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.

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