Apr 6, 2013

The unknown warrior! 1

Saurabh Chawla |

The clock struck nine and the sky burst with confetti which blanketed the city. All around, there was aching darkness overhauling the gleaming street lights. The spine chilling wind paved its way across the street only to man staring hard at a statue. With his trembling limbs, he tried to reach out to the head of a baby who was in the grasp of a beautiful lady. The statue stood erect amidst of the street. A sudden shriek stopped him there only. A young man, about half his age, was shouting at the top of his voice. The shriek was enough to blow some one's eardrums off. And he was an old man!

"Don't you understand that you are not allowed to touch the statue?" He shouted again. He was the mere Sepoy in charge of the locality. He was not at fault. He had the orders to protect any civilians. He was doing his duty. This time he was standing very close to the old man. The snowfall had already taken any warmth left from the limp body. With a lousy stare, he retired. Arun Kaul lost his son in one of the ferocious firing encounters in Srinagar. He was shot at by an army man who mistook him as a terrorist. It's been ten years since he tries to console his empty eyes by satisfying view of the statue.  After a decade, exactly the same scenario was going to be repeated.

Army had already imposed a curfew on the streets of beautiful city. The range spanned entire Kashmir valley. It was not done by any one's whim. There were reports of some intruders planning a bomb blast at the place which every one regarded as heaven on earth. Every 100 meter distance included an officer.  There were two groups engaged for the terrorist attack. One was of the army Jawans and other was that of the Police. The state ministry had also taken the help of Punjab Police to serve in the deed to protect the Kashmir.

A bunch of the Sepoy was also allocated. Most of them gathered around Lal Chowk in Srinagar. This was the most vulnerable target of the terrorists. About ten kilometers from the Lal Chowk, the army created a temporary base. The base served as platform for the briefing and to keep a check on the operations being performed. The meetings were usually conducted during the wee hours and lasted for maximum of ten to twenty minutes. The civilians were better advised to stay in the comfort of their homes. At the base, General Pratap was briefing the officers about the next big step to be taken.

"Raman, I see that the intelligence reports are not providing the precise information. So, in lieu of trusting the source, how about we put our own man as a spy who could provide accurate information."  Raman was regarded as an expert strategist by all. He was Pratap's right hand. After a quick thought, Raman spoke out. "Sir, we don't have that many resources at this time. Even I feel that the reports can misguide us but still I don't think we can plan of placing a spy in this operation." Pratap understood the urgent need but also he couldn't ignore Raman's suggestion. He brushed away the thought clouding him. "Alright then, I want accurate information of the terrorist activity. When, where and how they are planning the turmoil, I want the report within twelve hours. Do you get it?"  "Yes sir!" the two officers said with their chest bulging with pride. With a sigh, he gave them orders to march out. Raman along with the other officer gave a firm salute and left.

The sun was hiding behind the shadows. There was a sense of tranquility prevailing across all the lanes. Pratap was driving back to the headquarters. The time had passed quite quickly. As he steered towards right at a T-point, he was distracted by incessant ringing of his cell phone. He quickly stopped at the kerb. He fished out the mobile from his pocket. It flashed an unknown number. But it was from the state only. Without waiting for the next ring he picked up the call. The voice on the other side was a little weak but firm. It said "Don't look for the Raavan, look for the Vibhishana." Before he could utter a word, the call was disconnected. What he meant? The puzzle took over Pratap's mind completely.

To read the next part, click here.

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