Sawaalon ki Bhoolbhulaiya
working on the computer in the bureau while Daya is standing beside him. Both
are involved in a case given by ACP Sir.]
Abhijeet : Yaar Daya, yeh ACP Sir aaj
kal bureau aa kyon nahi rahe hain? Sirf humein sms karke, case ke bare mein
baaata dete hain.
Daya : Ha! Abhijeet, generally aisa hota
nahi. Kal maine unko chaar baar phone kiya, lekin ek baar bhi nahi uthaya.
Mujhe unka bartaav kuch theek nahi lag raha!
Abhijeet : Aur uparse yeh Freddy bhi na
jaane kaha hain?
( Freddy enters. Freddy is not in a good
mood, while he sits on his chair with a bowed face)
Abhijeet : Yeh dekho! Aa gaye mahashay!….
(after a pause) Kya hua Freddy?Mu latkake kyon khade ho?
[Daya who is busy talking with Abhijeet
about ACP Sir gives a stare at the door from which Freddy has just entered]
Freddy : Kya batauon Sir, aaj main bahut
dukhi hoon. Kuch bhi karne ka mann nahi kar raha!
Daya : Kya baat hain Freddy, kya
bhabhiji ne firse tumse kuch guzarish ki?
Freddy : (in tears) nahi!!!
Abhijeet : Toh kya ACP Saheb ne tumhe
firse data??(in his usual naughty tone)
[There was a pause. Freddy seemed more
serious than usual, now. Abhijeet, too identifying the intensity of the
situation, asked again]
Abhijeet : (grimly to Freddy) Kya baat
hain Freddy?Kya ACP Sir ne tumhe firse data? Ya kuch alag baat hain?
(Freddy says nothing, just stands
keeping his mouth shut)
Yaar aise waqt mein hi yeh chup rehta
hain. Batauon bhi abb Freddy!
Freddy : Sir, main woh ACP Sir ke saath
case pe jab gaya than na…….. (in a scared and low voice) …..tab uss mein….
Abhijeet : Kya, tum ACP Sir ke saath
the. Kamaal hain, unhone humein nahi bataya?? (with a surprise on his face)
Daya : Aur toh aur, unhone humein itni
baar sms's kiye lekin ekk baar bhi isske
bare mein kuch bhi bataana nahi chaha!
: Ha, Kyonki ACP Sir ne mujhse kaha tha ki yeh baat kisi ko bhi pata
nahi chalni chahiye
Abhijeet : Ha! (in his usual tone) Aisi
bhi kya baat ho gayi??
[Both Abhijeet and Daya stare at each
other. Both are in a dilemma]
Abhijeet : Khair rehne do (to Freddy) Freddy
tum bataon kya hua?(in a small tone) Agar ACP sahib ko hume batana hain toh woh
humein khud aakar hi batayenge!
[Freddy remembers about how in the case
he had spoken the name of 'Aatma' in front of ACP Sir & how instead of him
scolding Freddy as always, he had just ignored him and moved away]
[Freddy tells this to Daya and Abhijeet]
Freddy : Sir, kuch samajh nahi aa raha
ki ACP Sir aise behave kyon kar rahe hain?
Daya : Hmmm…Boss, humein jaise yeh mamla
lag raha tha, uss se kai gunna yeh mamla serious hote jaa raha hain! Aur aise
pehli baar hua hain ki unhone Freddy ko nahi data hain!
Abhijeet : Ha, yeh toh hain. Kahi woh
kisi musibat mein toh nahi aur woh batakar humein tension nahi dena chahte? (sounding
a little worried)
Freddy : Ho sakta hain Sir, kyonki maine
bhi wohi notice kiya.(in a worried voice)
[A voice from background replies]
Voice : Kya batana hain aur kya nahi
batana hain woh meri marzi hain (sounding a little strict)
[Freddy, Abhijeet & Daya are stunned
to find ACP Sir standing right behind them.]
Freddy : Sir, aap yaha??(with raised
ACP Sir : Freddy, maine tumhe kaha tha
ke jab tak tumhe diya hua kaam khatam nahi ho jaata tab tak bureau mein matt
aana, fir bhi tum yaaha aa gaye! Chalo mere saath!
Daya : Baat kya hain Sir, humein
batayiye(moves ahead, towards ACP Sir)
ACP Sir : (now changing his tone to a
gentle one) Nahi, nahi Daya. Kuch bhi toh nahi. Arrey, maine tum donoko already
ek case pe bheja hain, toh issiliye maine yeh case Fredricks ke upar saunp
di………..buss aur kuch nahi (giving a fake smile)
Abhijeet : Par Sir, aap humko ek hafte
se Sirf sms kiye jaa rahe the. Aap pehle baata dete toh hum chinta nahi
ACP Sir : Hahaha….(smiles) Khair chhodo,
main tum donose baad mein aakar baat karta hoon. Chalo Freddy.
[Freddy & ACP Sir both exit the
Daya : Kya lagta hain boss, kuch baat toh
hain. Mujhe to mamla gadbad lag raha hain.
Abhijeet : Ha Daya, ACP sahib ka bartaav
bahut ajeeb tha. Upar se kisi ko kuch bhi nahi bataya, na freedy ko, aur na hum
Daya : Abb ichha na hote hue bhi humein iss
mamle ke jadd tak jana hoga, boss.
Abhijeet : Ha, main aise karta hoon ke
pehle ACP Sir ke ghar jaake dekhta hoon ke koi saboot milte hain ya nahi.
Daya : Main ACP Sir aur Freddy ko follow
Abhijeet : Hmm…(Nodding his head, Abhijeet
followed by Daya exits in a hurry)
[Abhijeet taking the Qualis heads
towards ACP Sir's house, while Daya in his car follows ACP Sir and Freddy's
[Daya in his car follows ACP Sir and Freddy.
In the mean time, he is in conversation with Abhijeet through his headset cum
walkie-talkie. After a while, he sees Freddy getting out of ACP's car at a
signal. Both Freddy and ACP talk for a while & then Freddy moves ahead,
away from the car. ACP's car moves ahead, crosses the signal after it turning
Daya : (to Abhijeet through his headset)
Huh???Yeh kya Abhijeet! Freddy aur ACP alag alag destination pe jaa rahe hain,
kyon ki Freddy beech mein yaha Atlas mall ke yaha hi utar gaya hain. ACP sahib
toh aage nikal gaye. Abb kya kare boss?
Abhijeet : Kya?? Yeh toh kuch aur hi
chakkar hain. Daya mujhe lagta hain ki pehle hume ACP Sir ko follow karna
Daya : Ha Abhijeet saahi keh raahe ho.
Chaalo mein ACP Sir ko follow karta hoon aur fir unke bare mein tumhe khabar
[Saying this Daya puts a front gear to
his car, crosses the signal and can be seen once again following ACP Sir]
Daya : Pata nahi ki yeh ACP Sir kaha jaa
rahe hein (thinks)
[He gets a call from Abhijeet]
Daya : Kya hua Abhijeet? Pohoch gaye kya
ACP sahib ke ghar ya raaste mein ho?
Abhijeet : Nahi yaar. Woh mujhe ACP
sahib ka sms aaya tha. Puch rahe the ki hum dono (Daya & Abhijeet) kaha pe
Daya : Toh kya bataya tumne?
Abhijeet : Maine bataya ki tum (Daya)
kisi aadmi ka peecha kar rahe ho aur mein usi aadmi ke ghar chaanbeen karne ja
Daya : Tumne unko kyon bata diya? (with
a question mark on his face)
Abhijeet : Kya karoon yaar, ab aadat si
pad gayi hein. Aur waise bhi, mein unhe aur tension mein nahi dekh sakta.
Daya : Woh toh theek hein yaar, par tum
kaha par ho?
Abhijeet : ACP sahib ne mujhe dusre case
pe thodi der ke liye laga diya hain. Iss liye mujhe abhi vaha jaana padega.Aisa
karte hein ki tumhara kaam bhi ho jaane ke baad tum mujhe ACP Sir ke ghar milo.
Daya : Ha, theek hain boss.
Abhijeet : Waise, tum kaha tak pohoch
Daya : Ha, woh maine Gulab Bazaar se
abhi abhi right turn le liya hein (now with a shock)Chalo main tumse baad mein
baat karta hoon, ACP Sir ki gadi rook gayi hain.
[Daya gets out of the car. A man from ACP's
car gets out & stops at a shop. Daya guesses him to be ACP Sir because he
had the same formals and had the same hair style. Daya waits outside his car
and keeps a watch on ACP Sir who has entered a shop opposite the road. ACP Sir
uses the PCO at shop.]
[Shop vendor is waiting for ACP. ACP
arrives at the shop]
ACP Sir : Dekho mujhe jo batana hain woh
jaldise bataon. Kai jaane khatre mein hain.
[The shop vendor tells ACP something in
ACP Sir : Dekho, yeh jo tum kar rahe ho,
woh bilkul galat hain.
Vendor : Bhashan matt de ACP, aur phone
pe jaake baat kar boss se
[ACP picks up the phone. After talking
for 2 mins, he hangs up. But after that he dials a new number. Shop vendor
Shop vendor : Ay! ACP! Kya dial kar rahe
ho. Jitna kaha gaya hain, utna hi kar.
ACP : Nahi, nahi, kuch nahi(leaves the
[After leaving the shop, ACP Sir starts
walking a little swiftly. As Daya's car is parked opposite the shop, he has to
run in order to reach till ACP & to follow him. But to his surprise when he
reaches opp. road, he sees nobody there. He checks once again but to no avail.
So he decides to ask the shop vendor of the shop from where ACP had used PCO to
[Daya approaches the shop vendor]
Daya : Jara, suniye bhaisahib, aapne
yaha iss aadmi ko aabhi abhi idhar dekha hain kya?(shows him the photo of ACP Sir)
Vendor : Woh……….yaad aa raha hain, lekin
kaha pe dekha hain yeh yaad nahi aa raha!(scratches his head)
[Daya turns around & finds a man
running at the corner, whom he suspects to be ACP Sir. Daya too starts running
Daya : (after stopping the man with his
hand & taking a deep breath)Jara rook jayiye Sir!!(speaks intently)
[The man turns back. ACP Sir is in a
super disguise. So, Daya fails to recognize him]
Daya : Sorry, maaf karna. Mujhe laaga ke
aap ACP Sir hain(with a surprise)
[The man who is actually ACP Sir moves
ahead. Daya returns to vendor to find more clues about ACP Sir]
[Daya approaches the shop for finding
more clues. He finds the shop vendor nowhere]
Daya : (to the shopkeeper) Woh, yaha PCO
ke bhaisahib kidhar gaye?
Shopkeeper : Achha Raghu!! Woh toh yaha
se chala gaya!
Daya : Kya? Chala gaya, uske ghar ka
pata maloom hain kya?
Shopkeeper : Nahi Sir, uske paas bandook
thi, aur usne humein use yaha kaam pe rakhne ke liye jabardasti ki hai. Iske
liye humne uske bare mein kuch bhi nahi pata.
Daya : Ohh!! Iska matlab woh aadmi bhi
inn sab mein shaamil tha, Koi baat nahi, aap mujhe iss PCO ka no. de dijiye.
Jara pata toh chale ki ACP Sir ne kise call kiya tha.
[Daya gets the PCO's number and leaves
[Daya goes to atlas mall in his car,
where ACP had dropped Freddy. Daya parks his car at the roadside]
Daya : Na jaane, yeh Freddy yaha se kaha
pe gaya hain. Mujhe aise lagta hain ke mujhe aas paas puch tach karni
[Many cars are parked in front of Daya's
car in a line. Freddy who is disguised with a beard is asking something to
every car driver of the parked cars by showing them a girl's photo. He also
approaches Daya's car. Daya is unaware of this]
Freddy : Jara suniye bhaisahib, iss
ladki ko yaha dekha hain kya??(shows him the photo without noticing Daya)
Daya : (notices Freddy) Freddy!(with a
shock) kaha the tum? Aur yeh apni shakal kyon badly hain? Yeh ladki kaun hain?
Freddy : Daya Sir?(with a shock, too)Aap
Daya : Chalo aao, andar baitho(tells Freddy
to sit inside the car. Freddy sits next to Daya & starts telling Daya
whatever news he has to share). Freddy, mujhe aur Abhijeet ko kuch gadbad lagi
isliye maine tumhe & ACP Sir ko follow kiya par na jaane ACP Sir kaha chale
Freddy : Daya Sir, woh mujhe ACP Sir ne
iss ladki ke upar nazar rakhne ke liye kaha gaya tha.
Daya : Par yeh ladki kaun hain?
Freddy : Sir, woh mujhe pata nahi! Lekin
ACP Sir ne mujhe kaha tha, ki woh mujhe baad mein phone karenge. Abhi tak toh
koi bhi phone nahi aaya.
Daya : Oh!! Toh tum roz iss ladki ke
upar nazar rakhne jaate the.
Freddy : Ha! par Sir main abb apke saath
hoon, kyonki main ACP sahib ki madad karna chahta hoon!
Daya : Chalo fir, ACP Sir ke ghar jaate
hain. Abhijeet bhi aata hi hoga.
[Daya, Abhijeet and Freddy reach ACP Sir's
house. When Daya and Freddy reach ACP Sir's house, they find Abhijeet waiting
outside the house for them, while Daya has already informed him everything
about ACP and Freddy]
Abhijeet : Toh Daya! Uss PCO se call
kiye gaye no. ke bare mein kuch paata chala?
