Archive for October, 2012

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 33

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thomas’s.

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kumar wanted to speak.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues – 30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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