Posts tagged ‘terrorist’

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.

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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 16

16

 

The great priest Rajamantran had finished his practicing of the last asana of yoga. He opened the small window opening of his room and looked outside into the large compound spread into many acres. He noticed the mammoth crowds were beginning to gather outside in the big lawns. The disciples and other volunteers from the shrine were making sitting arrangements for people. They had been requesting people to take their seats in the separate queues meant for men and women. The people attending the ritual of annual worship were coming into the enclosure. They will bow in front of the Holy Scripture. They will also pay their respects to others present in the audience. And finally they were proceeding to take their respective seats in the arena meant for them.

The office of the great priest Rajamantran had sent invitation to all and sundry through the public address systems fitted in all the shrines located in the area. The shrines in surrounding villages too had made public announcements on their public address systems in very loud tones, “Dear brothers and sisters, the great priest Rajamantran of our parish will be addressing all of us on the important religious, social and political issues that concern all of us. The congregation will take place on the Holy day. You must reach the shrine one and all and make the religious gathering a grand success. The right time has arrived to contribute your might to the protection of your religious, cultural and ethnic heritage. The sect needs your services. Please, do make all efforts to come one and all. You must come to listen to the preaching of the great preacher and great Priest. You must imbibe his golden saying in your life, and adopt them to lead a better life. Teach it to your young ones. Bring them along to the grand occasion; so that they can be baptized in the great traditions every single one of us have followed all our life. Remember ultimately it is the religion commemorated by our great Priest that will outlast all of living beings. We owe it to our future generations to perpetuate the greatness of our mighty faith, so that they live with their heads held high in the times to come”.

The villagers came; the ladies and women came with the kids in their arms and toe. The townsmen arrived in groups. They came in Lorries, trucks, tractors and animal driven vehicles. Some came on foot walking many miles overnight in groups, singing their prayers and hymns on the way. After all this occasion comes once and twice a year and such ostentatious festivity should be shown to the children too. Their caravans were coming in from all directions dressed in their festive best.

The great priest Rajamantran looked through the small opening in the door and saw faces all around. He saw human frames everywhere, waiting patiently yet expectantly to listen to his sermon. “Now is the time to make my imposing entrance”, he thought to himself.

He beckoned to the first contingent of armed guards to lead him, two of the armed guards will walk in the front, two on the side on to his left and the other two on his right, six of them will follow him in the rear. They will walk with their guns pointed towards the sky and no sooner he reaches the Dais, the guns numbering eleven will fire their guns salute to him.

The speaker on the public address system using numbers of loud speaker fitted into the congregation premises on the poles erected all over was making the ostentatious announcement. He began the minute he saw the great priest Rajamantran coming out of his room. “The savior of the mankind, the reincarnation of all gods, the Almighty personified, the leader of all the leaders, the brave of the braves, and the greatest Priest of the great Priests is here to give you his blessings. Bow before him the big and the mighty, bow before him the young and the elders, bow before him the rich and not so rich He is here to lift you all from your daily grinds of life. Make sure no one turns his back towards him; one momentary look of the great will charge your entire existence. Savor his Presence and get the heavenly bliss showered upon your near and dear ones”.

The entire assembly like the regimented march past of the soldiers of a well-disciplined army turned their faces towards the door from where the great pontiff made his entry. They all bowed before him, some were lying prostrate on the floor to seek his blessings. He raised both his hands in sanction to bless all of them. Contingent of the gunmen prevented people from going near him; the entire public was overawed by his majestic presence. He walked on to the left of the crowd. People turned their heads in the direction in which he moved; like the shadow of the Sundial. He reached the end of the congregation; crowd had also turned half circle by then. People had gone hysterical and they were raising slogans “Long live the great Priest, long live the god”.  They were chanting the hymns composed by him. By now he had reached the right side of the pandal, the worshippers moved their faces in the same direction. He picked up a bunch of flowers from the baskets being carried by the devotees, and threw them back at the crowd, who had become delirious by now “God bless our soul. We are lucky to have witnessed his holy presence”, some of the old ladies were singing. He stopped midway, lifted a small child from a woman’s arms and kissed him on the forehead “Have you given a   name to this child of god?”

“I am here at your feet your lordship to seek a blessed name for him, me poor human being can not decide. Please bless him and baptize him”.

“In that case let him be known as the unvanquished. I name him Ajay”. The woman took the child back from him and lay face down on his feet. The gunman picked her up and moved her to aside “Let the great priest Rajamantran move, make way for him” they told parishioners.

