Divine Intervention – 3 [part II]

The story so far:

Nungambakkam, part of Chennai’s central region witnessed the brutal murder of a young techie – Swathi – in June 2016.

As her killer Ram Kumar too died under mysterious circumstances, the reasons for her killing remain a diabolic mystery.

The short story below is an endeavour to investigate the possibilities that could have led to the killing of Swathi.

Part one of this longish short story was published earlier.

It can be accessed here.

Young Veerabahu was set to arrive in the Nungambakkam railway station platform some 10 minutes later.

I surveyed the scene.

The evening crowd was milling around close to the point where the foot over-bridge touched the ground.

A sizeable number of the passengers were students from the nearby Loyola College – believed to be the best in India – where freedom of thought was/is as important as breathing. Some of them had participated in an ongoing survey to discern the mood of the people – as fresh elections to the assembly were round the corner. Political instability post December 5 2016 – the day Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was declared dead – had led to it.

I listened to the chatter.

A few months ago, reports alleged that the Tamil Nadu Government was functioning as per the diktat of Sasikala Natarajan, currently ensconced in Parapana Agrahara Central Prison in Bangalore’s outskirts as a convict. Politicians love to say that always law is allowed to take its course. India’s Supreme Court is of a clear mind in such a situation. “Corruption is not only a punishable offence but also undermines human rights, indirectly violating them, and systematic corruption, is a human rights’ violation in itself, as it leads to systematic economic crimes,” it said. Sasikala was punished for offences under sections 13[1][e] and 13[2] of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 read with 120B [conspiracy] and 109 [abetment] of the Indian Penal Code. Rather strangely, none from any political party in Tamil Nadu had approached the courts to sack the regime that took orders from a convicted prisoner then and there on the principle of breakdown of the constitution. Any person in custody would be disqualified from holding any government job. A convict’s fate was even clearer. By publicly admitting that a female jail bird was flinging yolk from her steel nest in another state, a senior member of the cabinet had violated tenets of the constitution,” a girl with a sharp nose and bold voice said.

“There was worse. By itself, the ‘election’ of Sasikala as the general secretary of the ‘ruling’ All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is ultra vires of its own constitution. The so-called election was patently illegal if one goes by the constitution of that party. AIADMK by-laws available in the Election Commission’s website state that the party general secretary can only be declared elected by the political unit’s representatives from all the states – including those from Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh plus the Andaman and Nicobar Islands during a specially convened General Council to ‘elect’ a ‘proper’ candidate who ought to have been an uninterrupted member for 5 years. Such an event never happened. It was this so-called election that caused Sasikala’s ‘empowerment’ to be ‘elected’ as the leader of the AIADMK legislature party. So, that was an illegal act in itself. It was the cause for the then CM O Panneerselvam to resign and make way for Sasikala – which also is legally non est. To ram all these unsavoury events down the throats of the people of Tamil Nadu, the Sasikala group had cocooned a majority of the MLAs in a beach resort, allegedly wined, dined and ‘entertained otherwise’ with dancing women. Reports said that all of them were recipients of several million rupees in cash, gold and a lot more. This captive legislators’ crowd had ensured that Chief Minister E Palanisamy survived the trust vote on the floors of the assembly vide violent harangue in February 2017. Since Sasikala’s original sin – in itself was unpardonable – the shameful aftermath could not have the luxury of hiding behind a legal fig leaf of having passed muster in the assembly. Every so called political event after the December 5 2016 demise of Jayalalithaa could be termed illegal,” a Kurta clad young man chimed in.

“The inner contradictions were too much to bear. Now, the AIADMK has ceased to exist as a party. The ‘twin-leaf’ symbol and the name AIADMK were frozen initially on account of the RK Nagar by elections. After the various groups of the AIADMK ended up shaming themselves through the results, the party has little chances of reviving itself. On the flip side, the DMK’s existence is on the basis of hate AIADMK slogan – that keeps its voters interested. Sooner or later the DMK would suffer the same chagrin as the AIADMK. The reasons are simple. There are one too many claimants for the ill-gotten wealth of the party’s leadership mainstays – comprising the members of its leader Karunanidhi’s family. Surveys conducted in the length and breadth of Tamil Nadu revealed that the people want a change … a change for the better from the self-centred politicians for whom only grabbing cash was the only vocational and ‘vacational’ theme. And that would inevitably end in the decimation of regionalism that began in southern India through the separatist Dravidar Kazhagam [DK] and its so-called political offshoot – the DMK,” a somewhat senior student added.

I smiled. The young ladies and gentlemen were on the right track.

At that moment an express train whizzed past on track three moving at 85 km ph northward.

The duty station master or his assistant was supposed to stand on platform 2 holding a green flag or light – to be spotted and acknowledged by the motorman driving the train.

After the passage of the train, the SM ought to inform master signal control that the clickety-clack sounds of the wheels on the tracks were normal and betrayed no derailment danger to the train. The acknowledgement by the motorman or driver was the proverbial feel-good-factor to help the safety of several thousand passengers’ lives in the clasps of his/her hands.

Instead of doing his duty, the person manning the railway platform’s office cubicle was chatting with someone on his mobile phone.

Seated in that console was a person whose demeanour depicted that he was someone in authority. He was flanked by 2 constables from the Railway Protection Force.

“I am conducting surprise checks for ticketless travellers. Obviously some will pay a fine or a bribe to escape. All of us can expect some ‘cash relief’ for the month end,” the ticket examiner in civvies said.

Interrupting his chat on the mobile, the person in charge of the station in white uniform quipped: “Don’t forget my share!”

The RPF men looked a bit nonplussed.

“In these busy hours, the state railway police personnel conduct their own raids … and collect sizeable booty. None of us get any share from that. Worse, they do not cooperate in nabbing those trying to run away,” one constable complained.

“Well, we are not parting with any part of our collection on that count…so one minus one is zero. Accounts are squared. All of us need to supplement our incomes thus in these difficult times. Our salaries are inadequate to maintain our families. We need the cooperation of the local cops when something like that Swathi murder blows. In the melee for audience eyeballs, television channels ignored the simple fact that on that fateful morning of June last year, none of us was performing our duties. And then, none noticed when the RPF and Railway Police beat ran round the mulberry bush on the non-existent issue of jurisdiction… simply to buy time,” the TE announced with a grim finality.

These were signs of systems’ societal decay.

The duty station master coming out every 10 minutes or so while fast trains went past was also meant to keep a wary eye on the passengers in the station and report any suspicious activity. He didn’t care a tuppence about it. Instead of according protection to passengers by incessantly patrolling the platforms as per their job mandates, RPF and state railway police personnel were actively harvesting funds for month-end pecuniary problems. Senior officials were actively collaborating.

I shook my head in disapproval.

Spotting Veerabahu alighting from the foot over bridge, I moved northward.

The slim, slender looking teenager was on the mobile phone – talking to his sister.

“Where have you reached?”

“Crossing Saidapet station,” the girl’s voice said. The kid had switched the hands free button on the instrument.

“I have homework to do. And then I have to prepare for the first semester tests,” Veerabahu protested.

“Is the rowdy waiting outside the station?”

“I actually wasn’t looking. But, what can I do if he turns violent? We need to ask pa to move home… to somewhere close to where I work,” the lass grumbled.

“What about pa’s job at the EB? What about my school? My whole life will be spoiled!”

“Would it be alright then if someone spoils and soils your sister? What kind of a brother are you?”

Veerabahu looked uneasy.

“You better come fast. I am waiting!” He cut the connection and rolled his eyes skywards in sheer exasperation.

“Why is God not around when we need him? Rowdies, crowded cities, rising prices, police apathy, scolding school teachers, difficult syllabus…”

As is the wont of youngsters, Veerabahu grumbled.

Aren’t you Damarla Veerabahu, little Swati’s younger brother?”

My question startled the boy.

“How do you know me?”

Every Friday, your sister Swathi is in the forefront of the palanquin bearers – carrying the idol of Shukaravaara Amman in the Aghastheeswarar temple nearby. I remember you because you once wanted to help your sister…but the priests forbade you from touching the palanquin, as it violates the temple rules. I see you offering prayers in that temple regularly.”

The boy looked closely at me and espied an old man with a kind face, dressed in a white Indian shirt and trousers. The salt and pepper facial and pate hair disarmed him.

“What is your name?”

Most persons in this vicinity refer to me as Agathi!”

“A very strange name, I would say,” the boy said thoughtfully.

It is the shortened form of a very famous sage – Agasthya. Some persons translate the name from Sanskrit as ‘mountain thrower’. The Tamil meaning denotes a person who has realised his inner self. In Tamil, Agam stands for a home. ‘Thiyan’ refers to a householder … who ensures the well-being of the home’s inhabitants. In a nutshell, if one goes by the Tamil meaning, every male is an Agathi … or Agathiyan. The sage Agasthya was a diminutive man. By the Sanskrit definition he could throw a mountain. It only implies that determination can cause any person to complete any superhuman feat. There is an entire city block in Kanyakumari district – called Agastheeswaram. Some 400 km off Kochi – in the Arabian Sea – there is an island called Agatti – the virtual capital of Lakshadweep archipelago. Finally, the temple you visit every Friday with your sister – is a shrine for Agastheeswarar. Hence, it is not such a strange name.”

The boy giggled.

“So what do you want from me?”

The boy pertly asked the question abruptly.

“Oh, I have no needs to be fulfilled by anyone. I only grant favours, more often than not, without anyone asking for it … completely free of charge. You and your sister have a problem in the form of a young unruly male tormentor. He follows your sister somewhat threateningly. Probably, you are here to accompany young Swathi home… because she feels safer with you around. But, you are not at all comfortable with the idea of facing the rowdy. Suppose… I give you a little formula to defeat this rowdy and thus prove that you indeed are really Veerabahu … the brave-heart with strong protecting arms. That is without any risk and no sweat. Will you be interested?”

The boy was puzzled. His confusion showed on his countenance.

“I am no Jackie Chan … and cannot hope to fight and win a grown up man who pumps iron in gyms.”

“Jackie Chan does those choreographed fights only in the films. There is a scene in a movie featuring a one minute shot where Jackie is shown as getting killed by Lee in Enter the Dragon. Bruce was his idol and Chan tells anyone willing to listen to him that he loved losing to his idol and did a lot of play acting to retain the sympathetic attention of the then more famous man. More seriously, the movie Enter the Dragon has a scene featuring Bruce Lee – teaching a little boy how to win a fight with a grown up man – without actually fighting. You could actually do it. It is very simple. I could help you win,” I informed the child.

“But, why would you do that?”

“Because… I love helping people. It is that simple. Come closer, I will teach you the trick. You can try it out tomorrow itself! And don’t worry. If something goes wrong, I will be around… to help you.”

The boy came closer.

“Is this absolutely free? No hidden tricks or charges?”

“None at all, my young friend, you can be sure.”

I then began telling him a simple trick. I took leave as the EMU steamed into the terminal.

I knew that the girl Swathi would frown at Veerabahu talking to strangers. But, that was par for the course.

O0o0o0o0o0o0o0oO

Indian Police Service [IPS] officer Nar Bahadur Thapa was posted to the Narcotics Control Bureau’s Chennai Unit in its northwest outskirts as southern India’s regional head. It was a ‘punishment’ posting. A set of corrupt men who controlled the vigilance and anti-corruption wings of the Central Bureau of Investigation had wanted Thapa out of the way.

Of Nepalese extraction, Thapa had the tenacity of bloodhounds that never let go a sniffed criminal at wrong end of an invisible but ‘smellable’ trail.

That evening, his table had 2 bulky files of criminals – linked to drug trade from across the Palk Straits – in Sri Lanka’s war-torn north and northeast, whose tentacles snaked into the innards of India’s various cities, and also into the innards of around 50 national capitals spread all over the globe.

The profits were enormous.

At its little known, obscure procurement points, prices of drugs like heroin, crack, cocaine, and marijuana was as low as Rs.50 per base unit. But, when sold in the retail ‘open air markets’, their prices ballooned 50,000 times. The methods of the underworld were becoming more sophisticated than those of the cops – and this was a worldwide malady. The resultant ill gotten wealth was round-tripped and pumped into legal economies – to push real estate prices skyward. India was no exception.

Real estate was the safest venue to park black funds – as very few could every actually measure the profit margins.

Thapa had done the hard work.

