Sunday, January 09, 2005

Combing the Capital - II

05 March

I spend the morning thinking about how to proceed from here. There’s no way that I just go meet this particular Kilo and he’ll tell me everything. The other option is to ‘pick’ him up and ‘squeeze’ him, but what if he’s abs innocent? Gulzar’s information is 4 times removed and in Kilo Land, that’s 4 times too many.

I decide. I’ll need to get some independent corroboration of some kind. But this guy shouldn’t get to know that I’m interested in him, else he’ll vanish. Need to adopt some other approach.

Off I head to the Ikhwan camp. Luckily, there’s some kind of meeting on and all their ‘commanders’ are present. I join in and get down to brass tacks, asking for information on the attacks on Charlie’s base.

They all take off, going blah blah blah, but not one of those ‘blahs’ is worth the while.

I then ask them if anyone’s got info on any wounded militant and one young guy pipes in to say that he’s heard about it. Not confirmed, but there are rumours that Jahangir has been wounded. He’s from the same village and some relation told him about it during a visit to town.

Wow !!! Jahangir huh? I know the guy. A veteran militant. HM. Belongs to Village M. I’ve been after him but with no luck. Pretty smart operator with tremendous clout in his village and the surrounding area. But he wasn’t in Bomber’s gang. Which means, if it is him, he could now be part of this new Al Badr group. Which is likely, because the Paki’s have been trying to merge the HM with the Al Badr or at least get it under Al Badr leadership, even at the grass root level.

I ask this Ikhwan to come along with me, and bidding adieu to the motley gang, trot off, homewards bound.

The rest of the day is spent picking the young Ikky’s brains about Mr Jahangir.

I learn that he’s lost his parents. Has two unmarried sisters, both of whom teach in the village school. One younger brother, who lives in town and works as a shop assistant. Jahangir leads a reasonably clean life. No bullying, no stealing, no womanizing. Generally hangs around Village M but has a very strong EW network and has never got anywhere near being nabbed. Is much attached to his sisters and vice versa. Other than his sisters, he is close to an uncle, his ‘mama’, who lives in the neighbouring village. Name is Rashid Mir, Village W.

Aha !! I don’t need to look into my little black book for this one. The name Gulzar gave me was Rashid Mir, resident of Village W.

I thank the Ikky for his time. Give him a bottle of rum, which he will sell for gold and send him off, but not before telling him to try find out more about Jahangir’s current status.

Early dinner and I knock off, reasonably pleased with myself. I think I now have sufficient cause to ‘lift’ Mr RM. But before that, I need to do something else.

06 March

Post breakfast, I’m off to meet Charlie. I gen him up on all the khabar and my plans for the future. Thereafter, we both push off to Village M, headed for the village school.

We go meet the principal and Charlie informs him that this school is very high on his company’s civic action horizon and that he plans to do something for them. Only, he’d like ideas from the faculty on how the Army can help so that the funds and other resources are optimally utilized.

The faculty troops in a wee while later, 4 in number, of which only ones a lady. What’s this? I thought both of Jahangir’s sisters taught here. But there’s only one femme, unless the other ones into cross dressing or whatever.

A discussion commences and goes on for about an hour, with none of the participants realizing that Charlie’s talking through his hat (or BPP in this case). Finally, it ends and an agreement is reached that Charlie will build an additional classroom as well as gift some cash for buying books and so on.

The teachers push off and we’re left with the principal. I compliment him on his bright and committed faculty, while expressing my surprise that there’s only one lady on the staff. In an emancipated state like J&K, one would expect more. He informs me that there is another lady, in fact the sister of the one we met, but right now she’s on a spot of leave.

Aha !!! The dots seem to be getting joined. Let’s see what picture emerges finally.

Charlie and I return to his camp and after lunch, I apprise him of my plans for the morrow. Thereafter, I head home via the Ikhwan camp where I pick up a battered old civilian jeep as well as my young Ikhwan friend of Village M.

06 March

Sunday morning, and I’m up with the lark. Well, an early lark, so to speak. Its 0200 hours and it’s time for action.

Karan and I get into the aforementioned jeep along with the Ikhwan and set course for Village W, reaching the outskirts by 0300 hours. Having alighted, we set off into the village, the young Ikky guiding us to the residence of Rashid Mir, Esq.

A knock, silence, another knock and the door opens. Happily for us, and sadly for Rashid, the doors opened by him. A quick, silent grab and we head back to the jeep, and thence, drive back to my hidey hole. I’ve a little guest room of sorts as part of my palace….a little shed that at some point in time housed cattle, and Rashid is dumped there to ponder his fate. Trussed and bound, if that’s the correct term.

The good guys, who include me, go to bed.

I wake up a few hours later and am informed by Karan that our guest is in good health, though not in good cheer. Not surprising at all.

After getting ready, I head downstairs to meet him. A normal looking guy in his 50s. I wish him a respectful salaam but instead of a wale-qum-as-salaam, I get a barrage of queries like where is he, who are we, why is he here, what do we want and such like unimportant stuff. I politely remind him that given the circumstances, the script dictates that all questions will be asked by me and his sole job is to provide answers with accuracy, brevity, clarity and honesty.

He displays belligerence but after a few words and suitable actions, we are both agreed on the fact that he will talk.

“Where is Jahangir?”

“I don’t know.”

Whack !!

“In Srinagar”.

“Who took him there?”

“I don’t know.”

Whack !!

“I did.”

Our discussions go on in this vein till around noon. Thereupon, fearing for his health and well being, I allow him a break for lunch and introspection, after which talks resume.

By evening, Rashid Mir has given me all that he has and I have a fair idea of what transpired. It took time and I learnt a lesson. The youth think they’re immortal and so don’t fear death. The aged know they’re mortal and so don’t fear death. They realise its inevitability.

Anyways, the story, narrated reluctantly by Rashid Mir, goes like this.

Jahangir got injured. He went and hid in the orchards. Uncle was sent for. Uncle arrived. Thereafter, Uncle arranged for a car and took Jahangir to Srinagar. Zarina, one of the sisters, went along. Found a room on rent. Then found a surgeon. Got Jahangir checked out. Uncle returned same evening. Learnt from Zarina via telephone two days later that surgery has been conducted successfully. No further news. Last known, Jahangir is recuperating in the rented room with Zarina playing Florence Nightangle.

Armed with all this information as well as the address of the rented accommodation, I’m all set for progressing the search for Mr J in Srinagar.



At 11:09 AM, March 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part thriller...part mystery n all action...

abs fantastic :)


At 12:53 AM, March 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good writing takes more than just time; it wants your best moments and the best of you.

and you have given ur bestest shot here :)


At 10:05 PM, April 18, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

Mayaa, thank u. i think thats the nicest compliment u ever posted. makes me feel like jack higgins, lol !!

X_X, thank yu :+)

At 3:34 AM, April 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's one of the best blogs i have read so far...Keep up the fantastic work...



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