The Day The State Split Asunder - 58
The Day The State Split Asunder - 5815 mins 185 15 mins 185
Raghavendra has been desperately trying to contact Dhyaneshwar for three days. Dhyaneshwar, on the other side was extremely busy in circling around various government institutions trying his best to keep his head floating above the troubled waters.
The remaining directors from the company board didn't even bother to visit the injured workers except Raghavendra. He has been visiting the hospital daily and in every visit he inquired the doctors about the condition of the victims. He even set up a volunteer and ensured that the families of victims had their breakfast, lunch and dinner. In addition to that he also attended the funeral rites of the workers who died in the mishap.
Meanwhile a kind of rumour has permeated the industrial community that Dhyaneshwar is planning to sell the company and is actively trying to find a buyer of his company.
At last one evening while he was teaching mathematics to his daughter Sanjana, he received a call from the company secretary asking him to attend the emergency board meeting scheduled tomorrow at 10:30 AM at Godavac Pharma Plant office.
'Why is he conducting the meeting on Sunday and that too three days after the accident? Why Dhyaneshwar didn't even care to inform me? Is he trying to avoid me and where did Swami go all of a sudden without telling me?' A numerous questions started pestering his already disturbed mind.
'Daddy when will we move to the big house?' Sanjana asked.
'Very soon dear,' replied Raghavendra.
'I want this drawing to be pasted in my room,' she took out a paper from her book and showed him the drawings of a man and a child with no necks and with a house in the background. 'This is you and this is me.'
'Wow! Beautiful drawing. We will paste it in your room.'
'Daddy, tomorrow will you take me outside?'
'Sure. Tomorrow you have to stay at Ruchi's home. Daddy has a small important work and I will take you out in the evening. We will also have your favorite chocolate ice cream. Is it okay?'
'My good girl!' he said, placing both his palms on her cheeks.
As he gazed at her face, the crying faces of the kids at the hospital came back flashing in his mind and the smile on his face vanished quickly. All fifteen workers who died in the accident have kids to take care of with many younger than Sanjana's.
A teardrop was about to trickle down from his eyes but he rubbed it before Sanjana could notice it. A while later he immersed himself in preparing the dinner for himself and to his daughter. After completing their dinner, he recited a story for her and put her to sleep.
He then sat at his desk and tried reading a book but struggled to focus. Reading was his favorite hobby and he daily allocated a minimum of two hours.
'Why am I feeling this uneasiness in my mind?' He started getting restless thinking about tomorrow's meeting and started pacing around the hall to and fro. After thirty minutes of intense contemplation he resigned everything to the will of his fate and went to sleep.
The next day he dropped his daughter at his brother's house and went to the pharma plant in his white Ambassador car. The plant looked deserted and there was no noise of the machines. He reached the spot where the fire accident took place. The debris was still scattered there. The police erected a tape and barricades on which it's clearly written "Please do not trespass".
He closed his eyes and tried reconstructing the accident in his mind. A deep sorrow settled in his spirits visualizing the workers crying in agony requesting for help. He then walked into the third floor of the big five storeyed office building inside of the plant. There was no one else in the conference room except him. He neared the window and took in the panorama of the entire plant.
The compound walls weren't that much tall and anyone with a height of more than five feet could easily enter into the office easily. Beyond the compound wall there is a small muddy roadway and beyond it there was an expanse of land which was recently levelled.
'Sir,' said a voice. He turned back to see the company secretary Ranga standing at the doorway dressed in neat formal clothing with a white shirt and an orange tie.
'Yes Mr.Ranga,' Raghavendra responded.
'The chairman has come. You can meet him if you want.'
'Sure, thank you so much,' Raghavendra was instantly delighted. He sprinted to the fifth floor where Dhyaneshwar's cabin was located.
Raghavendra opened the door but couldn't see Dhyaneshwar inside. He then heard the sound of running water from the attached washroom of the cabin, confirming that he is inside. With a gentle sigh of relief he neared the desk and sat on the chair. He observed numerous documents scattered here and there. Among the clutter he saw an A4 size envelope with a beautiful anchor logo and under it was printed 'Micks Sea Liners'.
'Raghavendra!' Dhyaneshwar said as he came out of the washroom wiping his hands. He then shook hands with him. His face looked so calm and serene and there was no hint of stress. 'I am really sorry. I came to know that you have been trying to reach me for three days. You know about this fire accident. We encountered a loss of twenty crores.'
'That's really a misfortune but-'
'Sir!' The company secretary interrupted their discussion. 'Everyone has arrived. They are waiting for you.'
'Raghavendra for now let's go and join the meeting. We can have a one-on-one discussion once the meeting is finished,' Dhyaneshwar grinned and fastened his suit jacket.
Raghavendra nodded his head and followed him to the meeting room. As soon as he entered, the nine members in the room dressed in black suits stood up from their seats at the same time without any lapse like school kids who stand up once the teacher enters into the classroom. Raghavendra appeared like an odd man out as he was dressed in simple plain Kurta.