The great priest Rajamantran took the left turn again reaching near the podium.  The people in the audience had taken three hundred sixty degree turn by now, as they considered it sacrilegious to show their back to the messenger of god. He climbed three steps to reach the stage. The entire gathering of people present there had put their foreheads on the floor. They were worshipping him. They lay down there completely prostrate on the ground with both their hands folded in the form of greetings while they were paying their deference to him.  The great priest Rajamantran enjoyed the sight. He absorbed the entire scene of people lying on the ground to worship him (for a few seconds) and thus he began their discourse “Rise my children, rise from the depths of   abyss. You all must rise to the new awakening, grow to the new dawn. The novel Sun of spiritual knowledge beckons you to keep the blindfolds of ignorance away that you have been wearing for centuries”. The multitude rose from the floor and stood in reverence. He mentioned them to sit.

A few musicians on the stage started playing their musical instruments of harmonium and tabla.  The young girls who accompanied these choirs sang the ode to the Goddess of Power, “Oh mother, and Dear mother! Bless us; bless us to face the good deeds of life. Bless us to lay down our lives for the resurgence of our great nation. Empower us to sacrifice our life for the good of our religion. Bless us to give up our all worldly possessions for the common cause of society. Oh Mother! We are but the mortal souls.  We beseech you to bless us with immortality so that we depart this life for the greater cause and live a pious living for ages thereafter. Bless us to drink the nectar of your eternal power to make us become fearless, courageous and truthful”. The group recited the hymn resonantly.  All the people present at the congregation joined in and sang. The great priest Rajamantran lent his voice in between to lead the chorus.

He asked the microphone to be brought to him once all the singing groups had paid their ode to the goddess.

“ Bang”,  the first gun fired the salute,’ Bang’, ‘Bang’; ‘Bang’ the third, the fourth, the fifth and finally the eleventh gun fired the salute from their guns  towards the skies . Having emptied their cartridges the gunmen moved behind the stage to take their positions. The participants of this serious gathering looked at their great priest very reverentially. There was an apprehensive   pin drop silence in the jamboree of men, women and children.

The cleric cleared his throat and started speaking, “Dear Children of God! The Society of the wisest, May the wiser counsel prevail amongst this noble audience? We all are gathered here today to commit to our memory the sacrifices made by our great forefathers to perpetuate the faith that we live with today. This faith has been the bane of our lives through many ages. This faith has kept the bonds of our society strong. This faith that has seen the survival of our religion through the atrocities the Mughal and the British committed on our people. The strong bonds of our community kept our trust alive in the tenets of our religion during the worst of trying times. I pay my tributes to the tenacity and faithfulness of a great nation of braves”, the great priest Rajamantran bent downwards and rubbed his forehead against the floor of the platform, as if he was paying homage to the unknown and unsung braves of the faith. People echoed in a single chorus, “You are the greatest of all, may you live long to lead us to the glory of our religion always”.

The great priest Rajamantran raised him to the level of the microphone again and continued his sermon,” However we find a weakening of the centuries old faith today amongst our younger age group. Our youngsters are being misled by the flawed social norms of modern society. Our very organism of heritage and culture of century’s old richness is getting vitiated by the misleading propaganda propagated by the enemies of our faith. There are many instances that have of late been the main cause of consternation to our mental peace.

The education policy adopted by the governments successively both in the state and the centers have been the cause of our children getting astray. They have today been moved away from us by this ill equipped education system. Those nincompoops and frauds who devised the new and modern education syllabi and study schemes have a scant knowledge of our rich traditions and culture, or our vast inheritance. We are being herded like the sheep of the same flock with other communities. Some of our brethren were wise enough to ask for and insist on a separate native soil for themselves after moving away from the British. They fought for a place of their own; they stood their ground and won it. Their leaders had the foresight to see that if they do not get a separate homeland, there community may not retain their distinct political identity and will get submerged into the vast ocean of other cultures. They maintain their independent nation today based on their religion, their scriptures, their faith and their way of living.

Look at yourself! Can you say that the enriching, social, and ethnic individuality of your families’’ has been preserved by you. Has it been allowed to flourish by the regime that we got for ourselves? Our learning institutes, religious shrines and so much so our means of living are all being subject to the rules and regulations adopted by the voice of vote.  That obviously will always be in favor of the majority community. They did not relish our landed assets hence they had cut the arms of our peasant community by introducing the draconian laws related to the land holdings. They cut short the size of our fields by the mandate in the name of distributing excess territory to the landless. In this process they diluted the very social and cultural milieu of our society. We have become losers today in our own homes, because the political set up have been devised to benefit the numerous. The religion has moved from our hands to the politicians of questionable allegiance. They owe their loyalty to vote banks and not to the great preaching enshrined in our holy scriptures. Do you really want to be a part of such an immoral society?  Please answer me” he exhorted the audience to build up a sense of frenzy amongst them.

