appeared quite vulnerable, innocent, as if she was lost and unsure of herself in this city life to which she had been transposed by her parent’s ambitious dreams.  She appeared like a perfect untouched village belle with her innocence still protected. She was dressed in simple clothes. Her hair had been done up in two simple plaits. She displayed and carried a touch of total simplicity around her. Ranjit had been trained to spot such plain and blameless looking girls.

He remembered how he was often made to sit in the room by the Boss “you must observe the formation of ants crawling up on to a wall. Up above on the same wall spider would lay in waiting to entangle the ants in its web spread”. The boss would tell him “just observe how the spider waits in its web spread patiently for the ant to come near by. The spider strikes at the ant only when he is sure the ant can not escape his clutches. We want you to show the same patience when you spot a talented female in life. You will strike only when you are crystal-clear and certain you will convert her to your need”.

He would during such moments look at the cobweb very closely. He often noticed that many an ants had lost their life to the patient wait of the spider that was cunning enough to make his move at the appropriate time, “if only the ants could see that the spider was not dead but a death in the waiting, that would have kept them alive and not the spider”.

He kept her under his  close watch and surveillance  for a couple of days while at the same time making it obvious to the girl that he was keen to speak to her and make friends with her . Like a spider that had spread his deadly web, Ranjit too would arouse enough interest of his victim before he made his move on the appropriate day. He will be moving closer to her only after she had been made to fall a victim to his charms.  And then he ensured sitting next to her in the classroom. He deliberately spoke to her in fluent English in order to impress her.  And when she felt awkward answering to him in the same language; Ranjit immediately switched to the local language “I have come here from England and am new to the place. Do you mind helping me and showing around the place”, he paused to see the effect and the impact of his statement on her. He could see that every time the girl was so much impressed as he had mentioned England.

‘Of course I will not mind’ she had shown her enthusiasm immediately. He conjured up a set of parents in England who wanted their only son to study in India before settling down life. The small tidbits talks gradually improved into long dates with the girl. The instructions given to Ranjit were very clear and specific, “none of the girls you will date need ever know about your parents or any other connection in India, nor will you ever indulge into any bodily contacts with any one of them”.

He was given a few bottles of perfumes and other cosmetics etc specially marked made in England or US to present to the females he befriended. Such smaller gifts and presents carried a lot of meaning for the girls. Presenting the first bottle to her he remarked, “My uncle has come from London and brought this for you particularly. I had written to my parents about you; because some day I want to take you there with me”. This was a direct message of matrimony for any simple girl.

Surjit that was her name had come to the town to pursue higher education in order to further her marriage prospects. She came from a family of marginal farmers whose land holdings with each division in the family; have been reduced to the extent that it became barely possible to keep the kitchen fire going. The small piece of land eventually would often be either sold out or hypothecated to the village money lender to send their unemployed sons abroad with the hope they would make enough dollars abroad to buy another land holding or get the lease vacated. Yet seldom would their sons return and it often happened that the old couple died waiting for the sons of soil to come back. Similarly when it came to their daughters of the family, the same parents eagerly looked forward to a suitable groom from abroad for them. Such marriages of their daughters brought not only prosperity to the family; there was also a lot of prestige attached to such matrimonial relations with grooms settled abroad. It was a status to have a son- in- law working in as foreign country. A few of the girls from Surjit’s village were married to the boys from Middle East, Germany and some of the other lesser known South American countries. Whenever these girls sent some overseas goodies home; the same will be shown around to every one in the village. The girls who were married off to the boys from the distant lands were also regularly sending dollars to their parents which when converted into the local currency brought a grand affluence to the family. Such parents whose daughters had gone abroad would soon move into new dwellings made out of cement and bricks and their houses will soon out shine all other buildings in the locality. These new houses were in a way an express disapproval to their other neighbors over their dilapidated houses. This in a way would motivate them to either go abroad themselves or to have a daughter lucky enough to get them such a son- in- law. “Pray god bless us with an alliance for our   daughter with a bridegroom settled in a foreign country so that she can migrate abroad”, were the daily prayers these parents made to their deity.

Ranjit found her lost in a beautiful reverie and daydreaming. He enquired her, ‘Hey where are you lost. I just want you to try this perfume”.  He took out the bottle from his hip pocket and stealthily showered a whiff of Channel Seven on her face, satisfying the atmosphere with very pleasant fragrance.

Surjit awoke from her dreams and came back, “Are you sure you want to take me to your parents? In that case you have to come to our village with me. You will have to speak to my father about it. I am sure he will be too keen to have you as his son- in- law”.

Ranjit Sehgal did not anticipate such a quick reaction to his overture from her nor was he prepared to handle this. “May be this will have to be sorted out by the boss, meeting the girls parents or any relations can complicate the matters as they will definitely go for verification of the antecedents”.  He related the situation to boss.

“So she wants you to meet her parents. That can complicate the matter’.

‘Because they will insist on meeting my family” Ranjit asked Boss.

“Do not worry, it can be managed. We will have to make it a very quick affair. I may have to accompany you to the village. Better still if she can bring her parents to the city. Your wedding ceremony with her must be performed immediately.  You must thereafter fly as soon as possible along with her to Middle East”.

“How do you suggest I can do that? Both I and that girl will require passports and other travel documents. Besides the girl has merely mentioned about meeting her father, she has not said about getting married immediately”, Ranjit retorted.

“You must have trust in  me and leave everything to us. The travel papers along with the passports will be delivered before the wedding takes place. We must not lose the opportunity of getting you married to her.  If it gets delayed the other issues can crop up.  The earlier you take away such girls from their surroundings the better it is for all of us.  I am sure you have not become very familiar face in the university as yet. Your absence for a few days will be of no concern to any one. Once she has flown with you to Dubai we will take of her from there. You come back to India and start your hunt all over again”, said the boss. “I shall be acting as your uncle from abroad who has come to India with the urgent mission to get you married because your mother is suffering from serious ailment and wants you to get into matrimony before her end calls’.

The girl had taken a day off. She had to go to her village to bring her parents to city so that Ranjit and his uncle could speak to them about the wedding.  Ranjit and his uncle had stayed back in town insisting they had to make arrangements for the wedding. They said they also will get the travel documents prepared for her going abroad. The girl’s parents could hardly believe their luck when she broke the news about her proposed wedding to them. Her mother had become quite jubilant. She told the other members of their family, “It is our good luck that our daughter is in love with a boy from England. He also happens to be her class mate. It is so wonderful that he wants to marry our daughter. He wants her to travel with him to foreign country? God save her love from the evil eyes of our enemies. We must keep everything under wraps till the marriage is solemnized. I am afraid that any one of our rival families from the village can create some kind of hurdles or hindrance. Some of our neighbors as well as some of our relations will become covetous of us if they come to know that we have fixed such a   good bridegroom for our daughter.  Let no one bode any kind of ill will against us. Let no one cast an evil eye”.

“We do not have to spend any thing on the wedding expense.  I feel that is the best part.  He is not even asking for dowry for marrying our simpleton daughter. Let all of us pray that she settles down well. We will also migrate to England in future”, her father had said. “Will you call us there or will you also forget your folks once you become a phirangi. Like some of the other girls of our village have forgotten their parents. They just keep on sending only dollars for their parents”.

The girl just hugged her father and stated, “Do you believe I will ever do that kind of thing to my own family. Of course I will sponsor all of you to England. We will all stay together in my house once I am able to set up my own marital home”.

The wedding of Ranjit and that girl took place in a small guesthouse. A village Priest had been fetched by the uncle. “We are sorry for the arrangements done in a hurry as I have to take the newly weds back with me to London to attend to my ailing sister. She has got only a few days to live. She is very eager to meet her daughter in law before she dies”, the uncle had bluffed the parents of the girl.

Ranjit traveled with her the same evening to New Delhi, from where they took an onward flight to Dubai. The poor parents little realizing the profession their daughter will be forced to take to. All they knew was that there daughter is happily married.  She will continue writing to them once in a while along with a few hundred dollars sent by the boss.

Ranjit got married in this fashion quite a number of times. He would be flying the same evening to different destinations abroad. He had never ever consummated any one of the matrimonies he entered into. He had not even once tried to violate the code of conduct specified by the Boss of the syndicate. His job assigned to him will be over the moment these females were taken to a foreign land. These girls were left in the care of a local contactor there from. He will have to thereafter vanish from the scene. The syndicate there will deal with the girls from that point onwards.

‘There is a big market available for these girls. The clients in the foreign lands value the virginity.  Of late it is noticed that the customers in different countries abroad have a liking for Indian girls over other communities e.g. Thai’s, Chinese or Burmese”. The Boss also told him “The traders of flesh are merciless when it comes to dealing with girls who do not want to go along with them. In an alien land with no proof of identity on her and with the shock of having been abandoned by the duping husband these poor females will break down quite easily. None of these females therefore dare defy the syndicate”.

Ranjit once had checked into one of the back lane hotels in Dubai along with his newly wed. He told her, “you can rest for a while; I am going downstairs to find out the arrangements of the sight seeing in this city.  I will see if we can take the coach“.

“What sight seeing my dear? Let us get to look at the sight of each other first. I can hardly wait to get into your arms. Let us take off on the much awaited honeymoon together”, the girl had held him from his back. She started pulling him towards her.

He gently pushed her away “I shall not take long. You just change your clothes. I will be back in a jiffy”

He took the lift downstairs and waited in the lobby for the telephone call from the local contact. Some one had been deployed by the syndicate to escort the girl from thereafter. Ranjit was scared of going up to the room upstairs lest she forced him into any kind of physical contact. The code of conduct set by the boss should not get desecrated.

“Mr. Ranjit Sehgal, could you please contact at the reception counters. There is a call for you” the placard carried the message. The bellboy was also ringing a small bell to attract attention of the guests.   Ranjit did not realize initially that it was for him. The word Sehgal caught his attention. Someone was paging for him. He wanted to run away from there. He had feared the worst. Has the girl run away? But she was waiting in her romantic mood into the room in anticipation of getting the love of her life into her arms.

“I am Sehgal” he went to the front office and announced his name. The receptionist pointed him towards the private booth where he could take his call.

“Hi my name is Masood Azar.  I would like you to bring the girl to Sharjah. You can meet me at Hotel AL Fatah room number 325. There is a car waiting for you outside. The driver of the car will bring you straight to my room once you reach the hotel. You do not have to check out from here. We will take care of your baggage. Your hotel bill will also be paid by one of our boys”.

“But I do not understand. We have just come in half an hour ago. We both are tired due to jetlag. Besides how do I explain this to her”, Ranjit had said.

“You will do as you are told. We do not hear any arguments. You may tell her you want to celebrate your honeymoon in a better place”,   Masood Azar had chuckled on the other side of the telephone line.

She was sleeping when he came back to the room. Ranjit woke her up. She raised both her hands. She put them on his face and kissed him on the lips. “Yes my love sorry I had passed out” she put the weight of her heavy bosom on his face as she brought herself closer to him.  She pulled him towards the bed. “How long do we have to wait to consummate our new relationship? Please come near me. I am dying to get your touch of love,” she again brought her lips near to his.

Ranjit found it quite suffocating. He was at the same time feeling hardness between his legs. Her scent of the woman had weakened him for a split second momentarily. He was about to give in but he remembered the directive given to him by his boss “these females are not meant for you. Consider them as the merchandise to be delivered by a carrier.  Your job is that of the transporters’  who though should be only worried about his freight charges after the consignment has reached its place’, he smiled to himself, “the advisor must have been a truck driver”, he thought. He gently pushed her away and freed himself from her, “Come let us get going. I do not like this filthy place.  We must check into a better hotel to start with.  The whole place is stinking”.

She looked at him askance “but I find this hotel quite comfortable.  I do not feel any stink in this joint. What is wrong with you?  Are you avoiding me now that I am available to you? Oh come on I have heard people talking fondly of their romance of the first night. Here I am still looking up to my man to make the first move. We have been traveling all the while after the wedding. I am sure you did not marry me to look at the hotels and airports only”, she had put both her arms on his neck and rubbed herself against him.

Ranjit could again feel his desire growing for her. He controlled himself with great amount of self control. He opened the door of the hotel room. “We are going to a much romantic place in Sharjah. My friends have arranged our stay at Hotel Al Fatah. They have also sent the car for us.  Believe me you will enjoy the stay”.

