Realisation from the Crime Scene
Realisation from the Crime Scene
I had been working in a manufacturing unit in Sahibabad, an industrial area in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. This unit had come here in 1973 almost the time, Ghaziabad was declared a district by the Uttar Pradesh administration. The one advantage, this new, modern industrial area had was being right at the Delhi border. The Delhi-U. P. check post on its western end was just a road width across from Vivek Vihar, an upcoming remote colony in East Delhi on the way to Ghaziabad. Almost immediately after that within a short span, the central government constituted NCR(National Capital Region). Ghaziabad being peripheral to the national capital came to be NCR . This facilitated convenient transportation between Delhi and Sahibabad industrial area.
Being midway between the main Ghaziabad city and the the most inhabited residential areas of Delhi, our unit had as many employees coming from Delhi as from Ghaziabad. But as also being remote from these both, travel time was more than 40 minutes even in the morning hours in spite of sparse traffic that time. Hence to ensure that employees face no hardship and also they be punctual, our company had hired contract buses to bring and drop the employees every working day. All had been assigned convenient stops for pickup and drop nearby their residences.
Those days, the Delhi U. P. check post, mentioned above, used to be an isolated spot. A 'Sharab ka Theka' (a licensed liquor outlet) on its Delhi side, just across the road, a stone's throw away, soon had come up. Tax being less in Delhi, it was a popular liquor shopping vend for those entering U. P. from Delhi. So this place would often be a quite crowded. The traffic had to crawl here and frequently enough came to a halt too, going through the check post barrier.
On that fateful day, as our contract bus, like every evening, carrying us back to Delhi, halted at the U. P. Delhi border barrier. Three boys, in their twenties, boarded the bus ignoring the objections of the bus monitor. No public was permitted in the bus. The enraged monitor got up to debar them but before he could, the bus had already started moving. The driver took time to realise the entry of the unauthorised passengers. And by the time he did stop the bus, it had covered enough distance to have entered the isolated stretch of the route it was, on the way to Delhi.
As soon as the bus came to halt again, the monitor along with another one from us, pushed them out forcibly. To our horror, getting down the footboard of the bus entrance, one of those three pulled out a scimitar. And once on the ground, he in a jiffy, started smashing the glass panes on the windows of the bus, one after another. All in the bus were stunned and watched it just horrified. Terror writ large on the faces as if they all had paralyzed in their seats.
Somehow, as it would be, my voice had not!
" All ladies! Get up. Stand in the alley!" I managed to shout in my loudest. The intent was to maximise their distance from the windows where splinters were flying, getting scattered in and out. Fortunately they complied and stood up in no time.
Unlike most, a few overcame their stupor and got down to deal with the perpetrators and confronted them avoiding the one brandishing the weapon. The bus driver had pulled out a rod from his tool kitty. He rushed down and engaged the scimitar holding one with commendable audacity.
But in no time our knights who had preceded down first had to recede back into the bus scared and crying "Beware! he carries a pistol underneath"
Gosh! it was to live a nightmare. A horrible crime scene as if right from the screen of a bollywood movie. How I wish to never be a witness so.
The scimitar, gleaming in the evening sun rays, kept inflicting blows to the unusually broad neck of the valiant driver. Left out, down and alone by us, he stood his ground all through and never stopped hitting him with his rod albeit far less effectively than needed. His valour must have dampened the morale of the other two offenders. For whatever reason there was no fire from the pistol supposedly with one of them.
The scimitar was proving damaging enough. The bloody duel might have gone on for five minutes . The stricken crowd, us, watching it all frozen in the posture, whatever we each were,when it all had begun. The way it had affected our psyche, it had all gone on without a shriek from anyone, even from the lady passengers.
I had been cursing myself and also all of us, for feeling so helpless. More so, with the driver left all alone! Them three vs so many but all cowardly us, doing nothing and just watching! I had never felt so pathetic.
The driver fainted from the stabbings, all onto the back of his neck. Nobody at that time, none! could ever reckon as to what it was to be the next.
But once the driver fell, immobilized on the ground, the criminals made it to run away.
"There was a storm water under construction running parallely opposite the other side of road we were. I made out, they intended to cross the drain on a cement pipe lying bridging the drain. They in desperation had to. But the drain was dug wide and deep enough to dissuade anyone chasing them.
Realising it that the culprits were going to escape so, a chance dawned on me.
If only, we all picked up pebbles from the ground and rained it on them while they were crossing it, balancing themselves on the cement pipe.
Instantly, I picked up two pebbles and shouted, cajoling the crowd for the same, hoping some at least will take the cue. But NO! It was not to be. Looking back at them, to my utter disappointment, I saw them all, still too perplexed. There were just dummies back there. None to hear anything or act any!
Meanwhile the crime, taking place, must have come to, somehow, be reported to police. A police post is only a Kilometer down the crime scene. Two constables appeared as the three just crossed over to the other end of pipe. One of the constables carrying a gun fired twice while still sitting on the moving motorbike, the other was driving. But the aim was too poor to do any good.
The other side of the drain was a jungle, dense and large enough, to facilitate their hide.
It was curtains down on the violent show.
Now it was for the meeks to galvanise. Coming out of their trance, some rushed to to the driver lying down in clay on the descending slope from road side. The driver was checked for his breathe, ambulance summoned and a group accompanied to manage his treatment, police case got reported etc. etc.
Luckily the driver survived. All us next day contributed lavishly for his expenses;I mused if it was, for we goats in the garb of civilians, a way to assuage our guilt the cowardice act had induced.
But a realisation that had came to me and distinctly so was:
"I MAY NOT BE A BRAVEHEART BUT AT LEAST I AM NOT AS TIMID AS MOST THOSE WHO LEAVE NO CHANCE TO POSE THEIR LION HEARTEDNESS AT THE SLIGHTEST PRETEXT. "
It was to make me free from the shackles of a self imprisonment,ever proclaiming myself a timid.
It will be integral here to mention an exception in all this was a one, our senior officer,Sharmaji, a robust looking, 6 feet him, for he conceded " Yesterday it got proven to me that I am a coward the first grade"