Daya : Ha uss mein last dial no. tha
'22444555999'. Lekin telephone exchange ko puchne ke baad pata chala ki aisa
koi no. hain hi nahi(giving a little stress over the word)
Abhijeet : Iska kya matlab hua? Bhala ACP
Sir ne aisa kyu kiya?
[The three enter ACP's house as Freddy
was having ACP Sir's duplicate key and password given by ACP Sir]
Abhijeet : Yaha pe hi uss ladki ko rakha
than na. Chalo fir achhi tarah se chaan been karo.
Freddy : Ha Sir, par abb use kidnap kiya
hain. Ab sabot milne mushiil hain.
[The three search for everything at ACP's
house. Abhijeet finds something – a letter]
Abhijeet : Yeh dekho Daya(shows him the
letter) (now with a shock) Ismein likha hain Pradyuman's daughter aur niche ACP
Sir ki sign bhi hain!
Daya : Kya ACP sahib ki koi beti bhi
hain? Lekin unka toh Sirf ek beta tha – Nakul. Toh yeh kaun hein? Mamla kuch
samajh nahi aa raha hein. Yeh Shriya akhir hain kaun?(there is also a photo of
the girl) Freddy yeh wohi ladki hain na!
[Freddy nods. Abhijeet, Daya &
Freddy are shocked to find ACP's daughter's name in the letter.]
Freddy : Mujhe nahi pata tha Sir ki jis
ladki par nazar rakhne ke liye kaha tha woh ACP Sir ki beti hogi.
Abhijeet : Ha! Aur shayad yahi baat woh
humse chupa rahe the.
[Abhijeet finds another note lying near
Daya : (after observing the note) Yeh
toh koi paheli lag rahi hain boss
Agar hain tumhe dum toh bachaon inn baap-beti ko
milenge tumhe sher ki saawari ke akhri daure mein wo
Abhijeet : Par iska kya matlab
hua?(after a long pause) Boss yeh pehli waale kidnapper koi purana criminal
hain. Main shayad isse jaanta hoon(giving a satisfactory look)Main abhi Sachin
ko iske bare mein pata karne ke liye kehta hoon.(calls Sachin)
Daya : Yeh toh accha hain. Par lagta
hain baap- beti ka kahi matlab ACP Sir aur unki beti toh nahi??Ya fir……….jara
ruko(suddenly remembers) abb mujhe sab samajh aa raha hain Abhijeet
(sarcastically smiles), ACP Sir ne woh sms aise hi nahi kiye the……(with a
Abhijeet : Woh hume unse kuch khaas
sandesh de rahe the(interrupts). Shayad unpe koi jasoosi kar raha ho aur
issiliye woh bureau anepar bhi hume bata nahi paye. Jaara ruko….
[Abhijeet removes his phone and both
observe the sms's]
Daya : Boss, tumne yeh notice kiya. Yeh
sab sms mein Sirf yeh kuch letters jaise F, O,L capital mein likhe hain. Yeh
jaroor koi secret code hain. Main unhe note down karta hoon.
1st SMS – F,O,L,L,O,W
2nd SMS – M,Y
3rd SMS – T,R,A,I,L,S
4TH SMS – L,I,V,E,S
5TH SMS – R
6TH SMS – I,N
7TH SMS – D,A,N,G,E,R
Abhijeet : Oh mai gaaad, milane ke baad
iska matlab hua – FOLLOW MY TRAILS, LIVES ARE IN DANGER. Ohh! yaani ki humein
iss paheli ko follow karke unn tak jaana hoga warna kuch bhi ho sakta hain.
Freddy : Sir, agar yeh sms ek clue hain,
toh kahi woh PCO par dialed no. bhi ek clue toh nahi? ACP Sir kuch bhi kar
Daya : Ho sakta hain, Freddy. Dekhte
[Daya and Freddy try to solve the nos.
while Abhijeet gets a call from Sachin]
Abhijeet : Ha bolo Sachin kya baat pata chali hain?
Sachin : Sir yeh Rajat Sir, Nikhil,
Purvi aur Vineet Kolhapur mein Kolhapur murder case ke liye jaane ke baat mujhe
thodi bahut pareshani toh ho hi rahi hain, uparse bureau bhi kafi shaant lag
raha hain. Fir bhi Abhijeet Sir, yeh pata chal hain iss kidnapper ka naam BILY
hain. 14 saal pehle isse aur iske saathiyon ko bank robbery karne ke liye kai saal
ki saza sunayi gayi thi. Usse paheli yonka bahut shauk hain. Chori karne ke
baad woh jaan bujke suraag rakhta tha.
Abhijeet : (with a smile) Good work,
Sachin! Aur ek kaam bhi karna yeh Rajat, Nikhil, Purvi & Vineet lautne ke
baad unhe bhi inn sab ke bare mein bata dena!
: (to Daya) Kya hua Daya, pata chal gaya kya?
: Nahi boss abhi tak toh nahi. Number tha 22444555999. Iska kya matlab laga
: Agar hum iss numbers ko mobile
keyboard se jodd ke dekhe toh, jaise ek case mein hua tha? Aur fir Pco ke nos.
pe bhi toh ABC, EFG aise letters hote hain.
: toh firr……..double 2 ka matlab hua 'B' kyunki 2 no. pe 3 letters- ABC aate
hain & double matlab 2nd joki B hain. Issi andaaz se teen baar 4
ka matlab hua 'I', teen baar 5 ka matlab hua 'L' aur 3 baar 9 ka matlab hua 'Y'
: oh mai gaaad, Daya, iska matlab hua BILY(after observing the noted ans).
Daya yahi toh mujhe Sachin ne bhi abhi abhi bataya. BILY – jise paheliyan bahut
pasand hain! ACP Sir hume iske bare mein batana chahte the.
Daya : Great! Abb jaldise hum iss paheli
ko follow karte hain. 'Agar
hain tumhe dum toh bachaon inn baap-beti ko; milenge tumhe sher ki saawari ke
akhri daure mein wo
[The three get involved in solving the
paheli and scribble many answers]
[Next day in bureau. Abhijeet, Daya and
Freddy are seated in the cabin wherein many things are scattered on the table
Abhijeet : Yeh toh humein pata chal gaya
hain ki baap-beti ka matlab ACP Sir aur unki bati hain, par dusri line ka
matlab kya hain?
Freddy : Sir, issmein likha hain sher,
iska matlab humein sher ki trails ko follow karna hoga, woh bhi lagta hain kisi
Daya : Kuch bhi matt bolo freddy, sher
ki sawaari ka akhri daure, bhala sher ka bhi koi akhri stop hota hain kya!
Abhijeet : Ha Daya yeh ho sakta haain!
Sawaari ka matlab hua koi mode of transport aur akhri daura hua last stop. Par
iss sher ka kya matlab hua?
Daya : Kahi yeh sher, uss mode of
transport ka number toh nahi?
Freddy : Sir, mode of transport toh kuch
bhi ho sakta hain ; jaise bus, train, car, taxi ya shayad airplane bhi, lekin
unn sab mein sher kaha se aaya?
Daya : Jara ek minute, agar ise English
mein likhe toh? Yeh hota hain L,I,O,N –LION.Par
lion ka bhi koi matlab yaha dikhnahi raha hain!
[At that moment, Abhijeet stares at the
mirror placed on the table]
Abhijeet : Daya, iska ans. mil gaya
hain, woh dekho ans. usmein hain(points towards the mirror)
Daya : (looks at the mirror at which
Abhijeet is pointing)Oh toh yah baat hain!(smiles) kamala ki paheli hain, boss
Freddy : Sir, mujhe kuch samaz mein nahi
aa rahe hain
Abhijeet : Freddy, mirror mein LION ka
reflection dekho, kya aa raha hain?
: LION ka ulta N0I7,
ohhh…(after understanding) yaani ki No:17 ki koi bus ya train hain.
Daya : Nahi, Freddy aam daur pe train ka
number 2 letters nahi hota hain, iska matlab humein N0:17 ke kisi bus tak
Abhijeet : Woh bhi Daya, yeh pata lagana hoga ki iss
No:17 ki bus ka last stop kaunsa hain. Freddy, tum aur Sachin jara kundali
nikaalo iss bus ki. Wohi par milega humein agla clue oorf paheli!
[Freddy calls the BEST service of Mumbai,
while Abhijeet and Daya talk about ACP Sir's daughter.]
Abhijeet : Kya lagta hain Daya. Yeh
Shriya sach much ACP Sir ki beti kaisi ho sakti hain?
Daya : Agar woh unki beti hain toh uske
medical reports check kyon nahi karte?Main Sachin ko iske bare mein bata deta
Freddy : Sir, pata chal gaya ki iss bus
ka last stop kaunsa hain. 17 no. ki bus ka last stop 'Jham stop' hain jo Vashi
Daya : Toh chalo fir chalte hain iss
Jham Stop par!
[Abhijeet and Daya along with Freddy
head towards Jham stop in their Qualis]
Abhijeet : (tells to Daya who is seated
in the driver's seat) Lagta hain Daya, yahi hain Jham Stop (points towards the
stop in front of them)
[The three get out of the car]
Daya : Jara achhi tarah se search karo.
Jara ek minute bhaisahib (tells the passengers waiting on the stop to shift
Freddy : Sir, yeh dekhiye dustbin meinse
yeh chithi jaise kuch mila hain. Yeh firse koi paheli lag rahi hain. Khol ke
Abhijeet : Jaroor isse ACP Sir ne rakha hoga.
Kashmir ka hoon main, paoge tum mujhe mandiron mein
Bhagwaan ke neel kamal charno talle ;
Pehchaano mujhe jaha milunga tumhe jhoond mein tohi
agle suraag paoge tum dheere dheere.
Freddy : Sir, mujhe pata hain isska ans.
Iska ans. koi aisi chhej hain jo Kashmir ki hain aur woh mandiron mein bhi payi
Daya : Ha, Freddy. Woh toh hain.
Mandiron mein kya kya milta hain iski list banate hain.
Freddy : Sir, mujhe patta hain Sir, main
hi humesha bhagwaan ki puja ka samaan kharidne jaata hoon. Meri wife kehti hain
ki mujhe iske bare mein bahut jaankaari hain, isliye woh humesha mujhe hi
shopping karne bhejti hain. Jaise ki fool, nariyal, diye, haldi, kumkum,
etc.Lekin Sir bhagwaan ke paron ke upar toh hum Sirf phool, haldi aur kumkum
vaigara lagate hain.
Abhijeet : (laughs) Bahut achhi baat
hain ki hamare iss honhaar officer ko yeh sab pata hain, warna humein to hiss
mandir ke bare mein itna kuch pata nahi hain.
Daya : (trying to ignore the topic after
smiling) Waise Abhijeet, mujhe nahi lagta ki yeh kumkum aur haldi Kashmir ke
hain. Toh bachha hain phool. Lagta hain ki Kashmir ka koi phool hi hoga.
Abhijeet : Daya, gulab bhi toh Kashmir
ka hain . Kahi yeh gulab ka phool toh nahi?
Par yeh phool jhoond mein kaha mil sakta
Freddy : (interrupts) GULAB BAZAAR! Main
yaha kai baar gaya hoon. Waha par bahut saare gulab ke phool hain.
Daya : Chalo fir chalte hain!
[The trio reach Gulab Bazaar. They
search every shop in the market but find nothing.]
Freddy : Sir, na jaane yeh paheli kaha
milegi? Paheli mein toh Sirf bachha hain yeh Neel Kamal ke charan.
Daya : Yeh neel kamal koi shop hui toh?
Kyonki abhi tak humein kuch nahi mila hain.(Abhijeet nods). Chalo doondte hain.
[The trio search for the specific shop]
Daya : Yeh dekho Abhijeet, yahi hain woh
NEEL KAMAL (points towards the shop) (They reach the shopkeeper of the shop).Jaldise
batauon ki yeh paheli kaha hain?
Shopkeeper : Kaauaaaunnsiii
paheeellli? (stammers) Mujhe nahi malum?
Daya : Nahi malum……achha (gives him
Shopkeeper : Deta hoon Sir…abhi deta
hoon. Yeh lijiye Sir (after giving the note)
Abb paheli de de ke thak main gaya
Jara dhoondo to iss chithi ka pata
Akhir hoon toh main issi mein chupa
Abhijeet : Ha! Kya hain Daya, iss mein
toh doodh ki khushboo aa rahi hain.(smells)
Freddy : Kahi koi perfume toh nahi
Daya : (smells) Nahi Freddy aise lag toh
nahi raha hain! Par chalo dekhte hain. Agar yeh raaz iss chitthi mein chuppa
hain toh abb iska uttar Salunkhe Sahib hi batayenge!
Abhijeet : Sirf Salunkhe Sir nahi! (Says
loudly, while Daya smiles)
In the Forensic lab.
Salunkhe : Lo aao bhai……(as he sees
Abhijeet, Daya, Freddy & Sachin entering the lab). Tabhi main soch raha tha
ki salunkhe ke bina tum case kaise solve kar rahe ho?
Abhijeet : Aisa nahi hain Sir, hum bhi
toh sabot dhoondne mein kitni mehnat karte hain. Aur aap akele kaha sab kuch
solve karte hain, woh toh……
Daya : (interrupts) Khair yeh bataiye
Salunkhe Sir, yeh chithi mein se doodh hi mila hain na aapko?
Salunkhe : Yaar Daya, tumhe kaise pata.