“I want your feedback to the conditions and atmosphere in which our agriculturists are laboring. What do they get out of their toil? They cannot arrange proper food, shelter and clothing for their wards. The free trade is curbed by the lollypops of governmental procurement systems and crutches of support price. Our farmers’ brothers cannot decide the price of their own produce. Our brethren are forced to sell their produce from their farmlands to the government agencies and brokers patronized by these agencies.  You will all bear with me that the poor tiller was much better off during the Mughal regime, even after paying the jajia (revenue on land holdings imposed by some of the Mughal kings)   on land. What have our fate come unto?  I want you to be aware of your own worth. Self sufficiency of the economy can be attained if we have our own separate nation, our own separate laws, social traditions, and our very own religious and ethnic culture not polluted by the ills of the other communities. We are a race of the wisest; a race of the purest. Raise my children, rise from the ashes of oblivion, and throw away the curtains of slavery that are blinding you. It is your own motherland that seeks a separate state, a homeland of your own. Defy the draconian police rule; defy the laws that do not permit you to maintain an exclusive identity”.

He helped himself to a few sips of water offered to him by one of his bodyguards. He surveyed all around him. The gathering of the people were sitting with their hands folded in reverence to him, he carried on with his communication, and “In the institution of marriage ceremony too we have been clubbed with the jurisprudence of the community that enjoys their numerical majority.  We refuse to admit this kind of treatment at anyone’s behest. From today onwards our ethnic community   will devise our own laws. We will have our own social code of conduct to govern our institutions of social living.  We will have our own trading and commerce agencies that will lay down the norms for all our business activities. We will have our own jurisprudence.   We will have our own security agencies. We have always sent the highest numbers of our boys to the defense agencies of this country. What for? Does the government want them to use and direct their guns on us only? We will not provide any more hands to hold these guns”.

He looked through the corner of his eyes; three young peasants carrying the bundles of the sugarcanes on their heads were approaching towards the stage. He knew in these bundles they were carrying the guns used to eliminate and massacre innocent bus passengers. He told one of the armed guards to let the boys come in. They put their bundles of sugarcane they were carrying on their heads down on the earth.  They climbed on the dais to touch his feet and seek his blessing thereof.  He knew his boys have dug the first nail in the coffin of the ministry lead by Pratap. He blessed them by raising both his hands and continued with the delivery of his sermon “Let us declare this day as the day of an absolute freedom. I want you all to raise your fists and repeat with me ‘death to the traitors of truth and religion! Let the true values of our community rule! Let there be new awakening amongst all sections of our pious society!”  The crowd that had been enraptured by his utterances suddenly woke up like a giant. They repeated three times, “death to the traitors of truth and religion! Let the true values of our community rule! Let there be new awakening amongst all of us!”

The armed guards who had refilled the cartridges of their guns by now once again raised their guns heavenwards and fired constantly till the last bullet had been spent. The great priest Rajamantran got up from his royal throne. He came to the front of the podium and affirmed “The sound of these guns herald the onset of our freedom. We declare our own rule; the representatives of the draconian rulers can go and report to their lords.  They can come and join us. It is ultimately their choice. We will praise the God again”. He witnessed the crowd rising on their on their feet and he shouted loudly “long live the faith”; all the people echoed in one breath “long live the faith”.

The great priest Rajamantran climbed down the stairs. A surge of humanity was wailing “Long lives our great Priest, long live our savior and long live the savior of our nation.” Armed guards had moved forward to cover him from all sides. None could reach him. He moved towards the door from which he had emerged in the morning. The crowd did finish anti clock movement of their heads once again.

The young boys who had brought in the sugarcane bundles as offerings were lost in the huge assembly. The offerings of the canes along with other presents and gifts were sent inside the shrine.

 

Maddening Corridors of Intrigues — Chapter 14

14

Nirbhaya picked up the receiver of the telephone from its cradle and dialed private number of the chief minister Pratap “Sir the goody is here with me. Can I come over and show it to you? You will simply love this. I have the information that our friend on the other side and his outfit has also shown keen interest in the same. I believe three different consignments have entered the state and the other two have gone into their hands”.

“No I am busy with the cabinet meeting. We shall meet at my residence in the evening. You must come in non-formals and bring your family along. We will have our dinner together”. The Chief Minister was known for not spending his evening time with any one. He will reach home and immediately get into his office room at the residence “there is so much to do”, he would often remark. He will have sparse dinner at late night and go to bed only after all files for the day have been attended to. The invitation to the chief cop meant the matter in hand was quite serious. It also indicated that he wanted to discuss the same in absolute privacy. It also showed the trust and the confidence the chief minister reposed in his chief of the state police Nirbhaya.

The secretariat building situated at the outskirts of the main city had not witnessed many a historical feats. None of the greats ever ruled from here like many others great of history had done from the massive historical structures of the Red Fort, the Vice Regal Lodge, the White House, the Buckingham Palace or even the smaller palaces like the Chattel, the Umaid Palace or even the Amer palace. All these palaces have been witness to the rules of the greats.  They have seen the rise and fall of the kingdoms. They have also been active participants in the making and breaking of the kings that had ruled the corridors of power of these palaces. .