An acre of land with a legal floor space index [FSI] of 3.5 in the outskirts of Chennai or for that matter any city in India ranged between Rs. 2 and 4 crores. Each acre has 43,500 square feet on the ground level as its ‘carpet’ area. When multiplied by 3.5 – the allowed amount of FSI – the price of undivided share of the proposed built up area ranged between Rs. 133 to Rs.263 per square foot. Costs of building huge blocks of flats ranged around Rs.1000 per square foot. In a nutshell, builders spent around Rs.5 lakhs for a 500 sq ft flat and sold it for Rs.25 lakhs. Burdened by other factors of the global meltdown, big time mainstream media outlets winked at this racket. There was a method to this madness. Builders’ networks splurged money on full page colour advertisements – often occupying the first three pages of newspapers besides sponsoring hours and hours of television time.

The operators of this huge sinister machine also bankrolled political parties. In some states, political parties’ sections actually owned and ran the racket. The sinister game drew sustenance by cannibalising its own assets. Some of the real estate defaulters’ flats were used as dens to peddle drugs and then discarded whenever some “untoward” event happened. Often such “events” were “rave” parties catering to the spoilt rich brats and also to draw more potential victims into the concentric vortex of drug addiction and peddling. The victim owner of such a den – soon declared as an erstwhile owner – would be flung to the wolves as a drug trafficker. The whole racket suited only wrongdoers and rendered them richer after every deal – botched or otherwise..

A ‘foolproof’ system had been hammered into place to run this evil empire. It was done vide the creation of a network of agents employed by private and foreign banks that had begun lending money in India at usurious interest rates since the turn of the millennium.

The grey market of ‘collection agents’ was a good source of information to identify future victims to be fleeced and/or raped and/or prostituted.

‘Minor’ funding began with credit cards and ‘personal loans’. The dues amounted to a few thousands of rupees. Usurious interest rates ensured indebtedness. Before long, a vast section of the middle-class was in the thrall of these sophisticated moneylenders. Those who deferred paying on time were catchment areas of potential victims. Rowdies from the dregs of society worked as ‘collection agents’ and provided vital info. Those amongst these gangs that were smarter than the rest slowly levitated towards the drug distribution. Thus began a database of persons who be preyed upon to buy ‘dream homes’ engineered to default to turn such residences into nightmares – only to be repossessed and sold to other similar victims.

The operation was a large scale one.

While in the CBI, Thapa had been assigned the task of identifying the shady methods of foreign banks, their lending patterns and recovery methodology. At the start of his probe, he had stumbled on to the world of pricey auditing firms which violated every known law in every nation possible and yet retained the veneer of respectability. One such firm is Pricewaterhouse Coopers [PwC].

A minor cog of this giant machine, Sengodan had committed the cardinal sin of ‘leaning on’ Pachaiappan – nicknamed ‘patch-boy’ amongst a small group of friends for recovering credit card dues. Pachaiappan was the son of Duraisingham, a head constable who worked for CBI. The young man had apparently used the rectangular piece of plastic during a new year’s party in a 3-star hotel. The bill had come to Rs.26K. Patch-boy’s pals promised to pool in the money to square the loan off. But, the sharing of the financial load actually never took place.

Without knowing the antecedents of his victim’s father, Sengodan began sending threatening messages to Pachaiappan. Usually, credit card and finance companies avoid 3 categories of individuals viz. Journalists, lawyers and police officials. The avoidance is explained away with a two-word term: “negative profile”. Secretly the movers and shakers in this rat race admit that discovery of the workings of their racket is their big fear. The bigger fear is journalists, lawyers and cops using the instrument of blackmail to clean the wrongdoers out, aver the men and women at tertiary levels of this game. The bitter truth is stranger. Those who never deserve a single rupee manage to net billions of rupees and are allowed to not only default but also helped to escape the laws of India under everyone’s noses. 

Before long, seeing his son listless most of the day, the cop accessed the SMS from his son’s mobile.

Duraisingham sought the advice of his superior officer.

Holding the rank of Inspector General, Thapa merited a landlubber bosun. Duraisingham performed that task admirably in Chennai.

So, when the hapless minion approached his boss for saving his son, the IG – then looking after various high profile cases from Delhi for the CBI’s southern operations, Thapa realised the potential and pulled the young man’s chestnuts out of the fire and began watching the gang of ‘recovery agents.’ That endeavour had landed the strange fish – Sengodan.

By keeping tabs on Sengodan, Thapa had traced most of the racketeers and identified their modus operandi. That was when he suspected something else – the presence of a vigilante group of IT professionals functioning beyond their work-station borders to identify ill-gotten funds parked abroad. As he had begun taking an interest in the activities of several young men and women, one of them – a Brahmin girl aged 24 – Swathi – had been brutally killed in mid 2016.

When others above him found out Thapa’s focus, they got him transferred – virtually on punishment. But, being pushed to the wall, Thapa had decided to fight. And that fight had led to his unearthing the huge racket whose minor loose end was Sengodan. The big time players were builders and architects working from flashy offices.

Thapa looked at the clock in his office.

It was close to 7 p.m.

Pressing his buzzer, he summoned Duraisingham – who had levitated to the NCB along with his boss.

“We may have a major job to do, tomorrow, to end rackets of youngsters’ tormentors – like the man who had harassed your son,” Thapa said.

“Sure sir,” the orderly said.

“I have been tracking the mobile of this person called Sengodan. He lives in Choolaimedu area but does his trade in OMR. It seems he is also stalking a girl Swathi – like someone else had chased her namesake last year. What makes the whole thing interesting is the qualification of this girl and her core competence area. She is a code breaking ethical hacker. I suspect that last year’s dead Swathi was one as well.”

“Did the other girl – the dead Swathi do the same thing and was she killed on that count sir?”

Duraisingham asked the question at the spur of the moment in total innocence.

“I have a strong suspicion that she was,” Thapa enigmatically said.

-to be continued

Tamil Nadu turns politically turtle and purple!

Tamil Nadu is clearly in the middle of political crossroads buffeted by confusing cross-currents as the state edges closer to the by election to RK Nagar located north of southern metropolis Chennai. It had been represented by the late Jayalalithaa.

A familiar voice was reciting the famous poem by WH Davies.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

It was the political fixer MG seated facing the entrance of the Press Club in New Delhi. As usual, he was nursing a drink. His animated recital of the verse seemingly addressing a man dressed in homespun white – obviously a political type intrigued me.

The cocktail in MG’s hand had a strange hue – indigo – or simply purple.

“We are obviously not as good as you are in English, Mr. MG. Further, you never say anything without a political significance. Kindly elaborate,” the man seated next to him said in a treacly voice.

“Life is so full of care. Its odd absence in a hospital – during the autumn weeks of the only celebrity political heavyweight of the south – now sadly no more – Jayalalithaa rankles even more. The political developments are taking place so fast that we neither have the time to stand nor to stare at the forthcoming by elections in Chennai’s little known, dust blown assembly constituency – RK Nagar. On April 12, the day votes will be cast in the polling booths, the death knells will begin tolling for Dravidian brand of politics. The AIADMK – the political outfit founded by the late MGR will be dead as a dodo from that day onwards. But, the pace of political events is so fast that one will hardly have the time to even notice by standing and staring at it,” Minimum Guarantee said.

“It is a preposterous thing to say,” I butted in and plonked my backside on a chair, positioned adjacent to the duo. “Jaya has left behind a vibrant political body and it is bound to give the opposition in Tamil Nadu – the heebie-jeebies on April 12,” I reacted.

“The problem with you stupid journalists is that you expect people to believe that you are giving equal coverage in a fair manner to all shysters in the political spectrum. Everyone knows the obvious thing called paid news that peddled under the camouflaged as objectivity.  The only remnants of Jayalalithaa’s life comprise an interred body in a grave at the Chennai seafront, a bawdy busybodies’ bawling business of the shady kind an already forgotten legacy and footnote as a posthumously convicted criminal. Her so-called successors are fighting like Kilkenny cats – all working towards the singular purpose of destroying the other competitors from the same stable. In turn it could help the MK Stalin-led opposition romp home despite the DMK fielding a political lightweight. One even wonders whether the TN regime itself will last that long as the whole house of cards can collapse with the lightest of breezes blowing from the general direction of the MGR-Jaya graves sitting next to each other virtually cheek by jowl. Some joker may meditate, mediate and then levitate to any chosen cozy corner to corner as much dough as possible. And then, it will simply be a matter for the coroner called the Chief Electoral Officer stationed in Chennai,” the fixer observed.

“My knowledge about the south is next to zilch, so kindly elaborate,” the Guru’s new admirer chimed in.

I rolled up my eyes in despair and looked around me in sheer frustration. North Indians very well know how the land lies yet want to hear more lies – to make up their silly minds.

Thanks to the sweltering heat in national capital region [NCR], the small air-conditioned smokers’ room was overcrowded. Four journalists were playing a game of carrom, two were engaged in a game of chess and six others were eyeing the small screen of the television set in a corner.

The ‘fixer’ is a spitting image of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s flunkey, Makhan Lal Fotedar.

The political lobbyist is known as MG which is an acronym of Maha Guru and/or Minimum Guarantee.

“The longer form of MG changes depending on the time, occasion, location and significance of each of my operations,” the man loves to tell those foolish enough to listen.

“One thing is always certain. MG does not stand for Mahatma Gandhi because I love my liquor and flaunt my cocktails,” is a constant line muttered occasionally during his con—corny-conversations.

Often, found citing own aphorisms terming and them as the Holy Minds’ Voices, he is also referred to with the sobriquet – HMV.

MG smiled indulgently at his new disciple and began speaking.

“Allow me to quote WH Davies verbatim here.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

Like cattle being herded to abattoirs, the stupid Tamils allow themselves to be bamboozled during elections by accepting cheap booze and cheaper wads of cash so that the state’s politicians can loot them in broad daylight. Else, why at all would Tamils have elected the Dravidian parties with a grim regularity since 1967 – in the full knowledge that the outfits have as much political policy as there is hair on the bald pate of veteran BJP politician LK Advani? Talking of nuts hidden in the grass, ask yourself the simple question – as to why would 122 MLAs even heed Sasikala Natarajan – currently in a Bangalore prison when she will soon be a political nonentity as her election as the General Secretary of the AIADMK is doomed to be set aside? The obvious answer: every political player suspects – Jayalalithaa’s alleged stashed wealth abroad – believed to be a little more than Rs.3 lakh crores being handled as per the whim and fancy of Sasikala. Reportedly, so far a sum said to be around Rs.1600 crores has already changed hands for the upkeep of legislators’ so-called rest cure in Golden Bay resort outside Chennai and its aftermath. The grapevine has it that the deposed CM O Panneerselvam had been promised 10% of that stash by Sasikala to propose her as the GS and CM candidate. Neither the money nor his eternal number 2 post in the cabinet materialised – and so he sat at Jaya’s grave first to meditate, took a walk and began to … er… ‘talk’. The 64 million dollar question is how Sasikala will actually transfer monies believed to be stashed in numbered accounts abroad to the legislators whose supports she needs to stay politically and also physically alive. The first major transfer of hard currency in electronic form from someplace to someplace will be known and then the entire booty will be lost forever, as the BJP types are not going let go of that kind of loot so easily. The female squirrel Sasikala has hidden her nuts and those look for them are going nuts, so far. But this Punch and Judy show will not be allowed to go on interminably. When the curtains fall, it will be the end in every sense of the term for all those whose political fortunes are tied on the side of Sasikala or are on the sides of those arrayed against her,” the fixer pointed out.

MG’s predictions are of the Nostradamus variety. They are puzzling and can be indicated as prophesies of any eventuality.

Thanks to his somewhat archaic language, he also is derisively called Long Playing Old Record [LPOR], cassette tape [CT] video-cassette-disc [VCD]. His actions have earned him other epithets. Some of them are political predicament predictor [PPP1], fixer-of the deadly instigation [FDI2], Doddering Lying Factotum [DLF3] and first-class rascally abomination [FCRA4].

“I understood so far, but what will happen to all that money,” the north Indian political greenhorn asked.