‘Oh I thought you have married me so that we can enjoy each other” the girl taunted.” Oh come on! You must see I am offering myself to you in the most natural fashion”. She removed the bed sheet that was covering her. The sight of her lying naked under the sheets virtually gave Ranjit an electric shock. She was wearing nothing on her.

He averted his eyes from her and pulled a few clothes from the suitcase, which was lying open on the table in the middle of the room. He threw those clothes towards her.

“There are friends waiting for us in the lobby. We must hurry up otherwise they will come upstairs. We will not have time for a relaxed love making on our first wedding night. I am sure you want us to enjoy the process of this heavenly meet of the soul and bodies in a complete leisure and relaxed mood in our own sweet time”. He did not want to give her the impression that he was avoiding her.  Hence he gently pecked her with his lips on her lips. He found it difficult to hide his manhood while passing through the lobby downstairs to reach the car. It was almost a close shave today. He must visit some place for a quick let loose once she was delivered into the rightful hands. Ranjit wanted to speak to the driver of the car on way to Sharjah but the chauffer shut him off stating, “No Hindi or English please”.

 

 

 

 


The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

23

They go through the countries new…

They make an empire of the kingdom….

Oh!

Stupendously they beat the drums…

Victory!

They resound themselves…

All over the earth…

They ride on the ornamental elephants…

They smile…

They think they are the masters…

Of millions…

Such masters…

Countless in the past present and future…

Without devotion to the ultimate master…

Eternal death is the lot ….

24

The baths at the holy places…

Mercy… the chariot in coins…

The self restraint for self cultivation…

Regularity in prayers…

I have seen them all….

Vedas and puranas….

The holy book of the Muslims….

Quoran…

All this mind fabric….

Through space and time…

I have seen them all….

To live on air substance…

To be content…

Thousands of such things…

I have meditated upon them…

A thousand times…

Without the faith in the divine will…

The soul of man becomes…

A miniature something…

25

Infinite number of men…

Soldiers…

They form the armies…

The grace of kingship…

They would crush down the enemies…

Proud within…

They feel they would not budge…

A mountain may give way…

But they would not give…

They would shake away all…

That stands in their way…

They would beat down all …

That breeds an ill-will…

They would have their intoxicated elephants…

That would bring honour unto them, from the fields…

Without the grace …

Of the Almighty Ultimate Lord

The fools will die like mortal men…

And leave this earth…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SPIRIT ETERNAL-a divine poetic experience’ by Ramneek kapoor

I am looking for A PHILANTHROPIST who can get my book, ” THE SPIRIT ETERNAL-a divine poetic experience’ published and distributed among the Sikh youth across the world .the book is an inspired English translation of AKAL USTAT by Dasham Patshahi Shri Guru Gobind Singh Sahibji

It Is Time to Think Big on our independence day

We are a   nation that evolved itself through many successes, trials and tribulations of human intellect and soul. We have a history that speaks of a great culture of Aryans, of Ramayana and of Mahabharata, and many other such epics. We at the same time speak of the subjugation of the mind and thought   by centuries of slavery and being ruled by foreigners. But a nation’s efforts to develop itself are never thwarted by the happenings in the past. On the contrary, the past becomes the compass directive for future progress and future growth.  We while keeping our inheritance in mind have to take progressive steps in the direction that takes us to the pinnacles of glory in all our civilizing and humanizing achievements for our future generations.

India attained political freedom in 1947 but economic freedom came to India only in 1990 when the country   resolutely decided to begin the fiscal reforms to bring about the revolutionary liberalization and globalization in all its institutions of economic growth. The all round development in Past twenty years have taken us to an enviable position amongst the developed nations of the world.  The farsighted foresightedness of the liberal economic thoughts of some of our planners and leaders has resulted into double digit growth in our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The growth has also come about due to the efforts of the common Indian citizen who has been dedicatedly, diligently and intelligently investing his might into this yagna of taking the nation ahead in this competitive world of international consumerism.  India today is a nation whom the west has recognized. India today is a proud country of 120 or so billions whom American president acknowledged as equals. Indeed a proud moment for all of us. But it is also the time to introspect, to reflect and to charter our next course of action. The nation when basking itself in the grandeur of GDP should not become oblivious of its responsibility towards building a strong youth power for the country.

The Indian youth power whether in the urban or rural has to be made contributive in the big challenge that lies ahead of us. The economic growth that India is achieving consistently should be so spread out that our youth gets empowered, and channelized to keep the momentum going. And that will come only if we think big, only if we accommodate every living being without the consideration of caste, creed, regionalism, and segment.  It will come only when we think big.  The bigness should also include reaching out to the talented, the hard working and the enterprising irrespective of their cultural background. The golden bird that India had been called earlier had lost its sheen because it was divided nation. But today India is a single Indian with his sight set on the path to bring back the lost sheen. Yes the economic feat will make other nations take notice of us; it will make them say that India is a super power. But it is our collective stream of thought that will make them say “India is a great nation”. This Indian stream of thought must be big enough to accommodate all, to have room for the differences in religion, in ethnicity and in language. The stream of thought must be big enough to think of the welfare of the every single citizen of this country, and of the flora and fauna that provides beautiful nature to people inhabiting this great country.

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

21

Buddhists have their own ways …

The ways to purifications…..

The ways through penance…

Man gets into all …

The yogic ways of salvations…

The purifications…

The utmost self restraints…

I have been into them all…

The mighty warriors…

The giants’ enemies unto gods…

The gods that live on the nectar exquisite…

The saints of so many creeds…

Civilizations and cultures… have I been through …

But the essence of them all is ….

My beloved Lord…

Without a kindly glimpse…

No worth in them…

22

They are bemused…with the mighty elephants…

They go through the fires of wars…

The charm of worldly success…

They deem they are great…

They have the horses….

They deem they have the millions…

Those go with the speed of a stag…

Nay …they surpass the air go…

And there… the lords of kingdom vast …

With infinite forces…

Infinite number of those

That prostrate before them…

Where have been these lords …?

In the end…

The natural way to leave this earth….!! …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

19

No stain of pain…

The manifest invisible…

Thy beauty is prevalence…

The master ultimate of spheres…

Thy being is blessing…

Immortality comes from thee…

The charm of this earthly life…

The everlasting joy…

Beyond the vision of man…

Is thy existence…

The pride of all existence…

The thought  in the knowledge of things…

The living excellence….

The proof manifest of excellence …

The purity charm…

The brilliance beauty…

Infinity for time…

The killing pinch of enmity…

The harmony essence of friendliness…

20

Your various ways o lord…

Thy charming vision in the ways…

The talk of realization of thee…sometimes…

The soul distressing conjecturalism of the mere scholars…

The song celestial of self-silence…

The living image in a devotee…

The illumination…

Shining…

Sometimes as the Vedas…

As a perception of a theory …

As dishonesty to achieve an honest end…

The all embracing charm…

The meditations of solitude…

The feverishness and the way of romance…

The rise and fall on the ladder of soul…

Infinite blessings from thee O Lord…

The moment next…it becomes a delusion…

Thy miraculous wondrous doings O Lord  …

In space and time…

Thy harmony pervades…

Address to students at Sanghvi institute of management, Indore, on the induction program on 3rd August, 2011

Venerable board of directors, principals, faculty and my young friends,
Let me first of all honestly admit that I am very happy to be amongst the august company of pedagogues and academicians and I feel honored that I have been invited by all of you to be a part of the induction program of the college. But let me tell you that I am all the more blissful to be amongst the potential youth power of so many youngsters. I have always believed that youth is the fountainhead of energy. This youthful energy when channelized into constructive activities has built civilizations of culture and traditions. The positive power of youth spellbounds everyone when it is utilized for growth of nations and the universe. The same force can become an evil fire emitting leviathan when this young energy is exploited by the vested interests of our society, for aggrandizing their personal agendas.
But I Feel proud to know that the group of youth that I am addressing today has taken a vow to contribute positively and constructively to the building up of their own destiny, the destiny of the great Indian nation , the universe and the flora and fauna our mother earth. I actually can see many budding scientists sitting amongst you, some future potential social leaders, a good number of honest bureaucrats, many ethical future businessmen and corporate leaders, developers and industrialists and most of all great human beings who will make our country the leader of the nations by the year 2020. Many countries speak of their achievements in terms of leadership in some field or the other. America calls itself the leader of the world on the strength of their huge economy, Japan on the strength of their industrialization and the work culture, the Arab world speaks of the petroleum stocks, but India is fortunate that she is a leader because we have a very large young population. I am sure this college will direct the flow of this young blood into productive, useful and valuable force to become the builders of society, nation and the globe.
All my young friends present here have come fresh out of school or junior college. They will now get exposed to the outside adult world. This world that is moving at a speed and pace beyond their comprehension will sometimes intimidate you. But do not get overawed. You need to look at life from the perspective of an adult at this stage and at the same time you must preserve your innocence. This innocence will help you retain your originality and the inquisitiveness of mind. Be as much inquisitive in your new study streams as possible. Look at your study curriculum as an innovation in your thinking process and mind mapping as it will help you learn and apply things faster in your profession and avocation when you move from college to the outside world.
I will advise each one of you to nurse a dream, a dream destination for your ultimate career goal in your life and be constantly in touch with your dream. Make it the biggest and the only source of inspiration in your life. Always remember that your dreams do get realized. What you really need is the mind power and the focus to achieve this dream. I want to see each one of you achieve the dream career destination of your life and let me assure you that each person, each faculty of this college will always be very happy and eager to help you reach your dream career destination in your life.
Lastly you must always remember that a mere bookish knowledge will not be enough to survive and compete in your life. Expand your horizons of knowledge. You must try to pick up as much additional skills and knowledge related to your choice of future career as possible. This will help you find your own niche very faster and much ahead of your rivals and competitors. I shall be looking forward to hearing from all of you about your achievement in life when you grow up.
God bless all of you.

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

18

In the music…

That carries away the heart…

In the sound of the flute…

That intoxicates the mind…

In the dances…

That are grace and life…

In the manliness…

That is magnetic…

Is the spirit of immortal…

What charm…

Everywhere the spirit…

In the words of the Vedas…

In the story of the sexes…

In the majesties…the king and the queen…

In the story of the fair ones…

The spirit immortal shines…

In the spirit of Krishna’s…

The spirit immortal in his flute- play…

The spirit immortal in his grazing the cows…

The spirit immortal in his leading men in the battlefield…

The spirit immortal…When he poses as a prince…

The essence of purity…

Thou art O Lord…

The life of saints…

The greatest giver of gifts…

Vengeance is not thine…

Thou art the Formless All Prevalent One…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

17

Spotless…

The spirit…that’s charm unto moon…

That’s grace unto newly wedded bride…

That’s essence of purity…

Omnipresent…

The spirit immortal…

In the ways of Godliness…

In that that hinders…

The cultivation of the self…

In sin…

In that …that defends the godliness…

Wondrous…

The spirit immortal…

Sometimes the air…

A being alive on that alone…

The muse of learning…

The mind life…

The yogi…

Those that control the senses…

In quest…

Deep in the Vedas …

Beauteous….

The spirit immortal…

In kingly canopies….

The furry skins underneath….

The youth personified….the fullness of life…

The charm…

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

14

The mighty warriors….

With weapons to defend and offend…

Those thinkers…

Their intricate minds…

The yogis…

That lives on air…

In some bewilderment…

The softening muse…

And the men…

That is with women…

The spirit…

Sometimes as the word…

That reveals for a moment…

The mystery conscious,,,

Sometimes as the muse…

Sustenance for the human soul…

The goddess that kills the veil one4s…

The spouse of Shiva…

The darkie Krishna!

The white haired rishis!

The spirit…

In the sacred places…

In every phase of existence…

In chastity and continence…

In the ways of flesh…

In the doings of charity…

In the acceptance of alms…

15

Those ascetics…

With long and curly uncombed hair…

The threads…

Round about the neck…

That symbolizes celibacy…

The yogis…

With that strange cultivation of the self…

They tear through the ears…

A tiny stick to support to one’s head above…

While in penance…

They walk about…

In a light soft way…

The spirit…

The soldier…

Practices the use of weapons…

A man of battle field…

He kills someone…

He kills someone…

Someone kills him…

The spirit…

Sometimes in the shape of a prince…

Who relieves this earth…

Of an unnecessary weight upon its breast…

The supreme lord..immortal…

He creates beings…

Gives them the self appeasement…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

12

The spirit immortal …

It’s vision in things…

The gods…

That were born out of Brahma’s mouth…

And the gods…

Of music and fragrance…

The muse of Indra!