However the seat of the government of any kingdom though does create a sense of awe and inspiration. It evokes a fear of the mighty and powerful and provokes and incites the willful obeisance of the masses.   The one from where our chief minister was addressing the cabinet meeting was a similar seat of the mighty government. The chief minister’s office at the second floor of this building spoke of the modern efficiency. The rose wood table with revolving chair placed behind it looked like the working desk of a busy executive. The backrest of this chair rose higher than the occupant; as it raised itself higher the smaller the occupant looked into it, as if indicating the might of the chair being greater than that of the occupant.

The members of the cabinet ministry numbering eight in total were seated opposite the chief minister. He had deliberately kept the strength of the cabinet smaller. The state treasury has been in doldrums. The current deficit ran into billion of rupees .Such a huge deficit in budgetary provisions of the state exchequer did not allow him to have room for more members of the legislative assembly into the ministerial berths. That would have meant putting more burdens on the state funds.

Pratap waited till the members of the hospitality department had laid the tea trays on the table. He beckoned them to leave and pushed his chair forward   to serve a cup of tea each to the guests in the room. He enjoyed serving tea personally to the guests. The ceremony of serving tea to the guests was always accorded a great importance. It in fact followed a big ritual in his family. His father who was a big landlord during the British era used to enjoy his evening tea served to him with a great fanfare. The liveried waiters would wait upon the guests when tea was served. His father will personally pour tea liquor into each cup, adding milk and sugar as per the liking of the guest. It appeared he enjoyed asking the guest “How much please” and Pratap seemed to have picked up his father’s good taste along with his nobility.

The Cabinet Secretary was presenting the report on excise revenue collections “The revenue collections from the auction of the liquor contracts during the current year have gone up from 1900billions to 2210 billions. That should give the exchequer an additional of 310 billions. However the revenues from the opium and poppy vend went down this year too. We expect a short fall of around 20 percent. Though we have tightened the leakage yet it seems people are gradually dropping their addiction”. “But that is to the contrary”, spoke the minister of social welfare, “In fact my department has information that the drugs are finding their way to into all sections of the society in the areas bordering the neighboring country. The school going kids are getting into the habit at a very young age and the menace is all pervasive in the labor class in the rural areas. The college youth have been found in the inebriated condition once too often by many of the NGOs. Here I present the latest figures”.

Pratap raised his hand to brush aside the report and asked the Cabinet Secretary to continue. “I am seized of the minister’s concern for the menace spreading. The government vends cannot be closed simply on this account. These vends do not strictly give supplies to any one without license. A prescription from the doctor is required to buy any thing from the opium and poppy vends. It is parallel supply of the contraband that finds its way to the rural schools and colleges. The brick kiln workers, the industrial labor, and the truck drivers are all falling a prey to this disease. We need to tighten and strengthen our enforcement wing.  The haulage of the contraband has also gone up this year as compared to the previous year. There have been some of the large catches of the contraband in the border districts. I shall read out the actual figures …” he started reading aloud the tangible figures.

Pratap looked at his watch; he had invited the chief of the state police Nirbhaya to his home for dinner this evening. He was anxious to have a look at the gun once again and hold it in his hands. He had seen one during his last trip to one of the European country. The older existing guns with which state police was equipped was outdated by now. The .303 was recommended 40 to 45 years ago. These weapons had served their purpose. They were good enough to deter the criminals from acting; but these were not effective enough to fight it out with attackers. The element of surprise was missing from the earlier ordnance. It took hell of a long time to load these guns; the aiming had to be perfect to kill or maim the predator. The semiautomatics can also not match the quickness of the gun that he saw in Europe. He wanted to equip the elite unit of the state police with this weaponry.

His fundamental agenda for the cabinet meeting was to provide for the new armaments and equipment to the elite unit of the state police. “In welfare state, however, you do not talk of purchasing arms for the internal security forces” he was aware of this fact very well.  “Some of the elected members of the party still have the socialist leanings. They do not forget the origin of the roots of the peasant’s party. They still believe in the concept of comradeships. They believe state exists for the welfare of the masses and the first and foremost duty of the state lies in creating wealth for its own self; so that it can provide for the people in General. Buying arms for the police force or equipping it with the modern weapons does not fit into their agenda. They think only bourgeois society need to spend on the security network and in their opinion the current security arrangement is sufficient to take care of the law and order maintenance in the state” he had told the chief of the state   police when he had approached him to replace the outdated and obsolete weapons of his force.