Humari kya band bajaane aaye ho kya idhar?
Abhijeet : Ha Sir, yeh sab humko Dr.
Tarika ne hi sikhaya hain!(smiles)
Salunkhe : Woh chhodo Abhijeet, abb mein
baat karne mein time waste nahi karoonga kyonki Pradyuman ki jaan khatre mein
hain……Boss, Yeh doodh nahi uska powder hain. Woh bhi kisi sadharan gaay ka nahi
balki ek crossbreed gaay ka!
Abhijeet : Achha!
Salunkhe : Ha aur ek baat Daya, aise
dairies jaha pe doodh ki powder banti hain woh bahut kum hain aur shaher se bhi
Daya : Yeh toh achha hain Sir, lagta
hain uss dairy mein hi kidnap karke rakha hoga.
Sachin : Sir, Maine Rajat Sir, Nikhil,
Purvi, Vineet aur Shreya ko bata diya hain. Sir woh aaj hi Kolhapur se Mumbai
laut rahe hain. Aur ek baat Sir, Uss Shriya
Pradyuman ke records hospital, school, college mein check karne ke baat
yeh pata chala hain ki ACP Sir hi uske pita hain aur Nakul uska bhai tha.
Freddy : Kya? Yeh nahi ho sakta!
Abhijeet : Abb kya sach hain yeh uss
dairy ke yaha pohochne ke baad hi pata chalega. Freddy aur Sachin jaldise aise
powder doodh banane waale dairies ki list nikaalo.
[Abhijeet, Daya, Freddy & Sachin
reach an unmanned area. The area is surrounded by greenery. The dairy is quite
dull, damp and filthy. Lot of boxes, bottles and packets are racked near the
dairy's front gate.]
Sachin : Sir, abb yeh 5th aur
last dairy bachhi hain list mein se. Bakhi sab check kar liye humne par kuch
Freddy : Par Sir yaha par bhi agar ACP Sir
aur unki beti nahi mili toh?
Abhijeet : Freddy, be positive!
Sachin : Waise Sir aise lag nahi raha
hain ke yaha par business hota hain kyonki Sir jagah toh kafi shant lag rahi
hain. Upar se koi karagir bhi dikh nahi raha hain.
Daya : Ha Sachin, aise jagahpar hi
crimes hote hain. Ho na ho ACP Sir aur unki beti ko yaha pe ki kidnap kiya
hoga! Chalo andar chalte hain.
The four break into the dairy gate with
the help of silencer attached revolver. The four hide behind some boxes as they
see three persons- 2 men & 1 girl tied to three separate chairs. The kidnapper
and his assistants including Raghu-the shop vendor, are right in front of them.
One of the tied men is ACP & the girl is Shriya- Pradyuman's daughter. The
three tied persons look as if they are beaten and tired.
Kidnapper : Dekh ACP 2 dinse tere laundhe bhi nahi aaye.
Agar tu unke saath nahi toh poori Cid team bekaar hain. Doodh pete
ACP : Kaun doodh pita bachha hain aur
kaun uska baap yeh tum nahi decide karoge!(talks with all his might as he sees
a glimpse of Abhijeet behind the boxes)
Kidnapper's assistant : Woh dekhiye
boss, waha par koi toh hain…….lagta hain Cid team(with a shock on his as well
as his boss face)
Kidnapper : Fire!(orders his men)
[The cid team starts firing as well. But
it seems as the no. of people in kidnapper's gang are more. The cid team is not
able to hold 6-7 men per head. At that moment more firing starts from the back.
Rajat, Nikhil, Purvi, Vineet, Shreya
have already reached the spot.Within a second, the scenario changes. The Cid
team now have either killed or injured the kidnapper's assistants. Abhijeet
sets ACP, daughter-Shriya & 3rd man free. The Cid team has now
arrested the kidnapper.Rajat and Vineet wear him handcuffs.]
ACP Sir : Daya, Abhijeet!
Abhijeet : Sir, aap theek toh hain na?
ACP Sir : Ha Abhijeet main bilkul theek
hoon. Good work done.
Daya : Sir, par yeh ladki Shriya aur yeh
tisra aadmi jise kidnap kiya tha unka yaha pe kya connection hain?
Abhijeet : Ha, Sir humein pata chal gaya
hain ki yeh aapki beti hain!(frowns)
ACP Sir : Nahi Abhijeet, yeh meri beti
Freddy : Kya Sir? Fir woh reports……..? jismein
likha tha ki woh apki beti hain woh…..kya?(winces)
Sachin : Par Sir, uss paheli mein bhi
toh likha tha 'baap- beti'!
ACP Sir : Ha Sachin kyonki woh meri nahi
iss Pradyuman ki baat kar rahe tha, Shriya uski beti hain.
[The third kidnapped man appears with
his daughter Shriya.]
Third kidnapped man : Ha Shriya meri hi
beti hain. Mera naam Rakesh Pradyuman hain. Meri biwi Shriya ke janm ke baad hi
marr gayi thi. 20 saal pehle main aur Bily ne milke bank mein chori ki thi. Uss
mein Bily ki sazaa jyada sunayi gi aur mujhe sazaa khatam hone se pehle hi chodd
diya gaya. Bily jab jail se chutta tab usne mujhe firse chori karne ke liye
kaha. Par tab mein badal chukka tha issiliye maine uski madad nahi ki, balki
Police ko uske bare mein pehle se hi bata diya.
Daya : Oh! Toh isliye usne tumhe kidnap
kiya. Par tumhari beti, uska kya?
Rakesh Pradyuman : Ha. Fir Shriya badi
hone lagi. Mera naam bhi Pradyuman hone ki wajah se maine uska galat istamaal
kiya. Mujhse baar baar poochne ke baad maine uske pita ka naam ACP Pradyuman
kaha, kyonki mujhe use sachchai batane mein kafi sharm aa rahi thi. Aur khood
ko uska chacha bana diya. Iske liye aaj tak toh Shriya mujhe apna chacha maanti
Abhijeet : Fir kya hua?(putting his hand
in his pockets)
Rakesh Pradyuman : Fir kya, maine sabhi
jagahpar se meri asliyat hata di aur ACP Pradyuman ka naam laga diya. Uske
medical reports, school, college sab badal diye. Shriya ko yeh bilkul bhi pata
Sachin : Toh fir Shriya ko pata kaise
Shriya : Kyonki ek din achhanak mere
papa kidnap ho gaye. Mere koi relatives bhi nahi hain aur mujhe dhamkii bhare
letters aane shuru ho gaye. Mujhe lagta tha ki mere papa ACP Sir hain, isliye
maine kisi tarah unka pata dhoondha aur unke paas gayi.
ACP Sir : Ha aur tabhi mujhe asliyat ka
kuch andaaz aa gaya tha.Main jaanta tha ki Rakesh badal gaya hain, isliye main
unki madad karta raha. Shriya ko yeh nahi pata tha ki uske asli baap ko bank
robbery case mein maine hi pakda tha. Maine uski rakhwaali Freddy ke upar saunp
di thi par lekin baad mein Shriya bhi kidnap ho gayi aur main unn paheliyon ko
follow karta raha.
Daya : Lekin Sir, aapne humein kyon nahi
ACP Sir : Woh isliye Daya, kyonki 24
ghante mujhpar koi nazar rakhya hue tha, uapar se tumko na batane ki dhamki bhi
mujhe aayi thi. Sms par bhi nazar rakhi thi, aur toh aur jab Daya uss Pco ke
pass aaya tabbhi mujhpe nazar thi vendor ki……toh bataon main kaise karta?
Freddy : Isliye Sir, aapne Abhijeet aur
Daya Sir ko sms ke secret code se sawdhaan kiya.
ACP Sir : Exactly Freddy! Aur fir woh
Cid ki kabiliyat pe bhi toh shak kar raha tha. Iske liye maine tum sabka
imtihaan lene chaha.Sachin ko to maine dusre case pe bheja tha. Aur fir humare
Freddricks ko bhi kabhi akele case handle karna chahiye na!(smiles)
Shriya : Thankyou so much ACP Sir, aapne
mujhe mere Papa se mila diya aur humein chudaya bhi. Papa(to her real father)
Papa, agar aap mujhe bata dete toh main aapse naraaz bilkul bhi nahi hoti.
Kyonki woh toh apka ateet tha, hakikat mein toh aap abhi bilkul badal gaye
ACP Sir : Ha woh toh achha hua ki abb
tum dono khushi se rahoge kyonki crime ka raasta humesha aasan toh hota hain
par manzil humesha dukhi hi hoti hain. Rakesh tumne mere naam se jhoote files
banaye uski sazaa tumhe ho kar rahegi hi….usse koi bhi bachha nahi sakta. Par
aage se kuch bhi aisa na karna jisse tumhe aur tumahri beti ko sar jhookana
Rakesh Pradyuman : Ha Sir, main achha
nagrik banunga.(everybody smiles)
[Rajat and Vineet bring Bily]
ACP Sir : Bily, tumhe jo kiya woh bahut
Abhijeet : Par tumne ACP Sir ko kyon kidnap
Bily : Kyonki ACP mujhe pehchaan liya
tha, aur kuch saal pehle issi ke wajah se mujhe sazaa sunaiyi gaayi, badla le
liya sabse…..na ACP ko choda aur na uss Rakesh ko!!(laughs)
ACP Sir : Haso jitna hasna hain. Abb
shayad tumhe ek cid officer aur 2 masoom logonko kidnap karne par umar kaid hi
hogi, umar kaid!(shouts)
Bily : (laughs) Nadaan hain tu bechara,
tumhe shayad yeh nahi pata kya ke bomb phutne ke baad kya hota…….bada aaya baat
Daya : Kya yaha bomb hain? Kaha par!!
Bily : Aise nahi :----- Ismein hain
ungliya jaate yeh dur, toh kabhi aate paas
Lekin fir bhi jaankaari hoti hain pakki
Milega tumhe yeh pink dewaar ke aass
Pehchano ACP warna ho jayega BOOOMMM 7
ACP Sir : Kya Sirf saat minute, Purvi
aur Shreya jaldise Shriya aur Rakesh ho bahaar le kar jao, yaha par bahut
khatra hain(Shreya and Purvi take them away from the spot) aur Nikhil aur
Vineet tum iss BILY ko yaha se bahar lekar jao.
Sachin : Sir yeh toh firse koi paheli
lag rahi hain, iska answer kya ho sakta hain?
[ACP replies nothing, after a moment]
ACP Sir : Ismein hain ungliya jaate yeh
dur, toh kabhi aate paas; Lekin fir bhi jaankaari hoti hain pakki aur khass;
Milega tumhe yeh pink dewaar kea aaass paas…Sachin iska answer ghadi hain
jaldise iss pink ghadi ko doondo!(shaking his finger)
[Everybody searches but finds nothing]
Abhijeet : Nahi Sir, yaha pe toh ek bhi
ghadi nahi hain! Ab kya kare?
Freddy : Oh no Sir, bahut kam samay
bacha hain….(looks at his wrist as usual to see the time ) maine toh aaj ghadi
bhi nahi pehni hain!
ACP Sir : Freddy, kamaal ka ans; yehi
toh hain!!(shouts)- haat ki ghadi!!! aur hum dewaar ki ghadi dhoondh rahe the!
Very good…..Chalo abb jaldise apni ghadi check karo, dekho koi bomb hain kya.
[They check their watches but find no
Daya : Sir, paheli mein pink hain
na…..toh shayad bomb pink ghadi ke peeche hain. Aur hum mein se koi pink ghadi
pehenta nahi………iska matlab, oh no…bomb Shriya ki ghadi mein hain.
ACP Sir : Chalo dhoondte hain unhe
jaldise, gate ke pass hi honge woh.
[Everybody starts running towards the
gate. They find Shriya and her father standing besides the gate. They also find
the bomb in Shriya's watch. They insist her to remove it.]
Abhijeet : Bomb toh issi mein hain.
(after opening the bomb and observing it) Sir Sirf 3 minute bachhe hain!(with a
shock)Abb kya kare?
Daya : Chalo Abhijeet isse kahi fek ke aate
hain, kyonki bomb squad ke aane tak toh yeh bachega hi nahi……aur wires ka bhi
koi bharosa nahi.
ACP Sir : Ha Daya, theek keh rahe ho,
jao jaldise(watches Abhijeet and Daya) getting away) ABHIJEEET
DAAAYAAA DDDHYAAAN SE(screams)
[In the nick of time Abhijeet and Daya are
successful in dropping the bomb in an unarmed and unmanned space. The Cid team
as well as ACP Sir is pleased to watch them returning safe]
Daya : Akhir Sir ho hi gaya!. Inn
paheliyonke dher ko solve kar hi liya!(smiles at Abhijeet)
ACP Sir : Ha Daya, Abhijeet good work!
Bata do uss Bily ko ki koi bhi mujrim Cid se nahi bachta.
Abhijeet : Sir, Sirf ek baat samaz nahi
aayi. Uss letter pe aapke signs kaise the?
ACP Sir : Accha woh letter, woh toh
nakli tha jo Rakesh Shriya ko dikhane ke liye laya tha!
Daya : Sir,sorry main aapko disguise
mein pehchaan na paaya.(frowns) agar aap bura na maane toh kuch kahu?
ACP Sir : Koi baat nahi Daya(smiles)Agar
tumne mujhe uss waqt pehchaana hota toh tumhari toh jeet hoti, par humari akhir
mein haar hi hoti na…rehne do, tum kuch kehne waale the na.