The prince of serpents!

The learned men…

The strange dancers, in the court of Kuber…

The treasure of gods…with three feet,

And teeth… that were eight!

And the lesser gods,

That live on earthly flesh!

The evil spirits!

 

And those Hindus!

Their incantations!

They worship that way ….the spirit…

The Muslims

They incantations call their god…

At the top of their voice …

At the top of the terraces of, masjids

Believers in puranas…

And their interpretations of the divine mechanisms …

In muse…

The cosmic spheres…

That influences the movements of men…

Believers in quoran!

All must understand …

That god above ….

Lives infinitely above all…

Religious rituals ….

13

The spirit immortal…

The vision in things…

In the merriment of the supermen…

In the pride of the intellectuals…

In the spirit of Indra…

The prince of super beings…

Who brings torrents from heaven…

Unto the earth….

The spirit immortal…

Can take that job from Indra…

Dispose him of his godship…

In an instant…

They think, “this is the evil …’

They think, “This is good…”

‘That is another’s woman…”

“this is one’s own…”

The spirit…

The play…

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

10

The spirit –immortal…

Its vision in things…

The gods…

That was born out of Brahma’s mouth…

And the gods…

Of music and of fragrance…

The muse of Indra!

The prince of serpents!

The learned men…

The strange dancers, in the court of Kuber…

The treasure of gods…with three feet,

And teeth….that were eight!

And the lesser gods…

That live on earthly flesh!

The evil spirits!

And those Hindus!

Their incantations…!

They worship that way….the spirit…

The Muslims!

They invoke their god…

By the raising of the voice….

At the top of the mosques…

Believers in puranas…

And their interprets of the divine mechanism…

In muse…

The cosmic spheres…

Influence the movements of the men…

Believers in Quran!

Believe and abundantly trust

That God abode in the Quran…!

And beyond it also….

11

The spirit immortal…

The vision in things …

In the merriment of the supermen…

In the pride of the intellectuals…

In the spirit of the Indra…

The prince of the super beings…

Who brings torrents from heaven…?

Unto the earth…

The spirit immortal…

Can take that job from Indra…

Dispose him of his godship…

In an instant!

They think” this is evil”…

They think “this is good”…

“That is another’s woman…!”

“This is one’s own…”

…the spirit!

The play…

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

7

The spirits …

Evil and good…

The mighty prince of serpents…

The harmony-beings, in abodes of gods….

That fragrance of life …

And the Vedic gods…

That strand between god and man …

All these …

Miracle existence…

The past!

The present!

The future!

The story eternal…

Immortal Lord…in the best of every heart…

8

The being immortal…

No father…

No mother…

No caste…

Self existence…

Its waves and stir…

The life…

In the all light…

In every phase of existence…

Is the spirit immortal…?

9

Immortal Lord…

His spirit…

Supremely self conscious…

He keeps the conscious as mystery…

Immortal lord…

Supremely in Eternal Calm…

The Universe Agoing…

The spirit immortal in muse …!

The wonder…!

Self conscious…The spirit immortal…

The common man…

Unconscious of the Consciousness…

The beggar begs of the philanthropist….

Himself…

The emperor…

Ids the happiest swing of life…

The emperor…loses that life…

He loses himself …the life…

The Spirit immortal…

In the Vedas…

And in the faith in them…

And in no faith in them…

And in the ascetic ways…

And in the ascetic ways of the worldly man…

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

3

Beyond the vision of man is the spirit…..

Immortal, imperceptible ….

The conscious harmony….

The muse alive is the spirit self….

No physical form…

External to the spirit of man…

And to the rest of the beings..

And being since the beginning…

The like alone of itself…

Free from sin…

4

Infinite!

No caste!

No creed!

Friendships!

Enmities!

No trace of that in the being….

Detached from things …

In the things is the being…

In the water vastness infinite…

In the land entirety

Music eternal…

5

Sound mysterious!

The rise of soul..

In the vision charm….thats living…

At the beings feet..live immortality…

Brahma and Vishnu,

Haven’t realized the being..

“He is incomprehensible…

He is incomprehensible…”

Said Brahma…

Out of his mouths that were four…

6

The lord immortal

Created in millions…Indras and Upindras…

The lord immortal,

Created in millions…Brahmas and Rudras…

Destroyed them at will…

The lord immortal

Brought into being,

Those abodes… Fourteen for gods…

The play!

All this being of mortal worth …

Was back again…

The being immortal…

The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience By Ramneek kapoor

                                  The Spirit Eternal – A divine poetic experience  

                                                               By   Ramneek kapoor

Spirit …..Is a vapory something

The divine trickle…..

It descends from the skies

And blesses the soul of all living beings

Divine lord!

The one supreme and all in all!

The master spirit

The paramatma

His touch …..

And His Vision…..

The Spirit Eternal and Immortal

Our Life in the Spirit…

The spirit!

Almighty….

Ever existent…

Our life in the spirit…

The spirit!

The source infinite…

The vision universe…

Our life in the spirit…

The spirit!

It waves on the ocean surface…

Its consciousness, in the desert vastness …

That’s the thrill … Our life …….

1

The being since the beginning …

Uplifts the fallen…

Leads them on to immortality…

The being spirit…

Shines…

Spheres of eternity

2

The spirit in an ant….

The spirit in an elephant…

The spirit in the pauper and the prince…

Are both…

From the spirit…..

The sparks from the One Existence

All by the spirit….

In muse

The hearts….

Their stir…

The spirit in the stir…

MY FIRST SHORT STORY

the first story that appeared in SAVVY

 Chapter 2 (Dwitiyo Adhyaya), of Srimad Bhagwan Gita deals with the universal emotion of the fear of death,  a perpetual worry of losing our near and dear ones , of the unknown area of death as expressed by Arjuna to lord Krishna . The emotional  distress expressed by Arjuna towards  protecting  the life of all his family members, relatives and the members of his clan  have been dealt with by the lord Krishna himself in his explanation to Arjuna about the existence of the   greater truth in every living being on this earth.  Mankind has since times immemorial been afraid of the universal truth of death. The  sermon  delivered  by lord Krishna to Arjuna,  throws light on the existence of life in all ages, and the perpetuity of the soul, the Atma, which never dies and the futility of the mankind in being afraid of the death which happens to be the act of changing bodies by the soul.

Sanjaya explains to Dhratrashtra as to how Arjuna had threw away his bow and arrow and was crestfallen by the thought of  this war bringing about the destruction and death to his own family and relations and the damage that they were about to have caused to their heritage by committing such an  atrocious wrongdoing. Sanjaya begins the description of the events that are taking place in the war front,

“Tan tatha kripyavishtmshrupurnakulekshanam

Vishidantmididan vakymuvaach Madhusudana” (1)

Sanjaya mentions Lord Krishna here as Madhusudana , in a bid to remind Dhratrashtra that lord Krishna , had been the savior of all gods when he had killed a  demon named Madhu, perhaps forewarning that the lord will help those who are with the truth on this  occasion  too it will happen . He continues, “Lord Krishna looked at the depressed Arjuna who had tears in his eyes and apprehension writ large on his face for the safety and life of his near and dear ones “.

Perhaps Arjuna was anticipating that a truce would be the better outcome rather than fighting the war.

Thus spoke Lord Krishna,

“Kutsvaa kashmalmidan vishme samupasthitam

Anaaryajushtmasavgaryamkirtikaramarjuna” (2)

“Oh Arjuna!  What has caused this   untimely love and kindness in your heart for   your near and dear ones at this time immediately after the declaration of the war? Such an infatuation for the family members does not become the noble spirit, nor can it be the vehicle to attain a position in paradise, neither can it be the route to fame and glory”.

“Klaibayan maa sma gama partha naitatvyyupapadhyate

Kshudaran hridayaubarlayan tayaktavotishth parantap” (3)

Advises Lord Krishna to his favored disciple,

“So hey Arjuna,   you should not behave in a manner that is unmanly. It does not become you .Hey Parantap (Parantap because Arjuna happened to be the son of Kunti and Kunti was also called Partha, perhaps reminding him that your mother expects you to act bravely in this situation) you should forego the  emotions of cowardice at heart  that makes you express such uncalled for fears  . You   should get up and get ready to fight this war of truth as against the evil forces of the world”.

Arjuna who seems to have made up his mind of not indulging into any  kind of   armed combat  with his relations, and other family members , and have already surrendered his bow and arrows, begins justifying his decision to not to raise arms against his cousins. He professes in to support his thought process of not waging a war and then he gives the  reason as to why he does  not want to fight against his teachers and his other relations,

“Katham bhishammahan sadkhye dronam cha madhusudana

Eeshubhi pratiyotsyami poojaharavrisudan “(4)

“How can I begin with the exchange of my deadly arrows in a fight against Bhishma and Dronacharya, because hey Madhusudan, they are both   my revered seniors’ and elders? I cannot aim my bow and shoot life taking arrows towards and at  them which will mean a gross profanity  on my part as these people are neither my enemies and nor have they committed any of the wrongdoings towards us brothers”.

“Gurunhatvaa hi mahaanubhavotrachheyo bhoktun bhaikshyampih loke

Hatvaarthkamanstu gurunihaiv bhujjeey bhogaan rudhirpradigdhaan” (5)

“I would rather prefer to forego my rightful claim on the kingdom of Kurukshetra and survive on the alms collected by begging. Because I believe that leading a simple and frugal life based on charity is better than the luxurious and sensuous life   that has been desecrated   with the blood and   murder of my teachers and my elders. The opulent    riches and the luxurious  objects will be only  momentary temporary attractions valid only for this life time but I do not want to blight my pious eternal living by being the cause of the death  of  my most respected and honored devout teacher and  spiritual guides, Dronacharya and Pitamaha Bhishma ” .

Arjuna wanted to make sure that no short-lived indecision must be conveyed by his argument and hence he justifies further, as he had been determined   of not fighting this war,

“Naa chaitdwidhyama katranno gariyo yadva jayem hadi vaa no jayeyyu

Yaanev hatvaa na jijeevishamasteavsthita pramukhe Dhaartrashtra” (6)

“We have been in a dilemma as we have come across a very strange and confounding state of affairs.  We are not aware as to which action will prove to be in our favor whether to fight this war or to not to raise our armaments in this war because we cannot predict if we will win and become victorious or lose this war and our enemies will be triumphant in this battle.  Either way it is to our loss, whether we win or we lose.  Those near and dear ones upon whose death our own life will hold no meaning to us have come to this war  to fight it out with us ,  in support of Dhratrashtra’s son Dhuryodhna”.

Arjuna has demonstrated a very unpredictable emotional state where it becomes apparent   and it dawns upon him  that either way it is the pandavaas family that stands to suffer because their own   blood and life is fighting against them and it is simply impossible to forget the familial affiliations and pick up arms against your own people  to annihilate them . Arjuna strongly believed  that  If they kill their elders and teachers,  their souls stand to get condemned and consigned to a way of life that would become more miserable   than being relegated   to hell  , because,  “ of what use will be this life   full of luxuries and riches where there exists none of our family  members  , brothers  and the other kinfolk  and   associates” .

Having expressed his   moral and emotional dilemma in this manner, Arjuna explains his inability and incapability to reach a decision as to whether he should raise his weapons or not make use of any kind of offensive assault   in this war against his teachers and his elders, family members and others associates.  Arjuna prays for a resolution to his predicament and looks for the mercy of Lord Krishna. He prays the lord to throw light   of knowledge and wisdom to him so as to lead him out of his indecision by guiding him about his duties and responsibility in such a state of quandary. Says Arjuna to Lord Krishna

“Kaarpnyadoshopahatsavbhava prachhami tavaan dharamsammudhcheta

Yachhey syaannishichitan broohi tanme shishyasteahan shaadhi maan tavaan prapannam” (7)

“I am aware that I am being looked upon, of being a coward and I am considered to possess a very faint-hearted nature. I have also been condemned as a man who has expressed and preferred affiliations towards family and other social relationships of the world over the duty towards his religion and society. But I beseech you my lord to lead me and guide me at this strange and unusual situation in my life.   I am not in a position to decide as to what is truthful, moral and is supported by my religious   and social responsibilities.  Please tell me what the most appropriate step that I should take and the path of   universal welfare which would be advisable to take to, for me in such a state of affairs. I pray to thee oh lord Krishna for you know that I am your ardent devotee and please accept me in your discipleship and please educate me to reach a decision in my life”.

