Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Jahangirs Journey - IV

Time ticks on. Things happen – some of which I’ve told you about in the days gone by and some, which I will in the days to come.

I live my life – XYZee of the Indian Army and Khalid of the twilight zone.

Jahangir lives his life – Jahangir of the Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaanbaaz of Khalid’s private army.

I do my thing and he does his.

But courtesy Zarina, our paths cross intermittently, though never in person.

He’s a man of his word, whatever be his motivations, and over the next three months, I keep getting information from him off and on.

Some of it is good and leads to success. Some is dated and leads nowhere. Some is good but I botch up.

Whatever, it’s still turning out to be a very profitable relationship.

I get three caches, two relatively minor and one which is huge and amazingly includes, under the ground, a second hand Maruti 800 registered in Delhi. Loads of arms, ammunition, explosives, radio sets are also picked up. Money too, some of which I pocket to inject into the local economy.

Two important OGWs and a few minor ones. One of the big fish, when fried to a crisp brown (not literally, I’m not THAT bad), leads me to a suitcase with Rs 52 lakhs. I get visions of deserting and fulfilling my life long dream of buying a small shack by the sea and becoming a beach bum. But it’s all counterfeit and after making the big fish eat some of it, I set the rest aflame.

But no more kills.

I pester Zarina but with no luck.

Then one night, or rather early morn, around 0430 hours, as I recline deep in the arms of Morpheus, my radio buzzes.

“Jaanbaaz for Shikari.” Its Jahangir, communicating directly with me. Wow !!

“Aaj subah, National Highway par bomb phatega. Milestone 27 ke kareeb.” The radio goes quiet.

F*** !! In fact, double f*** !!!!!! There’s very little time to react. Traffic on the NH starts off early and a bomb/IED going off there may cause very major damage.

I get on the other radio. But the Brigadier is not responding. Neither is his Staff Officer.

I don’t even know whose area that falls in and who’s responsible for the ROP (Road Opening Patrol…the guys who sanitise and protect the road) in that sector.

No choice but to rush myself. It’s far away and I don’t know if I can reach in time. Karan and I take off, running as fast as we can, to the village next to where I live. Luckily, there’s a mini bus standing on the road.

Wowiee!!! It’s even got the key in place. My God is surely with me. We zip off, Karan driving. All the while I’m trying to get the Brig on the air but with no luck.

0515 hours. I’m standing by the passenger’s wala door, working my radio. Finally I get through to the Brig. I apprise him of the situation and the fact that I’m en route. I also inform him that I’m basically in Don Quixote mode, because without any bomb disposal thingummies, I can do sweet f*** all even if I get to the site in time and find the explosive device.

The Brig tells me that he’ll handle it and I should just get there ASAP and contact the ROP commander on the spot. In the meantime, he’ll organize the sniffer dogs and bomb disposal guys.

Whew !! I move and sit on the seat in front, just behind and to the right of Karan, who seems to have taken on a Michael Schumacher avatar.

0417 hours. We’re moving as fast as a battered old mini bus possibly can over a lousy dirt track. 30-40 klicks per hour maybe?

It’s a bone jarring ride and I sure will be glad to get onto a road and then finally get off this damn vehicle.

BANG !!!!!!!!!!!!

F*** !!! Now I know what bone jarring really is.

The vehicles careened off the track and come to a grinding halt. Not a burst tire. That’s for sure. Because burst tires don’t give out the smell of RDX and they don’t result in the back of buses, however mini they may be, getting mangled out of shape.

We’ve gone over an IED.

I look at Karan. He’s bleeding from the head, having banged it against the windscreen, but appears reasonably okay. My knees are hurting like hell…I’ve slid off and fallen forward….and my knees have made a very violent and totally undesirable contact with the back of what’s supposed to be the conductors seat or whatever.

I help Karan out of the driver’s station and push open the door to get out.

Bang!Bang!Bang!

Or should it be …ratatatatat ???

I don’t know how to articulate the sound here, but what I do know is that what’s coming at us is a large number of AK 47 bullets in bursts of 3-4 each.

We hit the ground hard and hug it as close as we can. Look around. Can’t see a thing, but can definitely hear the firing. And it sure is aimed at us, because we can hear the bullets striking the bus.

Damn !! What do I fire back at? I’d hate to be found dead with four fully loaded magazines on me.

We crawl around, hoping to see something and fire back. But there’s nothing. Even the firings stopped.

Sudden silence. And if it wasn’t for the bus off the road and Karan’s bleeding head and my aching bones, I’d think it was all a bad dream.

Oh f*** !!! What about the IED on the NH?

I pull out my radio, only to find that it’s already well on it’s way to the after world and subsequent rebirth as a cell phone or whatever. Smashed beyond any kind of recognition.

We pick ourselves up gingerly and look around. Spotting and hearing nothing and receiving no missiles of any nature penetrating our skin, we head off towards the next village.

Sadly, it’s 12 klicks away and both Karan and I are not in a position to even jog. We kind of limp our way to it and by the time we get there, it’s nearly 0630 hours.

We commandeer a jeep with a driver and head off for KM stone 27.

We get onto the NH and I’m happy to see traffic flowing normally. Good !! That means there’s been no explosion. Which implies that the IED has been found and defused. Yiipppppeeee !!!

F*** !! It could also imply that it’s there, hasn’t been found and hasn’t been detonated yet.

I damn the pessimist within me and tell the driver to get a move on.

We reach KM 27 and I find it choc a bloc full of army guys, including the Brig who’s very keen to know what took me so long.

I give him the short story in even shorter form and ask him about the IED.

It emerges that they’ve searched n re-searched and re-searched every possible inch of the highway from KM 26 to KM 28 and found zilch. So either I got a false alarm or I heard the location wrong or it’s someplace else. Anyways, every ROP guy has been asked to be on high alert and the search is continuing all along the highway. The rest is up to God and we can only wait.

We do so, making use of the time to get a doctor to do the needful with our battered bodies.

The day goes by and nothing explodes. So, it WAS a false alarm.

Which means, Mr Jahangir is playing games with me.

No wonder the mini bus was conveniently parked where it was and no wonder the key was even more conveniently available where it was.

Time for you to die, buddy.

TO BE CONTINUED.....

3 Comments:

At 12:48 AM, March 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Endlessly fascinating...

am ur fan for a lifetime...

Al_Ex

 
At 1:42 AM, March 21, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow...

x_x

 
At 9:55 PM, April 19, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

Alex, thank yu. just the thought that i can have a 'fan' makes me ecstatic.thank yu :+)

X_X, thanks :+)

...Khalid

 

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