Abhijeet: Ha Sir, hume sach much thodi
der ke liye laga ki Shriya aap hi ki beti hain
ACP Sir : (smiles and moves ahead) Ha,
Abhijeet who ladki hain hi itni pyaari par mujhe beti nahi hui toh kya hua,
mere itne saare bete toh hain!
[Abhijeet and Daya smile happily on
listening to ACP Sir's comment and look at each other.]
Abhijeet and Daya : Kya Sir, aap bhi,
aapne toh humari aakhe paani se bhar diye!(both wipe their tears and smile)
Freddy :Parrr ACP Sir…………(after a pause)
Woh bete hain kaun?, kahi who Rakesh toh nahi?...Iska matlab Shriya
----apki poti???(asks seriously)
[The episode ends as everyone laughs, leaving
Freddy in confused looks]
STORY: VINCULUM NON CRUOR
1 – PROLOGUE: UNDER THE COVER OF CLOUT
"It is an honour to have you here, my
dear sir", smiled General Damien, raising his glass to toast.
"The pleasure is all mine, General",
said the ACP, smiling back. "Honestly, I was a little surprised by the
invitation; I'm not a celebrity or anything."
"Not many celebrities have sacrificed a
part of themselves for the country and its people", said Damien gravely. "I
think it's time real heroes receive more acknowledgement, Pradyuman."
They were sitting in a large function
hosted by General Damien, on the first anniversary of his retirement after a
lifetime of service to the country. ACP Pradyuman was the sole member of the
Mumbai C.I.D invited to the grand function, which was being attended by senior
enforcers, several well-known personalities and glitterati to felicitate
bravery. The awards were due to take place in an hour, and the General soon
left to attend to other guests. As the ACP leaned back on his chair, draining
the last of his apple juice, a group of youths stumbled in from the entrance
hall. One of them hissed at a waiter.
"Three bottles of Veuve Clicquot,
please", he blurted.
"I'm sorry, sir; we're running slightly
short of champagne at the moment", said the waiter. "Rest assured, fresh stock
should be here in fifteen minutes, and –"
"Is it my duty to account for your
bloody stock?" snarled the young man at once. "We came here for a drink, not to
wait fifteen f**king minutes for it!"
"I'm sorry, sir", repeated the waiter,
"but there's nothing I can do about it. I kindly suggest you wait and –"
The young man was hardly listening; he
rummaged in his jacket, drew out a Colt revolver and fired at the waiter; the
air was rent with screams as guests jumped to their feet, their eyes fixed on
the youth and his victim, who was now lying screaming as blood gushed from his
"You have five seconds until I blow your
head off", said the boy calmly. "Five… four…"
"Hold it right there! What do you think
Everybody turned to watch the ACP
walking up to the scene, his eyes flashing like a lion's. Raising his hand, he
sharply gestured the youth to drop his weapon. "Surrender your gun at once!"
The youth gave him a bleary-eyed look;
the ACP knew at once that he was intoxicated. "Mind your own business, old
"That is precisely what I am doing;
apprehending a criminal", answered the ACP. "I repeat; drop the gun!"
"Or else?" laughed the youth. "Do you know
who I am, you bloody codger? Stop me if you can!"
He raised the revolver, but the ACP was
much faster. His Beretta seemed to appear almost magically in his hand, and he
fired. The youth screamed, clutching his bleeding hand as the revolver was
knocked out of it. Several guests gasped. A grey-haired man appeared by the
youth's side, slowly looking at the ACP.
"You are in deep trouble, ACP Pradyuman.
You don't know who you've messed with."
The youth was taken away, scowling and
uttering silent threats at the ACP. The waiter was bandaged and helped up as
well. General Damien appeared and attempted unsuccessfully to pacify the
"What have you done, Pradyuman?" he ejaculated.
"What?" exclaimed the ACP. "Did you see what
he was doing? Should I have stood silently while he did it?"
"Yes, but Pradyuman…" said the General
quietly, "that was Uday Vaghela and his father, our new Foreign Relations
Minister – Shri Arun Vaghela. He's a very powerful man, Pradyuman. And you just
shot his son in public! This is going to turn really ugly, mark my words."
The General's words came true soon
enough. The news of ACP Pradyuman shooting at the Foreign Relations Minister's
son spread like wildfire across the country. Arun Vaghela wasted no time in
filing a brutal case against the ACP, who was summoned to court in a week. The
entire C.I.D team stood by his side, but they were among the very few who did.
The others, whether out of hatred, fear or greed, didn't care. The prosecutor
neatly twisted the story and announced that it was the ACP who was drunk and
shot at Uday and the waiter with no
provocation. Not one of the 120 eyewitnesses came forward to defend him; they
merely parroted what the minister's puppet said, while the Vaghelas smirked in
"ACP Pradyuman has always been notorious
for extreme aggression against suspects, even in cases without adequate
evidence. His infamous act of shooting down his own son in the name of law was
the hot topic for several months back in 2005. And this fresh incident only
serves to heighten our concerns. With all due respect, I think that ACP
Pradyuman has gone senile and become a loose cannon in the society, a danger
for us all. We cannot allow this to continue –"
The rest of his words were drowned as
Abhijeet and Daya rose up in their senior's defense and bellowed at the unjust
accusations; it took the officials almost two minutes to calm them down. The
ACP had given up; he merely frowned as the judge delivered his verdict.
"I am sorry for this, Pradyuman. I really
am", said DCP Chitroley, though his tone hardly felt so.
They were standing in the C.I.D Bureau; the
ACP had handed over his service pistol, badge and medal over to his senior with
an almost impassive expression. Abhijeet and Daya stood on either side of him,
seriously upset. Fredericks seemed to be on the verge of tears, while Sachin
hung his head solemnly. Purvi bit her lip, breathing heavily while Nikhil
buried his face in his hands. Shreya, Rajat and Vineet looked almost speechless.
Dr. Salunkhe and Tarika watched the scene incredulously.
"They say you were right to have stood
up against him. And yet, you know the court's orders. You are to be suspended
until the case is closed", said Chitroley.
The ACP merely gave him a humourless
smile. "I guess it already is, sir. What else do I expect anyone to think of me,
with my own son's blood on my hands? But, yes, I guess even that's a fluke.
What did the prosecutor imply? That I killed him because he was born of an
illegitimate marriage of mine."
"Sir, please do not take that little
knucklehead's words to heart", said Daya loudly. "We are all by your side (the
ACP glanced at Chitroley) and we know the truth. We'll fight until the end with
"To what end, Daya?" said the ACP. His
tone frightened Daya, Abhijeet and even Shamsher. They had heard it only once
before – the day when he had shot Nakul. "We lay down our lives for the
society, only for corrupt politicians to take over. We fight for a country
being ruled by wolves in sheep's clothing, who can get away with anything. Have
we really gained independence after all? How long shall this go on?"
Before any of them could answer, he
raised his hand. "Thanks for your support, all of you. But right now, I need
some time alone. Please excuse me; I'll see you all around later."
Without another word, he walked out of
the bureau. The door silently swung shut.
2 – THE BLITZ
The second of November, 2012. Pandrass,
Drass Tehsil, Jammu & Kashmir. Situated in the Kargil district of the state,
the little village was no stranger to bloodshed. Heaven be praised, violence
had largely been curbed for almost thirteen years since the war ended. Still,
the troops could never afford to as much as blink when on duty at the Line of
Control. Lieutenant Rathore strolled near the window of his tent beside Post
No. 42, watching his men patrol the far side of the LoC along the barricades. Thirty
minutes into midnight, he was approached by rookie Subedar Victor. "Sorry to
disturb you, sir, but thought I'd mention a rather unusual activity to you."
The Lieutenant looked up, frowning.
"What sort of activity, Subedar?"
"Sir, the radars at our control room
went static with partial white-noise like signals a while ago. Digital
distortions, but only for about half a minute or so. Almost seemed like
something a jammer would do."
The Lieutenant paused for a few moments,
before speaking. "Have any suspicious signs been displayed in the area?
Intruders, vehicles, aircraft, anything of that sort?"
"No, sir" said the Subedar, with a
little surge of confidence. "The area is secure. Not a bird could enter this
place without our knowledge. We've noticed no signs of any trespassing
"Very well", answered the Lieutenant,
nodding. "Possibly just some technical flaw. Ask Tripathi to feel up the radars
in a while. Report back in case of any developments."
The Subedar left to do as told, and
Lieutenant Rathore turned back to look up at the night sky. The waning moon
shone like a beacon in the dark, starry night sky. The night was largely
silent, except for the mild ambient sounds of local nocturnal fauna. With their
forces so impeccably strong, it was hard to imagine any imminent danger. And
yet, he couldn't help but feel a strange, intuitive feeling of foreboding –
about something terrible waiting to happen right under their noses.
The crushing sensation of takeoff had
passed as DynaWave DW-395's orientation stabilized, and the passengers felt as
smooth as though they were sitting in their living room; other than the fact
that stretching kingdoms of cloud beautifully illuminated by the dawning sun were
all that was visible outside the window. The pilot announced that they were
over 25,000 feet above sea level.
"I never quite liked this", mumbled one
of the passengers. "I know we are in safe hands and everything, but I cannot
help but fathom what could possibly happen in such a critical position."
"You're being paranoid", advised the lithe
young lady sitting next to him. "DynaWave Inc. goes to great lengths to ensure
the safety of its passengers. They've got the best engineers, pilots and crew
"That isn't all of it", said the man. "Just
think about it – are we really secure? Is there any guarantee that ours won't
be another Kandahar?"
"The government has learned from its
mistakes; the differences between security arrangements then and now are colossal.
Trust me, I'm in the know. Where and how can enemies hijack us now? In midair?"
Almost like a devastating answer, there
was a crackling jolt as the entire aircraft shook like some gargantuan rattle;
the passengers were forced to clutch onto their seats like life-vests. They
could see the wing rising up from the right window; the plane was tilting. Screams
of the passengers and crew were barely audible over the din of the roaring
"What the hell is happening here?"
screamed a young man in the front row, nearly sliding on top of the window.
"For God's sake, somebody go into the cockpit and –"
A second thump vibrated across the
cabin, followed by a strange drill-like noise. As the passengers watched,
horrified, a glowing section of lines snaked along the airplane's door high
above their heads. The door was swiftly broken open by the turbulent air; they were
only prevented from being sucked out due to their seat belts. Nothing was audible
anymore over deafening buzz of the engines. Five men, clad in air-tight suits
and magnetic shoes, slid down from the newly torched opening and landed deftly
as cats inside the cabin. The leader straightened up and glared at them from
behind his hood.
ladies and gentlemen. We couldn't
help but intrude upon your immaculate hospitality", he thundered, an attached
microphone carrying his voice over the ever-increasing engine noise.
The passengers blanched, looking almost
petrified. And then, the panic began.
"Who… who are you? What do you want??"
screamed an elderly lady to their right.
"I guess the kafirs don't get the point", said the leader calmly. "Show them, will
One of the intruders strolled into the
cockpit, and they heard a gunshot. At once, the entire aircraft swerved over
until it was completely upside-down, the wind ripping through the open doorway like
a hurricane. The passengers' faces grew redder and redder as blood flowed down
into their heads.
"I'm pleased to introduce you to our new
pilot, Wahid bhai", chortled the
leader, watching them. "DW-395 is now under the control of al-Kohla. Our
business here shan't be overbearing, provided you co-operate. You may begin by
handing over your mobile phones to us, right now."
The airplane began to turn back over,
slowly, until it had righted itself. Two of the hijackers went around
collecting the phones, while the others proceeded to repair the damaged door.
The passengers' terrified silence seemed even louder than DW-395's engines. The
lithe young lady was the only one who retained a hint of calm on her face. She
handed over her phone without seeming upset at all.
3 – THE LOST PHONE
Thirty thousand feet below, miles away
in a small colony at Mumbai, a lean pockmarked man wrote furiously on the
little crumpled sheet of paper in front of him. He was surrounded by Scylla and
Charybdis. He could feel doom creeping near. And yet, he knew what was to be done.
He had caused enough damage; now was the time for a pitiful attempt at
atonement. What would he tell his maker when he finally met Him, otherwise? All
he regretted was that he would never see her again, that their last interaction
had been a fight. He finished writing and got up, his breath steady.
ACP Pradyuman sat alone in a little
restaurant, sipping his nearly cold cup of tea, looking almost impassive. He
looked up; chattering in the place had risen considerably. A "breaking news"
headline was now flashing over the channel, showing images of an aircraft
trailing smoke high in the skies. The sentence was blood-curdling: 'AIRCRAFT
DW-395 HIJACKED – TERRORIST GROUP AL-KOHLA CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY'. The reporter
was rapidly jabbering out the details –
yet knows how the militants managed to take over the plane. But the truth is
undeniable; an aircraft belonging to one of the country's most respected
airline services has been taken over by the al-Kohla, as is clear by this
message telecasted over from the cockpit."
A recorded message started to play; they
could hear an arrogant voice speaking over thick distortion.
"Salaam-aleikum, citizens of India. We meet again, rising from the abyss into which
you cast us, over the bodies of our brethren you mercilessly slew. And yet I, Mahmud,
harbor only a strong desire for justice in my heart. I know well that not one
of the unfortunate souls aboard this aircraft is directly responsible for our
loss, and I shall be deeply pained if forced to sacrifice any of them. And yet,
we are prepared to do anything to achieve our singular goal – Amjad Gabriel. We
want him to be delivered alive to us within five hours, failing which you shall
share the impending blood on our hands. You have an hour to decide."