Arjuna despite being a great warrior, an acknowledged bowman and the formidable foe, does not hold any qualms about his prowess. He admits his being in depressed emotions, pathetic mind-set and confused state of mind in this war of the families.  He admits his complete surrender to God in the face of his helplessness and incapability to reach a decision. He gives up himself in complete devotion to his God and the mentor Lord Krishna by expressing his unflinching faith and trust in Him. He also avers that he is not a mere ordinary disciple but a dedicated  follower who has absolutely surrendered himself to the mercy of the Most Merciful, The Omniscient, who he believes will be able to hold his hand and lead him out of this situation in the most upright manner which could be suitable   and acceptable way of fulfilling ones moral and dutiful responsibilities towards the family, the state, the society and towards the universe.

Arjuna continues expressing his helplessness   of reaching a decision and he prays to Lord Krishna,

“Na hi prapshyaami mamaapanudhyadhyechhokamuchchhoshanmindriyanaam

Avvapya bhoomaavasaptanmraddhan suranampi chaadhipatayam” (8)

“You have ordained me to wage this war of truth against the evil forces, nevertheless I believe that the highest reward of winning this war can be of establishing our   sovereign control over the earth but I do not find any promise to my nerve-racking anxiety even when I get to rule the   sovereign countries of the gods and all their wealth and riches. I pray to you to please help me come out of this indecisiveness and help me overcome my anxiety and concern about all my elders, respected teachers and family and fraternity members and about my apprehensions of doing something that will go against my concept of my sacred duties”.

Sanjay is telling king Dhratrashtra,

“Evamuktaa Hrishikesham gudakesha parantapa

Na yotasya itee gobindmuktvaa toonnin babhoov ha” (9)

“O king! Arjuna who had triumphed over the sleep, in his life time, had completely surrendered, himself to the omniscient lord Krishna and he has affirmed again to Gobind (another name of Lord Krishna) that he will not fight this war”.

“Tamoovaach Hrishikesham prahasanniv bharat

Sainyorubhyomardhye vishidantmidam vacha” (10)

“O scion of bharat heritage, Dhratrashtra! The know all and the omniscient Lord Krishna had felt saddened by these words spoken by Arjuna and learning about his resolve to not to fight this war.  He had laughed and thus he speaks to Arjuna”,

“Ashochyananvashochatasvam pragyavaadanshch bhashsse

Gataasoongataasoonch naanooshochanti panditaa” (11)

Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, “o Arjuna you are   feeling sad for those people who are unworthy of it and at the same time you are speaking like a very knowledgeable person   . But learned people do not show any remorse for those who have lost their lives and even for those who will lose their life”.

Lord Krishna had laughed  at Arjuna’s   melancholic  because he had seen that Arjuna’s   reluctance and hesitation to fight this war has surfaced on account of his love and devotion for his   near and dear ones and all the respected elders whom he had always looked upon in his life. The lord shows Arjuna as to why his showing a remorse and concern for   his relatives like Bhishma and others who as per God’s sermon to Arjuna, are not meant for only this life but that their soul belong to perpetuity, is only a futile exercise .

The lord Krishna continues,

“   Naa tavevaahan jaatu naasan naa tavam neme jnaadheepa

Naa chaiv na bhashiyaam sarve vayamata parma” (12)

“Because you and the people who you are feeling sad for, have always been existing.  They have forever existed in all times.  There exists no such time that these people were not living in that era of time and nor is there such a   time    foreseen in future that these kings and all of us will not be living in that period. The soul that exists amongst all of us lives in perpetuity”. The lord   Krishna is telling Arjuna that the death of physical human body does not mean the passing away of a soul and hence one should not feel sad or exhibit any sorrow on the loss of a physical human body.  The lord counsels Arjuna,

“Dehinoasmin yathaa dehe kaumaram yauvanam jaraa

Tatha dehantarpraptidhirarsatatra na moohyati” (13)

“The stages of   childhood, youth, and old age are attributed only to the physique and not to the soul of the body yet they exist in soul and are passed on by the passage of time.   Similarly the soul of the body changes its abode and moves to another body.  The wise men understand this completely and do not get deluded about this shifting of the soul from one human figure to another physical being”.

“Hence it is futile on your part to feel distressed   by contemplating the death of your dear ones”.

The lord Krishna thereby meant that the destruction   of the human physique does not mean the end of the soul, the soul survives and moves on from one body to another and the prudent men who know about the non- relationship of the soul with   the human body in which it abodes temporarily do not despair the loss of the bereavement of their dear ones.

“Matra sparshastu kaunteya shitshnasukhdoo khadaa

Aagmaapaayinoanityastaanstiti kshyasav bharata” (14)

“O son of Kunti! The pleasure and the pain arising in the human physique by way of the contacts between the senses and objects are like the seasonal variations and are transitory, momentary, and short-lived and are uncertain in nature, so hey Bharata you must bear these fleeting momentary pleasures or pains which will not last long”.

Yan hi naa vyathayantyete purusham purush sharabh

Samdukham sukham dheeram soamratatvaay kalpate” (15)

“A person who does not show any kind of reaction either in bad times or in good times i.e., on being subjected  to the  pleasure or pain  he remains unaffected and exhibits equanimity, such a wise man becomes worthy of attaining immortality and he attains self realization”.

“Naasto vidhyate bhaavo naabhaavo vidhyate sata

Ubhayaorpi drashtoantsatavnayostatvadarshibhi” (16)

“The truth has always prevailed and always will be present eternally. And what you are lamenting about is only a delusion, an untruth which was never there earlier, and will also not be there in the coming times.  Hence it is not correct for showing remorse for the   loss of the physical existence of the people you love and respect and have endeared. The learned persons with wisdom have understood and have experienced both the truth and the untruth and hence they do not express any kind of   regret on the disappearance of objects that do not exist in reality and are only transitory in nature”.

“Avinaashi tu tadwidhidhi yen sarvmidam tatam

Vinasham vayayasyasay Na kashchitakturmaharati “(17)

“You should understand that the only truth that prevails in the world is God and   all the matter and the objects , the living and  the inanimate    in this world    is   replete with his presence hence nothing gets ever destroyed and no one ever can obliterate the truth that prevails forever, eternally and in every object. And this and this is the only universal truth. ”.

“Antvant eeme deha nityasayokta sharririna

Anaashino apremyasya tasmaadh yudhyasav bharata” (18)

“All the human bodies and   other animate being which otherwise are a part of the everlasting greater truth are said to be having only a short lifetime on this earth.   The   objects of this world and the human bodies are similar to the dreams that we experience, which appear to be there yet are not there in truth. Same way these living beings are there yet not there   in realism and hence these are necessarily to be purged. Hence you Arjuna should not show any concern for what is only fleeting, is momentary in nature and is ordained to face death”.

“Ya enam vetti hantaaram yashchainam manayate hatam

Ubhau tau na vijaanito nayam hanta na hanyate” (19)

“So you have to understand that neither the one who gets destroyed nor the one who is instrumental to destruction are the greater truth and nor do they are aware of the greater truth that Atma (soul or Universal /Greater Truth), is indestructible. It can neither destroy or be killed and only those who do not know this truth due to their ignorance believe that it is the greater truth Atma that is the doer of every act and is instrumental in taking away the life of living beings”.

Lord Krishna now reveals the actual identity and the universality of    the greater truth Atma to his dear disciple Arjuna as he says,

“Na jaayte mriyate vaa kaddachinaayam bhootvaa bhavitaa vaa na bhooya

Aajo nitya shashvatoayam pooraano na hanyate hanyamaane sharire” (20)

 “The Atma (soul) neither takes birth in any period and nor is it subjected to perish and nor does it   appear in a   reincarnation. Atma is unborn, eternal, elemental and perpetual and it does not expire when the physical body ceases to exist”.

The lord now explains the eternity of the soul, (the Atma) and the secret of its infinity,

“Vedaa vinashinam nitayam ya ainmajmavyayam

Katham sapurusha paartha kam ghatayati hanta kam” (21)

“A learned person has learnt that Atma is indestructible, eternal, perpetual, the one that is not born out of the womb, nor the one that can be expanded, he can neither kill someone nor can he be the instrumental in getting another person killed”.

The enlightened person knows that there exists in everybody an eternal truth which is indestructible and which can neither ever be the cause of another person’s annihilation.

“Waasaansi jeernaani yathaa vihaay navaani grahnaati naroapraani

Tatha shariraani vihaay jeernaanyanyaani sanyaati navaani dehi” (22)

“The occurring of death of a human body is similar to the act of changing of clothes by a human being. Just as the humans keep varying their clothing and put on new clothes after they have discarded the old clothes, the same way the Atma   shifts its abode from one physical body to another physical body by disposing the old body and adopting a new body. This happens to all the living organisms on this earth whose souls keep changing their habitat   from one   dead body to another living body after it finds that the current body used by it has become of no use to it    and serves no purpose by its existence”.

  The emotional intelligence expressed and advised by the lord Krishna very simply explains the eternal    cycle of life and death on the earth, where the   exit and entry of humans into the world has been taking place eternally.  If this fact of only atma changing its   outer attire is comprehended and accepted by the humans in its right meaning and spirit, then no human will ever show remorse on the loss of the old body  when the death  of humans takes place . Death Does not occur to only the decreipt physique but death can also be the occurrence to a young and healthy   body type   whose time and existence  at the earth has served its purpose and hence it becomes throwaway   body   for the soul living in it and the soul moves out of the outdated body  to find   for itself  another abode in another body that could now serve its purpose on the earth.

“Nainam chhidanti shastraani nainam dahti pavaka

Naa chainam kaledayantyaapo   naa shoshayati maroota” (23)

Lord Krishna   had foreseen Arjuna being frightened about the violence   and its aftermath that would take place in the fighting of the war by the usage of deadly ammunition and arms; hence he maintains to Arjuna that soul (Atma) is always, indestructible and that the soul is never subject to death.  Lord Krishna assures Arjuna that all kinds of elements that can be found on this earth cannot destroy soul, the Atma

“The soul can never be cut to pieces by any armaments, nor can it ever be burned by fire, nor can it be swept away by water, nor can the wind wither the soul”.

“Achhedhyoayam daahayo ayamkaledhyoashoya aiv cha

Nitya sarvagata sthanurachaloayam sanaatan” (24)

The lord reiterates again what he has already mentioned in the previous stanza (Shlokas),

“Because the soul cannot be pierced, the soul lives till perpetuity, all-pervading, and motionless.   It is inert and the soul endures ceaselessly and cannot be subjected to any modification. The soul is everlasting and omnipresent”.

Avayakto ayamchinteyo ayamvikaaryo ayamuchayte

Tasmaadevam viditvainam nanushochitumarhsi “(25)

“The soul (Atma) cannot be articulated. It cannot be manifested. This soul (Atma) is inconceivable by the mind. This is consistent and the soul cannot be subjected to any inadequacy.  When you know every characteristic of the soul, it does not look appropriate for you to   express grief over the loss of only the bodies, and hence you should not let your sorrow be there   for the probable death of all your near and dear ones gathered here to   wage a war against you”

“Athachainam nityajaatam nitayam vaa manasaye maratam

Tthaapi tavam mahabaaho naivam shochitumaharsis “(26)

The lord Krishna, however softens his tone here and    he makes an allowance to Arjuna’s shallow wisdom    that Arjuna possesses pertaining to the unending cycle of the birth and the death of humans taking place on the earth  , when he alludes,

“Even when you subscribe to the thought and know that   the soul (Atma)   is born every day and dies regularly, in such a situation also, O the powerful and armed   one, you are not meant to grieve in the manner that you have    been feeling distressed about”.

