Friday, January 07, 2005

Ramzan - I

Ramzan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The month of fasting. The month in which the first verses of the Holy Quran were revealed to Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).

But this is not about the holy month. This is not about fasting. This is not about the Holy Quran.

This is about a militant who called himself Ramzan.

An absolutely low level militant of the HM whose interests lay more in stealing, womanising and bullying the locals rather than in fighting for any particular cause. He’d never been involved in any ops against us and from whatever we knew of him, it would take a lot of positive thinking to weigh him against the cost of a 7.62 mm bullet.

Therefore, while one had heard of him, no one ever seriously contemplated mounting a specific op to get him. The general consensus was ‘galti se mil gaya toh thok dena, else let the jerk die of old age’.

I got to hear of him when an acquaintance of mine, HPS, who was doing 2IC (Second in Command) of an RR battalion in the area, came to meet me.

I was going through an uneventful time and was happy to receive a visitor.

After the initial exchange of pleasantries, HPS asked me what I knew of Ramzan.

"Not very much, Sir. I know his name, his village and a bit of his background which is nothing exciting. What’s your interest in him? He's a low life scum. Not even worth being called a militant." was my reply.

"Well Khalid, my information is that he's been made the Battalion Commander in this area."

I'll be damned !!! Ramzan being appointed as a Battalion Commander. Jeez !! The HM really must be scraping the bottom of the barrel with their finger nails. Not that an HM battalion commander is anything big, but nonetheless, in their hierarchy, it means quite a lot.

I can't get over it and HPS is not amused.

"Its not funny, Khalid. We knocked off the last guy with great difficulty and now this jerk takes his place. You know the pressure on us to get rid of their commanders ASAP and this is one guy no one knows anything about. "

HPS goes on to tell me that his unit has tried putting pressure on Ramzan' s area, by way of raids, CASOs, visits to his family, etc. But all to no avail. They are totally unable to get a bead on him and now want me to help track him down.

Well !! (Between my readers and me, it's a big jolt to my ego to be asked to sniff out a weasel like Ramzan.) "I'll ask around, Sir and let you know." is what I tell HPS.

Having nothing better to do, the next few weeks I ask people about Mr R. The Ikhwans, the cops, locals and my sources. From everywhere, I get the same old story. But I do manage to build up a hazy picture of him. He's a bully. He's ruthless and vicious. He's not a family man. He's lazy. He's very cunning. He's a loner. And he seems to be a bit of a coward. Every time he’s run into a security force’s patrol, he’s scooted without firing a shot.

No pictures available. Physical description: Tall, slim. Long hair. Beard. Jeez ! That could be any militant or or any local. It could even be me - for that matter.

Anyways, I make a visit to his village with a few Ikhwans. His house is a ramshackle two storied building in one corner of the village. A set of old parents. Sullen, quiet. A wife. Looks twice her age. Sad, silent, stressed out. Absolute poverty all around. Not what I'd expect of an HM guy's family. It's obvious that this guy doesn't care for his people. The wife refuses to talk but I manage to make the parents sit across me. My questions elicit no answers that can help me get to him. All they keep saying is “He’s a bad man. Kill him and we’ll be happy.” Now, on the face of it, that bit isn’t surprising. The parents of most militants say that but don’t really mean it. It’s just the typical sneaky Kilo way of keeping themselves out of trouble with the security forces. But here, I sense absolute disgust and resignation to fate.

So, over all I get nothing from his family. Ditto from the villagers. A bit of heavy handed questioning is also tried. Same result - zilch. But I do detect a very strong undercurrent of fear within the entire village.

Nothing to be gained here, I head back.



At 2:15 AM, March 19, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb..but then we dont expect anything mediocre from u...



At 12:51 AM, March 23, 2005, Anonymous rainman said...

Well i read through couple of blogs and i found myself tottaly involved and felt it so real.Kind of transported to that world.You have a gift of playing with words. A suggestion i have that you could compile all the blogs into a book. But yes for a book some factual research will be required. keep it up. Since you are anonymous i cant address you by name and i too remain anonymous
Thanks for such writing about the situations of which many people will not be aware. Yes there is a humane side of counter insurgency ..the locals..women and children ..their actions, feelings ...also the soldiers and not to forget the trauma every one goes through in such situations. wish you all the best always

At 11:28 PM, March 29, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

abs wunnerful :) keep up d good writing



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