"This is unbelievable! Amjad Gabriel,
seriously?" exclaimed somebody, sitting straight up.
"With all the security arrangements, how
on Earth did they manage that?" remarked another one.
the toughest chain has a weak link, thought the
ACP grimly, getting to his feet. The top priority
is to… "OW!"
He had just collided with a young girl
hurrying out of the shop; her purse skidded across the floor. He paused to pick
"Here, sorry for that", he said
politely, holding it out to her.
"How convenient", she snapped, snatching
it back. The ACP looked at her, aghast.
"What's wrong with you? I did give you
an apology!" he said indignantly.
"Did you also give it to your son, after
you shot him?" taunted the girl. "Do you think I haven't read anything about
The ACP felt like his heart had been
struck by a thunderbolt; he stood there staring blankly at her. People were
starting to gather around them. A young man stepped up and glared at the girl's
"The nerve of these people! You're
better off not talking about things you don't understand, miss!" he snarled.
She gave both of them a thoroughly
bitter look before storming away. ACP sir looked at the boy; he was Rohit, a
former pickpocket whom he had reformed four years ago. Apparently, he was now
"Ignore her, ACP sir", said he. "Probably
yet another spoilt brat of some rich snob who –"
"It doesn't matter, Rohit", cut the ACP,
almost smiling at his own state. "Not her fault. That's a blemish I'm tainted
with for life. Thanks for your help."
He nearly forgot all about what he'd
seen on the news. After paying his bills, he had started to walk out, when
something struck his foot under the table. It was a cell-phone, small and bright
pink. Bemused, he examined it and wondered if it belonged to the girl he'd just
encountered. Must've fallen out of her
purse when it slid down there, he thought. He was hardly enthusiastic about
meeting her again, and yet knew that it must be returned. The list of contacts was
rather large and mostly filled with nicknames. Deciding to take a quicker
route, he examined the photo gallery. The latest picture featured a pretty
young girl – the same one he'd met – with a group of boys outside a
shoddy-looking apartment, marked the "Shalimar Building Society". There it was.
He set off to return the phone to its owner.
The news of the terrible hijacking had
not yet reached the C.I.D Bureau; the officers were still coping with their
senior's unjust suspension. Abhijeet slammed his desk in anger. "I can't
believe that the scoundrels got away with it. Corruption is eating into the
vitals of the country, and we can't do anything about it?"
"We can start with proving ACP sir
innocent", suggested Daya. "Vaghela's clearly bribed or threatened all the
witnesses and authorities. What we need is evidence so strong that it has no
chance of being dismissed in court. And we must blitz it in front of the judge
before the opposition realizes it."
"But where can we find something like
that?" asked Purvi. "They seem to have removed everything from the scene. And
recovering that seems almost impossible."
Before Abhijeet could reply, the phone on
his desk rang. He answered it. "Senior Inspector Abhijeet here. A body? Where?
…right, I see. We'll be there right away." He disconnected, and turned to the
others. "A body has been discovered at Shantinagar. Looks like we've got more work
to do as well. Let's go!"
As he drove along in his car, the ACP's
mind wandered back towards what he had heard in the dhaba – Amjad Gabriel. He shook his head in confusion; Amjad
Gabriel was a prime hand of the al-Kohla in several blasts across the country,
and was supposed to have been killed in an encounter with the military five
years ago. Then, how come the hijackers were now asking for him to be delivered
to them? What exactly was this all about? He looked outside; the Shalimar
complex was on the other side of the road. He parked his car behind a large
delivery van, and approached the building's security guard.
"Excuse me; do you know these people?"
he asked, flashing forward the girl's wallpaper photo.
The man gave him a wary look before
responding. "Yes, sir; that's miss Gayatri Iyer on the right. She lives in flat
The ACP thanked him and walked upstairs
until he reached the flat in question. As he came closer, he could hear murmurs
and whispered arguments gurgling inside. Slowly, he knocked on the door.
Silence. After a few more tries, a disheveled-looking young man answered and
stared at him.
I'm here to meet Gayatri. I believe she lives here?" asked the ACP.
The boy simply stared at him, before
blurting, "No, she doesn't. You're mistaken. Now please excuse…"
But before he could close the door,
there was more commotion inside the flat, and the girl he was looking for burst
into the room, carrying a heavy suitcase, closely followed by another male
"No, Arnab, I've told you already!" she
retorted, yanking her suitcase out of his reach. "It's urgent and I need to go
now, and it doesn't help that my phone is… you???"
She stopped in her tracks, staring at
the ACP, who was now standing in the doorway. He pushed past the boy stopping
him and entered the room. "Gayatri, your friend here just told me that… oh, my
God! What on Earth is this??"
He looked around the room, taking in the
sight. It was the dirtiest and messiest place he'd seen for a while; various
objects were carelessly thrown about or heaped in corners. About three dozen
empty liquor bottles lay strewn everywhere. The walls were adorned with obscene
photographs. He could see several used syringes in a trash bin nearby.
"What have you people been doing here?"
he exclaimed. "Drugs and alcohol! Do you even realize how –"
"So what will you do, hang us for it?"
screamed the girl, stepping forward. "What the hell are you doing here,
The ACP paused, each of them glaring
into the other's eyes, before finally pulling her phone out of his pocket.
"This. You'd forgotten it back at the restaurant." He placed it on a nearby
table and, before any of them could speak, prepared to leave. "For your
information, I'm not an ACP anymore. I have no authority to arrest you, and I
wouldn't do it if I could. All I wanted was to prevent your lives from being
ravaged anymore than they already have been."
He turned and strode past two badly
shaven men carrying a large wooden box into the room. More rum for the night, he thought sadly. As he walked, his eyes
fell on the man right to his side. The temperature was quite warm, and yet this
guy was wearing a broad leather jacket that looked way out of a delivery man's
budget range. If that were not enough, a dark scar was just visible under his
right wrist. The ACP was experienced enough to know what results of bullet
wounds looked like. He hung near the doorway.
"Here's your shipment, miss Iyer", he
heard the first man say inside.
"What shipment? I didn't order
anything!" came Gayatri's voice.
"You didn't? Oh bother. Do you mind
coming along to check?"
Without warning, there were screams and
sounds of a scuffle. The ACP dashed inside to see the first man seizing Gayatri
and attempting to force her into the box; the other one pulled out a silenced
submachine gun from his jacket and opened fire at her friends, tearing them
"STOP!!!" yelled the ACP, launching
himself onto the gunman; they crashed into a pile of dirty laundry.
"Where did this mangy cur come from?"
screeched the first man. "Kill him, Vicky!"
The gunman fought back savagely; the ACP
concentrated all his strength on pushing back the gun's barrel from his chin.
They rolled around the floor and the gun went off; bullets rained crazily all
over the room. There was a great crash as they rammed into a shelf, and a great
cascade of books rained down upon Vicky's head. The ACP sprang to his feet and
saw Gayatri fighting back, landing a well-placed blow on her captor's groin.
The man winced as the ACP seized the SMG and pointed it at him.
"Let her go!" he warned.
The man glanced at him and
human-shielded Gayatri at once. "Yeah, go ahead and blow her to pieces!"
The ACP was thinking what to do when
there were sounds of shuffling feet outside; the neighbours had been aroused by
the commotion and had gathered outside the room. They took one look at the
scene and fled in a panic, screaming. Taking advantage of the momentary
distraction, the ACP shot at the intruder, who yelled and dropped Gayatri. The
ACP grabbed her and pushed out of the room at once.
"Down the stairs! Whatever you do, don't
stop!" he cried,
They pushed past the panicked neighbours
and rushed down the staircase, past the startled receptionist towards the rows
of parked cars. He pulled open the door to his car and ushered the girl in,
before diving inside himself and starting it up. As he hit the gas, he could
see the delivery van he'd noticed earlier trail along from behind the building.
The windows rolled down, and two armed people leaned out of it.
4 – SECRETS UNRAVELING
"Intriguing", remarked Daya.
They were standing in a small, rather
untidy room – one of two rented ones in a shabby house at Shantinagar. That was
hardly as peculiar as the terrible sight of a body hanging like an eerie
pendulum from the ceiling fan – a dark-skinned, pockmarked man whose blunt features
had now been grossly disfigured by the hideous fate he'd undergone. The eyes
were bulging out of their sockets, the mouth lay slightly open and the broken
neck was grotesquely stretched. In the body's shadow, on the disheveled bed lay
a singular piece of paper, with a few sentences printed upon it.
is of my own will that I take my life. I'm ridden with debts, forsaken by my
only family and left with nothing but a miserable existence. Nobody but myself
is to be held responsible for this. Farewell, cruel world."
"What do you make of this, sir?" asked
Fredericks, as Purvi snapped photos of the scene.
"I'm not sure", said Abhijeet, squinting
at the corpse. He turned to the landlord, who was standing motionless by the
door. "Mr. Sharma, you were the first to discover Mr. Arvind's body, correct?"
"Yes, sir", said Sharma quietly. "He'd
turned quite reclusive for the past week. I'd merely come to ask for the monthly
rent, when he didn't answer the door. After a while, I used my duplicate key to
"Quite reclusive, you say", pondered
Abhijeet, slowly turning back to look at Arvind. "Did he ever tell you what the
"Never", answered Sharma. "He's been my
tenant for over two years now, but he never spoke more than required. Neither
did his daughter; they mostly kept to the room."
"Daughter?" said Daya sharply, walking
up to them. "Arvind had a child? Where is she, now?"
"I have no idea, sir", said Sharma.
"They had a huge argument last night and she stormed off somewhere, I saw from
the window. Arvind wanted to keep her in the house most of the time, which
understandably didn't go down well with her."
"Anything else you can tell us about
her?" asked Abhijeet.
"She was around fourteen or fifteen, I
guess. Quite a charming young lady, I might add, but with one hell of a temper.
I didn't know her name until I heard Arvind yell it at my door yesterday –
"Right. Thanks for your help", said
Abhijeet, before turning back. "Any more clues here, Daya?"
"Not much", said Daya. "The window in
the next room was unlocked, but it seems unlikely that anybody would've been
able to climb over the steep ledge beyond."
"I see", said Abhijeet. "Let's have the
body and 'suicide' note sent over to the forensic lab. Only there can we find
They had the body safely stored in the
ambulance, before departing. The sirens had hardly faded when a sedan drove up
to Sharma's house, parking where the Qualis had been minutes ago.
"What happened here? Where is he?" asked
the tallest of them, a robust older man with close-cropped grey hair, glaring
at Sharma. The poor landlord knew he had some tough questions to answer.
"Hold on tight, Gayatri!" yelled the
ACP, swerving wildly as a hail of bullets came whizzing from the van,
shattering their windshield and spraying them with a hail of glass shards.
Wiping off the blood from his forehead, he dashed the car into an alley amid
screams from bystanders. There was a crash behind – he knew the van had rammed
into one of the corners, but their pursuers were relentless and continued to
fire indiscriminately. The ACP had to duck as the rearview mirror burst.
"I can handle this", said Gayatri,
lunging to grip the steering wheel. "You get them!"
"But Gayatri…" began the ACP.
"Do you want to live or not??" she
screamed. "Just do as I say, for heaven's sake!"
The ACP pulled out his gun and leaned
out of the window as they exited the alley and emerged onto a large section of
concrete leading to a bridge. He could see a thug aiming his Steyn SMG right at
them. Without delay, he aimed at the van's tires and fired. The shot was
precise and deadly; the van screeched and swerved out of control, before
crashing off the side of the bridge and landing in the river with a crash.
"We did it!" exclaimed the ACP.
"They're… WATCH OUT!!"
It was too late; both of them screamed
as their car flew off a blind edge onto a steep slope below. They skidded
though a barrage of rocks, tree trunks and puddles until the vehicle finally
crashed into a particularly large tree. Thankfully, their seatbelts held on. A
minute passed in silence before the ACP looked around; they were in a small
forest at the edge of the city. He turned to Gayatri; much of her face was
covered with gashes and blood.
"You're hurt", he said sharply. "We need
to get you to a doctor before…"
"I'm fine", she interrupted, though her
voice was weak. "Where are we?"
"A few kilometers off Malad. But – "
"Look", she cut in again, "thanks for
your help. But I really need to get to Shantinagar right now."
"Shantinagar?" said the ACP, bemused.
"Right after a band of thugs chased and nearly killed us?"
don't understand!" screamed Gayatri, and her voice had suddenly regained
its force. "It's not about me; I have something extremely important to check
there! Tell me, can you take me there?"
The ACP looked at her. She seemed on the
verge of hysteria, almost in tears. But he also noticed something else; she
seemed hardly perturbed by the attack that had just occurred. Her attitude
towards it was surprisingly matter-of-the-fact. Had she already known that it
was going to happen?
Before he could answer, his phone rang
and he answered it. "Hello, Abhijeet. Me? Oh well… let's say I've had a little
adventure here. And you… what? At Shantinagar, you say? Who was the unfortunate
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw
Gayatri sit up straight, suddenly tense. Abhijeet continued, and he spoke the
man's name aloud. "Arvind Pathak…"
Startled, the ACP nearly dropped the
phone. Gayatri seemed to have totally lost control; she fell against the
dashboard, sobbing uncontrollably. Telling Abhijeet to contact him later, he
turned to her.
"What happened, Gayatri? What is it? Do
you know this man, Arvind?"