Hence even when lord Krishna, is   sermonizing Arjuna to not to grieve,   he builds up his confidence by addressing him as the mighty soldier, decorated with his armaments.

Says lord Krishna,

“Jaatasya hi dhruvo mrityudhruvam janma mratsaya cha

Tasmaadh pariharyearthe na tavam shochitumharsi” (27)

“because if it so  happens relentlessly that , anyone  who is born  is definite to  face death and that anyone who has died has to be born again,  even then  you ought not to grieve over a predictable fact   because it does not make sense to grieve for whatever is inevitable and  knowing that you  can do nothing about it to prevent it  ”.  Hence lord Krishna tells Arjuna,

Avayaktaadini bhootaani vayakt madhyaani bharata

Avayaktnidhnaanyev tatra kaa parivednaa” (28)

“O scion of Bharata! All   living beings have not been perceptible to humans before they are born and they are meant   to get invisible after they meet their death.  It is only in the middle intervals that all of them get manifested.   There should not be any kind of lamentation with regard to such beings   as appear for some time and are destined to disappear into the oblivion again”. 

The lord’s sermon about the futility of   Arjuna’s  apprehension and  expression of grief on the  likely death of his near and dear ones’  throws light to Arjuna from the point of view of the learned  and enlightened  people, when lord says   that all incarnation of the humans is but only transitory in nature. The ones who are living on the earth did not exist before they were born and will cease to exist after they have met their death. Hence a learned person, who is aware of the ephemeral nature the human life, should not express anguish and grief over the death of their near and dear ones.

“Aashcharyavatpatpaschayati kaschidenmaasacharyavadavdati tathaiv chaanya

Aascharyaavchchanamanya shronati shrutvaapyenam veda naa chaiv kaschita” (29)

 “Some of the great persons look upon the soul (Atma) amazingly.  Some other describes it as magnificent. Yet some of the others listen about the soul in its awe.  Many of them do not know anything about the soul in spite of having heard about it “

The lord maintains that not everyone knows the truth and the complete truth about the soul (Atma). People can describe about it only in different partial aspects of its total manifestation as they have perceived the soul depending upon their experiences, learning and knowledge. Hence to many   learned persons this soul is an amazing materialization of a wonderful truth, to some others the meaning and the truth about the soul remain ever elusive. 

“Dehi nityamavadhyoayam dehe sarvasaya bharata

Tasmmatasavarnaani bhootaani na tavam shochitumaharsi” (30)

“O Arjuna! The soul (atma) lives in the bodies of all   living- beings is eternally imperishable and it can never ever be slain. Therefore you cannot and should not mourn for all living –beings”.

The lord’s oration establishes a unifying relationship amongst each and every living organism on this earth by stating that they all have but a same soul breathing in them and hence there exists no difference amongst the human beings. The difference if any exists is there on account of the   externally perceptible physical manifestation of the body only, which differs in the same manner as the clothes worn by two different humans may not be the same.  The unifying  soul   remains alive ever and is imperishable because like God has said above, it may change its abode but will never be perished hence why worry for an anticipated occurrence which takes place  only for that fleeting moment when the soul  shifts itself from one physical incarnation to another physical body.   

Sawardharamamapi chaavekshya Na vikampitumaharsi

Dharamyaaddhi yudhaachachhreyo anyatakshatriyasaya na vidhyate” (31)

“And considering the fact that you belong to the Kshatriya (warriors) clan, you should not be afraid and apprehensive of the consequences of the war. There exists no bigger religion and duty for a kshatriya than to fight for the protection of his religion , faith  and the righteous war that protects the truth “.

The lord Krishna makes a very distinct differentiation in the war fought for the expansions of the kingdoms and the exploitation of  riche  from such wars, as against the war fought for the protection of the religion, faith and what is considered as truthful, by a Kshatriya. The lord avers that it is the religious duty of a Kshatriya (warrior) to protect his faith and fight for the establishment of the truth   even if one has to sacrifice one’s life in doing so. 

 He advocates,

Ydrachhaya choppanam swaragdwaarm apaavaratam

Sukhina kshatriya parth labhante yudhamidrashayam” (32)

“O Partha, all those fortunate Kshatriya    are   blessed by Heavens  who get such an auspicious occasion for an unsought war of the truth to be fought by them against the forces of  the evil and it becomes a welcome invitation to  go to heaven with its doors wide open as a consequences of this kind of war ”.

The lord   having explained the concept of religious duty to Arjuna   for fighting a war, he   further emphasizes on the   likely damage that can occur to Arjuna and to his uprightness, reputation and the faith that all his well wishers have in his character, should he fail to do his duty in fighting this war of righteousness against the   forces of the evil,

“Atha chaitavmimam dhamaryam sadgramam na karishayasi

Tata swadharma kirtim cha hitva paapamvaapasayasi” (33)

“But if you fail to wage this war of uprightness, you will end up losing your reputation and faith and will be committing a gross transgression”.

“Akirti chaapi bhootaani kathayishayanti taiavayayaam

Sambhavitasaya chaakirtimarranaadatirichayate” (34)

“In such a situation, you will be humiliated and the public will speak ill about your reputation for all times to come.  It is always better for a person of honor to lay down his life rather than get dishonored”.

Lord Krishna makes it very obvious to Arjuna that whatever logics and reasons  he  has been citing for not fighting this war of truth as against the forces of evil, those cannot be held valid in this particular  situation because no  one believes  that an honorable  person and a great warrior of his stature has backed out of this war on account of his personal reasons . They would always believe that you have run away for fear of    the destructive consequences of the war.

 Says lord Krishna,

“Bhayaadranaaduparatam manayate tavam maharatha

Yesyam cha tavam bahumato bhootvaa yaasayasi laaghvam” (35)

“All those great warriors who have regarded you very highly so far will believe that you have retreated from the battle out of fear of the consequences of the war and they will lose respect for you”.

Lord Krishna definitely has been   focusing on the emotional   turmoil and the state of uncertainty   that has been taking place in the mind and heart of his favored disciple Arjuna. The lord does it , by at first bringing up his  disciple’s  level of self –esteem  within his doubtful mind  and then apprising him of the damage that can occur to his own self esteem , in his  public image and perception  on account  of his walking  out of the war now.

The Lord maintains that at this stage of the war when every conceivable warrior from the pandavaas army and from the kuru forces have come to the war ground, , it is not at all advisable for him to  simply throw away his arms and relinquish his legitimate rights to the sovereign reign of Hastinapur ,

“Avaachayvaadaanshch bahun vadishyanti twaahita

Nindantasatav samarthayam tato dukhtaram nu Kim” (36)

“In such a situation your opponents will speak   ill of you and   they will use many prohibited words and disrespect your ability to fight this war.  This kind of treatment at the hands of your enemies will be much more agonizing to you”.

The lord Krishna presents a very win- win situation to Arjuna, if he decides to fight this war.

“Haato vaa praapasayasi sawargam jitvaa vaa bhokshyase mahim

Tasmaadutishath kaunteya yudhaay krat nishachay “(37)

“O son of Kunti, You will attain a place in heavens if   you get sacrificed  while doing your duty in this war and in case,   you become victorious in this war, you will enjoy the    free reign on your own sovereign kingdom on the earth. Therefore, you must   exhibit a resolute willpower, get up and fight this war”.

“Sukha dukhe same kratwaa laabha laabho jayaa jaayo

Tato yudhaay yujayasava naivam paapmavaapasayasi” (38)

“O Arjuna, you must   exercise, maintain and exhibit your self-control in pleasure and pain, gain and loss, and victory and defeat equally and dedicate yourself in the fulfillment of your duty and get ready to fight this war.   If you fight this war by considering it as your sacred duty; you   as a kshatriyas will not bring upon yourself   any kind of sin”.

The lord has thus been able to resolve Arjuna’s moral dilemma   about his incurring the sin and wrath of all religious profanity if he fights this war and massacres his own kith and kin in this war. The lord’s sermon about maintaining equanimity and composure, in the face of adversities or  in the event of favorable situations, in the face of gaining or losing any thing in life, need to be understood in its larger ramifications by all mankind. The mankinds get either too distressed by the failings of life or too they would feel much elated by the success and the achievements they get in their lives.

The Lord advises Arjuna that so far he has been   lectured about the knowledge through logical study. However he must understand the philosophy of Karma, in order to get a complete connotation of the actual common sense of performing one’s duty (karma) and the reasons as to why he should not abandon   the responsibility and duty   expected of him in the fighting of the war of the truth against the forces of the evil, in such a throw away manner.

“Esha tai abhihita sandkhye Buddhiyorge twimaan sharanoo

Budhhayaa yukto yayaa partha karambandhnam prahaasayasi” (39)

“O son of partha! I have said all this to explain to you and provide you wisdom into the death and its unnecessary fears by explaining and enlightening you about the Gyan Yoga (the philosophy of knowledge) point of view so that you could attain knowledge about the existence of the soul and the   transient relationship between the body and the soul. I shall now speak to you about the philosophy of Karmayoga (the philosophy of doing one’s duty selflessly), to make you understand the futility of    your decision to abandon performance of your own duty.   Now listen as I explain it   to you in terms of working without expectation   and temptation into outcome of the job performed. O son of Partha, when you act in such knowledge of the philosophy of Karmayoga (the philosophy of doing one’s duty selflessly), you can free yourself from the bondage of works undertaken by you”.

“Nehabhikaramnaashoasti pratayvaayo naa vidhyate

Sawalapmapayasay dharamasaya traayte mahato bhayaat” (40)

“In this philosophy of Karmayoga that I am about to discuss with you, there exists no end to the beginning and there is no failure or attenuation, and if you take a few steps into the path of Karmayoga, you can free yourself from the fears of birth and death”.

The lord   speaks to Arjuna, about the values of doing one’s  duty  without  ascribing any of the reasons for doing one’s duty and by not attaching any of the expectations  from the duty performed, one gets free from the fear of success or failure. 

“Vayavasaayaatamika buddhirekeh kurunandanan

Bahushaakhaa hyaanantaashch buddhyo avayavasaayinaam” (41)

“Hey Arjuna! The scion of the kuru empire! The determined and the resolute   persons have only   a single plan i.e., the realization of the truth but those who are of the fickle mind and of those who lack deep knowledge, their intelligence is irresolute and is many-directional”.  

The lord  Krishna  maintains that one who does his duty with the selfless determination   of  the pursuit and subsequent   realization of the truth,  he  is able to reach the truth because he is not fickle minded as  he does not think of many things   and  he does not  get distracted  in the pursuit of   supreme knowledge. 

The lord continues,

“Yaamimaam pushpitaam vaacham pravadantay vipashchita

Vedvaarta partha naanadayasttti vaadina” (42)

“Kaamatmaan sawargpara janamkaram phalpradaam

Kriyavishesh bahulaan bhaugeshvarayagatim prati “(43)

“Bhaugeshvarya prasaktanaam tayaappahatchetasaam

Vayavasaay atmikataa buddhi samaadho naa vidhiyate” (44)

“Hey Arjuna! Those   humans who are lost into the pleasures of life and those who are lost into the materialistic contentment believe that chanting of Vedas is   most auspicious and melodious. Such men trust that their intoning of the Vedas will take them to heavens. Because they believe those heavens are the supreme attainments and can be attained by the reciting of the Vedas. Such ignorant   people engage in unnecessary and pretentious rituals for gaining   opulence and gratification of the gods.   They are involved into   many other earthly pleasures but still, cannot find the path to salvation and the   universal truth.   Such people as a consequence of their action are consigned to another birth on the earth. Such people do not have a definite devotion in God as their minds are diverted elsewhere and their power of perception is obscured by   ordinary ritualistic activities”.

Lord has broken the ages old myth   that prevails amongst the mankind, of a heaven being above there as the supreme abode for a man’s soul   after his death, as has been believed and advocated by all humans in all ages.  The lord preaches that   the attainment of the God and of the universal supreme truth cannot be realized by moving to heavens. Expecting to get into paradise after death though has been the main motivating factor in the performing of many kinds of pretentious   religious rituals   from all ages. Such people, who indulge into this action of the propitiating of the gods by merely chanting of the mantras, do not go to any other world, nor do they attain deliverance from the   cycle of the human birth. They are but delivered   back to the earth for another birth into another human form only.