However Pratap agreed with many of his fellow cabinet ministers when they mentioned,

“What is urgently required is to open up new avenues of investments by the public sector to create jobs for unemployed youths. Every year thousands of fresh unemployed literates are   being produced by the old-fashioned and out-of-date education system. We have an education system that has been evolved out of centuries of subjugation to other cultures”.

Pratap shifted into his seat, the Cabinet Secretary had finished his presentations. It was the turn of Shrinee now. She wanted cabinet’s approvals for upgrading some of the primary schools meant for girls to the level of high schools. She wanted funds for this purpose. She was pleading her case forcefully to the finance minister.

“In the election campaign we had laid emphasis on the availability of education to the girl child within manageable distance from her home. The drop out rates of the girl students has been going up for want of availability of   higher education institutes in the rural areas. The schools for higher education are placed far away in the main towns. The orthodox parents are wary of sending their children to far off towns all alone; besides there is not much of public transport available. Every one cannot afford the private means of access. Modern times are not favorable to send girls alone away from home. The drop out rate of the girl students for higher studies will come down once we have high schools nearer to the villages”. She read aloud from a news paper clipping, “ Eve teaser molests girl in the bus”, I am reading this to make you all aware of the dangers we all expose our children to when they are forced to travel all alone away from  their homes ” said Shrinee.

“Yes but that unpleasant incident took place in the state capital. I am sure it is nowhere near your village”’ wisecracked the chief minister.

“Of course boss, besides she is stepping into your territory. The law and order of the state is your problem. She should not step onto your toes. We do not mind if she piles herself onto you but territory poaching is a strict no, no” one of the young ministers had remarked. There was loud laughter in the room. Pratap too joined them but cut his hilarity short when he saw Shrinee getting red on her face. She had actually blushed. He looked at her again. Such a beanbag of a woman was not his cup of tea. He wondered what his party president had found in her. He could see her only as a sack full of hay covered with nice clothes.

She had come to the election office of the party on the party President’s recommendations for an election ticket. Her only contribution to the politics has been to lead a statewide strike of the schoolteachers. The party president was insistent that she should be given the election ticket from the reserve constituency for women. It was the inner circle of the party cabinet only who knew of their amorous sojourns. Pratap smiled, while talking to himself, “He must be holding each one of these big ones in both his hands. They were too big for a single hand”.

The finance minister had reluctantly agreed to allocate funds for upgrading two of the schools in her constituency and sought approval from the chief minister. Pratap gave his silent nod. He did not want her to create ruckus at the party meeting, which was coming up next week.

He stood up to address the cabinet, “Friends! Comic story does not hide the fact that law and order has become one of the major issues for all of us today. The streets are not any longer safer for the common man. It is a well-known truth that our friends who sat on these seats prior to our coming into power are keen to break down the governmental machinery. They want to create a sense of helplessness and insecurity amongst the common people of our state. Our public is too simple to look through their designs. The Home minister of the neighboring state who happens to be our closest ally tells me that my predecessor is already in touch with some of the seers and prophets of the smaller yet influential shrines to incite them to create disturbance in the village and countryside. Our intelligence agencies have also sent a report that spells disaster in the coming times. I have been in touch with the chief of the state police to tighten up the administration of the law and order. We are also taking measures to transfer some of the bureaucrats from the key positions to bring some kind of the sanity to the running of the state. Our state has always been amongst the most developed states of the country, but the long reign of misrule by some of our predecessors has brought in confusion and panic in the public life. We need to remove the fear that is all pervading and bring back the confidence in common public. The electorates of our state have supported us by using their franchise wisely. We must not let them down. We will have to set our priorities right and in my opinion the Police Department needs a thorough refurbishing to bring back the safety to the common folks. Besides we need to go back over our predecessors’ policy on the agriculture support price, the industrial development and the electric power distribution. The revenue collection has fallen short by a wide margin. We will have to go the central government for additional dole to take care of our budgetary provisions and deficit for this year again.  It is my opinion that this will not be the right thing to do. Since the government at the centre belongs to the political party who has not taken very kindly to our defeating them at the ballot vote in this state, they will indulge into browbeating and blackmailing us. We will have to perforce support some of their defunct policies, even though we do not agree to the same”.

“I am here to make a personal appeal to all of you to please take care of the district administration of your revenue districts.  Each one of you has been made in charge of one revenue district, along with some of the local members of the legislative assembly of our party. Please involve them in the developmental work so that the masses get a feeling of some work taking place for their benefits. I understand the problems are manifold, particularly in the areas where the local self-administration belongs to the other party but we will have to take such things into our stride and move forward. I shall beseech the Minister of Industry, the Minister of Power and the Minister of Agriculture to look at some of the subsidies that can be curtailed without affecting the morale of the masses. We need to tighten up the strings of the treasury purse to tide over the bad times. We may require some of these funds to modernize the internal security machinery”.