'Please sit down!' Dhyaneshwar gestured with both of his hands and took the main seat of the big table while Raghavendra sat on his left.
'So gentlemen! As you all are mindful of the tragic fire accident that happened three days ago,' Dhyaneshwar said, maintaining a firm eye contact with every director in the room. 'The last three days were really like hell to me. Taking advantage of this situation, our competitors have spread a rumour that we will be closing the company. I am declaring that we are not going to shut down our company at any cost. We have incurred a loss of twenty crores. Things like these are common in pharma industries. And I am happy to inform you that the special investigation team has given us a clean chit.'
'That's really a good news sir,' said one of the directors.
'We need to assure all of our shareholders that there is nothing to be worried about. In two months everything will be back to normal. Soon we will be signing an agreement with two US firms to manufacture their drugs and we have applied for all the permissions in advance. This is really something we need to be happy about. So finally, everything is sorted out. There's nothing to worry.'
A smile appeared on every other's faces in the room except Raghavendra. Dhyaneshwar didn't even express any condolences for the workers who died in the blast.
'Raghavendra what happened? You don't look happy. Everything has been sorted out,' Dhyaneshwar said.
'Nothing! What about the compensation for the workers who passed away? They have families. How can they support themselves?' Raghavendra asked with a sad and mournful expression on his face.
'According to our company policy we will be paying a compensation of one lakh rupees to all those who died in the accident and for the injured we will be paying ten thousand rupees.'
'What?! Just one lakh rupees?'
'Mr.Raghavendra six months ago there was an accident in the nearby company in which ten workers died. They paid one lakh to all those who passed away.'
'Yes!' said one of the directors in support of Dhyaneshwar.
'Dhyaneshwar we have to set up an example for others to follow. Please understand why I am saying this. Do you think that one lakh which you give to the family will replace the life of their loved one's. With one lakh how can they provide education to their child? How can they get their daughter's married and for some they have parents who are in old age and are suffering with various ailments. How can they afford the medicines and treatment?' Raghavendra increased the flame of his voice.
Dhyaneshwar swivelled to the side facing Raghavendra directly and asked, 'So what do you think should be the compensation amount?'
'No need of any compensation amount. Instead of paying one lakh let us send the same amount that we pay as salary every month to the families. In that way they will be able to support themselves.'
'For how long do you want to pay them?'
'Until their kids get a job and stand up on their own feet.'
Dhyaneshwar began calculating in his mind. 'That's a lot of money! Let's take the average time as ten years. Then it's 72,000 per year and for ten years it will be 7,20,000. Since fifteen workers died, multiply it by 15. It will cross one crore. It's too much!' he exclaimed, raising his hands up above. 'Why should I spend crores when it can be settled with just fifteen lakhs?'
'We need to treat employees like our family. They have worked for us and their safety is our responsibility,' Raghavendra added.
'Raghavendra, you are a writer, not a businessman. You are an expert in writing poems and stories. You're so intelligent, there's no doubt about it. But you have no clue how the business world runs? It doesn't function as written in your fiction and fantasy stories. If suppose we gave the compensation as you said, then the workers in the other companies will also demand the same and it might deteriorate our relations. We at times need their help and they will ask for our help when required. There will be some unwritten rules between us and we cannot break it.'
'I don't give a damn about how the business runs and what those unwritten rules are. I only believe in two things, good and bad. If you do good, you will feel good and you will get much more in return. If you do bad you will get the same,'Raghavendra said in a coarse tone, slamming hard on the table.'Tell me one thing whether you will accept my idea or not?'
'Relax… Raghavendra… relax... We are living in a democratic nation where people have the choice to elect their own representatives. Let's take a vote and if everyone agrees with your idea we will go with it.'
'Ok!' Raghavendra shook his head. But glancing at the faces of the remaining directors he could easily sense the signs of defeat.
The company secretary Ranga passed on a small white chit and requested every one to write their verdict on it. Raghavendra and Dhyaneshwar weren't given the option to vote. Two minutes later, Ranga collected and opened all the chits. All nine directors have written 'NO' on their chits and it became unanimous.
Dhyaneshwar turned towards Raghavendra with a cunning smile and said - 'Majority of the directors are not in favor of this decision.'
'It's because you people aren't humans. You don't have any compassion or empathy for other people. I don't want to surround myself with menial and idiots like you. Today I just want to end my journey with this company. You people go and set up the company somewhere else. Give me back my land.'
'Raghavendra don't be silly. Do you think we are running a cattle farm? When an elephant is walking many tiny creatures like ants and insects will get crushed under its feet. You can't blame elephants for that.'
'You are really a scoundrel and I made a big mistake in my life by trusting you. How can you compare the lives of humans with those of insects and ants?'
'Don't take my patience for granted. You don't know about me completely.'