“Traigunyavishyaa vedaa nistraigunyo bhavaarjuna

Nirdwando nityasatvastho niryogkshem aatmavaan” (45)

“The Vedas, o Arjuna, basically propagate and deal with three modes of material Nature i.e., goodness, passion, and ignorance.  You should grow to be free from the conflicting thoughts of these opposites as prescribed by Vedas. You should be ever objective and indifferent to the emotions of material acquisition and perpetuation.   You should be   a free soul that has risen above these three modes, and be content within yourself”.

The lord mentions about the conflicting thought of conscientiousness that always plays  within the psyche  of each individual who is torn between the materialistic  and the spiritual, the celestial and the earthly world.  It is not that lord is putting down the faith  that humans have into the philosophy of  the Vedas, but lord  Krishna  is telling Arjuna that since the philosophy  as enumerated into the  Vedas speak of many kinds of ritual practices   and traditions to attain the powers and the goodies of the everyday life , you should rise above all the   temptation of the gain of materialistic possessions in life  and have a total control on your senses,  mind , body and  heart in order to be a content soul within yourself and attain transcendentalism  .

Lord Krishna’s sermon to Arjuna continues,

“Yaavaanarth oodpaane sarvata samplutodake

Taavaan sarveshu vedeshu brahmanasay vijaanat” (46)

“O Arjuna! Just as   the small reservoir of water holds importance to a man who has had access to the large reservoir of water, the same way the Vedas are as useful to a person who has attained self realization”.

The lord wants to say that since Arjuna has attained higher knowledge of the self   which includes almost every aspect of life and the beyond, he need not look towards the Vedas, which are but a part of the larger manifestation  of the universe  that Arjuna has explored.

Lords discourse on karam yoga to Arjuna, further throws light on the operations of Karmayoga into his life,

“Karamanaye vaadhikaare maa phaleshu kadaachan

Maa karanphalhetubhurmra te sangdtoasatav karamaani” (47)

God advises Arjuna “you have a right to perform your duty assigned to you but you have no privilege to expect the results (fruit) of the duty performed. Hence you should not harbor any motivation of the results of the work done by you and   your duty performance should not be based on the expectations. At the same time you should not be losing interest in the performance of your duty and renounce the work”.

This advice of lord Krishna if taken by the mankind in the right spirit becomes meaningful at two levels of emotional consciousness. The first level of such an emotional perception exhibits a complete trust and faith in the capabilities of the performer himself under the kind benevolence of the God. The work being done needs to be looked at as the task assigned by God and anything that has been assigned by God must be having and providing the inherent strength and the ability   to get completed doubtlessly and   must  be  intrinsic of the success within itself. Each duty assigned must be fulfilled for the universal welfare. At the second level  of the emotional intelligence,  if the performer will keep on diverting his focus from   the actual performance of the job undertaken by him,  and hanker after the consequences  even before the completion of the task being done , the lack of single minded devotion will result into work not being performed hence gods will not be happy and the person will incur their wrath. The lord therefore avers that every work needs to be performed without any deviation of the mind and heart into the expected results of the work done. Many people will not like to perform a work that cannot predict the outcome of the work they have undertaken and may refuse to work if not told of their profits in the work.  Lord Krishna forewarns that   even the abundance of the work is not permitted and is considered sacrilege.

“Yogastha kuru karamaani sangadan tayaktvaa dhananjaya

Sidhaya sidhayo samo bhootvaa samatavam yoga uchchayte” (48)

   “Hey Dhananjaya!  You must do your duty to the best of your ability and abandon all kinds of expectations with your mind completely involved to the presence of the lord in all your work.  You must remain equipoised and tranquil in both   situations of the success and of   the failure. The   practice of maintaining composure   and equanimity of the mind is a yogic practice   and that exercise of such a practise brings peace and self-control of mind”.

Lord Krishna now dwells upon the consequences of the work done while keeping the expectation in the view,

“Dooren hayavaram karama budhdhiyogaadhananajay

Budhdhau sharanamnavichchh krapnaa phalhetava” (49)

“Hey Dhananjaya! A work performed that is based on the expectations of the results from the work done is debasing by far as compared to the work that is undertaken without any motivation. Therefore you should act as with calm temperament without any selfish interest. Those who work only to expect the outcomes from the task become very miserable as they cannot exercise any control on the consequences of the actions carried out by them”.

The lord shows pity towards those people who do every task for the sake of the fulfillment of their expectations. The   happiness gained on the fulfillment of the expectation can be, only transitory, momentary and short-lived. But if task is done without assigning any motives to it, and is treated as a task assigned by god, and for the universal welfare, it becomes the task of a karamyogi, inherent   and showered with the blessings of the God.

“Budhdhiyukto jahaateeha ubhe sukratdushkrate

Tasmaadhyogaay yujasava yoga karamsu kaushalam” (50)

“A person who expresses equanimity of the mind in all kinds of situations and does not get affected by the vice or the virtue, such a person attains emancipation from any kind of attachment and becomes selfless in his approach. You should strive to adopt selflessness and equanimity in your approach which is the path equal to that of accomplishing    perfection in all your actions. Such an action of selflessness and equanimity is also meant to make you free from any kind of attachment and motivation from the tasks. This is the philosophy of karma, i.e., performing to the best of one’s perfection without expectation of results is called Karma-yoga”

The lord Krishna maintains that karmas (action)   observed with expectation attached rather yield to the lack of fulfillment of the supreme emancipation. The karmas undertaken without any expectation and attachment, like the work meant for the universal good at large, have the God’s benevolence and blessings inherent in them and such tasks do not tie down any one. Rather such an approach of equanimity towards the action, leads to the freedom of the mind and the spirit and one attains liberation from the ordinary within this life time only and the lord sermonizes that this is the philosophy of karma.

“Karamajaa budhdhiyukto hi phalam tayaktvaa maneeshina

Janambandhan  vinirmuktaa padam gachhanatayanaamayam” (51)

“The learned and the knowledgeable persons who have abandoned their temptation   and have attained the state of equanimity from the action    are equipped with level-headedness and they become Karma-yogis. They attain freedom from the bondage of reincarnation as they have renounced the self-seeking involvement to the fruits of all action and   hence they attain blissful divine state of deliverance or Nirvana”.

Mankind has often spoken about attaining moksha (deliverance) from the mundane life and its bondages. The lord explains to Arjuna that this   deliverance is attainable within this birth of human life and you can become free from the burden of rebirths, if you master the level-headedness into all your actions and leave the result /expectations up to the God by performing every duty as the task undertaken for the universal welfare at large and show no connection to its success or failure   (i.e., fruit).

“Yadaa te mohakalilam budhdhivayaratitarishayati

Tadaa gantaasi nirvedam shrotvaaysaya shrutasay cha” (52)

“The moment you are able to completely control your emotional involvement of hope and delusion at that time you will attain indifference to the all that you have heard of  and of spoken about,   attractions of this life and the other life and become one with the supreme”.

Shruitvipratipanna Te yadaa sathaasayasti nischalaa

Samaadhaavachala budhdhisatadaa yogam vaapasayasi” (53)

“The time,   when your confused   intellect is able to come out of the bewilderment of worldly attractions, you   will be able to focus steadily, in the existence of the Supreme Being, then you shall attain union with the Supreme Being in trance   and you will attain deliverance from confusions”.

Lord Krishna has mentioned about the deliverance from the confusion, attractions of worldly affairs and at the same time attaining unity with the Supreme Being. The lord mentions that a yogi needs to be free from the allurements of this world and of the next world, to meditate   steadily without any distraction, focused completely on the existence of God, in order to become one with the Supreme Being. Many a times people undertake the rituals of the  worships, meditation, and other religious, spiritual and other   public welfare activities, for attaining deliverance in the next birth. Lord’s mention of the motivations of   attaining deliverance within this birth and the next birth to Arjuna speaks about the futility of getting involved into all such kinds of useless and deviating activities. He advises him to rather trust completely on one god and remain steadfast in his faith into one Supreme Being only.  

“Stithpragayasa kaa bhaashaa samaadhisathasaya keshava

Sathitdhi Kim praabhashet kimaaseet varajet Kim” (54)

Arjuna had been listening to the sermon delivered by lord Krishna with rapt attention, now wants to know as to who makes a man of steady wisdom and what are the characteristics and the qualities that can make such a wise man as the lord has been propagating. .

Says Arjuna, “O Keshava!  What is the description of a man who has been in possession of enlightened insight, who has attained deliverance from the mundane and who has become one with the Supreme Being? How does the man of enlightened insight speak?   What is his posture? How does he sit? How does he move about”? How does such a person interact with others, and manage to survive in this world”? Arjuna appears to be keen to learn from the lord the conduct of an enlightened man in order to understand as to how he could adopt the behavioral and   other higher celestial cerebral qualities in order to    become one such a progressive person himself and attain oneness with the supreme truth.

The lord   says,

“Prajahaati yadaa kaamaan sarvaan partha manogataan

Aatmanyevaatmanaa tushata sthitpragyastadochayate” (55)

“Oh Arjuna!  When  such  a person as  has completely abandoned all desires of the mind  and the sense and he gets himself completely immersed and contented with being one with the Supreme Being   and he enjoys the delight of Supreme Being, one such a person is then called an enlightened person who is in possession of  a balanced intellect”.

“Dukheshavanudwignamnaa sukheshu vigatasaparaha

Veetraagbhayakrodha stithdheermuniruchayate” (56)

The query raised by Arjuna regarding the enlightened person and his behavior has very deep and intricate connotations inherent within the question asked. Hence the lord must answer ad satisfy this inquiry in the same philosophical manner in which the disciple has expressed it. Says lord Krishna,

“The composure and evenness of intellect is not achieved by the one who gets perturbed by the sorrow, nor does he feel elated and crave for the pleasures.  An enlightened person is the one who has completely abandoned   the feelings and emotions of affection, fear, and anger. Such a person is said to possess an evenness of the mind. Such a person is called the enlightened one with a steady cerebral intelligence of the character”.

The lord maintains that such a progressive person retains his calmness of the emotions and balance of mind in all kind of situations. Neither does he express any kind of   emotional outburst of anguish, anger and remorse on any unfavorable situation, nor does he exhibit the feeling of getting excited and elated in situation that has produced favorable results. In fact such a person holds no emotional involvement in any action and object. He does not express the emotions of neither fear, happiness, aggression nor does he exhibit the emotional kind of attachment to the relationships, actions, motives and attachment and reactions to the consequences of any duty undertaken by him. Such a person as is devoid of the exhibition of such emotions, is called a sage with an even and steady cerebral   intellect and psyche.

The lord continues his discourse,

Yaa sarvatraan abhisaneha satatatpraapay shubhashubham

Naabhinandati na dweshti tasay pragya pratishthita” (57)

“Such a  detached  person as has no emotional  attachment  to anything, he neither feels elated nor does he get disturbed if he receives or does not receive the   good – omened or ill-omened objects i.e.,  or whether he  is in receipt of favorable  results or  unfavorable  results”.

Yadaa sanharate chaayam koormoagadaneev sarvasha

Indiraayaaninadariyaarthebhayasatasaya pragya pratishthita” (58)

“You must understand Arjuna! That it is like the withdrawing of all its limbs by a tortoise into its shell for protection and preservation. The same way when an enlightened person protects his senses from all kinds of sensual desires, he is then said to have   attained a balanced intellect”.

The lord means that no amount of temptation and attraction should be able to digress a person’s mind from his supreme objective i.e., the deliverance of the person from the mundane life and attaining assimilation into the Supreme Being. A person must have both the control of intellect and of the mind over his emotions and his desires of the senses. The control over intellect will be achieved only when the   command over the desires has been achieved by neither expressing   the yearning for the pleasures nor the expression of abhorrence for the displeasures. Such a person does not have any kind of, an expression of emotional failure or the success”.

“Vishayaa vinivartante niraharasay dehina

Rasvarjam rasoapayasaya param drashtavaa nivartate” (59)

“It is not enough simply to abandon desires, because even when the desire for sensual pleasures is forsaken by abstaining from the sensual gratification, the cravings for sensual delight exist in a very apparent form.  But this yearning and the passion completely vanish from the person once he has known the Supreme Being and has attained incorporation with Him”.