He deliberately did not refer to the elite unit and its requirement of the modern guns. That would have caused uproar. Even on hearing ‘Modernization of the internal security agencies’ his colleague Rudar got up “but we need to look at the health, education and employment of the common man chief. I am sure that should be given priority over the expense meant for the police department. The security agencies are already flooded with   funds. Let them make use of the arms and ammunition already lying unused at the constabularies; besides whom will they use it against? They will use it against our own people. I think we need to look at the problem differently. What appears to be law and order problem and unrest is nothing but the after effects of the tremors the erstwhile ruling party has felt. The shock of losing the long enjoyed power   has been too much for them to bear. They will get used to sitting on the opposition benches with the passage of time”.

“I wish things were as simple as you have predicted them to be. That would have made our living much easier”, said Pratap, “I will request you to ponder over the situation more seriously”.

“You do not have to worry chief, we are with you. You have led us to the victory at the elections for the first time in the history of this country. I am sure you will see us getting our government established and stabilized as the time passes”, Brahma the minister of power assured him. A few others also nodded with him in agreement. The meeting was taking a turn in his favor bemused the chief minister.

“The situation gets compounded by the fact that we are surrounded by a hostile neighbor country. You are all aware of our relationship with them. The two wars have crippled them. The incision of their country into two halves has further demoralized their army Generals and their politicians alike. The survival of all these generals and politicians now depends on the perpetual unrest created by their stooges in the Indian Territory. They have to continuously feed a false catchphrase of Jihad to their simple Junta”, he continued.

“Their army is not able to face another confrontation directly against our well equipped armed forces. But they can certainly have a prolonged proxy war. Such a long drawn out war is already being fought by them with support from some of our brethren from within our own country. Some of our politicians for the sake of a few votes or notes can stoop low enough to invite the perpetrators from across the borders to cause disturbances. My friend Revenue Minister spoke of the drugs smuggling going up in the districts situated near the borders of the two countries. This act of smuggling is nothing but the onslaught of the alternative hostilities by the neighbors. They want our youth to become dependent on such intoxicants. They do this, so that they can cripple the future of our society and their propaganda can be experimented on our young blood. I have reports of some of their agents meeting our student leaders and political opponents. That spells of the bad times to come. The recent call for greater independence and autonomy for state governments by the student federations appears to be the handiwork of our neighbors only. Otherwise the student community has kept itself aloof from such issues so far. I will request all of you to organize public meetings in your constituencies to ensure the common man does not get mislead by the nefarious designs of our enemies. We also need to look at some of the shrines and religious places getting undue importance amongst the commoners.  Even though it is said that the politics find their starting point in religion; such religious places should not be allowed to usurp and hijack the political authority enshrined in our constitution. All great rulers have found religion often usable to control the mass psychology. We ourselves have come to power because of religious overtone of our parent body but the allegiance and loyalty must be owed to the Supreme seat and not to the factions. Some of our people have been hobnobbing with the breakaway groups of minor shrines. We must be aware of any of their movements. I have information of my predecessor having parley with head of a shrine situated near the supreme seat. Such parleys are ominous of the difficult times to come. I pray to the almighty to give sense to our brethren who could play into the hands of an overambitious seer. His religious tenacity is known to have taken the connotation of political ambitions. This will prove dangerous in times to come”.

Pratap could see a number of his fellow ministers’ simper and smirk in their seats. He realized that by touching the overtones of religious tenacity of some of them he has gone a little too far. He knew he has hit the nail in a very hard way. He glanced at his wrist watch and curtly told the audience, “I hope we will keep our duty to the nation into the top of our mind. We will not get led astray towards the wrong direction. With this I bring my address to the cabinet to an end as I have another appointment to keep”.

Pratap did not wait to see the brunt of his speech on his colleagues.  He could however hear the claps of some of his fellow ministers. He knew Brahma, the Power Minister, had led this applaud. He was the first one to start clapping and that had urged all the others present in the meeting to lend their hands too. .

“I have formed this ministry by bringing together a strange combination of different political alliances.  each  one of those sitting inside represent a divergent political thought and philosophy” he thought, Brahma belonged to their political collaborator party who itself professed loyalty to another religious and social faction of the society .this political party had  driven the mass commitment amongst the voters on account of religious fervor created by it. “Politics do bring strange bedfellows together and the best part is it makes them enjoy each other”, reflected Pratap.

He dozed off in the air condition comfort of the car he was traveling in. The droning sound of the cooling machine acted as a lullaby.  He could not even return the salute of the police sentries posted at the exit barrier of the civil secretariat. The distance of the civil secretariat from the office to his house was barely four minutes; but the security drill necessitated the alteration in the route of his official caravan almost every day. It took him more than seven minutes today to reach his residence. He woke up on hearing the clicking of the boots and the blowing of the trumpet by the contingent of the armed forces appointed at his residence. His personal secretary sitting in the front seat was also nudging him gently to wake up. He rubbed his eyes and alighted from the car. He brought his left foot down and out of the car much before the police sentry could open the door for him.

