Archive for September, 2012

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”.