“You really need to understand the lines of Davies.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

Anything can happen to Sasikala before she sees broad daylight after her release some 4 years hence. She may be dreaming of a high-sky life in the starry heights, but the glances of entities like the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI cannot be termed as ‘beauties’ by any stretch of imagination. Jayalalithaa was a good dancer. The rumour is that her feet were amputated. Doctors at the Apollo hospice have denied it, but their stories – notice the plural – have more holes than Swiss cheese. When someone takes it upon himself or herself to watch the feet – as to whether they are missing or are not – the shit will hit the fan … even if the feet haven’t been amputated. The exhumed body will give the time of death under forensic examination. That exactly is the thing Apollo, Sasikala, a host of doctors, several central government entities and that British embalming specialist Dr Beale are trying to hide by repeatedly squealing contradictory tales. I would call that the dance of the death of dainty feet – in present tense or past,” VCD observed.

This was becoming too controversial.

I tried a different tack.

“Everyone knows that PM Modi placed his right hand to bless Sasikala during Jaya’s funeral. Obviously she has or had Modi’s blessings. In return for the lion’s share of Jaya’s stash abroad a section of the BJP could ensure in some way or another to remove Sasikala and OPS from the scheme of things and cobble a united AIADMK to be led by anyone with a little credibility left. One still hears that the actor Rajnikant is mulling over the situation. Thespian Kamal Haasan has begun making politically relevant statements,” I argued.

“Listen to what Davies finally said

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare. 

None can be sure as to when will Sasikala open her mouth. And none has the time to wait till she does. The DMK wants to return to power, but is handicapped by other considerations. Elections are due in Karnataka soon, but before that, those belonging to the party in TN would want a crack at wielding power because sentiments in Karnataka are dead against Tamils thanks to the Cauvery water dispute. At some stage, the AIADMK regime would fall due to its contradictions. Like the BJP did in Goa and Manipur, huge sections of the AIADMK legislators – perhaps – led by OPS himself – could walk into the BJP – hailing Modi and his recent electoral victories in UP and UK. Power is the dirtied river Ganges that camouflages all political sins. Take the state Congress unit chief in TN – Suppuramuthevar Thirunaavukkarasar. He was a mainstay in the AIADMK under MGR, touted as Jaya’s protector when her fight against her foes began, later became a Rajya Sabha member from MP to be made a central minister during the NDA regime and is now with the Congress, talking political turkey with the DMK. He is a miniaturised and personified version of TN’s political chameleons. It was the DMK which had carried front page exposes on the same Thirunaavukkarasar’s ill-gotten wealth in the 80’s several times. The DMK, AIADMK, PMK, MDMK and DMDK to name just 5 have all been party of NDA and UPA bandwagons directly and/or indirectly at some time or other. Politicians have no sense of shame. And I have no shame in helping the shameless,” FCRA quipped with a guffaw.

“But the Dravidian parties hate the BJP and could never trust them. More importantly, why would AIADMK politicians levitate to the BJP which has no base in TN?” I registered my somewhat feeble protest.

“You are clearly blind beyond the tip of your bulbous nose. For many like OPS, Vijaykant, Jaya’s niece Deepa and other flotsam and jetsam of Tamil Nadu – at this moment – the DMK doors are closed. To be relevant in politics every politician needs a saleable brand with some working capital. BJP – riding on the shoulders of Modi and wielding power at the centre is exactly that. Finding an excuse to be in any camp is as easy as falling off a log in politics,” PPP cackled in response.

“It would still not get the BJP its ground strength or the money from Sasikala,” I averred.

“Ha! Each Dravidian party constituency satrap will arrive with his band of followers and thus create the infrastructure for the BJP at the beginning. From then, everyone will play by the ear or as far as any of those politically blind bats can see. More seriously, when cornered inside her cell, Sasikala may never reveal the details of the stash. So be it. After all, Modi had promised to bring back the wealth stashed abroad and that promise has been conveniently forgotten for now – thanks to his success in unearthing black money through demonetisation. The stash would never be useful to her – even when she emerges from prison … for there is something called nemesis – which strikes when one least expects it to,” DLF spoke in a grim voice, colder than that of the devil.

I had had enough.

“Your drink has a strange colour,” I interpolated to obviously change the subject.

“It is called ‘Indigo’. It contains two types of liqueurs called Curaçao with a dash of Gin and a small dose of E133 dye or Brilliant Blue FCF that lends the purple colour. The due – used in various ‘edible’ applications like canned and/or bottled food, dried soup powders, ice cream, dairy products, mouthwash, soap, shampoos and toilet cleaning liquids. The name Indigo, its colour, its uses and the rarely heard abuses are the fulcrum of politics the world over. How many would know that one of the main sources of Britain’s wealth during colonial times was opium cultivated in India under the guise of indigo plantations? In the 18th century, Britain had a huge trade deficit with Qing dynasty China and so in 1773, the Company created a British monopoly on opium buying in Bengal, India by prohibiting the licensing of opium farmers and private cultivation. The monopoly system established in 1799 continued with minimal changes until 1947. As the opium trade was illegal in China, Company ships could not carry opium to China. So the opium produced in Bengal was sold in Calcutta on condition that it be sent to China. Despite the Chinese ban on opium imports, reaffirmed in 1799 by the Jiaqing Emperor, the drug was smuggled into China from Bengal by traffickers and agency houses such as Jardine, Matheson & Co and Dent & Co. in amounts averaging 900 tons a year. The proceeds of the drug-smugglers landing their cargoes at Lintin Island were paid into the Company’s factory at Canton and by 1825, most of the money needed to buy tea in China was raised by the illegal opium trade. The Company established a group of trading settlements centred on the Straits of Malacca called the Straits Settlements in 1826 to protect its trade route to China and to combat local piracy. The Settlements were also used as penal settlements for Indian civilian and military prisoners. Old man Gandhi realised this bitter truth. India’s real struggle for freedom under Gandhi began in Champaran – now in Bihar – where he fought the case of Indigo farmers. It was a dying commercial dye. None bothers to seriously report that the indigo crop also had a different use. The farmers and labourers were forced to grow indigo instead of food crops by the colonial British. indigo was bought from them at a very low price to export to China as opium.”

“What has that got to do with what I asked – the drink?”

“Patience is a virtue, boyo! This is the era of social media. It is comparable to what Lenin visualised as “socialism.” He famously said thus: Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing. He then added a caveat to it: When there is state there can be no freedom, but when there is freedom there will be no state. In the 16th century tasty and juicy oranges were brought to the island of Curaçao by Spanish colonizers. The fruit, however, struggled to survive in the dry tropic climate and the fruits were stunted and bitter. A few years later, someone noticed that the skin of these oranges contained an aromatic ingredient to flavour oils and essences. The oily liqueur – Curacao was the next natural step. One can keep arguing as to which state administers the nation Curaçao – a self regime or the one in Suriname or the Netherlands. The same can be said of Tamil Nadu and several other states of India. Indigo is also one of the largest privately owned airlines in India said to be part owned by Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra. Indigo is a colour or dye, the base for opium that generates illegal cash, an apposition to political intoxication and reportedly an airline that takes passengers on punctual heights! All these attributes are linked in some way or other to colonial rule and its seeming Benami successor – the Indian National Congress – now a private limited company owned by Sonia Gandhi and family. And that, my dear fellow, is my cocktail – Indigo – politically relevant and potent – all in one smooth drink!”

The Delhi dunderhead dressed in Khadi broke into Punjabi and exclaimed, “Sirji, tussi great ho!”

Not wishing to hear more flattery, I mumbled an excuse and escaped.

[1]

The commonly known expansion of PPP is Purchasing Power Parity.

Else, in the subcontinent, it stands for Public-Private-Partnership and Pakistan Peoples’ Party

[2]

Often FDI denotes Foreign Direct Investment.

[3]

The acronym DLF is a company incorporated in India in the year 1946 under the name and style Delhi, Land & Finance.

[4]

FCRA is the short form of a law in India meant to regulate funds received from abroad for non-commercial purposes – or Foreign Contribution Regulation Act 2010.

An Olive Branch For Gurmeher Kaur?

A young girl student of Delhi University from Chandigarh – daughter of Kargil martyr Captain ‘Harry’ Mandeep Singh – has been prominently featured on television screens and newspapers’ front pages saying she was threatened of rape and murder by right wing political outfits [read ABVP, RSS, et al].

If and when Gurmeher Kaur provides truthful and straight answers to the following queries, all of India must support her wholeheartedly:

Must read: https://haritsv.wordpress.com/2017/02/25/justice-for-none-1/

  1. How did you receive the rape/death threats? Were they sent by SMS, phone call [on landline/mobile] and/or by post and/or whispered into ear while walking and/or through cat-calling from the street below your residence?
  2. Could you please specify time and date of the issuance of the above threat?
  3. How did you know that the threats were issued by right wing political activists [ABVP, RSS, BJP, etc]?
  4. Since you are sure that such threats were indeed issued by the ABVP and allied organisations, did you prefer a police complaint? As you have termed those expressing a contrarian opinion as vile trolls, could you specify how do you propose to take legal action against them instead of using/abusing/misusing the media?
  5. If you have indeed preferred a police complaint, could you kindly specify the police station?
  6. If the answer to #5 is in the affirmative, kindly specify as to when you registered your complaint. Did you ask for the registration of a First Information Report [FIR]? Did police officials ask for supporting evidence for the serious charges of rape and murder threats by known/unknown persons made against you?
  7. Do you believe that India is being hoisted on the legal and constitutional petards by inimical forces?

  8. As you seem to be sure of the political identities of those who issued threats, can you pick up the perpetrators in a line-up?
  9. Have you initiated any precaution for safeguarding your honour post issuance of such vile threats?
  10. If the answer to #9 is yes, can you specify the steps initiated, please?

Divine Intervention – 2

India’s legal system has almost reached a point of no return – describable as perversion of the worst kind.

Power attained through corrupt means ensures that ill gotten wealth is retained by the obviously guilty individuals and institutions.

Frustration and anguish are the only words that spring to mind when justice is delayed and denied.

The Kargil war of 1999 has come back to haunt India’s conscience – through a video statement released by a 20-year-old college student Gurmeher Kaur.

The video has become the rallying point for slanging matches between the right and left wing political types – hailing and/or vilifying young Gurmeher.

In this verbal melee, the supreme sacrifice of brave soldiers like Captain Mandeep Singh, Gurmeher’s father, who laid down his life in 1999 somewhere in India’s northwest tip, is getting tossed about needlessly. It has now turned out that Captain Mandeep was killed by terrorists in Kupwara, 170 km from Kargil!

The 7 years’ old  Adarsh Society scandal, with its macabre connections to Kargil immediately springs to mind. The scam had surfaced in 2010. India’s mainstream media [MSM] had cried itself hoarse over it. The stinking stigma has stuck to the names of some of the nation’s top politicians, bureaucrats and many more of the richest individuals of India that is Bharat. All these ‘worthies’ had shamelessly robbed Kargil martyrs’ widows [1] [2]. Petitions and counter-petitions in this imbroglio have led to a web of legal deceit. The cases are still in limbo. The chances of the cases’ attaining a proper closure are remote.

In 2004, a fire tragedy in a school in the southern state of Tamil Nadu had devoured the lives of 94 innocent children studying in a primary school.[3]

The real relief for the anguished parents who lost their loved ones can never come. The piddly “compensation” helped the perpetrators take rest cures in prisons. Many of them have moved higher courts seeking relief and release.

There are no connections between the events listed above in real life. So, a poignant fictional link was artificially created to wake up patriotic Indians’ slumbering consciences.

Given below is an updated version of a short story penned in 2011.

Justice Advait Aher of India’s Supreme Court summoned his trusted stenographer Kaatyaayani Khandelwal to dictate his ruling in a school fire tragedy matter that had killed 94 school children in Tamil Nadu – a southern state some 11 years ago.

Exactly 94 children – most them little girls had perished in a devastating conflagration that had spread due to illegal thatched roofs in a building unfit to be a school, locked collapsible gates meant to prevent children from cutting classes which ensured their painful death and a rather callous teaching staff who had no pity or any feelings for the children. 

The criminally culpable school management had managed to hire the best legal brains money could buy in India’s capital New Delhi. An appeal against the ruling of the Madras  High Court that had sent them to prison had been filed in the Apex Court.

The judge knew that the appellants were guilty as sin for mass murder. But, numerous holes in the police investigation and the shoddy conduct of the case in the lower courts had been thoroughly exposed by Chatturbhuj Daryanaani – one of India’s senior most and smartest criminal lawyers. 

