Friday, January 07, 2005

Solar Strike - II

27 April

I'm floating around aimlessly. Dropping in here and there to pick up scraps of information about anything. Long time no kill so might as well set my sights on something, or in this case, somebody. Far as the rocket attack case goes, it's as cold as a solar rocket's booster at midnight.

One of the STF inspectors has just got promoted to DSP (Deputy SP) so I decide to go and congratulate him. Unlike the regular JKP guys, the STF chaps are useful and it pays to keep them on the right side. I walk into the guy's office and feel happy that he seems genuinely pleased to see me. Again, unlike the regular JKP, the STF by and large, like the Army. Essentially because they're more professional and more importantly, because they aren't Kilos. Most of them are from the Jammu region.

As we sit and yak over a cup of tea, he asks me about the rocket attack case. i tell him that theres been no information at all. His voice suddenly goes down to a whisper as he says " Saab, Wani saab ki jaanch kariye." And with these golden words, he changes the subject and gets back to talking routine stuff. I try asking him what information he has but far as that goes, he's suddenly gone into 'deaf adder' mode.

Not that it surprises me. Bilal Ahmed Wani is the hottest politician in the area. A ruling party guy. A minister to boot. And if all that isn't enough, one of the richest citizens of the Valley. But this is the first time I'm hearing his name involved in a militant related case. Now, if it was a JKP or Ikhwan guy taking his name, I'd need to drag in my bag of salt cos I'd assume theres some personal axe grinding being tried. But this STF DSP is a Dogra and has nothing at all to do with the denizens of the Valley and/or their politics. So he's unlikely to have some personal vendetta on the agenda. But having said that, he's not likely to stick his neck out too much cos the Wani guy is very powerful, not just in the Valley but in state politics too.

But what do I do? This is too big a name for me to do my usual 'pick up and persuade' routine. I decide to approach the Brigadier.

"Are you nuts?" is his question to me.

Assuring him that while I've got them, same as any guy, I'm not one myself, I ask him how to proceed. In any case we have no other leads and this is our only hope. Unless of course, he wants the attack on his HQ to go unsolved and unavenged.

Bravo, Khalid!! Thats the right line to take with the Brig. "Look Khalid, this is too sensitive and I don't want to go upstairs with it. I'm a pure vegetarian and I'd hate to have egg on my face if this blows up the wrong way and theres flak. You work it out yourself".

These encouraging words are enough to send me on my way out with my mind asking what it was on my way in, " What the f*** do i do?"

I mull over it the next couple of days and then decide to act.

30 April

I'm at the Wani's housing complex with an RR company, dressed up myself as an RR officer. Long hair tucked into a BPP, long beard trimmed, long salwar suit exchanged temporarily for Combat Dress (fatigues).I call it a complex, because unlike most Kilos, the family Wani lives in a walled complex comprising of three houses. All big and swank. I pay my regards to a gentleman that opens the door and ask for the big man himself. I'm told he's not available and I'm asked what I want and why the Army's here. I politely tell him that it's a very important matter and I'd like to talk only with Mr Bilal Ahmed Wani. This guy turns out to be Wani Senior's junior brother and seeing as theres no future conversing with me, he invites me and the RR Major indoors.

One tea and two biscuits later, 'the' Wani turns up. "Boliye Major saab, kya masla hai?" he asks as he enters.

I put on my most serious face and inform him that I've got hard int that there's a bomb placed in his house. It's therefore imperative that the entire complex is evacuated and we are allowed to search for the bomb and defuse it.

He gives me a very incredulous look and laughs. "Aap mazak kar rahe hain. Hamare ghar mein bomb kaun lagaega?"

I tell him that the information is A1 grade and solemnly quote to him something I read on some highway about being better safe than sorry.

Luckily, he decides to humour me and agrees to get a search done. But he insists that since there are lots of valuables around, his people will accompany the RR troops. I inform him that the jawans won't search. It'll be done personally by the other Major and me and if two officers can't be trusted to not have sticky fingers, it's indeed a sad day for the nation and all that. I sound so seriously offended that he doesn't seem to be left with a choice.

To cut it short, the Major and I start searching the houses.

One, two, three. Big houses. Lots of places to search. But nothing found.

Then I start off on the outhouses. There are wooden buildings for keeping cattle, poultry and for storage of grain. As well as quarters for the household staff.

One , two, three. Nothing.

Four. Nothing.

Five. A gloomy little hut full of farming implements, bags of fertilisers and stuff. I'm sniffing around and suddenly, it's bingo !!

A small wooden box under some empty sacks containing a volt meter and three metal bands.

I take the box with me and approach Mr Wani. "Bomb mila, Major saab?" he asks of me in a very condescending tone of voice.

"Nahi Wani saab. Allah ka haath aap aur aapke parivaar par hai. Hamari khabar galat sabit hui hai" is my answer. "Magar, yeh box mila hai. Malum nahi kya cheez hai."

He takes a look at the box and it's contents and gives me a lost look. I can see that he appears genuinely clueless about it. I look around to see the reactions of the rest of his family and staff huddled around us.

"Ye bomb thodi hai" suddenly pipes up the Wani's nephew, a young lad in his early 20's.

I tell him that even I'm capable of seeing that but I do want to know what it is and whose is it.

He tells me it's some junk thats been lying around for ages. And since it's neither a weapon nor an explosive, I shouldn't waste time on it.

I make a note of his wise words and leave it at that.

Shortly thereafter, we leave, rendering profuse apologies to Mr Wani for disturbing his peace and after carelessly throwing the wooden box back into the hut.

"Sir, what was in that box?" asks the RR Major, once we're out of there.

I smile at him . "The metal bands are clips, used to hold the fins of a rocket in folded position during transit. And every solar rocket has a small electric circuit in it's booster motor and the continuity of that circuit needs to be checked before it's deployed for firing."

"Oh my God" is his response to my spiel on military technology.

Ok. So there is a link between the Wanis and the rockets. Now what?



At 10:52 PM, March 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fascinating but tell ... why do leave us hanging....


At 10:12 AM, April 19, 2005, Blogger Counter Insurgent said...

X_X...thats a trade secret :p lolz !! but maybe it is for yu to also 'feel' how it is for us out there...where sometimes, the 'hunt' is so time consuming and frustrating.

... Khalid


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