“Yaatato hayaapi kaunteya purushasaya vipashachita

Indriyaani pramaathini haranti prasabham mana” (60)

“Hey Arjuna! But an intelligent person, who has not been able to destroy his cravings, will be forced by the desires of his mind and the heart. His control   and level-headedness will be unwillingly overpowered by the power of the senses for sensual pleasures”.

Such a person as has not been able to completely overcome  his desires, cravings and the   attraction towards sensual pleasures becomes weak-minded and his abandonment is only short-lived till the time, he buckles down to the pressures of the mind and the heart again for sensual gratification and loses his equanimity and the poise. His deviation of the mind begins in such a situation resulting into his reverting back to the yearnings and the desires of sensual pleasures, and moving away from the path of the attainment of the truth.

“Taani saravaani sanyamaya yukata aaseeta matpara

Vashe hi yasyendriyaani tasaya pragya pratishthita” (61)

“Hence o Arjuna! It is essential that the devotee should exercise complete control over his senses and set his mind on God with constant meditation.   Such a person’s intellect becomes steady when his senses are under total control”.

“Dhayaayato vishayaan punsa sangadateshupajayate

Sagdaata sanjaayate kaama kamaatakrodho abhijaayate” (62)

“The contemplation of the earthly pleasures leads to the awakening of the enticement for those pleasures and the attraction towards the gratification leads to the creation of desires. And when the desires are not fulfilled and remain un-satiated, it results into the generation of the anger”.

“Krodhaa bhadawati sammoha sammohaatasmaritivibharama

Samarati bharashaad budhdhinaasho budhdhinasahatapranashyati” (63)

The lord advises Arjuna that “the expression of the anger leads to the delusion and disenchantment and the mind gets vitiated by the disenchantment resulting into the   loss of reasoning and logic by the mind. Such a person as has lost his logic and reasoning falls down from his status and he suffers”.

  The emotional turmoil on the unfulfilled expectations often leads to disappointment and bitterness causing frustration and anger amongst men.  Men when they get angry get so much involved into emotional outbursts that they   end up losing their presence of mind and the resultant loss of control over reasoning intellect. In such an emotionally charged state of mind they cannot make out the necessary distinction between the, desirable or the undesirable, good or the bad or the appropriate and the inappropriate behavior on such occasion. They will often in such a situation   get into un-contemplated decision making. Such a decision- making as taken in  emotionally   charged  angry situation  will not be correct for the occasion and hence will lead to the fall of men in their status and consequently into many other undesired situations. It is essential to keep emotions in check, maintain calmness and composure of mind in all state of affairs for a better and proper decision making which could be universal in its application and acceptance and be replete with the presence of the Supreme Being into it.  

The lord now discusses the advantages of maintaining a complete control over oneself and he says,

“Raag dwesh viyukataitastu vishyaan indariyaisharan

Aatam vashyai virdhyaatmaa praasaadam gachhagati” (64)

“But a disciplined person who has exercised and established complete control over his senses enjoys sense objects without any attachment or aversion in them and he attains internal harmony”.

For lord Krishna, it is not only the superficial giving up of the desires and temptations   as a show off externally like we humans indulge into, but it is very necessary to exercise a complete internal control over the senses and the sensory organs that will lead to the   freedom from the    deviation of the mind and help in achieving a supreme tranquility.

Says lord Krishna,

“Prasade sarvaa dukhanaam haanirasayopajaayate

Prasannchetso hayaashu budhdhi parayavatishathate” (65)

“All  kinds of  sorrows tend to perish by attaining the internal tranquility of the soul and the intellect of such a serene and tranquil person leaves all other deviations of the mind and become completely steady and dedicated into one supreme God “.

It is the attainment of the spiritual serene and calmness   of the mind and the soul that results into obliteration  of all kinds of sorrows, which otherwise are caused by the desire and temptation of the results expected and desired from the   action performed by the individuals for fulfillment of their duties. The  emotions of the  internal poise and the tranquility have  been referred to as the prasadam (blessings from God), which come to the human mind only after internal as well as external control on the desires and the temptations have been fully achieved by the mind. Such a state of the mind has been referred to as the heavenly bliss of tranquility in which The Supreme abodes.

“Naaste budhdhirayukatasaya na chaaykatasaya bhaavanaa

Na chaabhaavayata shaantiarashaantasaya kuta sukham” (66)

Such a person as who has not been able to exercise complete control over his senses and the mind, has not attained the transcendental intelligence and he does not have the emotional intelligence thus he is not connected with the Supreme God.  Such a person who is devoid of the emotions and the transcendental intelligence can never achieve his peace of mind and he can never be   ever happy   and will always be without the peace of mind’.

Indiriyaanam hi charataam yanamanoanu vidhiyate

Tadasay harati pragayaam vaayunaaravamivamabhasi” (67)

“Just as the strong winds of a storm steal away a boat roving into the   silent sea from its direction towards its destination, the same way a person’s only one sense into which the person’s   mind is involved can take away his intellect and its tranquility and peace of mind by diverting his attention away from all other senses”.

The temptations of the sensory emotions and the senses are too strong for any ordinary simple person to get himself emancipated from their grip on his mind and intellect.  The person has to exercise the   control of all his senses. He has to  manage  the leaving behind  of all desires ,  at all times , i.e., the external perceptions of the mind  and the internal cravings of the heart , all need to be controlled to grow an intellect that is steadfast in its acceptance of the Universal Truth and the Supreme God . Such a person as has lost control over even one small desire and gives up to the temptation of the senses, he will end up losing all his control on the    self, and subsequently he will lose his   intellect. His tranquility and his peace of mind   will also be missing.

“Tasmaadhayasay mahabaaho nigarahitaani sarvasha

Indirayaaninidriyaarathebhasay pragya pratishthita” (68)

Therefore oh Mahabaaho! (Arjuna is addressed as Mahabaaho, on account of his possessing large and strong   muscular arms ) only that person can possess a very steady intellect whose senses have been completely withdrawn from their sensual operations   into the objects and have been brought under complete self control by the person”.

“Yaa nishaan saravabhutaanaam tasayaam jaagriti sanyami

Yasyaan jagriti bhootaani saa nisha pashayato mune” (69)

“What remains as the darkness of the mind for all others becomes the awakening of the supreme God for the pious person (yogi or ascetic) who is steadfast in his attainment of the universal supreme truth. Such an ascetic (yogi) considers all those worldly pleasures as the darkness of the mind, for which all living beings lose their sleep. They lose their peace of the mind and their tranquility over the momentary pleasures of life, because they do not realize the real truth about the Supreme God“.

Such a person, who has gained his control over his passion and has abandoned his desire for worldly pleasure, seeks to reach the illumination of the mind and the intellect. He becomes one with the God because he has shown restraint towards the acquisition of all those earthly things and objects for which the whole world seems to have lost their stability of the mind. Such a person has been able to find the real meaning into the benevolence and the grand manifestation of the God and hence has attained the enlightenment of the intellect and the soul by way of spiritual serenity.

Aapurayamaana Machala pratishtham samudramaap paravishanti   yadavat

Tadavakaamaa yam paravishanti sarave sa shaanti maapanoti na kaamkaami” (70)

“Just as the waters from many kinds of rivers enter the   highly   regarded ocean without disturbing the calm of the ocean, the same way all kinds of eternal peace of mind are attained by the person who is free from all desires. The person who craves for and hankers after the worldly pleasures and the   possessions of the material objects is never ever peaceful”.

“Vihaaya kaamaan ya sarvaanpumaamshacharati Ni saparaha

Niramamo nirahakaara sa shantimadhigachhagati” (71)

‘A person who has given up all temptations, emotional attachments, has overcome his sense of self importance and self pride and has become free from the longings and the feelings of possessiveness,    attains the universal peace and tranquility   and the eternal bliss”.

“Aishaa braahami sathiti partha nainam praapay vimuhayati

Satithat vaasayaamanta kaaleapi braham nivaaranam arachchhati” (72)

“Hey Partha! This is the   attainment of the divine state of mind (Brahma sthiti)   of a person. The person who has attained this divine position of the mind does not get deluded by the senses and such a person attains integration into the universal truth and the Supreme God by getting immersed into the creator at the culmination of this life”.                                          

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues- 42

42

Sam had been visually disturbed after he had read the contents of the message the thick brown envelop contained for him. He looked at the package lying   at his table in the small office of the local community centre. This center was   situated in Mississauga an average upper middle class locality mostly inhabited by south Asian working groups whose fore fathers had migrated from their countries of origin to make a better living for themselves in a prosperous yet sparsely populated land of Canada . Sam had read the words “urgent and by air “written in bold letters on the outer cover many times. He had also glanced at and repeated aloud to himself each and every word of the letter many times over ever since it had been delivered by a special courier. He picked up the bundle of photographs of the couple that were sent along with the letter and closely looked at their faces. These photographs had been sent along with the letter by their family great Priest from the distant land of his fore fathers.  Both the husband and his wife appeared a very young couple who had been recently tied into the marital knot. Sam knew that “Only the brides who have been very recently been married were supposed to wear the kind of bangles this girl in the picture had been adorning. It was a social ritual to dress up like this in that part of the country. The girl was simply over laden by the gold ornaments she had been putting on her neck and arms”.  He noticed that she had also decorated her forehead with a long and pencil thin vermillion spot. She was kind of   indicating her marital status to the world at large.

  “But why would such a youthful and innocent looking couple who was still enjoying the freshness of their young marital bliss would seek to migrate out of their home country on a political asylum plea”. It was beyond Sam to understand and figure out the reason. 

He had many a times earlier helped new brides settle down in Canada, but those were the girls whose husbands had already been working in Canada on a work visa for sometimes. They had found it difficult to find a love mate for themselves in their adopted country of residence. It was but a natural tendency for such boys to fetch their brides from their home country.

 “Such luxury of finding a Spanish girl waiting for her prince charming from the land of Aryans was a rare occurrence in my case only “, he said to himself” as he remembered how he had found love for his tired soul in the little sparkling eyes of a   lovely bride from Spain. She was visiting Canada as a student on some kind of study exchange understanding program between the two countries. During her study abroad she was required to be staying with different families of foreign origin in Canada to understand their day to day living habits and cultures.  She was also studying the impact of the foreign culture on the offspring of these foreigners.  Her one of the projects included a stay at the farms of the family who had adopted Sam as their son. Since the old couple themselves could not take her around to show her their farms. They had asked Sam to take her around even though he could communicate with her only in broken English language. In fact their language of communication involved more of signs and gestures rather then the words.

 It was but natural that their living together through the day and night for a month long period had resulted into mutual infatuation and liking for each other. Once Sam had jokingly asked her “will you like to become my Indian bride?”  She indicated by the movement of her hands and fingers that she would like to be his bride provided she never was asked to go back to her  own country .   To his surprise he found her eagerly interested in settling down in Canada in order to take care of the old couple in their old age.  The old couple who had been deprived the pleasures of having any children of their own were too happy to learn that they were getting a daughter in law also along with their adopted son. The marriage a low key affair had been solemnized in the local community center in the presence of the local parishioners. 

Sam was only fourteen years old when he had to flee to Canada. He was living along with his two siblings and his old parents in a small village in India. He knew that meager income earned by his father from a small land holding could hardly help them make their ends meet, yet he was too small a child to do any thing about it. Many a times his father had wanted to migrate to the near by large town to find some kind of employment as a laborer so that he could fend for his family members. Living was getting hard to come by in India as their family had grown in size. The small piece of agriculture land had been shrinking every time a new mouth to feed had been brought to the world of human species by the married members of the family. Such frequent fragmentation of cultivable land often led to recurrent fracas within the family members. They were alienated from each other yet almost living under the same roof due to lack of resources to build another dwelling for the separated family members. It was during one such heated argument between his father and one of the cousins’ of his father that Sam had lost his cool and hit the cousin brother of his father with the shovel.

 He had carried the shovel with him to control and direct the flow of water from the rivulet to their farm lands for irrigation of crops. The small rivulet carrying canal waters that passed through their fields was the only source of irrigation for the farming community. The village panchayats had allocated every family different days of the weak when they could divert river waters to their fields in order to ensure each family in the village got sufficient waters to raise their crops.