The portly stenographer walked in carrying her shorthand notebook and her mobile phone – something she used to record the dictation of her boss as a kind of back up.

Ever efficient, she did not believe in getting her boss to correct her mistakes by hand on a typed draft.

Recording the audio of what you dictate will aid its verbatim transcription without typos Sir,” she had said the first time when she had brought the gadget into his room.

“Morning, Kaatyaayani!”

“Sir…er…er…”

Aher was surprised.

His stenographer had never hesitated to say anything before.

“Go ahead, Kaatyaayani. You want take an off today? I can always dictate the judgement tomorrow.”

“No sir, it is not that. I will switch on my mobile phone that contains a recorded conversation given to me by a friend who is researching into things termed supernatural. Please hear it before pronouncing the verdict. It will take some 7 minutes. The narration is totally offbeat in nature. I know you never believe in such things. But, do listen. It is a sincere request. Thanks.”

Without a word, she flicked on the play button and began walking away.

The way a young voice began surprised Aher.

Ouch…ooh! It’s paining Amma!

Better learn to bear pain, Jambu! You are born as a girl, you know!

I had hurt myself on the knee while playing.

My mother always called me Jambu – the shortened version of Jambukeshwaran – that ought to have been my name had I been born a male.

I had been named Jambakalakshmi.

My parents always had wanted a son.

I keep hearing my mother telling all our relatives that that sons get money into the family when new brides come home with a lot of dowry – whatever that means – and daughters are only expenses.

We have to be dressed beautifully, married off with a lot of presents and cash for our future even if we have a job and all, my mom adds to the end of each conversation.

Somehow, I feel unwanted at home.

The doctor auntie told me the other day that Amma will soon be giving birth to my sibling.

I hope it will be a brother.

But, the pain is unbearable. I feel my leg is on fire, Amma!

Don’t worry, darling! A little coconut oil and turmeric powder on your wound will make it go away in a day. But, you should be more careful. Supposing you get scars from wounds, it will be very difficult to find a good husband for you. Now, now! Don’t cry, please! It is just a small wound on your knee.

Sometimes, I do not understand whether you are comforting the child or mouthing misogynistic statements!

My father, an officer in the Indian army, loves me more than my mother. He sometimes scolded her because my mother said something which my father thought wasn’t right.

His words comforted me more than mom’s turmeric mix.

Dad spends most of the time guarding our country in a place called Siachen – somewhere in north India.

He came home yesterday afternoon after six long months.

Just before I was tucked into bed yesterday, he said it was very cold out there.

The temperature, most of the time, hovers around minus 25 degrees Celsius, Jambu. The mountainous surroundings are beautifully white in a cloak of fresh snow, but the cold leaves an unpleasant feeling. One of my friends recently died while urinating in the open. Apparently, the salty liquid waste froze in an upwardly direction when he relieved himself without protection. Somehow, the cold always gets into our feet despite our wearing the correct dress, shoes, woollen socks and a lot more.

So how do you manage the cold, Appaa? How do you sleep at night?

The human mind is all powerful because it is given by God. It can do anything. The blankets, smokeless fire, sleeping bags and a lot of other equipment, for some strange reason other, allow the cold to enter our bunkers all the time. High altitude fighting involves psychological warfare. My commanding officer lieutenant colonel Simranjeet Singh Chibber taught me a trick which always helps me relax.

How?

Whenever the cold is so unbearable, I imagine that I am at home – here – where most of the year, it is unbearably hot. The imagination takes over and the mind, with some concentration, makes my physical body forget where I am. Slowly, I feel comfortable. The discomfort returns only upon being jolted when gunfire erupts.

Can one forget one’s cold by just imagining the heat?

Yes. And the opposite is also true. You can forget the heat by imagining the cold.

But I have never been to Siachen…because you have never taken me there.

Not a place for young ladies, darling! But, you have been to the nearby hill station Kodaikanaal many times! Supposing it is very hot somewhere, just imagine you are there without a blanket. Sometimes, you may feel cold enough to ask for one!

You are joking!

I am dead serious!

I tried it out. 

The green Kodai hills swam into view revealing the hat lifting and suicide points besides – the snapping, whistling wind.

Suddenly I felt cold.

The wound no longer hurt.

It was miraculous!

Amma broke my reverie.

Come on Jambu! You are getting late for school.

At school, as usual the teacher was scolding some of us, including me.

I put the trick to use again.

By thinking that my grandmother was narrating a funny story, I even began to smile.

The nice feeling was cut short rudely when I began smelling hot smoke.

A moment later, I saw it coming from the first floor of our school.

The teachers sternly ordered us to stay put.

I began teaching my trick to as many of my friends as possible.

Many began giggling.

Suddenly, as the fire burst through the roof. All of us were scared. The trick stopped working.

The stair-case was very small and narrow.

But, we could not use it because the collapsible gate outside our classroom on the corridor that led to the exit downstairs was locked as always.

The princi does not want as to escape from school and play truant.

So the exit is locked and can only be opened by the watchman uncle.

Perhaps he has gone for his cup of tea and Beedi smoke.

Some of my friends passed out.

The actions of the fire brigade breaking open the ventilator – the only one in the room caught my attention.

I called out to the firemen and helped them locate us through the thick smoke that was blinding them and us.

I think I managed to help many of my classmates.

The firemen uncles scolded me.

Charity begins at home, young woman!  Save yourself first!

The sari of my class-teacher who had asked us gruffly to stay put was on fire and she was screaming.

Even as she was being rescued, I fainted.

When I surfaced, I felt a burning sensation all over my body.

I used the trick again and began feeling comfortable.

So far 91 children have perished. I am afraid you daughter will add to this tally, major!

Is it paining too much, Jambu?

My father’s kind voice felt like a cool balm.

No Appaa! Your trick is working fine. Where am I?

You are in a government hospital, getting treated for burns.

Oh!

I lost consciousness again.

My father’s kind touch patting me on the head woke me up.

I found him crying.

Major Krishnan, your daughter has only a few more minutes to live. Nevertheless, please don’t tell your wife who is here in the neighbouring maternity ward as I do not want her to go into a shock and worse.

I did not understand why doctor uncle looked so worried.

Suddenly I felt a very pleasant breeze and very light.

I could see a girl’s burnt body in a completely singed dress…upon close examination, I recognised myself from the red ribbon that held my pigtails.

Your presence is required in the maternity ward. Please, hurry up!

The voice was gentle.

How can I come? I am here!

That was just your body. Your mother has developed labour pains. It is time for you to become your own younger brother Jambukeshwaran.

I do not understand this. And more importantly, can you find someone else to be my brother please? I really wish to stay back here with my friends now and later, play with my younger brother!

Your existence on earth was not supposed to end now. Further, you have an important task of informing the truth of what actually happened in your school today to some important person in your next birth because your current physical condition now does not allow you to continue as the currently known Jambu. Soon, you will be a Jambu again…this time…a male. Come on, child! Let us go.

I had a final look at my friends. Sadly I will never see them again here…or in the place called heaven.

The judge slowly wiped his tears.

He knew what to dictate for the two cases for which he had reserved the judgements earlier.

The first was of course, that of those seeking to end their incarceration for killing 94 innocent children.

The second one involved what Aher perceived as an insult to the memory of the martyrs of Siachen over the years.

Faulty equipment meant to prevent seepage of the effects of chilling snow and betrayals in the Indian defence ministry had killed several army personnel without anyone being the wiser.

Worse, a massive building with 31 floors meant for their widows and children that had come up in New Delhi’s fashionable Defence Colony was being misused and abused by self-seeking, well-connected, corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.

With a grim expression, he pressed the buzzer to summon Kaatyaayani Khandelwal to dictate two landmark judgements.

[1]

Operative excerpts from a report published in The Hindustan Times:

Close to a thousand soldiers have died guarding Siachen since the army took control of the inhospitable glacier in April 1984, almost twice the number of lives lost in the Kargil war.

In 1999, Pakistani aggressors occupied strategic peaks in the Kargil. The operation to push them back cost India 527 lives.

Almost a fifth of the casualties were linked to enemy fire before the November 2003 ceasefire between India and Pakistan.

The remaining deaths were because of nature’s fury, accidents and medical reasons.

Figures show 997 soldiers, including the 10 men from Madras Regiment, have died on the glacier over the past 32 years. The military casualties include 220 men killed in firing from the Pakistani side..

On the glacier, soldiers deal with altitude sickness, high winds, frostbite and temperatures as low as minus 60 degrees Celsius.

[2]

Operative excerpts from the relevant Wikipedia dossier:

The Adarsh Housing Society is a posh, 31-storey building constructed on prime real estate in Colaba, Mumbai, for the welfare of war widows and personnel of India’s Ministry of Defence. Over a period of several years, politicians, bureaucrats and military officers allegedly conspired to bend several rules concerning land ownership, zoning, floor space index and membership get themselves flats allotted in this cooperative society at below-market rates.

Unearthed in November 2010, the scam led to the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, to resign.

In 2011, a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said, “The episode of Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society reveals how a group of select officials, placed in key posts, could subvert rules and regulations in order to grab prime government land – a public property – for personal benefit.”

In January 2011, the Maharashtra government set up a two-member judicial commission to inquire into the matter.

The commission was headed by retired High Court judge Justice JA Patil, with NN Kumbhar acting as member secretary. After deposing 182 witnesses over 2 years, the commission submitted its final report in April 2013 that highlighted 25 illegal allotments, including 22 purchases made by proxy.

The report indicted four former chief ministers of Maharashtra viz. Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil. Other accused include 2 former urban development ministers Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare, 12 top bureaucrats and controversial diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

The Khobragade tale’s visa fraud side has a sinister flipside if viewed from the latest context of President Trump threatening to deport illegal immigrants in the US of A.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are currently investigating allegations that three former chief ministers of Maharashtra – Sushilkumar ShindeVilasrao Deshmukh and Ashok Chavan – were involved in the scam.

Sadly, justice will never be done in the Adarsh matter, reveals a report by Shalini Nair in The Indian Express, dated January 2011.reveals a report by Shalini Nair in The Indian Express, dated January 2011. Operative excerpt:.

From the time land was allotted to Mumbai’s first IAS officials’ housing society — Lalit in Cuffe Parade [in the vicinity of Adarsh] in 1965 — all plum government plots have always been given to societies whose members were officials with crucial postings

Here is a complete list:

Lalit Society: Includes ex-chief secys P D Kasbekar, L D Lulla, R D Pradhan and ex-law secy Bobby Dalal [located in south Mumbai, within a 1 km radius of the secretariat].

Buena Vista Society: Members are Union cabinet secretary (retd) S Rajagopal, retired chief secretaries K B Srinivasan, S Ramamoorthy and D K Afzalpurkar, senior IPS official K Padmanabhan

Samata: Justices C S Dharmadhikari and Y V Chandrachud

Shalaka Society: Meant for government buildings but transferred to society whose members include former chief secretaries Arun Bongirwar and Ajit Nimbalkar, former BMC commissioners Sharad Kale and J D Jadhav

Dilwara Society: Members include late CBI director M G Katre, retired DGP P S Pasricha, former Anti-Corruption Bureau chief S K Iyengar and retired Mumbai police commissioner Ronnie Mendonca

Charleville Society: Members include former municipal commissioner K Nalinakshan, ex-urban development secretary L Rajwade, retired IAS officer Yashwant Bhave, IAS official Ramesh Kanade

The above residential societies are located in south Mumbai’s Nariman Point – which virtually abuts the secretariat and the legislative assembly.

Priya Society Former chief secretaries D M Sukhthankar and N Raghunathan

Sagar Tarang Society: Former police commissioners Satish Sahane, M N Singh, Julio Ribeiro, R S Sharma, S K Bapat, Hassan Gafoor and A N Roy.

Praneet Society: Land meant for government buildings given to society, with former chief secretary R M Premkumar, former additional chief secretaries Ajit Warty, Navin Kumar, Ashok Khot and Awadesh Sinha as members

Aseem Society: Built on government land in Worli, its members include State Election Commissioner Neela Satyanarayan

The above residential clusters are located in Worli – where some of the richest persons in India’s financial capital live. Till recently, Peter Mukherjea and Indrani Mukherjea lived as husband and wife in this very area. They have been accused of killing Indrani’s daughter through an earlier marriage – Sheena Bora.