She was hardly paying attention, and
kept mumbling to herself. "It's my fault, all my fault! He warned… and the last
thing I ever said to him was, 'I hate you'!"
It took him nearly fifteen minutes to
calm her down a bit. She looked at him in utter grief, her voice hoarse. And
she spoke. "He was… he was my father."
5 – GHOSTS FROM THE PAST
"I do not know what you're speaking
about. Amjad Gabriel was killed five years ago and his case is collecting dust
in the vaults", said the Home Minister's voice on the intercom. "Then how come
"I don't think you're as stupid as you
look", smirked Mahmud. "We both know the truth. And unless you give him to us,
I assure you that DW-395's future is bleak! You have fifteen minutes left for
He disconnected, and turned to the
hostages. One of them spoke, his voice high. "You're insane! What the minister
said is true – Amjad Gabriel is DEAD! His body must be rotting in some
graveyard! What do you want, to be delivered his soul or something?"
"And they wonder why simple-minded sheep
like you are whacked all the time", chuckled Mahmud.
"I've had enough – I embarked this plane
for a holiday package, not to be captured by a band of lunatics!" screamed the
"Mr. Kuldeep…" warned the lithe young
lady behind him, but he ignored her.
"This is it – I want a parachute and if
you don't –"
He could never complete the sentence.
Mahmud nodded at one of his men, who swung a long, thin blade-like weapon at
the man. The passenger's head spun into the air and rolled across the floor,
trailing blood everywhere. The plane was rent with screams of horror.
"Anyone else's feeling rebellious?"
asked Mahmud, his voice acerbic.
Everyone was silent, except the young
lady. Thankfully, the hijackers couldn't hear her furious growl over the din of
the airplane's engine. Making sure it was unnoticed, she snuck her fingers to
operate the ultra-slim smartphone hidden inside her jacket. She could tell
which numbers she was pressing just by the beeping sounds. However, nobody was
answering. Keep trying!
"I can already say this with certainty,
Abhijeet – this man did not commit suicide", said Dr. Salunkhe. "He was dead before his body was hanged from up there.
As of now, I'd say he was choked or smothered."
"As we suspected", said Abhijeet darkly.
They were in the forensic lab, where Arvind's body was being prepared for
postmortem. "Whoever it was cleaned up the room of clues remarkably well."
"And that suicide note could've been
printed by anyone", said Daya. "Now, we must see how –"
"- you've seen enough already,
gentlemen", said a curt voice from the doorway.
They turned; a tall, powerfully built
man with close-cropped hair was striding in, followed by two accomplices. Each
of them was wearing a magnificent frown on their faces.
"What on Earth is this? Nobody enters
this lab without my permission!" exclaimed Dr. Salunkhe.
"And nobody raises their voice in my
presence", said the grey-haired man. His tone was quite calm, and yet imposing.
"I am General Damien, along with Brigadier Vincent and Colonel Akhtar here."
"General Damien?" repeated Daya.
"Weren't you the one who invited ACP sir to that ceremony?"
Damien was quiet for a few moments. "It
is not wise to talk about Pradyuman at present. And might I remind you that
he's not the ACP anymore."
"Not for you, perhaps. But he'll always
be ACP Pradyuman for us", said Daya calmly.
General's eyes shimmered with cold appraisal. "That's quite beside the point;
I'm here regarding another issue." He pointed at the body lying in front of
them. "Arvind's body. We need it, now."
"His body?" repeated Abhijeet,
surprised. "Why? What do you have to do with this?"
"I'm afraid that's classified", replied Vincent
curtly, nursing his wrist. A red gash was visible under his sleeve. "You'll
know in due time. Right now, it is imperative that we obtain possession of this
"This case was handed over to us
officially", pressed Abhijeet. "I think we do deserve to know the details, at
"You've got some nerve, young man",
smiled Damien ruefully. "I'm not here to negotiate; I'm here for a purpose. I'm
afraid I must insist."
Abhijeet's eyes grew narrower, though he
spoke politely. "If you say so, I will. But I request you to inform ACP sir
about this as well. Will you have some coffee, meanwhile? And some cotton for
The girl's breathing had eased a bit,
though her eyes were still glazed with tears. The ACP felt sad for her, but
there was nothing he could do at the moment. He put his hand on her shoulder.
"Gayatri, I know what you're going
through", he said softly. "But I need your co-operation if we were to get to
the root of this. Tell me, why did you leave your father? How did you know that
he was in danger?"
She looked at him. "Did you see the news
on TV? About that plane, about the al-Kohla hijacking it?"
"Yes", said the ACP, leaning closer.
"What does that have to do with your father?"
"It is him they were after", she
The ACP was thunderstruck. "After him? But why? I thought they were after…
but in that case… oh!"
"Yes", she stressed, wiping her tears.
"He was Amjad Gabriel. And my name isn't Gayatri either. I'm Ayesha Gabriel."
Taken aback by this new revelation, the
ACP stared at her. "This is unbelievable. How did all this happen?"
"It doesn't matter", said Ayesha curtly.
"Let's just say that Abba decided not to help out those creatures anymore, and
we were forced to go into hiding under pseudonyms. I was tired of it, I wanted
to go out and live life to the fullest. He restrained me, for my own good. I
rebelled and walked out, you saw my other company. It's my fault, it's all my
"Don't think like that, now", said the
ACP quickly. "Why is the al-Kohla after him now? And why did they come after
"For revenge, perhaps", answered Ayesha.
"He was pretty high up in their organization, after all. As for me, I have no
idea. Perhaps they wanted to use me to threaten him. Oh, if I had only obeyed
She turned away. The ACP attempted to
comfort her, while thinking about what she had said. How did the al-Kohla know
that Amjad was in hiding? If they wanted Amjad alive, why had he been murdered?
Did anybody else know about his? What had Ayesha's would-be kidnappers wanted? And
above all, how would they now free the passengers if Amjad was dead? He pulled
out his mobile and called Abhijeet.
Interrupting the conversation with
General Damien, Abhijeet answered the phone. "Yes, sir… what? Amjad, really? And
she is… oh! Wait, sir – there's someone you need to talk to right now." He
handed over the phone to General Damien. "ACP sir's on the line, with some
Damien barely spoke for ten seconds
before letting out an exclamation. "You have Ayesha with you? How on Earth??
Listen Pradyuman, this is extremely serious. No, please, come over to the C.I.D
Bureau with her right now. We need to talk and plan – innocent lives are in
He disconnected, and turned to Abhijeet.
"I've obviously underestimated you gentlemen."
"We're flattered", said Abhijeet with a
forced smile. "But General, we're ready to help you with this."
"I'm grateful", said Damien. "Gentlemen,
let's get to the bureau and wait for your ACP and Ayesha. Dr. Salunkhe, please
continue with your postmortem. Let us know if you unearth anything
As they walked out of the lab, Abhijeet
turned to the General. "Please tell us, sir, what's up with this Arvind alias
Amjad Gabriel? Wasn't he supposed to be dead?"
Damien sighed. "It's a long, twisted
story. Shortly after the al-Kohla became active, they developed a sophisticated
network with several operational nodes, each specializing in different fields
to aid in their notorious activities. Amjad was an Indian, but brainwashed and
bribed into joining this organization's weapons and aviation network. He was a
brilliant engineer and provided the al-Kohla with devices so powerful that we're
still greatly threatened by many of them, notably an enhanced DRFM jammer."
"What made him switch sides, then?"
"A particularly nasty betrayal from his
superiors", said Akhtar. "Amjad's brother, Marid, was a lieutenant in the al-Kohla.
He was the one who encouraged Amjad to join the al-Kohla in the first place. However,
Marid was captured in a close encounter with a group of our jawans. He held a lot of crucial
information about the al-Kohla, and was to be taken for questioning. However,
Mahmud had him cleverly murdered in order to prevent any secrets from leaking,
and lied to Amjad that he'd been killed in battle. When Amjad learned the truth
later, his faith in the al-Kohla was shattered. He realized the error of his
ways and came over to our side, promising to help us in the war against
terrorism. We provided him and his daughter with fake aliases, spread a false
story of his death and sent them into hiding to protect him from his enemies."
"And you let him in? You trusted him?"
"He provided genuinely useful details
about the al-Kohla, which helped us eradicate three of their boot camps and
successfully neutralize an attempted strike on the Irish Embassy", said the
General. "He helped us in closing down a large mob bank belonging to the Mumbai
underworld. We developed sophisticated defense equipment with his assistance. I
think that suffices to prove his newfound loyalty."
"I can imagine why they're after him,
then", said Abhijeet.
"No doubt", replied Damien testily. "He
was an invaluable asset for the Indian Army, and his death is a devastating
loss for us. However, I'm sure that the prime reason for the al-Kohla's
interest in Amjad is the new weapon he'd been developing for us – the Red
Banshee. It's a device which uses desktop fusion and piezoelectric techniques
to unleash a devastating electromagnetic pulse, ravaging any electronic devices
in the vicinity. Its blueprints have been stolen."
"Stolen?" repeated Daya incredulously.
"On the fourteenth of May this year, the
conveyance was attacked at night by a band of thugs working for the al-Kohla",
said Vincent. "We tried unsuccessfully to retrieve them. Now we suspect that
they must've successfully built this weapon and are nearly ready to use it. Nearly, for they are still missing a
crucial element – the password to operate the machine."
"If they had the blueprints, couldn't
they just create a new password?" asked Abhijeet.
"Therein lay the genius of Amjad –
nobody could decode that procedure without the entire programming structure
collapsing", said Damien with a ghost of a smile. "They must've had no choice
but to follow his work word-by-word. And now, they could only get the password
from him, that's why they want him."
"And now he's dead", finished Daya
thoughtfully. "Now's a really good time to..."
He paused. The phone in the ACP's vacant
cabin was ringing. He looked at Abhijeet, who entered to answer it. "Senior
Inspector Abhijeet here… what?? …is
this real? Oh, my God…"
Daya watched as he spoke for about a
minute before abruptly disconnecting and walking out, his expression serious.
He gestured Daya to follow him aside. General Damien was watching too. "Who was
it?" he asked.
Abhijeet paused to look at him. "Oh,
just a nutty informer of ours, regarding an unrelated case."
Damien didn't look convinced, but he
remained quiet. He could see them talking, before Abhijeet swiftly typed away a
message on his phone.
"I do not need any more help", said Ayesha,
getting out of the wrecked car. "Thanks for what you did. I owed you one, and
hence told you everything I know. I'll handle it myself now."
"What do you intend to do?" asked the
ACP, putting away his mobile phone to look at her.
"Find that Damien creep and kill him",
she snarled. "He was the one who led us into hiding, who pressed Abba to help
them. If it hadn't been for him, I'd not be an orphan today."
"Ayesha, General Damien only meant to
help", said the ACP. "He did his best to provide you with protection and
shelter. Terrorism is spreading like a canker through our country, and your
father's help –"
"All I know is that my only family has
been lost today", interjected Ayesha. "I don't care anymore."
"Not even about the lives of those innocent
passengers being held hostage?" asked the ACP, looking into her eyes. "Your Abba
was a noble soul, Ayesha. He set out to amend his mistakes and help humanity.
And now, unintentionally, he's the reason why so many citizens' lives are
Ayesha said nothing. The ACP continued.
"The al-Kohla obviously doesn't know that they cannot get him anymore. And yet,
there must be a very strong reason for those unknown attackers to come after
you. If they knew where you were, they must've also known about your father,
and easily went after him. Why did they come after you, then?"
"Big deal", she snorted.
"Big deal indeed", repeated the ACP, a
little strongly. "If your father were here, I'm sure he'd want you to help us
too. Please, Ayesha! Otherwise they shall all suffer at your enemies' hands
like you and Abba."
Ayesha remained quiet for several
moments before speaking. "Fine, then. But I don't see how I can help."
"I'm sure there's a missing link we'll
soon come across", said the ACP, nodding encouragingly. "We'll find out once we
talk to General Damien." He knew they couldn't move in the open, given their
attackers could still be on the large. They snuck into a nearby parlour and had
themselves aptly disguised so as not to be immediately recognizable. And then, they
set out towards the bureau, past a black Scorpio whizzing towards the opposite
6 - STRATEGIES
murdered one of the passengers", said Damien tersely. "There's no time to
waste. I talked to the Home Minister and informed Mahmud that Amjad will be
delivered to him within four hours, as he asked."
"And there's a catch-22. Only with ACP
sir's help can we proceed at this point", said Daya.
At this point, Abhijeet's phone rang and
he attended to it. "Yes, Dr. Salunkhe? Oh, really? Interesting… yes, please
send it over. Thank you!" He disconnected, and turned to the others. "Dr.
Salunkhe has found a strange piece of paper in Amjad's stomach. He'll send a
reconstructed copy to us in a few minutes."
"This thing was so important that he
swallowed it?" said Fredericks in amazement. "It must be an invaluable clue to
Damien was talking on his own phone,
barely listening. He approached them in a while. "It was Vincent, who received
a message from Lieutenant Rathore of Drass Tehsil. They've managed to find out
how the al-Kohla managed to hijack DW-395. They had used a specialized
carbon-nanotube sheet to create a mirage effect and render their own aircraft –
an M42 – almost 97% invisible."
"Wasn't this technique used to create a
sort of real-life Invisibility Cloak, inspired by the one in Harry Potter?"
asked Fredericks inquisitively.