He acknowledged the ceremonial salute of the police contingent and walked directly to the study room on the first floor of the residence. He had asked the chief of the state   police Nirbhaya to wait for him there. The chief of the state   police put down the cup from which he had been tea, on the ornate table and raised the right hand to the right side of his forehead for the ceremonial salute to the chief minister. Pratap stopped him midway “Cut the crap! You need not be formal with me in private.  Please hand out a cup of tea to me also, I am quite tired, the cabinet meeting exhausted my entire energy”.

A staff waiting upon them in the wings of the room emerged from the side door to look in and check up with the chief minister if he needed anything. Pratap sent him away with instructions to not to disturb them for the evening.

He spoke to his wife on the intercom “We want dinner for two served tonight in the study, the usual stuff; no formalities”.

“Why would you want to have it all alone? Dammi is also here, I am sure you do not lack in your chivalry. We will have it together on the dinner table only”. Dammi the wife of the chief of the state   police was a distant cousin of the chief minister. Pratap asked his wife to hand over the telephone to her ‘Welcome Chhoti”, he always had treated her like his younger sister. He had acted as her local guardian when they were studying in a boarding school. “I did not remember that I have invited you to come too, how forgetful of me please forgive me. We will be down for dinner but I want you to cook Chicken a la Kiev in the same way you had cooked last time, it was too scrumptious”. She was a reasonably good cook; Pratap just loved pampering the women with niceties. The stress in police service have otherwise also been mounting everyday and he wanted to ease the tension for the wife of the top cop of his government  as he felt responsible for the families of every police officer who had to undergo the insecurities and tension of every day fight against criminals and politicians alike. He realized his hands were too tied with unnecessary official procedure and protocol. He noticed the policeman was staring at him with amusement

“I think I need a lesson or two from you in handling of the fairer sex. You literally swipe them off their feet with your charm. Is that the reason they voted for you?’ the chief of the state   police had laughed at his own remarks.

Pratap hid his shyness and beckoned him to start “Come let us look at the serious issue at hand”.

Nirbhaya The chief of the state   police took out the gun and placed it on the table for the scrutiny of Pratap.

“Is it loaded?  Chief Minister asked him.

‘No but the bullets can be loaded. If you want to fire one we will have to go out in the open grounds”.

Pratap picked up the gun “How many of these can cross borders of the country, I am sure a few of them here and there do not make much of a difference. As it is some of the districts are already flooded with traditional arms”, Pratap wanted to put the cop at ease. But he knew he was giving him a false assurance He could feel the concern and consternation on the face of the cop.

“They are spread everywhere boss. From the university hostels to the residences of some of our officers, from the government offices to the village panchayats, the tentacles of our enemy are all over us. The guns of all shapes and sizes no doubt existed earlier also, but the kind we have in our hands had never found so much interest amongst the various factions earlier. I get shudders when I think of the turmoil that will be caused all around if these guns are put into misuse. These guns could be used against you, your ministers, or even   some of the softer targets but important government functionaries. The purpose of using this arsenal can be simply to create scare, the law and order break down and give the central government an opportunity to bring your ministry down”.

Pratap appreciated the concern shown by the chief of the state   police and yet he did not want to exhibit any kind of fear or apprehension, “The break down of the government can be arranged otherwise also, even without the use of guns and ammunition. The great Mahatma did have only a small stick yet his Satyagraha (the insistence on the truth) had stopped the clock of the mightiest kingdom from ticking in this country. I am not however saying these are your misgivings only.  We cannot ignore and overlook the statements being issued by the mischief mongers. The demand for the greater independence to the states has always surfaced from time to time. I too as the administrative head of a state will prefer greater freedom from the central control. The dependence on the union should be reduced to the minimum level possible for smooth functioning of the regional units; in order to make them more welfare oriented towards the people. Yet at the same time I firmly believe that the union must prevail. The center of the circle must hold in order to keep the spokes of the states intact so that the wheels of our country keep running. Our nation has paid too heavy a price for getting freedom from alien rules… We must remember the centuries of repression we had to undergo at the hands of the Mughal, Afghans and British. The scars of centuries old subjugation, carved on the psyche of the common people are too deep to heal. We Indians do not yet value our freedom.  I am disturbed at the talks of breaking away from this country. The student wing has been playing at the hands of the pariah and overambitious politicians. The demand for separate homeland is coming from the lands, which are not the part of our country. Instead of contributing to the welfare and development of the common folks the Professor ran away from this country and raised his head in the distant part of the world. His hands could be behind the illegal smuggling of the arms or it could at the instigation of the Pro Pak lobby.  But what surprises me is why bring in guns? A few of these guns will not be able to challenge the might of the powerful Indian army. It is essential for us to find out whom but more important is to analyze why. Why for almighty sake! Bring the peaceful state to the point of the disaster. The unemployment, the underemployment of young blood, the falling standards of morals in commoner’s life, the breaking away of the thread of the family relationships between different communities can take all of us back to the times when one brother invited a foreign invader to defeat his own blood sibling. I am sure no one wants it. If my sacrifice can prevent all this I am willing to lay down my office. I shall not shirk from giving my head for this country if it can prevent what you are apprehending,” The question though was not directed at the chief cop, elicited a nodding of head in the negative from him.