Amaltas Society: This land meant for government buildings houses about 150 senior officials, including retired additional chief secretaries Jagdish Joshi, Manmohan Singh and Ravi Bhargav, former information commissioner Suresh Joshi, former principal secretary V K Jairath, former CIDCO managing director G S Gill

This building is located in Juhu, northwest Mumbai – also sometimes called the Beverly Hills of Bollywood. It has residences of the Bachchan clan, Jeetendra, [father of young female movie mogul Ekta Kapoor] and some of the real estate belonging to the late Yash Chopra, the legendary filmmaker.

Pataliputra Society: Former chief secretaries Johny Joseph, V Ranganathan and J P Dange, Urban Development (II) secretary Manukumar Shrivastav, former MMRDA commissioner T Chandrashekhar

This building is located in Lokhandwala, currently the space from where most of Bollywood operates. It encompasses the production house that belongs to Shah Rukh Khan.

Nyay Sagar and Renuka societies: This residential complex is home to many sitting judges of the Bombay High Court and politicians. The list includes the son of former Union home minister Shivraj Patil, his secretary Sudhir Khanapure, former chief secretary P Subramanyam, former Urban Development secretaries D T Joseph and Ramanand Tiwari and Nitin Kareer.

[3]

Operative portions from the relevant Wikipedia dossier:

On 16 July 2004, the fire tragedy occurred on thatched roof structure of the school. The school started at 9:15 a.m. and during one of the breaks at 10:30 a.m., one of the girls noticed the fire and alerted the teacher and the news spread to other classes. The fire sparked from the midday meal kitchen thatch and spread to the upper level, which also had thatched roofs and spread rapidly. The narrow staircase had sundry materials that prevented exit of children. The staircase was also located close to the kitchen. The kitchen did not have gas stoves and fire logs were used for cooking. The school was overcrowded, having 900 children in its rolls. The thatches and the supporting bamboo poles caught fire and fell on the children and also blocked the exit.

The total toll read: 94 children dead.

The state government deputed a committee under Justice K. Sampath to inquire into the circumstances and causes leading to the fire accident on 20 July 2004. The committee assumed office on 1 August 2004 and was constituted with expert members Dr. Rani Kandhaswami (Former Principal, Lady Willington Institute of Advanced Studies in Education, Chennai), S.K. Saxena (Fire Officer, Madras Atomic Power Station, Kalpakkam), K. Vijayan (Clinical Psychologist, Institute of Mental Health, Chennai) and P.A. Annamalai (retired Head Master).

The committee was given a timeline of four months, but extended for four times and it was able to finally complete the investigation on 30 June 2005. The investigations found out that the school was not inspected by the educational official for three years. The fire officials reported that the building laws were not followed as the school had a thatched kitchen and classroom roof, had no emergency exits and it was a “death trap”.

The committee found out that the major reason for the heavy casualty was the false tactics of the management to bring the other two school students to the aided primary school to mislead the inspecting authorities about the student-teacher ratio. The management was held responsible for the whole accident. The report pointed out that the teachers were not trained in disaster management and the prohibited thatch structure was close to the classrooms. It also stated that the schools had inadequate exit facilities and had no firefighting capabilities. Pulavar Palanichamy, the owner of the schools, was reported to have used his political clout and coalesced with the municipal and the revenue department officials getting the permits for the schools. Vijayalakshmi, the noon meal organizer and also the teacher of the English Medium school, was held accountable for not performing her duties of taking safety precautions. Vasanthi, the head cook lighted the oven in the absence of her assistant, Sivasankari, who usually lights it. There was contrasting reports on whether Sivasankari was present in the school during the event. The Tahsildar of Kumbakonam Taluk, Paramasivam, was reported “dishonest” for granting licence under the Tamil Nadu Public Buildings (Licensing) Act, 1965 to the school. The chartered engineer Jayachandran was also held dishonest of giving stability certificate to the building without visiting the school once. The additional assistant educational officer, Madhavan for allowing the school to run without recognition for 6 years. Sivaprakasam, the assistant elementary education officer, was held accountable for allowing Madhavan, who was not competent to allow permit to the school. Balaji, the deputy education elementary officer was accused of carelessly passing the papers signed by Madhavan. The local health officer r Dr. Sivapunyam was accused of giving false sanitary certificate to the school. Annadurai, a friend of Pulavar Palanichamy was accounted for advising circumvention of rules. Pingapani, the deputy educational officer, who inspected the high school, did not show interest in learning that the same campus had a primary school acting beyond rules. The other officers who were earlier responsible for permitting the nursery school against the rules during 1999, namely, Shanmughavelu, Sethuramachandran, Chandrasekharan and Dr.Palanivelu. The Deputy elementary educational officer, Durairaj and assistant elementary educational officer, Balakrishnan, were held less culpable for knowing about the thatched structure and the exaggerated attendance, but not initiating any action.

The accident was the one of the four major fire accident in the state following the Brihadeeswarar Temple fire on 7 June 1997, when 60 people were killed, Erwadi fire incident on 6 August 2001 that killed 30 mentally challenged people and fire at a marriage hall on 23 January 2005 at Srirangam where 30 people including the bridegroom were killed. A private school building collapse in a private school in Madurai during the 1950s killed 35 girls and injured 137 others.

The trial of the case started after a long delay on 24 September 2012 in the Thanjavur district sessions court. The case had 21 accused and had 488 witnesses that included 18 children affected in the accident. The headmaster, Prabharan and three others turned approvers.

A total of 17 people were chargesheeted in the case and were set to face trial. The seventeen included Pulavar Palanichamy [the school’s owner], his wife and correspondent of school Saraswati, three teachers, six officers in the education department (elementary), the Kumbakonam municipal commissioner, town planning officer and four assistants in the education department. The education department officials were accused of negligence of their duties and the lower level officers for conspiring with the officials for obtaining and renewing the licenses. The three teachers were accused of showing negligence shown towards rescuing the children.

The trial was concluded on July 17, 2014. On July 30, 2014, Thanjavur district sessions court sentenced school founder Pulavar Palanichamy to life imprisonment and fined Rs 51,65,700. Palanichamy’s wife and school correspondent P Saraswathi, headmistress J Santhalakshmi, noon meal organizer R Vijayalakshmi, cook R Vasanthi were sentenced five years imprisonment. Officials in district elementary education office, officer R Balaji, his assistant S Sivaprakasam, superintendent T Thandavan and assistant G Durairaj were also sentenced five years jail. Total fine of Rs 52,57,000 was imposed and ordered the compensation of Rs 50,000 to parents of each victim.

A higher court cleared charges of 12 accused, including three teachers, six education department officials and two municipality officers.

An October 2016 report in The Times of India adds:

The Madras high court ordered to provide Rs 5 lakh each as compensation to the relatives of 94 children who were charred to death in an inferno at Krishna English Medium School in Kumbakonam The court had appointed judge Venkataraman to look into claims of the victims’ parents.

Jaya murder cover-up defecation aided by Dr Swamy hits the fan?

By Lazy Fly

Are foreign hands helping the cover-up of Jaya murder and guiding the political drama in Tamil Nadu with far more far-reaching consequences than the ruckus in the state legislative assembly?

Whose money is funding and fuelling the vain game of Sasikala Natarajan who seems to be operating with impunity from Parapana Agrahara Prison in Bangalore?

Should one read more into the allegations against Dr Subramanian Swamy? What caused him to suddenly jettison his charges against Sasikala? What has caused his new found admiration of Sasikala as a “God fearing person” comparing favourably when juxtaposed to the equally bad DMK?

Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at the imbroglio.

I spotted MG, the inimitable political fixer in the verandah of Delhi’s Gymkhana Club – that abuts the Prime Minister’s residence in Lutyens’ Delhi, a.k.a India’s national capital region [NCR].

Either he had hired the cottage as a member of some other club or was using the place through the good offices of a contact, I reckoned.

A BMW i8 with Haryana number plates drove in. It disgorged a male Caucasian dressed in a Giorgio Armani suit. Its chauffeur parked a little away.

His facial features indicated a Slav extraction.

I was waiting for a contact to show up in the vicinity. The blighter had perhaps stood me up.

Privjet,” the fixer greeted his visitor.

The stone-faced Russian with chiselled features simply nodded.

Sensing a story, I decided to butt in.

The ‘fixer’ is a spitting image of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s flunkey, Makhan Lal Fotedar.

The political lobbyist is known as MG which is an acronym of Maha Guru and/or Minimum Guarantee.

“The longer form of MG changes depending on the time, occasion, location and significance of each of my operations,” the man loves to tell those foolish enough to listen.

“One thing is always certain. MG does not stand for Mahatma Gandhi because I love my liquor and flaunt my cocktails,” is a constant line muttered occasionally during his con—corny-conversations.

“You insufferable journos have the habit of butting into each of my important meetings. However, Lazar Hrebeljanović Spiridon Umarov is a friend. Many call him SU – which actually stands for Soviet Union. There is a reason. His connections run the length and breadth of what had been a magnificent conglomerate of socialist republics. His relatives can be found in Kyrgyz, Kazakhstan, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and Siberia. But, I refer to him as Laser. He is as sharp as the optically amplified light beam that has virtually innumerable uses in modern science,” MG said as an opening gambit. I plonked my backside on one of the cane chairs.

Often, found citing own aphorisms terming and them as the Holy Minds’ Voices, he is also referred to with the sobriquet – HMV.

MG’s predictions are of the Nostradamus variety. They are puzzling and can be indicated as prophesies of any eventuality.

Thanks to his somewhat archaic language, he also is derisively called Long Playing Old Record [LPOR], cassette tape [CT] video-cassette-disc [VCD]. His actions have earned him other epithets. Some of them are political predicament predictor [PPP], fixer-of the deadly instigation [FDI], Doddering Lying Fixer [DLF] and first-class rascally abomination [FCRA].

“What is the Soviet Union doing in Delhi, at the beginning of spring? And more importantly, what are you doing here? I thought you would be in Chennai. After all, getting a totally unpopular government to succeed in winning the vote of confidence in Tamil Nadu’s legislative assembly amidst pandemonium couldn’t have happened sans your fixing. Reports said it was meant to cover up the alleged murder of Jayalalithaa,” I said.

“Chennai is full of foolish politicians and dunderhead media-hacks who pompously call themselves journalists. They are either on the take or cannot see beyond their blistered, blasted, blasphemous, bulbous, bilious, bloated, buffoonish snouts,” FCRA observed.

“You are talking about my profession and I must protest,” I wailed.

“You are a lump of clay, like that chap O Panneerselvam or OPS who ought to be referred to as an apposite of the song oops. He thinks that DMK’s hare-brained heir apparent and Leader of Opposition MK Stalin will help him become Chief Minister again through a no-confidence motion against Speaker Dhanapal,” PPP spat.

“Now you are talking rubbish. By possibly getting Dhanapal thrown out, Stalin can get OPS in and then expose the entire AIADMK as a dud, go for elections and then win hands down. Isn’t that obvious to you?” I thought I had scored the bull’s eye.

“OPS will never win anozer elixon. But, he can zpoil efreyzink for zat fat man pusillanimous,” the Russian interpolated.

“You mean E Palanisamy [EPS], the current CM,” I reacted.

“Iz zee zame zink. Zis man iz zee taking orderz from zat woman in Bangalore prison …sassy zee cola. Zat iz waat I kaal pusillanimous,” the Russian interjected.

“This is triple Greek and Double-Dutch to me. Can you explain, MG?”

LPOR cackled as he began.

“All OPS has to do to challenge EPS is to get all the MLAs with him to resign en masse and claim to go to the people. In the ensuing by-elections to 11 seats, perhaps, some of them may win, but none from the EPS faction will even manage to retain their deposit. That will trigger a lot of MLAs on EPS side to switch sides. Stalin will have to support OPS for the time being – in case he is short of a majority or perhaps abstain from voting. Whatever Stalin does, in the longer run, OPS would turn the tables on EPS. The earnings per share of whatever political capital EPS possesses will be in negative figures. That way, he could even retain the AIADMK identity! Instead of playing this simple trick and turning the tables on EPS and DMK, the political gigolo that OPS is, is playing parlour games in the assembly expecting the CM’s post to land on his table on a platter! That is why I call him a lump of clay,” FDI opined.

“I understand this, but, what did the Russian exactly mean?” I asked the question with a sound pregnant with confusion.