"Precisely", said Damien. "Except that
this version is far more powerful and effective. They used anechoic rubber
layers to mask heat signatures and LO stealth-tech equipment to conceal engine
sounds. And, as we suspected, Amjad's own DRFM jammer to neutralize our radars
when it was passing. And then they went on to hijack DW-395 in midair."
"The nerve of these people!" exclaimed
"I know", said Damien. "Better late than
never, though. Rathore and his men, with the help of several posts across the
aircraft's suspected path, tracked it using an Active Electronically Scanned
Array (AESA) device, which is immune to the jammer, and shot it down about half
an hour ago. The pilot ejected and was captured shortly after that. He's been
"Anything of interest?" asked Daya.
"Yes; he's confirmed that the Red Banshee
is the crux of all this; they wanted Amjad for the password to the controls. Apparently,
there are many more rumours floating among the al-Kohla. For example, that
Amjad has been subjected to plastic surgery and a completely altered face for
"Is that so? I guess whispers are louder
than screams after all", said a voice from the door.
All of them turned; a tall man walking
in with a girl by his side. It took them a few moments to realize that it was
none other than their own ACP Pradyuman. The C.I.D team greeted him with particularly
overt enthusiasm, following which he introduced Ayesha to everyone at large.
"It's so good to see you back here,
sir", beamed Daya.
"We were so worried!" said Abhijeet,
although he flashed a small smile as well. "What exactly happened, sir? And
what's this disguise for?"
"We were intercepted by unknown
assailants at the Shalimar society", said the ACP grimly. "I can't imagine them
being from the al-Kohla, though. Why would they come after Ayesha?"
"A question only they can answer", said
Damien. He'd shaken hands with the ACP without looking very enthusiastic. "But
if my sources are right, the Mumbai mafia has also been showing interest in
Amjad for their own ends. I wouldn't be surprised if it were them."
"The question still remains – why did
they kill my father if they wanted him alive?" said Ayesha loudly.
None of them knew the answer. Before
anyone could speak, the fax machine bleeped to life and delivered the scanned
image from Dr. Salunkhe's lab. Everybody in the room examined it:
"Whatever I write here is dedicated to you alone,
dearest. By the time you read this, I will be long gone. I'm therefore ensuring
that only those worthy of it shall find this writing. I know that you're
furious with me, and you should know that I fully deserve it. Allah blessed me
with a beautiful cherub like you and I could never even provide you with the
joys of childhood. You just wanted to live life to the fullest, but all you saw
were the darkest shades of human evil and lived miserably for no fault of your
own. All I did was for your own good, dearest. It is time for you to take up
what I left. All you need to remember is that Faruq knows all. Please forgive
me if you can."
Several moments later, they all turned
to look at Ayesha. The ACP saw her eyes grow moist as she mouthed the word,
"What do you make of this, Ayesha?"
asked General Damien without preamble. "Who is this Faruq?"
"Faruq…" repeated Ayesha quietly. "That's
just a figment of imagination, a story! This is insane!"
"Ayesha, this was the last thing your
father ever wrote. He'd swallowed
this paper, for Pete's sake! It's undoubtedly something of paramount
importance!" said Damien loudly.
The ACP scowled at him, and looked at
Ayesha. "She'll come to it. Right now, we also need to concentrate on saving
DW-395 and its passengers. There's very little time left."
"What do we do now, sir?" asked
"I have a plan", said the ACP. "And all
of you have a part to play. Fredericks and Purvi – you must revisit Amjad's
home. Abhijeet, arrange for a GSM chip right now. Daya, it's time for a little
He explained everything faster than a
tour guide as everybody stared at him, looking bewildered. "And then, Abhijeet
and Daya, you'll cloak in them as planned", he finished.
"What do you mean, 'cloaking in'? Is all
this even going to work?" scowled Damien.
"I'm open for better ideas", answered
the ACP politely. The General remained silent.
"We're ready, sir", said Abhijeet and
Daya together, firmly. Their tones made it clear that they had understood
perfectly and were afraid of no danger.
"I am, too", said Ayesha, her voice
robust. "I cannot wait to lay my hands on the man who murdered him!"
"Very good", said the ACP, nodding.
"Ayesha and I set out at once. Good luck, everyone!"
"Me tells ya, the news is true – the old
codger's goin' loopy", chucked one of the toughs, watching the ACP walk towards
their Scorpio with the girl. "They used to say he's so observant, and look at
'im now! Sloppy as a sloth! Bwahahaha!"
"All easier for us", said the driver,
not smiling. "Get them, boys."
At once, three thugs dismounted and
surrounded the ACP and Ayesha with iron rods and hockey sticks. "If you wanna
live in one piece, hotshots, get into the car without another word!"
Pausing only to flash false looks of
hopelessness, the ACP and Ayesha did as told. They were blindfolded and shoved
roughly into the Scorpio, which sped off. Abhijeet watched it all from the
bureau's terrace telescope, before whipping out his phone.
"They've been taken, Daya. Activate the
7 – THE STORY OF FARUQ
that is our final word, as decided", said Mahmud triumphantly, violently
grabbing a fistful of a young boy's hair, who shrieked in pain. His parents
cried in vain behind him. "Amjad must be present at Atoll X before 5:30 AM,
sharp. Any mistake, and all of these people shall rest at the bottom of the
The line was disconnected, tinny static
on the Qualis' radio. Daya frowned as he turned to Abhijeet, switching it off.
"Atoll X? I've heard strange stories about that place."
"It's a place few dare to approach",
replied Abhijeet, looking straight ahead. "In folk terms, they call it the
Demon's Maw. A number of aircraft and ships have vanished mysteriously into
that place, never to return. Locals here say that there's some horrible sea
monster which devours them all."
"More likely a secret hideout of these
scumbags", said Daya. "Wasn't that the last location to which the DW-395 had
"Indeed", said Abhijeet. "Damien said the
plane was forced all the way towards the west before vanishing over that point.
However, it's reasonable to believe that the other hostages are unharmed… for
"Not for long. If they find out that
Amjad is dead, they have no reason not to kill them", said Daya darkly.
"That's true. I must admit that ACP
sir's plan is remarkable", said Damien. "But the question remains – will he and
Ayesha make it?"
"They will", answered Daya firmly. "Our
job is to concentrate at this end."
His phone rang, and he answered it.
"Yes, Purvi? …What? You've found Amjad's killer? Who is it?"
"He or she cannot have entered through
the door, sir", said Purvi firmly, looking at it. "Amjad had locked it from the
inside and there are no signs of damage. And the windows in the washroom are
firmly bolted as well."
"Which only leaves this window as a
possible point", said Fredericks, pointing at the one just above Ayesha's bed.
"Given it's opposite to Amjad's desk, the assailant could've easily snuck over
to kill him."
"But the question remains, sir – how did
they scale that sheer drop over the other side?" asked Purvi.
Fredericks leant out of the window to
examine the drop. "It's a sharp drop indeed. But I can see a drainage pipe
leading up right under the window. Maybe it's a long shot, but a skilled
climber could pull it off." He bent gingerly over the edge, and started. "I
think I see something here. Help me out, Purvi!"
"Ayesha", whispered the ACP, "we really
don't have time now. You must work out what Abba meant."
They had been carelessly dumped in the
back seat, their capturers certain that escape was impossible. Ayesha bit her
lip, looking at his silhouette through the blindfold. She was hopeless,
"I really don't understand", she said at
last. "Faruq is just a character in a little bedtime limerick he used to tell
me – 'Faruq and Makhara'. It felt so dumb and childish at the time."
"Faruq and Makhara?" repeated the ACP,
bemused. "I don't understand… I've never heard of this before. Was it something
he made up?"
"Perhaps", replied Ayesha. "I never
heard it anywhere else either. But making up stories isn't really uncommon, is
"No, but we cannot disregard any
possibility here", said the ACP grimly. "Ayesha, this was the very last thing
he ever wrote! Please repeat this story to me." Ayesha sighed, and began to
There was a man, his name Faruq
Black or white, he knew by the hook
Then on a fine day
With no warning or fray
He met a big croc by the brook
It said, Makhara is my name
Awakening you is the game
Just think of it, man
Are you proud of your clan?
For evil and war, who's to blame?
Come join us and arise revolt
Strike them down like a fiery bolt
But Faruq was cool
Because he was no fool
And he drew his sword with a jolt
With one stroke he cut off its head
His voice like fire, then he said
"You are no other…"
"You have killed my brother…"
"Destroyed peace and screamed bloody dread!"
So remember, O you who live
Like Faruq, you must not misgive
Your love is the key
That shall make all well be
And make peace and justice relive
She finished and said, "That's it.
Strange, isn't it? I don't see any connection at all."
The ACP was quiet for a few moments.
"Did he always tell this to you? Completely unchanged?"
"No", she said. "He changed much of it
since a few months. Around the second week of May, perhaps."
day the Red Banshee's blueprints were stolen! The
ACP sat silently for over ten minutes. Ayesha could almost hear the gears
whirring inside his head. Without warning, he spoke again, his voice strong.
"I think I've got the idea. We'll work
out more soon. Keep calm now, Ayesha, and do as I say", he said.
Ayesha had no idea about what he'd
understood. Before she could reply, the car stopped and their capturers roughly
dragged them out.
"Walk with us now", said a grainy voice.
"You'll be untied once inside."
They were unceremoniously marched into
what felt like a well-furnished manor, with an irritatingly strong smell of
cologne in the air. They could see a glimmer of light through the blindfolds,
which were soon pulled off. The ACP and Ayesha found themselves in a large,
elaborately furnished living room adorned with expensive art, ornate
mantelpiece and a sprawling floor of fine marble. In front of them were two men,
who walked out of the shadows to greet them. The ACP suppressed a start.
"So this is the famous Amjad Gabriel",
said the grey-haired man. "That's the second time you apparently died!"
"One must not trust rumours, Shri Arun
Vaghela", said the ACP calmly, pleased to see that his disguise was flawless. "May
I know why gentlemen like you sent toughs after my innocent daughter?"
"Discard your mask, Gabriel!" hissed Uday
Vaghela, standing by his father. "Innocent people don't masquerade under
aliases! And we wouldn't have gone after her if we knew you were still alive."
"And why were you after me?" asked the
"Don't play games with us. The password
to activate the Red Banshee – spit it out, now!" growled Arun.
"I thought so", sighed the ACP. "Pray,
why do you want it? What do you have to do with the al-Kohla?"
"None of your business", snapped Uday,
drawing a gun. "Do it, or you shall croak for real this time."
"Easy, easy, young man", said the ACP.
"I'm in no mood for defiance. Here's the password – surrender."
The two men stared at him, surprised.
Two seconds later, there was a multitude of crashes as STF personnel burst
through the windows and doors in a shower of glass and wood. None of Vaghela's
bodyguards were a match for them; a few of them foolish enough to open fire
were promptly mowed down by a hail of MP5 bullets. In strode Abhijeet and Daya,
watching as the baddies were captured.
"Amazing work, ACP sir", said Daya.
"That was something seriously hardcore."
gasped Arun, as he was handcuffed. Uday looked simply dumbfounded.
"Yes, Pradyuman", replied the ACP with a
grim smile. "Forgive me; if I knew it was you we were facing, I'd have brought
along champagne as well."
"Now tell me – why did you kill my Abba?
What's your problem?" screamed Ayesha.
"He didn't kill him", said Daya. "The
real culprit has been caught back at the C.I.D Bureau. You'll know soon enough."
"We'll handle them later", said the ACP,
walking out of the mansion. "I have an appointment in Atoll X!"
8: THE DEMON'S MAW
"You have but thirty minutes left", said
Mahmud, lazily checking his watch. "I believe I made myself clear, Minister?"
"You did", said the Minister's voice
hastily. "I'm sorry for the delay, but there was important paperwork to be
done. Amjad is on his way to Atoll X now."
"That's better", chortled Mahmud.
"Better hope it goes well, Minister, or you'll have more paperwork to do –
signing the death certificates of these passengers!"
He disconnected, and sat back in his
chair. In the dimly lit cave, the hijackers patrolled like panthers amid the
frozen passengers. Some of them were silently sobbing, others looking close to
fainting, others holding photos of loved ones with tears in their eyes,
wondering if they'd ever meet again. The lithe lady was discreetly fumbling
with her smartphone, watching the terrorists closely. She waited for the
"You don't have to do this, Ayesha",
said the ACP, over the din of the little jet's engines. "We're especially
trained for high-risk situations like this."
"Abba always said that will and ability
are equally important", replied Ayesha. "And you need me to work out the poem's
"True", said the ACP with a small smile.
Her courage was admirable. "Have you thought over it?"
"Some of it", said Ayesha. "'Screamed bloody dread' seems to point
towards that Red Banshee, right?"
"It sure does", said the ACP. "His
limerick is filled with references to our present. See how he addresses the
listener as 'O you who live'. That's
directed at you, Ayesha. For your name means 'she who lives'!"
Ayesha gasped. "You mean… he left a
message in there for me?"
"He did", said the ACP. "Similarly, 'Faruq' means one who can tell right
from wrong – what he wanted you to do. Another point – he named that crocodile
'Makhara'. While it rings with the Hindi word 'Makar', I know that 'Makara'
also means 'deceit' in Arabic. Also, notice the spelling difference – Makhara – 'akh' means 'brother'. He was referring to his brother being
deceived into joining al-Kohla!"
She looked at him. "That was impressively
fast! Do you think the password is in there?"
"Sort of", said the ACP, smiling again.