“But Sir there is a saying ‘prevention is better than cure ‘The modernization of the armed wing can give us the necessary fire power to contain the blood shed we apprehend ”.

“No, no it will not prevent yet it will enable your forces to face them with equal strength” said Pratap, “I am trying to bring round my cabinet colleagues to understand mine and your point of view.  But let me tell you even as the head of the ministry I have certain limitations. There are too many checks and balances on my decisions. We need a majority pronouncement to finance your requirement”.

“In that case boss I have plans to put into use the guns that we will be confiscating in various operations”.

“You will do nothing of the sort” Pratap realized he was getting snappy; he modulated his voice and politely told the chief of the state police Nirbhaya, “We should not overlook the authority exercised by the judicial officers of the state.  We have a very strong judicial system. You can be personally hauled up by small public interest litigation. But I would suggest you do not have to exhibit any kind of panic.   We will find a way out, however at present we are all groping in the dark about raison d’être. Interrogations into all such arms smuggling must be handled by you personally to find out the answer to this ‘Why’, unless the time itself reveals their nefarious designs of the agencies that are pushing these guns within the boundaries of our country”; Pratap however was quite impressed by the efficiency of the gun. He continued “I shall be keeping this gun brought by you as a souvenir though to remind me of the emergency situation that we are facing.  This gun will also help both of us to keep ourselves focused on need for better and modern armory for your department”.

The call for dinner from down stairs came through the intercom. The ladies looked at their husbands’ forbidding faces and they could guess the worries writ large on the faces of their respective husbands. The wives carried on their own small talk huddled in one corner of the table. The wife of the chief minister got up to help the guests serve their food. She knew it was time to keep the servants away from the main house. In her family all serious discussions were handled by the closest family members and settled within the four walls of their personal rooms. None of the servants employed in her parental home ever got wind of what was discussed within those bed rooms or even on the dining table. This evening also when her husband had made the demand for dinner to be served upstairs she knew the need for privacy. She asked all of the servants to leave from the kitchen and the main house. Though the entire house was thoroughly sanitized and   debugged many times by the security sleuths, the human ears could prove more damaging than the electronic devices.

Their dinner over it was time to bid goodnight to their guests. Pratap did not get up to see them off.  He vaguely kept staring into vacant space while his wife got up from the dining table. She went to see the guests off to the main door. She came back and gently asked him to come for sleep in the bedroom upstairs. Possibly she could take his mind away from the problems of the state and politics thereof. Ever since he was elected the head of the legislature, their nocturnal actions were getting rare by the night. She had been maintaining her physical health fairly well; otherwise too she belonged to the rustic clan where women retained their natural youth and body through out their lifetime. She was still a “reason of envy” for women her age that would otherwise look worn-down without the non-natural supports. She thought “possibly the time of early morning could be the ideal time to tease his amorous senses and provide him the necessary relief for now he was too much occupied elsewhere”. She was in for a surprise when he pulled her towards him and covered her lips with the fire burning inside him, “you must take out all your worries and leave them for others for now. It is time to get lost”, is all she could tell him before he shut her up again with his passionate kiss and holding her locked in his arms, he moved her to the sleeping room.

 

 

A STATE GUEST OF HONOUR IN MOST EXPENSIVE PRISON

He had sneaked into our country challenging the might of the largest armed forces in the world. He had the audacity to kill and maime hundreds in full public view. He was watched by millions of television  viewers  when he was  running around totting his automatic gun on the streets of Mumbai.Thousands had seen him shooting down  our brave police officers of Mumbai Police force.

Yet “Kasab” is playing to the galleries by first claiming that he is only  a minor and then stating that he is not guilty. And look at  us we sincerely believe that a guest is an honorable  guest ,even when he happens to be the murderer of our sacred  sovereignity,  the marauder of our brave soldiers and the butcher of our innocent souls.    This so because in the eyes of the law  he stands not guilty till proven in the court of law. Untill then we will provide him the most expensive security system, the luxury of perfumes and the privilege of taking a walk in the leisure valley of the guarded fourwalls . 

What a way to treat the enemy of our nation.