“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.