"Ponder over the last three lines, Ayesha! It is in there, and it is meant only
for you. Only you can decipher it and save the day."
Ayesha fell silent, thinking. The ACP
turned to look at land disappearing as they progressed through thick layers of
fog towards Atoll X. The Demon's Maw.
In another helicopter trailing behind,
Abhijeet and Daya could see the silhouette of the great island mountain
manifesting through the fog. Right above its foot was a vast cave, its lips
flanked by massive stalactites and stalagmites, like the gaping mouth of some
"I guess this place deserves its name",
said Daya. "Abhijeet, is it working? They must never know that we're here!"
"The jammers are working", replied
Abhijeet, smiling with satisfaction. "If it goes right, they won't know what
On the frequency tracker, they could see
the ACP and Ayesha's chopper trailing a few kilometres behind them, as planned.
Within five minutes, they had emerged onto the rocky atoll with sparse
vegetation, and the pilot landed the chopper under the shade of an arch. Guns
drawn, they snuck several metres on foot until they saw DW-395 parked on a
stretch of land above the cave. They cut across it and emerged on the other
"Like she said, there's an opening
here", said Abhijeet. "I'll signal her now."
"Pray that Amjad is sent here on time,
all of you. If he is not, this cave shall be your final resting place!"
The lady was hardly paying attention to
Mahmud's threats; her slim phone vibrated. There it was, the signal. Now was
the time! She approached the nearest hijacker, and said "Excuse me, can I use
The man's eyes narrowed behind his mask.
"Does this look like a place likely to have one?"
"Not my fault if you kicked us out of
the plane", she retorted. "Well, at least near the back of the cave?"
"Fine", snapped the man. "But I'm coming
too, and if you try anything stupid, my gun will do the rest!"
"Such manners", she sighed, before
walking towards the opening behind the cave. The hijacker followed a few paces
behind her. They burst out into daylight, and the man sharply signaled her to
"That's far enough", he growled.
It sure was. There was a slight rustling
in the brush, and five seconds later, the man found himself in the iron-like grip
of Daya, who had sprung like a tiger on him. There was a crack as his neck snapped and he slid to the floor, dead. Abhijeet
emerged from the other side and beamed at the lady.
"It's a pleasure to meet you again,
For the first time, Ayesha smiled at him
as they walked towards the forbidding cave. The ACP smiled back, and knew that
she'd understood. He raised his hand as she was about to speak.
"You'll have your chance, Ayesha, but
not now. Wait until we meet him", he said.
Flanked by five guards and Colonel
Akhtar, they walked up the rough steps leading up to the cave and stared at the
sight in front of them. It looked as though they were standing on empty air
over a bottomless pit… except that the air seemed solid enough to support them
and the bearded man now walking towards them, the hostages shuddering at the
rear of the cave. The ACP caught Muskaan's eye among them; she gave him a small
smile. The hijacker standing next to her gave a brief nod.
"The miracles of modern science, eh,
Amjad? I could've never recognized you!" Mahmud cackled.
"Ah, the plastic surgery thing", sighed
"You're more gullible than I thought",
said Mahmud coldly. "Why did you bring your daughter along, eh?"
"But you're mistaken, Mahmud", said the
ACP sharply. "I'm not Amjad, but ACP… ah, ex-ACP Pradyuman, Mumbai C.I.D. I had
to do this to ensure you don't harm the hostages after finding out that Amjad
snarled Mahmud, stiffening. "You filthy little liar!"
"Maybe, but you will get what you wanted",
answered the ACP calmly. "This charming young lady here – who, for all
purposes, is very much my daughter tonight – has the password to the Red
Ayesha walked forward and looked at
Mahmud in the face, her eyes blazing. "You're the reason my life was ravaged.
You're the reason my entire family was ruined. My Abba died because of you!"
"Your clan is nothing but a quagmire of
treachery, little lamb!" hissed Mahmud. "You're traitors to our blood, you
betrayed our faith and sided with the enemy! You deserve to be stoned to
are the traitors", replied Ayesha quietly, her eyes brimming with tears. "You
represent nobody, nothing but evil and inhumanity. You belong to no clan, no
faith and no human territory. You're a vile beast, an alien species I do not
know. I'm a human and if it means I'm betraying you, I'm proud of it!"
The passengers behind her gasped. The
hijackers readied their guns. Mahmud smiled evilly.
"I don't know whether to pity you or
blast your brains out, dear. I'd have done the latter if it weren't for the
password. Hand it over, and then we'll think it over a cup of tea, shall we?"
The silence was absolute. The girl
paused before taking a deep breath and saying a single word. "AYESHA."
Nearly everyone looked at her, shocked.
Had she gone mad? Her own name, the password? The ACP, however, was smiling.
Mahmud didn't take his eyes off her as he whipped out his phone.
"I should tell you, little lamb, that
the Red Banshee is in a cellar right below this cave. I'm repeating this
password to my man there. If it doesn't work, you won't like the results." He
spoke into the phone, "Enter the password, bhai
– 'AYESHA'. That's it."
He disconnected, and waited. Three
seconds later, a sonorous bellow of mammoth proportions echoed through the
cave; the ground under their feet rattled. Mahmud exclaimed in delight,
thinking that it had worked, but his expectations were dashed as he answered
his ringing phone.
the Banshee has exploded! Our lab is destroyed! The Maw's foundations are
pulverized; the cave is going to collapse!" rang the voice though the phone's
"WHAT???" screamed Mahmud. Sure enough,
the cave was starting to slowly crumble. Cracks spread wide from roof to
ceiling and dust was raining down. With a yell, he pointed his gun at Ayesha,
but the ACP lunged forward to tackle him. The hijackers raised their weapons,
but the one standing next to Muskaan fired first and two of the others
immediately fell like stones, bleeding. The passengers screamed in terror; Daya
entered from the back entrance and ushered them out of the crumbling cave. The
remaining hijackers raised their guns at the masquerader, but he was too fast
and struck them down with swift headshots. Colonel Akhtar joined the fight and
helped the ACP overpower Mahmud. All of them rushed out of the cave before it
collapsed in a deafening crash and cloud of dust and debris.
Abhijeet pulled off his terrorist mask
and walked with Muskaan to the ACP's side, who gave Daya a glowing thumbs-up
from the other side. He turned to Akhtar, who was handcuffing Mahmud. "Have
maintenance crew summoned to checkup on DW-395's condition. When all's well,
let's return to Mumbai."
9: VINCULUM NON CRUOR
Lieutenant Vincent didn't dare to meet
General Damien's eyes as he was handcuffed. Fredericks and Purvi eyed him with
satisfaction. "We found his footprint on the pipe outside Amjad's window, along
with a bloodstain near the thimble where he'd cut himself. We matched it with
samples from the cotton he'd used in the bureau, and lo", said the latter.
"Speak up", said Ayesha angrily. "Why
did you kill my Abba? What did he ever do to you?"
"Because he knew my secret", snarled
Vincent. "I was involved with the Mumbai underworld and was the mastermind
behind the mob bank Amjad helped shut down. He found that out recently; I tried
to convince him, but he'd decided to inform the General about it. What choice
did I have? I snuck into his room, whacked him and framed it as suicide."
"You can explain more at the
court-martial", said the ACP. "Let's turn our attention to our chief guest here
– Mahmud. Let the tale begin, mister."
Mahmud glared at him. "You know much of
it. I've been the Lieutenant General of the al-Kohla for seven years now. We
operated from the Demon's Maw, which was an ideal clandestine hideout, and
destroyed any ships or aircraft that dared to approach. Amjad and Marid were
two of my best and most gifted men. I was forced to sacrifice Marid for the
greater good of our fraternity. Alas, Amjad did not understand. He sided with
our enemies and betrayed us, giving away much of our classified data. We were
hunting him, but the government's protection was too strong. We did manage to
steal the Red Banshee's blueprints, but after building it, discovered that we
needed the password. We needed Amjad at all costs… and decided to force the
government itself to hand him over. Our lab operatives engineered that stealth
aircraft, which we used to hijack DW-395 and hold the passengers ransom."
"Alas, Johnson ruined your plan by
murdering Amjad", said the ACP. "When I learned of rumours about Amjad having
undergone plastic surgery to alter his face, I thought it was a golden
opportunity to masquerade as him and get to the root of all this."
"And you", snarled Daya at the Vaghelas,
who were cowering in the corner. "Why did you try to kidnap Ayesha? Why did you
want the password?"
"We've had dealings with the al-Kohla in
the past, but they betrayed us", said Arun Vaghela acidly. "They were holding
20 crores' worth of our rupees, and refused to hand them over. We thought we
could bribe them into it if we had the password. Amjad was proving to be
untraceable, but through a source we learned that Ayesha was frequenting with
some delinquents. We decided to use her to lure Amjad out of hiding. A survivor
from that delivery van saw you two leaving, and informed the others."
"And you got caught in your own trap",
smiled the ACP. "And people wonder why our country's progress is being impeded.
With people like you and Johnson leading it, what else is expected?"
"Out with this scum. I can't wait to see
them hauled over the coals in court", snarled Damien, before turning to the
ACP. "I'm really sorry to have suspected you, Pradyuman. I can never fully
express my admiration for what you and your team have achieved on this day."
Outside the bureau was a sea of flashing
cameras and jabbing mikes. The reporters were less interested in Mahmud and
more in the Vaghelas, who hid their faces as they were pushed into police jeeps
and led away. As the C.I.D team and Ayesha emerged, they were bombarded with
questions as well.
"Sir, what do you have to say about our
Foreign Relations Minister and his son being caught so scandalously? Especially
after defaming your ex-ACP? Is it a coincidence? Will you now –"
"You'll have your answers", interrupted
Abhijeet, raising his hand. "First, I have something to say to you, and
everybody watching this broadcast. Our earlier and latest clash with the
Vaghelas is a mere coincidence, but I'd like you to remember that dishonest
people are seldom so in only one way. All our ACP – yes, he's always the ACP in
our hearts – did was try to protect an innocent, and you saw what happened.
Tell me, who should've been punished that day? That drunken, spoilt brat who
shot at an innocent man or an honest man who risked his life to save him?"
"Not one of the witnesses stepped
forward to defend him", said Daya angrily, pointing at the ACP. "This man, who
sacrificed his dear son for the good of our society, was now abused in the
vilest possible ways for it. People like him could happily lead normal lives
like you, but they don't. They sacrifice their family time, passions and even
life so you can sleep safely in your beds at night, and this is how you repay
them? You call this a democracy, and yet vote corrupt people to power over
petty vote banks and then whine about the resulting chaos? We do not intend to
preach, we merely intend to wipe out that vile cloak of lies unjustly draped
over our dear ACP sir. Even today, with the entire city against him, he saved a
young girl he hardly knew, and rescued a hundred passengers from certain doom.
The rest is up to you."
The media was quieter than usual as they
rounded up their session and departed. The ACP smiled gratefully at his two
Senior Officers, before turning to thank Muskaan. "We're lucky that you
happened to be in that plane, Muskaan. Your presence of mind and amazingly
established contact with Abhijeet and Daya was invaluable in helping us save
"It's always my pleasure, sir", smiled
she, shaking his hand.
Once everybody was gone, Ayesha walked
up to him. "You were right about the last three lines. It was not the actual
password, but a code to destroy the Banshee. That's what he meant by making 'peace and justice relive' – the weapon
had to be destroyed for the world's good, as it had fallen into wrong hands.
He'd already engineered it that way. 'Your
love's the key' referred to me – I always told him my love, or dearest wish
was to live life to the fullest. And 'life'
traces back to my name, and the codeword – AYESHA."
"You're a fast learner", said the ACP
She didn't meet his eyes, and spoke in a
cracked voice. "ACP sir, I'm really, really sorry for what I said that day in
the restaurant. I can't believe what an ignorant fool I was! I let myself be
brainwashed by those idiotic reports! I can only imagine how much it must've
pained a wonderful man like you to… you know… sacrifice your son. Will you please
The ACP gave her a small smile. "Drop
it, Ayesha. I haven't even forgiven myself yet, and likely never will. The fact
remains that I shot my own son, and will always be known for that. I'll always
"Don't!" she said loudly, pressing her
hand on his lips. "Never, ever say that again. I don't care what the world
says. I know you're a great father. I've seen it in your eyes, I've felt it in
your touch. I sense it in every word you say. You are everything my Abba stood
for – righteousness, truth, courage, care, love and humanity. I don't feel like
he's left me. I still see some of him in you."
She spoke it very rapidly, almost
incomprehensibly. The ACP paused, looking, before pulling her into a gentle
hug. "I'm very grateful, Ayesha. I'd be more than delighted to welcome you to
"No, thanks", she said quickly, breaking
apart. "With Allah's grace, I can look after myself. I've already planned to
join college and work it all out. But yeah… I'll remain in touch. I promise."
The ACP beamed at her. "Now that's
courage. As long as I live, I'm there for you. Remember."
And it was done. The Vaghelas and
Johnson were sentenced to life imprisonment, while Mahmud was awarded the death
penalty. General Damien got back on good terms with the ACP, who was rightfully
reinstated by an embarrassed-looking DCP Chitroley. Having regained his
well-deserved public respect, he made it a point to meet Ayesha on weekends and
spend time with her. Abhijeet and Daya saw them once, and smiled to themselves.
Perhaps this is what it would've been like with him and Nakul, if duty hadn't
so cruelly intervened. And yet, here was some consolation. The Lord taketh, the
Lord giveth. They were together in bond, though not blood: vinculum non cruor.