Sunday, January 09, 2005

Combing the Capital - III

07 March

I call Charlie over and we discuss and finalise plans.

2000 hours. We set off for Srinagar. Even Karan and I are in regular uniform. Too many trigger happy security forces guys in the capital, of all hues and types, to take any chances. I leave instructions with Man Friday to take Rashid out at midnight, walk him a couple of klicks, remove his blindfold, untie his hands and grant him freedom.

Later in the night, we’re there. Charlie with 7 jawans, Karan, the Ikhwan and me.

We park the vehicles near a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) post and walk into a locality of downtown Srinagar called Habba Kadal.

Combing the capital commences

Habba Kadal is a congested locality. Loads of houses/apartments cramped together with narrow alleys running through the area. Essentially, a lower middle class/middle class residential area.

I ain’t very comfortable in these environs. Can get ambushed from anywhere, anytime. But then this isn’t Sarajevo. I don’t think there are going to be snipers perched on the rooftops waiting to get my head in their cross hairs. Nonetheless, I’ll be happy to get out of here.

The CRPF guide I’ve picked up from their post leads us to the address I’ve provided him. After taking us through one narrow alley through another, he deposits us outside a double storied block and makes a hurried retrograde move back to safety.

The neighbouring blocks are much the same and theres no place at all to deploy the men. I’ll just have to leave them out in the alley. In any case, I’m neither expecting an attack on them from anywhere nor do I think Jahangir will be physically in a position to come out with guns blazing.

Anyways, the idea is to nab him peacefully inside.

Towards this end, Charlie, Karan, the Ikhwan and I move to the door and address it with a rap of my knuckles. Oops ! I’ve forgotten. I’m in civilization. There’s a switch for a call bell and that gets addressed with a gentle push.

After a wee while, we hear some movement and the door is opened by a middle aged guy. We barge in before there’s any talk and shut the door. We find ourselves in a little hallway with a staircase going up. On one side is a room, but the door is shut. Charlie and Karan check it out and find a living room of sorts. Devoid of any inhabitant. A door from within that leads to another room, a kitchen cum store, and thence to a little courtyard with toilets at one end and a door which I assume, leads out from the back.

We quickly rush up and get to the first floor. Two doors. I push the master of the house ahead of me and kick open one door. It’s a bedroom with a double bed occupied by a very surprised and scared looking lady. This guys wife, I’m informed by him.

We move to the next room. A boot on the door and it swings open. A sleeping form under a quilt on the floor. As Karan puts the muzzle of his AK to what seems to be a human head under the quilt, the old man yells out, “That’s my son, don’t kill him.”

I have no intention of doing so is what I tell the fellow unless……..he tells me where Jahangir is hidden.

“Who Jahangir? What Jahangir? Which Jahangir?”

While this is going on, the other three move around and come back to me with an NTR.

NTR? Where IS Jahangir? There has to be another room.

The lady is up and about now and is yelling blue murder. We calm her down and leaving the Ikhwan to talk to her, we take the father and son duo downstairs.

But what do I ask them? There’s no room that could’ve been rented out.

Did Rashid Mir take me for a ride?

It seems to appear so. I think this has been a classical wild goose chase.

Anyways, before I go back and re-establish contact with Rashid, I decide to talk to these two guys.

They both tell me they’ve no idea what I’m talking about. There has been no tenant or tenants in their house, ever. So on, so forth.

I realize I’m wasting my time and decide to get out of here.

Just as I inform Charlie of my decision, the Ikhwan, who was prowling around in the kitchen and courtyard, comes in excitedly, holding something in his hand.

It’s a garbage pail. He informs me that it was outside the kitchen and wants me to take a look.

Has the guy gone crazy?

Anyways, I peer in and lo and behold, what do I see?

Lots of usual household muck.

And lots of unusual muck……like blood stained bandages and cotton swabs, empty vials, disposable syringes.

Aha !!

I look questioningly at the old man.

“I don’t know anything.”

Sigh !!

I ask both the guys who put all this into their garbage pail.

“It’s not ours”, says the son.

“My wife is unwell with some gynae problems and is undergoing treatment”, says the father, simultaneously.

Double sigh !!!

A few knocks to father and son fail to evict anything out of their mouths.

I don’t have much time. We have to be out of Srinagar before day break. This isn’t a city you can mess around in with nonchalance. There are rules and laws and stuff.

I grab the sons hand, spread it out on the table and pull out my cutlery. “All fingers go if you don’t talk fast” is what I tell them, the tip of the dagger drawing a little blood from the back of his hand.

The two guys look at me and then at each other. I see resignation in their eyes.

“I’ll take you to them” yells out the son.

I release his hand and he takes us through the courtyard to the door leading out from the back.

Only, it doesn’t lead out. I had merely assumed that. He points to it and says “They are here.”

We got Jahangir……….. alive.

The young man got to keep his fingers…………intact.


At 12:48 AM, January 10, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Endlessly fascinating...a wonderful read... Mayaa

At 11:00 PM, March 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep.. def a wunderful treat to all readers ...


At 2:25 AM, March 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would never have believed that this is my kind of stuff but I am going to tell u something.. the more i read..the more i had to read

am ur fan :)


At 12:29 AM, April 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The writer has the knack to transport the reader to far away places :)

Very well written


At 10:03 PM, April 19, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

Mayaa, thank yu. Yu are endlessly kind n generous with ur comments. cannot articulate how encouraging n inspirational i find them :+)

Alex, X_X, Veeshaka, thank yu all :+)


At 3:41 AM, April 24, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Khalid.. ur style of writing is simply superb ...



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