“Pusillanimous stands for a man who lacks courage and/or resoluteness. Sassy stands for a woman possessing an ungodly amount of cool. And Cola… that is what takes the cake. Cola stands for carbonated sweet beverages with phosphoric acid that cause various illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, and kidney stones. That is what Sasikala Natarajan actually has turned out to be for the AIADMK and the memory of Jayalalithaa! That, little boyo Lazy, is basic English!” CT guffawed.

The nickel dropped.

Meanwhile, the Russian took out a hip flask and handed it over to DLF.

“Iz chilled, Guru! I put zee ize inzide when I leafe zee hotel”. The Russian said it with a broad smile.

HMV poured into a whiskey glass. It had a light blue colour.

“This is my favourite pepper-vodka cocktail – brand-named Electric Light. It mainly comprises Svedka Blue Raspberry lightened with coconut water, a special blue sports drink that is yet to be discovered by the drug examiners who are invigilators in chess Olympiads, a dash of silver tequila, peach schnapps, blue Curacao and some sour mix. The ingredients – jointly augment thinking power.”

“So what is the Russian connection to what goes on in Tamil Nadu – as your Slav friend seems to know quite a bit about the south Indian state,” I asked.

“The answer will give you a shock. Many in India now know that Sonia Gandhi began life as an agent of the KGB and Pakistan’s ISI. Jayalalithaa hated Sonia and made no bones about it. Today, the person appearing for Sasikala Natarajan is senior Supreme Court advocate KTS Tulsi. Trusted by Sonia, he has defended Robert Vadra, Punjab terrorist DPS Bhullar and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha during the United Progressive Alliance rule. Obviously, Sonia wants to get even with Jayalalithaa posthumously. By getting the former TN CM convicted after death, Sonia has won this round against Jaya. Through the machinations of Sasikala, the AIADMK is almost destroyed. On her part, Sasikala used to be moll of none other than Karunanidhi. And very successfully, a systematic canard is being spread that Sasikala has Modi’s blessings. During the Jallikkattu agitation, pro LTTE slogans were shouted – obviously due to the machinations of the Rasputin called Natarajan who is in constant touch with the banned Tiger terrorists. The new friendship between Putin and China has led to FSB – the new avatar of KGB to poke its nose into the immediate southern neighbourhood of India through the Lankan port of Hambantota and a lot worse. And then there is another Congress mainstay – P Chidambaram who has repeatedly lied about the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. Dr Swamy tweeted last year that Sasikala was holding Jaya prisoner– the same way Mughal emperor Shah Jahan was – by Aurangzeb. Now, he has changed his tune completely and hails the same Sasikala. You see, Swamy also has a score to settle with Jayalalithaa. After all, she had systematically destroyed all chances the man had to develop a political base in Tamil Nadu. For the time being he is a Rajya Sabha member. Once something happens to the post or the ex-Harvard professor rubs Modi too badly on the wrong shoulder, he would be in a unique political position called limbo. Perhaps, realising the position he is in, suddenly, the man has attacked Karti Chidambaram’s stash abroad to divert attention from one basic fact that Swami, Apollo promoter Pratap Reddy, fake God-man Chandraswami and Karti’s wife Srinidhi Chidambaram are on the same page! Even Dr Swamy’s attack on the Maran Brothers is a feint as Apollo Hospitals are part of the Aircel-Maxis scandal. In a nutshell, boyo, every dirty finger is in this pie. And all the fingers have one symbolic hand source … Sonia Gandhi.”

I was fidgeting madly as the Minimum Guarantee made his long speech – all of which was and is controversial. However, I tried one last shot.

“So apart from the old hat tale about Sonia’s connections with the KGB dating back to 60’s, where is the Russian link now?”

It was the Russian’s turn to get in again.

“Does my name Umarov mean anyzink to you?”

“No.”

“One of my distant relatife haz zee name Omarova … she iz zee wife of cricket game match fixer and washed up actor Vindu Dara Zingh. Zingh linked to N Zrinivasan zon-in-law Gurunath, who iz cloze to Maran Broz. Zingh and wife Omarova holiday rekularlee in Siberia! Zee case against Singh is kaput and jingalala for long time. Zee ban against Chennai Zuper Kink iz remofing zis year. Cricket auction action now goink on in Bangalore. Sassy Cola also is Bangalore prison. You understand full link out now!”

My head reeled from the info.

At that time, my contact showed up in the horizon. Muttering an excuse, primarily to escape the controversies, I beat a hasty retreat.

உளவுகாத்த கிளி – 13

“உங்களுக்கு நேரடியாப் பேசற பழக்கமுண்டா?”

“உண்டே!”

“அப்போ, அப்படியே பேசுவோமே! இந்த அளவுக்குச் சுழற்ற வேண்டியதில்லை. இது ஒரு காஷுவல் சந்திப்பு இல்ல. நீங்க எனக்காக…”

அவர் இடைமறித்தார்.

“என் ஃப்ரென்ட்ஸ் எல்லாம் என்னை Bob ன்னு கூப்பிடுவாங்க. சர்ச்சுல எனக்கு வெச்ச பெயர் Robert Louis. ராபர்ட்ன்ற பெயர் பழங்காலத்துல சுருங்கினப்ப அது பாப் ஆச்சு…. இங்க்லீஷ்ல ராப் ன்னா கொள்ளை அடிக்கறதுன்னு அர்த்தம் … ங்கற காரணத்தால கூட அப்படி நடந்திருக்கலாம். உன்னோட காவல்துறை ஃப்ரென்ட்ஸ் – துர்லபாடின்ற பெயரை சுருக்கி துருன்னு கூப்பிடுவாங்கன்னு கேள்விப்பட்டேன். … ரொம்ப நேரடியாப் பேசறேனோ?”

“அடங்கொக்கா… மக்கா….”

“பொடாங்…. கொய்யால!”

சிரித்துக் கொண்டே நம்ம ஊர் தமிழில் பதில் சொன்னான்.

எனக்கு ஷாக்.

“இந்த அளவுக்கு நாங்க ஒற்றர் பணியில சித்து வேலை பண்ணக்கூடியவங்கன்னு காட்டினதால தான் நாங்க உலகத்துல பெரிய பகுதியை ஆள முடிஞ்சுது. நீங்களும் ஒண்ணும் கொறஞ்சவங்க இல்ல. காஷ்மீர்ல பாகிஸ்தான் செய்யற நாசவேலைக்கு – பழிக்குப் பழி வாங்க – பலூச்சிஸ்தான்ல உங்க ஆளுங்க புகுந்து விளையாடிகிட்டு இருக்காங்க. விடுதலைப் புலிகள் தலைவன் பிரபாகரனோட கும்பல்ல, இறுதி நேரத்துல அவனைச் சுத்தி இருந்த ஆளுங்கள்ள உங்க நாட்டு ஒற்றன் முக்கியமானவன். அதோட விளைவா, 2009 ஜனவரியில இலங்கைப் படைத் தளபதி ஃபோன்ஸேக்கா, பிரபாகரன் இலங்கையிலேந்து தப்பிச்சிருக்கலாம்னு சொன்னான். அதிபர் தேர்தல்ல கோட் அடிச்சி, போர்க் குற்றவாளி ராஜபக்ஸ உபயத்துல 3 வருஷம் ஃபோன்ஸேக்கா ஜெயில்ல இருந்தான். அந்தப் பய இப்பக்கூட வெளி நாடுகளுக்குப் போக முடியாது. நாங்க ரொம்ப நாளா இந்த ஜிகினா வேலைகளைப் பண்ணறதால எங்க மெத்தட் ரொம்ப ஸாஃபிஸ்டிகேடட் மாதிரி தெரியிது. ஆக்ச்சுவலி, எல்லா விஷயத்துலயும் இன்டியன்ஸ் ஆர் காச்சிங் அப். நாங்க கண்டுபிடிச்ச விளையாட்டான கிரிக்கட்டையே எடுத்துக்க. 1983 ல, உங்க ஊரு டீம், கபில் தேவ் தலைமைல எங்க ஊருக்கு வந்து உலகக் கோப்பையை தட்டிகிட்டு போச்சு. இப்போ இருக்கறதுலேயே ஸ்ட்ராங்கான டீம்ல இந்தியா டாப்ல இருக்கு. கிரிக்கட்டோட கடவுளான சச்சின் யார்க்ஷைர் கவுன்ட்டி டீமுக்காக ஆடறப்ப, நா எல்லாம் லீட்ஸ் க்ரவுண்டுல நின்னு, விடாம விசிலடிச்சிரிக்கேன். உளவுத் துறைலயும் உங்க நாடு வர்ல்டு சாம்பியன் லெவலுக்கு வந்துரும். 2002ல குஜராத்ல நடந்த சம்பவங்கள்னால அந்த ஊர் ஸி எம் மோடிக்கு எங்க ஊருக்கு வர விசா இல்லன்னு இன்னமும் பாவலா பண்ணிகிட்டு இருக்கோம். ஆனா, எல்லா மேற்கத்திய நாடுகளோட தலைமைகளுக்கும். உண்மையில அவரை ரொம்பப் பிடிக்கும். அவரு பிரதமராகறப்ப எல்லா மேற்கத்திய நாடுகளும் அவருக்கு விழுந்து விழுந்து உபச்சாரம் பண்ணும்.”

“குஜராத்னு நீ திடீர்ன பேச்சை மாத்தின…”

“அதுக்கான காரணம் பில்கிஸ் அஷ்ரஃப் கான்.”

அதிர்ந்து போனேன்.

பில்கிஸ் காரணத்தால தான் நான் சாவித்ரியை விவாகரத்துப் பண்ண வேண்டி வந்தது. பில்கிஸ் கானுக்கும் அவ புருஷன் அஷ்ரஃபுக்கும் அடைக்கலம் குடுத்த காரணத்துனால சாவித்ரி உட்பட என்னோட வேட்டகத்து மனிஷங்க அவ்வளவு பேரும் தீக்கிரையானார்கள்.

அந்த வெள்ளைக்காரன் தொடர்ந்தான்.

“சாவித்ரியும் அவங்க பேரன்ட்ஸும் செத்தது ஹின்டூஸ் வெச்ச தீயினால இல்ல. குஜராத்ல மதக் கலவரங்களத் தூண்ட பாகிஸ்தான் ஒரு பெரிய கேம் ஆடினாங்க. மேலும், அந்தப் பொம்பள பேரு பில்கிஸ் கானே இல்ல. நிஜப் பெயர் ஜீனத் இப்ராஹிம் தரார். பாகிஸ்தானின் ஐ எஸ் ஐ உளவு ஸ்தாபனத்தில் இப்ப கர்னல் பதவில இருக்கற அதிகாரி. ஆனா, அதுக்கு எந்த ரெக்கார்டும் கிடையாது. அவளும், அவளோட கணவனா நடிச்ச அவளோட ஸுபீரியர் ஆஃபீஸர் அஷ்ரஃப் கான் ங்கற பெயர்ல சுத்தின இன்னொரு ஸ்பை – ஆலம்கீர் கான் பிஸஞ்சோ. இப்போ அவன் ப்ரிகேடியர் ராங்க் அதிகாரி …. அவனோட பெயரும் ரெக்கார்ட்ல கிடையாது …. ரெண்டு பேரும் இப்போ மாளத்தீவோட குடிமக்கள் வேஷத்துல – டெல்லியில ஏதோ பிஸினஸ் பண்ணறதாப் பொய் சொல்லிகிட்டு உளவு வேலை பார்க்கறாங்க.”

மனதுள் கொப்புளித்த கோபத்தை கஷ்டப்பட்டு அடக்கினேன்.

“ஏன் … எப்படி??”

