Posts tagged ‘politics’

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 39

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 38

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues 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 – 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 Chapter 17

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

MADDENING CORRIDORS OF INTRIGUES – CHAPTER 12

12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues -11

11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“These guns must reach the intended destination immediately”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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