 “ Come with me to the fields”, his father who always wanted his elder born to take to farming at the earliest in order to save expense on hired labor, had held him by the hand, “ I will teach you how to divert waters from one field to another for irrigation ”. As they reached their farms they noticed to their dismay that their farm was still completely dry even though his father had directed irrigating waters to the small piece of land a few hours earlier.  The cousin brother of his father had cut off the stream of water   pouring into their fields. He had diverted the flow of the brook towards the adjoining farmlands owned by him.

Sam’s father kept his cool and requested the person who had diverted water away, in a very polite manner, “my dear brother it is my turn today to tend to my little piece of land. I believe by mistake you have disturbed the run of waters going into my fields.  Please allow me to redirect the same so that the crops growing into   my farms can also be irrigated”.

His father’s cousin instead of listening to reason started use of filthy language against his father, “you mother… you sister ….how dare you touch the stream going into our fields”.

 Sam saw his father had still kept his temper in check.  He was telling his cousin brother who was much younger to him in age “let me tend to my agriculture fields at least for half a day only so that the plants growing therein can be moisturized. You are well aware that if I do not provide waters to these plants at this time of the year,  this vegetation will die of thirst and lack of irrigation.   You can utilize the balance half day from my kitty to irrigate your part of the land. I will personally divert this water into your fields once again”.

 The man who had abused Sam’s father continued hurling filthy words on both of them. Sam himself could have given in to any kind of ill-treatment if it was met out to his own person.  But he could not tolerate the insults being hurled by anyone on his father.  In a fit of rage Sam picked up the piece of iron shovel fitted on to a long wood handle from the ground. He lifted the iron shovel much above his head and   hit the man who has been abusing his father on the neck. The impact of the shovel hit the man so hard and sharp that it severed the head and face of his uncle from the neck.  A pool of blood had smeared his face. Sam’s father too had been drenched in the blood from the falling dead body. His father raised the young child in his arms and ran into the fields of sugarcane whose height could have hidden both of them.

 “What have you done my child? We will be hunted by the villagers and the policemen. They will hang us by the neck. You did not have to kill your uncle when I was simply talking to him.”

 “But father he was abusing you.”  Sam did not understand why his father was wailing and weeping. “Now that his uncle was gone we can have all the waters to ourselves. We will get enough yields to feed the family”, Sam told his father. His little and tiny reasoning refused to accept that he had done any thing wrong in hitting the man who himself was a thief and a man with foul language.   

 They walked through the sugarcane fields for days together till they arrived at the main city from where his father had asked him to board a truck to the capital town. The truck operator took pity on the emaciated young boy and fed him food on the way. It was truck operator who suggested “my sister’s family in Canada needs young men like you to work in their farm lands and if you agree to go their you can not only hide from the law but make a decent living too.” he had no other choice but to accompany the old lady who adopted him as a son and brought him to the distant lands. He had soon become a known new name “Sam” from the long forgotten address given to him by his biological parents.         

The small neighborhood inhabited by the Asians i.e.  Chinese, Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis, of the Mississauga immigrants has never seen the kind of hot and warring arguments that took place in the community center this evening. The head of community center was elected every year by the members to manage the affairs of the community centre besides as head of the small knit family of immigrants from distant lands he was also in a way responsible to fight and argue for their better rights with the governmental authorities.  Sam had been voted the undisputed and unopposed head for this season too. His ideals of universal brotherhood, greater   sense of cosmopolitanism and humanism had always been appreciated by the members of the societies formed by the immigrants of different nationalities. They always felt that only he was capable of genuinely fighting for their rights with the members of the governing council of an alien government.  Sam had on his part too very conscientiously done every effort to keep the harmony of good relationships going between even citizens from countries who had traditionally been fighting never ending battles with each other otherwise.

“I know there are troubles brewing in my home state in the distant land but I believe such small differences of opinion are in fact the backbone of a greater democracy. Every time the ballot take place in any country there are political ripples created by the change over of the ruling statutes moving from one party to another. Each country of the world has always been in the hands of either rightists or the leftists. There is no middle path that could unite the thought and the philosophy of both and produce a government that could be acceptable to all citizens of the country. The politicians in order to keep themselves into the seats of power would often cross-floors as the opportunity presented itself to them. An unscrupulous politician who fought on the rightist’s ticket in last elections may opt for the leftist agenda this year if he believed that leftists will gain majority votes by fooling the electorate with attractive manifesto. It may so happen to the contrary if the politician believed otherwise.  Such freedom of thought and action though provided ample scope to any individual to select his own political ideology”. Sam had advocated his thoughts at the meeting of the community many a times.  In fact he had always wanted a change of guard even at the community center lest his opponents will start throwing mud and bricks at him too after a few years of his continuous support by the members. The media had been too strong in the west and the news of such troubles brewing at places wherever the incumbent remained more than the desired time in power had always found the main headlines in newspapers.   But that was not Sam’s point of anxiety and concern.

 He was disturbed at the news of whatever has been happening in his home country that he had left ages ago. As a matter of principle he did not want that the troubles brewing into the political realm of his home country should be brought to the land that had so lovingly adopted him first as a son and then as a responsible citizen. “But that the peaceful and harmonious atmosphere of this social living” Sam knew by now, “may not remain so”. Too many young boys and girls had been coming into the country by legal and illegal routes as stowaways and as the sufferers of political vendettas. They had all been looking for a political or human asylum into this country. Such huge turnouts of stow away and illegal immigrants were becoming cause of concern for this country’ government. It was just last week only that a question had been raised very seriously in the parliament by one of the labor group member of parliament.  Sam who had been virtually a stowaway himself with no identity, tag or marking of nationality or citizenship on him when he had landed onto the shores of this country; always sympathized with such people. This earth had also always sympathized with any one who knocked at its door for a genuine cause. But past few months’ clashes of the youngsters within Sam’s own community had put him on the alert. He would now generally avoid helping people in cases of any kind of immigration needs wherever he could. He had this time however been under too much obligation of the great priest Rajamantran. It was difficult for him to deny the priest a favor ordained by him.

  “I can understand the political compulsions and pressures exerted by the relatives from India on people living in Canada to help them in sending  their progeny into the foreign country to make quick money on account of currency differentials . I too have helped in sponsoring many a families from my village to this place. But this request or rather order from the head of the shrine had put me in a dilemma” Sam spoke to himself. “My sense of foreboding warns me that this young man about to enter the borders of my adopted abode will spell trouble in times to come. Yet I am in no position to refuse the great Priest”.

 Sam’s had checked with his source at the shrine. He told him “this young man had made an attempt to kill the home minister Aaham of the country. There is a police warrant issued against him in the home state. It is possible the international agencies could be on the look out for him. However a political asylum can help him avert arrest and gain entry into your country. You as a community representative will have to sponsor him initially as a tourist. May be later on he can lodge a legal claim for a political asylum on humanitarian grounds. The   great Priest ordains you to do this as he feels that this is only a small favor you will be doing to the shrine. Such services rendered by you will of course not go unrewarded.  You will be honored at the appropriate time by the shrine for giving your total self to the greater cause”.

 Sam reluctantly picked up envelop that was lying on the table. But this time he did not open it to look at the face portrait of young couple who were arriving by the late evening flight into Toronto Pearson International Airport. He pocketed the thick brown cover into his breast pocket. He rose himself up reluctantly to go to the airport. He had to collect the immigration lawyer on the way to the airport to get their request for tourist visa filed. It had to be done in advance before the young man and his newly wed touch the land of this adopted country. Immigration officer at the Toronto Pearson International Airport who had dealt with such cases by the dozen every day for past many years did not bother Sam with many questions. He stamped the temporary visa for the young couple. Sam had provided the personal guarantee for their civilized conduct during their stay.  He however knew that he may have to file their case for political asylum later on after they have actually entered the borders of this country. But Sam was aware that even getting a temporary tourist visa into this country had not been an easy task.   He will have to now ensure the young man do not get into his political activities in this country, at the very least till his appeal for a political asylum had been favorably granted. But he was still skeptic whether the visitor will get in touch with the doctor the master mind behind generating all kinds of political upheavals in India. The recent statements by the doctor and his call for a separate country and one more partition of their country that they had left behind had caused enough embarrassment for the community in this foreign land.

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 41

Koena opened her eyes after she had heard the chirping of two sparrows. The sparrows had entered into their bed room through the half open ventilator. The young tweeting birds were looking for a safe and secure place to build their nest somewhere within the room. They were carrying the bits of grass in their mouths. The birds conducted a thorough inspection of the place they were going to make their home. They encircled the bed room all over and eventually settled for the small empty but secure breathing space inside the canopy of the unused fan hung on the ceiling. The lady bird flew out again to pick up some more bits of grass while her male companion   bird got busy setting up the earlier brought bits of grass into their new home.  They had selected this place for laying eggs and bringing their offspring into the world.

Koena continued watching   the male bird closely.  She noticed that the male bird too was amused at knowing the fact that a female of human species has shown a keen interest in him. The male bird spread both its wings and danced for a while in order to impress the lady of the house. It was as if he was requesting her that he should be allowed to have his temporary residence within the precincts of her private domain.  He also sang a short melodious bird song for sometime. Finally after satisfying himself that the lady will not mind their setting up an abode within their sleeping room; he flew out of the room to call his ladybird of his house back.

That reminded Koena to look around for her companion too. He has been missing from their marital bed. She vividly remembered the night long session of lovemaking with him. She was at first reluctant to get physically closer enough to him. She had felt too shy to ward off his amorous approaches. She had pushed him gently away as he kissed her on the lips. “I must talk to you about an important subject matter and please come near me “he pulled her towards the bed and put his arms around her. The softness of the touch    melted her in no time. After then it all continued like a dream sequence. He did not even allow her take out her night gown. He mounted her and as he entered her, the pain had become too much to bear.  She let out a loud cry but remembering others were too staying in the house; she had controlled herself by putting her hand over her mouth. The rhythmic movements soon turned her pain into the enjoyable ride and then it became like a deep swim into the ocean gradually engulfing her in its wonderful explosions which came one after the other.  She had lost count of the number of times they made love to each other. Late into the night, almost when the night was too close to dawn, their sweet tiredness brought an instant sleep to both of them and they were lost into each others arms.

Rape……….Do we men need to reorient ourselves towards women

The recent spate of incidents of hapless women falling victim to the lecherous  and depraved rapists lead us to a question mark on the men’s attitude towards women. Women in all ages and cultures  have always been considered a weaker person, a weaker sex,  and inferior to the menfolk allowing mankind to believe that they  can do anything that they want to do with women. women have actually been auctioned as a commodity, offered as pawn in the  gambling, traded as property , have been a subject of war and a subject that could be ridiculed, exploited and even violated physically and spiritually.

men have been rendering a mere sympathetic lip service to the violation of woman’s body and mind . We know that a thousand ships were launched to win over a face in the Greek kingdoms. Similarly we also know that the origin of Mahabharata can some where be attributed to the lecherous old men of Dhratarashtra’s court, who remained silent when Draupadi was being disrobed by the dirty hands of Dushasna .These grand old men   were none else but the grandfathers, uncles, cousins, and teachers of Kurus and Pandavas  families . Oh what a shame…the woman…the mother of all….has to suffer the same fate in every civilization….in every society.

Men say the women call for it . Men will find millions of reasons to shift the blame to women .They will often hold women responsible. They will say these are the women in media, the women are too fashionable  . They will even question the length and the breadth and the style of the clothes worn by women.  Some of them may even go to the extent of saying, “why should a woman travel  alone/with friend/with family after the fall of darkness  as has  been told by many in the case of  Delhi Girl.

The men-kind will never agree that    they need to change  their outlook towards  women. They will scoff when they would be told to look   up at woman’s face when talking to her    and not a few inches below her face. they will ogle at the woman going past them on the road, in the trains, in the buses and howl and scowl when some one else looks at the woman that they are travelling or going  with.

The men-kind will have to agree that  though they  happen to be  liberated and so called educated yet we remain enslaved  to our dirty glances and sex filled mindsets. A mere figure covered in female clothes becomes an object that can  distract  the man from the most serious work or situation of his life time.

It is time that the man realizes  that a woman is not merely a sexual figure but that she has an identity and personality   that  should make her an equal partner in the journey of life.The hands that have rocked the cradles of all men that have been born into this world for centuries should  be strengthened by men only ….by reorienting their outlook towards women of the world.