“இந்த ரெண்டு பாகிஸ்தான் உளவாளிங்களும் பண்ணற நாச வேலை என்னன்னு …ஒரு நாள் சாவித்ரிக்கு அகஸ்மாத்தாப் புரிஞ்சு போச்சு. ரொம்ப கில்டியா ஃபீல் பண்ணினா. நீ என்ன வேலை செய்யறன்னு சாவித்ரிக்குத் தெரியாது. உன்கிட்ட மன்னிப்புக் கேட்டு, மறுபடியும் உன்னோட ஒண்ணு சேர முடிவு பண்ணி, ஒரு லெட்டர் எழுத ஆரம்பிச்சா. அந்த நேரத்துல பில்கிஸ் வீட்டுல இல்ல. கொஞ்சம் அஜாக்கிரதையா அதை டேபிள் மேல வெச்சு பாத்ரூம் போன நேரத்துல, பில்கிஸ் வீட்டுக்குள்ள வந்தா. அந்த லெட்டர் அவ கண்ணுல பட்டிரிச்சி. நீ என்ன வேலை பண்ணறன்னு உன் பொண்டாட்டிக்கு வேணும்னாத் தெரியாம இருந்திருக்கலாம். ஆனா, ஜீனத் ன்ற பில்கிஸுக்குத் தெரியும். ரெண்டு பேருமா ஒரு மயக்க மருந்து ஸ்ப்ரே அடிச்சி சாவித்ரி, அவங்க பேரன்ட்ஸ் எல்லாரையும் unconscious ஆக்கினாங்க. கவனமா உன் வைஃப் எழுதின லெட்டரை தூக்கி தன்னோட ஹேன்ட் பேக்ல பில்கிஸ் வெச்சிகிட்டா. மற்ற எல்லா ருசுக்களையும் சுருட்டி இடுத்துகிட்டா. கொண்டு போக முடியாத ஆதாங்கள் மேல பேட்ரோலை ஊத்தினா. வீட்டுக்கு வெளியே வர்றப்ப, கிச்சன்ல சமையல் கியாஸைத் திறந்து விட்டு, பத்து நிமிஷத்துல வெடிக்கற ஒரு சின்ன டைம் பாம் உள்ள வெச்சிட்டு, சத்தம்போடாம காந்தி நகர் பக்கம், ஹின்டூஸ் வேஷத்துல போயிட்டாங்க. எதுக்கும் இருக்கட்டும்னு வெறிபிடிச்ச ஒரு ஹின்டூ கும்பலுக்கு, உன் வைஃப் ஃபேமிலி முஸ்லிம்ஸ்க்கு அடைக்கலம் குடுத்த விஷயத்தை வத்திவெச்சிட்டாங்க. அந்தக் கும்பல், உன் வைஃப்“ஃபேமிலியை ‘தண்டிக்க’ அவங்க பங்களாவை நெருங்கறதுக்கும் அந்த டைம் பாம் வெடிக்கறதுக்கும் கரெக்டா இருந்தது. எரிய ஆரம்பிச்ச வீட்டுல இந்தப் பைத்தியக்கார கும்பலும் கொள்ளிக்கட்டைகளை எறிஞ்சிச்சி. அந்த ஃபேமிலி அந்த மதக்கலவரத்தோட இன்னொரு செட் ஆஃப் விக்டிம்ஸ்னு எல்லாரும் நெனச்சாங்க. ஆவணங்கள் அதைத் தான் சொல்லுது. ரொம்பப் பேர் அதை உண்மைன்னு நம்பினாங்க. அதுல நீயும் சேர்த்தி.”

“இதெல்லாம் உனக்கு எப்படித் தெரியும்?”

“ரொம்ப நாளாவே ஐ எஸ் ஐ யும் இலங்கையோட தமிழ் புலிகள் மத்தியில இருக்கற சில பேருக்கும் உள்ள தகாத உறவு எங்களுக்குத் தெரியும். அந்தக் கட்டிச் சொத்துக்குள்ள ஒரு பெருச்சாளியை நாங்க அனுப்பினோம். இன்ஃபர்மேஷன் வர ஆரம்பிச்சுது. அந்தப் பெருச்சாளியை புலிகள் இந்தியாவுக்கு ட்ரான்ஸ்ஃபர் பண்ணின டைம்ல தான் இலங்கைக் கலவரம் அதிகமாயி… அதுல கொஞ்சம் காம்ப்ளிக்கேஷன்…. எப்படியோ … அந்த ஏஜன்டோட ஐடென்டிடி பாகிஸ்தான் டீமுக்குத் தெரிஞ்சுபோச்சு … இந்த ஏஜன்டுக்குப் பணத் தட்டுப்பாடு இருக்கற ஒரு வீக் மொமென்ட்ல … கள்ள நோட் மேட்டரை செட் அப் பண்ணி … “

பாப் கை கொஞ்சம் நடுங்கிற்று. மீண்டும் ஒரு சிகரெட்டைப் பற்ற வைத்தான்.

“அந்த ஏஜன்டோட பெயர் … சிவபுண்ணியம் பட்குணராஜா. கோட் நேம் அமேலியா லூயிஸ்.”

“வக்காளி!”

“நாங்க அவள நேரடியா வெளியே எடுக்க ட்ரை பண்ணினது வெளியே தெரிஞ்சா ரொம்பச் சிக்கலாயிரும்னு, உன் மூலமா அத்தச் செஞ்சு, ஃபுள் டீடெயில்ஸ அவ மூலமாவே உனக்குக் குடுக்கலாம்னு இருந்தப்ப…  பாவம் … அமேலியான்ற சிவபுண்ணியத்தை ஜெயிலுக்கு வெளியே போட்டுத் தள்ளிட்டாங்க. தனக்கு ஏதாவது ஒண்ணு ஆச்சுன்னா, உனக்கு ஒரு கிஃப்ட் குடுக்க சிவபுண்ணியம் முடிவு செஞ்சிருந்தா. அதைக் குடுக்கறதுக்காகத் தான் நா இங்க காத்துகிட்டு இருக்கேன்.”

அவன் தனது பெட்டியைத் திறந்தான்.

“ஜெட் ஏர்வேஸ் டெல்லி ஃப்ளைட்… லாஸ்ட் கால் ஃபார் மிஸ்டர் ராபர்ட் லூயி,”ன்னு அறிவிப்பு என் காதில் விழுந்தது.

ஒரு கனமான கவரை எடுத்த ராபர்ட், கவனமாகப் பெட்டியை மூடி, எழுந்து நடக்க ஆயத்தமாயி, அதை என்னிடம் நீட்டினான்.

“உன்னை எப்படி ரீச் பண்ணறதுன்னு எங்களுக்குத் தெரியும். இந்த நேரத்துல கேள்வி எதுவும் கேக்காத பதில் சொல்ல நேரமில்ல. ஃப்ளைட்க்கு டைம் ஆயிரிச்சி. கவர்ல நிறையா ஸர்ப்ரைஸஸ்…” சம்பிரதாயத்திற்கு கை குலுக்கி, அவன் விறுவிறுவென நடந்து சென்று விட்டான்.

கவரைப் பிரித்தேன்.

சுமார் 15 காகிதங்கள்.

எல்லாவற்றுக்கும் மேலே… எனக்கு மிகவும் பழக்கமான கையெழுத்தில், சாவித்ரி இறுதியா “டார்லிங் துரு”ன்னு கடிதத்தை ஆரம்பிச்சிருந்ததை கவனித்தேன். மனசை என்னவோ செய்தது.

-தொடரும்.

பின் குறிப்பு:

இந்தக் கதையின் முன் அத்தியாயங்களைப் படிக்க, கீழ்க்காணும் லிங்குகளைக் க்ளிக் செய்யவும்:

அத்தியாயம் 12அத்தியாயம் 11அத்தியாயம் 10அத்தியாயம் 9அத்தியாயம் 8அத்தியாயம் 7அத்தியாயம் 6அத்தியாயம் 5அத்தியாயம் 4அத்தியாயம் 3;  அத்தியாயம் 2அத்தியாயம் 1

உளவுகாத்த கிளி – 12

The latest chapter from my international spy thriller penned in Tamil.
இந்தக் கதையின் முன் அத்தியாயங்களைப் படிக்க, கீழ்க்கண லிங்குகளைக் க்ளிக் செய்யவும்:

அத்தியாயம் 11

அத்தியாயம் 10

அத்தியாயம் 9

அத்தியாயம் 8

அத்தியாயம் 7

அத்தியாயம் 6

அத்தியாயம் 5

அத்தியாயம் 4

அத்தியாயம் 3

அத்தியாயம் 2

அத்தியாயம் 1

“இந்தத் தொழிலை ஒரு வித வியாபார ஸ்தாபன அடைகாத்தல் – [ஆங்கிலத்தில் Incubation] ன்னு  வர்ணிக்கலாம். இது ஏதோ புதுசா டெவலப் ஆனதா சில பேரு சித்தரிக்கறாங்க. ஆனா, இந்த யுக்தி ரொம்பப் பழசு. ஒரு விதத்துல, இது கி பி 1600ல ஆரம்பிச்சதுன்னுகூடச் சொல்லலாம்.” சொல்லும்போது அவரிடம் ஒரு விதமான கேலி கலந்த நமட்டுச் சிரிப்பு.

எனகுக் கோபம் வந்தது.

“1600 ல உங்க நாட்டோட கிழக்கு இந்தியக் கம்பெனி எங்க ஊருக்கு வியாபாரம் செய்ய வந்திச்சின்னு நினைவு. வியாபாரம் பண்ணவந்த வெள்ளையன், எங்க நாட்டுக் குறைமதிக் குறு நில மன்னர்களோட பேராசையைப் பயன்படுத்தி, இல்லாத வில்லங்கப் பத்திரங்களை  உருவாக்கி, எங்களை சட்ட விரோதமா 1947 வரைக்கும் ஆண்டாங்க,” என்றேன்.

“உங்க கோணத்துலேந்து பார்த்தால், அப்படித் தெரியும். அதுக்கான கோபம் கூட நியாயம் தான். ஆனா, என்றைக்குமே, எவனும் தானதர்மத்துக்காக வியாபாரம் செய்யறதில்லை. ஏமாறறவங்க அகப்பட்டா, எவன் வேணும்னாலும் ஏமாத்திக் கொள்ளை அடிப்பான். எங்க ஊரின் பழங்காலத்து ஆளுங்க இதுக்கு விதிவிலக்கில்ல. பார்க்கப்போனா, சுமார் 3,000 வருஷங்களுக்கு முன்னால அலக்ஸான்டர் புருஷோத்தமர் ங்கற மன்னரை உங்க ஊரு ஆளு ஒருத்தர் – ஆம்பி ராஜா தான் காட்டிக் குடுத்தாரு. அன்னியர்கள் ஆட்சி ஆரம்பமாயிரிச்சி. அப்புறம் சீனாவோட ஜெங்கிஸ் கான் லேந்து தொடங்கி, நாடிர் ஷா ன்னு எத்தனையோ பெயர்கள். அவனவன் வெவ்வேற காரணங்களச் சொன்னான். அவ்வளவுதான். அதுக்கப்புறமா, சொந்த மாமனார் காட்டிக் குடுத்ததுனால தான் டெல்லியை ஆண்ட ப்ரித்விராஜ் சௌஹான் முஹம்மது கோரி கிட்ட தோற்றான். கோரியோட அடிமைகள் பல தசாப்தங்கள் ஆண்டாங்க. அதுக்கப்புறம் அந்த ஆட்சி நாற ஆரம்பிச்சுது. அதுல ஒருத்தன் பேரு துக்ளக். அந்த வகையறாவுல கடைசி ஆளு இப்ராஹிம் லோதி. அவனை வேற ஒரு உள்ளூர்க்காரன் – ஆஃப்கானிஸ்தான்லேந்து வந்த பாபர் கிட்டக் காட்டிக் குடுத்தான். – முகலாயர்கள் இந்த நாட்டை சில நூற்றாண்டுகள் ஆண்டாங்க. ஐரோப்பாவுலேந்து – ஃப்ரெஞ்சுக் காரங்க, நெதர்லான்டு காரங்க, இத்தாலியருங்க, ப்ரிட்டன் … இப்படி எல்லாரும் நாடு பிடிக்க வெவ்வேற அணுகுமுறையை யூஸ் பண்ணினாங்க.”

அவர் சொன்னது எனது கோபத்தை அதிகரிக்கச் செய்தது.

“அன்னியர்கள் பண்ணின தப்புக்களை நீங்க நியாயப்படுத்தறது போலத் தெரியுதே!”

“எல்லாக் குற்றவாளிகளும் அதைச் செய்யறது சகஜம். உங்க ஊரு மஹாத்மா காந்தியைத் தவிர, எவனுமே, தானா முன்வந்து, ‘அய்யா நான் செஞ்சது சட்டப்படிக் குற்றம். அதுனால என்னை, கால தாமதம் பண்ணாம தண்டியுங்கன்னு’ சொன்னதே கிடையாது.”

பீஹார் மாநிலத்தின் சம்பாரன் பகுதியில், போதைப் பொருளாக விற்கப்படும்போது கொள்ளை லாபம் ஈட்டித் தந்த அபினி என்ற போதை வஸ்துவுக்கு சிவனார் வேம்பு [ஆங்கிலத்தில் Indigo plantation, ஓபியம்] என்று அழைக்கப்பட்ட செடிகளை ஏழைகளை அடிமைகளாக்கி, பல ரவுடிச் செல்வந்தர்கள் பயிரிடச் செய்தார்கள். முன்பணக் கடனளித்து அறுவடையான செடியை அடிமாட்டு விலைக்குக் கொள்முதல்செதனர். இதில் உள்ள லாபத்தை பிற்காலத்தில் கண்ட வெள்ளையர்கள் அதே தொழிலை மேலும் வெளிப்படையாக, ஏழைகளை அதிகமாகச் சுரண்டியபடி செய்தனர். 1917ல், காந்தியடிகள் சம்பாரனில், பிற்காலத்தில் நாட்டின் முதல் இந்திய ஜநாதிபதியான ராஜேந்தரப் பிரசாத் போன்ற பிரபல வக்கீல்களின் உதவியுடன், தொழிலாளிகளுக்காகப் போராடினார். காவல்துறை அவரைக் கைது செய்தது. வெள்ளையர்கள் கோலோச்சிய நீதிமன்றத்தில் அவர், அரசு தரப்பு வக்கீல் குற்றப்பத்திரிக்கை படிக்கும் முன்னரே தான் சட்டத்தை மீறியதை ஒப்புக்கொண்டு சிறை செல்ல விருப்பம் தெரிவித்தார். ஆனால், அதன்பின், அப்பகுதியில் எந்த இந்தியரும், எந்தப் பணிக்கும் செல்லவில்லை. கழிவுகள் அகற்றப்படுவது முதல், ஷவரம் செய்வது வரை, அடிமைகளை விட்டுச் செய்யச்சொல்லியே பழகிவிட்ட வெள்ளையர்களால் ஒரு அடி கூட எடுத்து வைக்க முடியவில்லை. வேறு வழியின்றி மஹாத்மாவை விடுதலை செய்தார்கள். உண்மையில் இந்தியச் சுதந்திரப் போர் சூடு பிடித்தது அந்த நிகழ்விலிருந்து தான்.

“நிகழ்வு நினைவில் இருக்கிறது,” என்றேன் சுருக்கமாக.

“உங்கள் நாட்டின் சுதந்திரப் போர் உண்மையில் 1857லேயே துவங்கியது. ஆனால் உங்களுள் இருந்த பிரிவுகளின் உதவியுடன் அந்தக் காலத்து வெள்ளையர் ஆட்சியாளர்கள் அதை நசுக்கினார்கள். ப்ரிட்டிஷ் அரசு முறையாக, நவம்பர் 1 1858ல் விக்டோரியா மஹாராணியின் பிரகடனத்துடன் செயலுக்கு வந்தது. ஆங்கிலேயர்களுக்கு எதிராகப் போரிட்ட சிப்பாய்களைக் கூட ப்ரிட்டிஷ் படை பெருந்தன்மையோட ஏற்றதுன்னு பாவ்லா காட்டி மக்களுக்குக் குல்லாப்போட்டாங்க. விக்டோரியா அரசி கிழக்கு இந்தியக் கம்பெனியின் சொத்துக்களை அரசுடைமை எனப் பிரகடனப்படுத்தறப்ப, தனது ஆட்சி எல்லாக் குடிமக்களுக்கும் நியாயம் வழங்கும்னு சொன்னாரு. நடந்தது அதுக்கு நேர் எதிர். அப்போதே – என்றேனும் ஒரு நாள் அடுத்த சுதந்திரப் போர் துவங்கும் என்று கணக்கிட்டார்கள். அதை எதிர்கொள்ளத் திட்டங்கள் உருவாயின. இந்தியர்களின் ஒற்றுமையைக் குலைக்க சில சாமர்த்தியமான யுக்திகள் பயன்பட்டன. அவற்றில் ஒன்று ஜாதி அடிப்படையிலான கணக்கெடுப்பு. அது 1871 முதல் அமலுக்கு வந்தது. முதலில் அனைத்துத் தரப்பினரும் தங்களை வெவ்வேறு அந்தணர்கள் குலத்தவர்கள் என்றார்கள். சில உதாரணங்களைச் சொல்லலாம். பொற்கொல்லர்கள் தங்களை விஸ்வப் பிராம்மணர்கள் என்றனர். அன்று தங்களை ‘தேவேந்திரகுல வேளாளர்கள்’ எனக் கூறிக்கொண்டவர்கள் இன்று நலிந்த வகுப்பைச் சேர்ந்தவர்கள். ஆனால், தேவேந்திரன் குலத்தில் பிறந்தவர்கள் எவ்வாறு நலிந்தவர்கள் ஆவார்கள் என்ற கேள்வியை, அன்று யாரும் கேட்கவில்லை. இராமயணத்தை எழுதிய வால்மீகியை ஒரு முனிவரெனப் பழங்காலம் முதல் போற்றும் இந்த நாட்டில், வால்மீகி என்ற பெயருடையவர்களை இன்று தீண்டத்தகாதவர்கள் என வட இந்தியாவில் இழிவு படுத்துகிறார்கள். சமூக ரீதியாக அநீதிகளை அனுபவித்தோருக்கு இலவசக் கல்வி, அரசுப் பணிகள், அதில் ஜாதி அடிப்படையில் பதவி உயர்வு என்றேல்லாம் அன்று வெள்ளையர்கள் நுழைத்ததால், பிராம்மணர்களும் ஒரு சில ஷத்திரியர்களையும் தவிர, பிற எல்லாத் தரப்பினருமே, சுயனலத்துக்காக, தங்களை நலிந்தவர்கள் என்றனர். இந்தியாவை ஜாதி, மத அடிப்படையில் பிரித்து ஆள இந்த யுக்தி பெரிதும் உதவியது. இந்த திட்டத்தை உயர்த்திப் பிடிச்சு, என்றைக்குமே அடிமை மனப்பான்மையோட செயல்பட இந்தியர்களை பயன்படுத்தற இன்னொரு பரிமாணமாக, வெள்ளையர்களை எதிர்க்கறதாக சொன்ன இந்திய தேசிய காங்கிரஸ் என்ற கட்சியை 1885 இல் ஸர் அலன் அக்டேவியன் ஹ்யூம் என்ற முன்னாள் அதிகாரி – இவர் 1857 இல் நடந்த சுதந்திரப்போரில் உள்ளூர்க்காரர்களை தோற்கடித்தவர், துவங்கினார். அதுவும் ஒரு போர் தந்திர மந்திரம். ஏமாத்தறவங்க லாபத்துக்காக அதைச் செஞ்சாங்க. ஆனா, கொஞ்சம்கூட சிந்திக்காம ஏமாந்தது யாரு?”

எனது எரிச்சல் அதிகமாகியது.

“அமாய்யா! ஒவ்வொரு ஏமாத்தறவனும், முடிச்சவுக்கியும் இப்படியே சொன்னானுங்க, சொல்லறாங்க, சொல்லுவானுங்க! ஆனா, அது அன்றும் சரி, இன்றும் சரி, சட்டப்படிக் குற்றம்!”

எனது குரலில் உள்ள காழ்ப்புணர்வை நான் மறைக்கவில்லை..

“அந்த வாதம் ரொம்ப, ரொம்ப கரெக்ட்,” என்றார் அந்த நபர் இன்னொரு சிகரெட்டைப் பற்ற வைத்தபடி.

“இவ்வளவு கோர்வையா இந்த விஷயத்தைச் சொல்லறீங்களே, இதுவும் நீங்க செய்யற வியாபாரத்தைப் பெருக்க உதவற யுக்தி தானா?”

“1947 இல் – காங்கிரஸ் சுதந்திரம் வாங்கித் தந்ததாகச் சொல்லி ஆட்சியைப் பிடிச்சிச்சு. அந்த ஆட்சி சுமார் 70 வருஷம் நீடிச்சிரிச்சி. உள் நாட்டுலயும், அல்லசல் நாடுகள்ளயும் பகை விதைகளை நாங்க நட்டோம். செடியை காங்கிரஸ் வளர்த்து, அதை அறுவடை பண்ணினதால, அதுக்கான உரங்களான ஆயுதங்களை அன்றிலிருந்து இன்று வரைக்கும் வெவ்வேறு நாடுகள் உங்களுக்கு விக்கறாங்க. விக்கற நாடுகள் தலைவர்கள் வெள்ளைத் தோல் உள்ளவங்க தான். இந்த ஒரு விஷயத்துக்காக உங்க நாடு மட்டுமே ரூ.80 லட்சம் கோடிகளைச் செலவழிச்சிருக்கு. அதுல – பொருட்களை வித்த நாடுகளுக்கு கிட்டத்தட்ட ரூ.50 லட்சம் கோடிகள் லாபம்!  உயிர்ச்சேதத்துனால பகை அழியாம இருக்கு. அதுவும் ஆயுதம் விக்கற நாடுகளுக்கு லாபம். 18 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டுலேந்து நாங்க ஏமாத்தினோம்ங்கறது எந்த அளவுக்குச் சரியோ, அதேபோல உங்க நாட்டை சமீபகாலம் வரைக்கும் ஆண்ட உங்க அரசியல்வாதிகளும் அதையே செய்யறாங்கங்கறதும் ஒரு மறுக்க முடியாத உண்மை.. ஆக, தவறு யாரோடது?”

“உங்க வார்த்தைகள்ள இருக்கறது பச்சையாகத் தெரியும் இறுமாப்பு, ஆணவம்!”

“அது உங்க கண்ணோட்டம். ஆங்கிலத்துல இதை ஒரு மாதிரியான வாணி…க்க்க்க்கும்….சிகரெட் புகை தொண்டையில சிக்கிகிச்சு … வனித் …. வனிதா …. க்க்க்க்க்க்கும் …. வானிட்டின்னு சொல்லுவாங்க..”

இந்த ஆளுக்கும், வனிதாவுக்கும் ஏதோ கனெக்ஷன் உண்டோ? எனது புருவங்களை நெரித்தேன்.

“வானிட்டி ஃபேர்ன்னு ஒரு English நாவல். அதை ஹீரோவே இல்லாத ஒரு க்ளாஸிக் நாவல்னு சொல்லுவாங்க. அதுல இரு வனிதைகள் முக்கியமான கதாபாத்திரங்கள்.. நல்லவளாப் பரிணமித்த ஒருத்தி அதுல விபச்சாரியா இருந்தா…பாவம்…க்ளைமாக்ஸுக்கு முன்னாடியே இறந்துடறதா சித்தரிக்கப்பட்டா. நான் சொல்லறது 1857ல எழுதப்பட்ட கதையைப் பத்தின செய்தி. அந்த நாவல எழுதினது மேரி அன் எவன்ஸ்ங்கற பெண். ஆனா வெச்சிகிட்ட புனைப் பெயர் ஜார்ஜ் எலியட். அவங்க கணவரோட குடும்பப் பேரு .லூயிஸ்…அந்தக் அந்த வனிதை காரக்டரோட பேரு அமேலியா…எல்லாவிதமான கலைகளுக்கும் உங்க ஊர்ல சிவன் ங்கற கடவுள்தான் ஆரம்பிச்சாருன்னு சொல்லுவாங்க. ஆக, எல்லாக் கதைகளுமே சிவபுண்ணியங்கள்!”

“அடப்பாவி!” என்று மனதுக்குள் சொல்லிக் கொண்டேன். ஏன் என்றால், வனிதா தனது பெயரை சிவபுண்ணியம் என்றும், தனது ரகசியப் பெயர் அமேலியா லூயிஸ் என்றும் சொன்னது எனக்குப் பளிச்சென நினைவுக்கு வந்தது.

ஆச்சியர்த்தில் வாயைப் பிளந்தேன்.

“தேவை இல்லாம வாயைத் திறந்தா கொசு புகுந்துடும். சமயத்துல  குண்டுகளும் துளைக்கும்,” என்றார் அவர்.

மீண்டும் எனக்குத் தூக்கி வாரிப்போட்டது.

-தொடரும்