The remaining directors fell silent listening to the remarks of Raghavendra. Dhyaneshwar frowned at Raghavendra and he felt the urge to knock him down on his face but couldn't do as other directors were also present.
'Enough is enough! Your behavior is not acceptable. You insulted me in front of everyone. I will expel you from the board of directors.'
'Hold your tongue Dhyaneshwar! Don't forget that this is my land.'
'It is a history. This land is now a part of the company's capital asset and as a chairman I am the decision maker of everything related to the affairs of the company.'
'You are forgetting that I am also one of the shareholders of this company.'
'I am the majority shareholder with fifty-one percent and together with the remaining nine directors I have more than 75% of shares in my control. In our shareholders agreement there is a clause called "expulsion" where the existing shareholders can expel any undesirable shareholder and acquire his/her shares. I am giving you twenty-four hours of time. If you wish to be with the company you must agree with the board's decision else we need to pass a special resolution and I already have the requisite votes needed for the resolution to be validated. Having said all these I am calling off the meeting for today,' and turning towards Raghavendra he said, 'come to my cabin if you wish to talk to me in private.'
Raghavendra was in a state of nerves with the thought of losing the land and being expelled out of the company board. He didn't say anything and followed Dhyaneshwar to his cabin and sat on the chair.
There was an imported digital locker from the United States at the corner of the room placed inside the closet. Dhyaneshwar punched in four digits and the machine echoed 'Access Granted'. He took out a paper and handed it over to Raghavendra.
'This is your shareholders certificate that I forgot to give you. I am forgiving you because last week you gave a wonderful idea about setting up a venture capital firm. That was really amazing. See past is past let's forget it. Give me innovative ideas like this.
'If you can lend a capital amount to the company why can't you pay a good compensation for the families?'
'We already had enough discussion about it. Past is past. Let's be as we used to be before. I already had enough with this accident. Please don't force me to bring out the ugly side of me. I had tolerated enough.'
'Are you blackmailing me?'
'Call it blackmail or request. Take it whatever the way you want it to be. I am giving you a last chance. Had it been someone in your place I wouldn't have given it. If you decide to part your way, you won't be getting the land and you will no longer remain a shareholder of this company. Think properly,' he said sorting the papers on his desk.
It became obvious to Raghavendra that further discussion with Dhyaneshwar will simply become a harangue.
He got up from his seat and looked down upon Dhyaneshwar. 'A day will come where you will repent for your bestial acts.' Saying this he turned with a grunting sound and stormed out of the room. He descended down the steps and climbed into his ambassador and straightaway went to his home.
As soon as he entered he picked up his telephone and dialled Swamiji but didn't get any response from him. He is in deep trouble and he has to choose one between losing everything and remain quiet. He then contacted a lawyer who was a mutual friend of Swamiji but couldn't get the chance to meet as he was out of station and won't be available for two weeks.
'The person whom I trusted a lot turned out to be a brute. I made a mistake! I made a mistake!' This thought kept iterating in an infinite loop.
At around 03:00 PM in the evening he heard a knock on his door. He opened the door and saw Swamiji standing straight in front of me.
'Swami!' he said and pulled him inside.
Swamiji sat on the sofa and intently stared at his friend's face. 'Raghu! Right from the beginning I was warning you not to step into business.'
'Why? What happened?'
Swamiji took out a bunch of papers from the cover and handed it over to Raghavendra. 'This is the detailed report of the fire accident. I was able to get this copy through one of my contacts who was a part of the special investigation team. They found some shocking facts.'
'What kind of shocking facts?'
'Your company has permission only for research and development of pharmaceutical drugs but they were illegally manufacturing 'Ketamine' drugs. They found the traces of it from the reactors.'
'What?! But how come? Dhyaneshwar said the investigation team has given a clean chit.'
'He bribed the department and they completely changed the report in their favour. And when did you meet Dhyaneshwar?'
'Today I attended the board meeting and I had a big fight with him.'
'Can you tell me precisely what happened?'
Raghavendra being a good story teller told him about the entire drama of the meeting and Swamiji was able to visualize everything in the background while he was narrating.
'Dhyaneshwar has crossed his limits! But legally we can't do anything. I was telling you right from the beginning not to trust him.'
'Swami, let's focus on solutions instead of problems.'
'Raghu, we can challenge only when we have strong evidence against him. Once we have that evidence we will go and meet the Hyderabad Police Commissioner. He will definitely help us. And also I learned that he was exporting this Ketamine drug to our neighbouring countries Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives.'
'How did you come to know?'
'Raghu, you are forgetting that I am an investigative journalist. For three days I have been enquiring everyone about the company's activities. I visited a lot of people working in the company beginning from security guards, janitors, workers and even the supervisor who was present at the time when the accident took place. Also I also met the transport incharge of the company. When discussed with him he told me that they have been transporting the consignments to Visakhapatnam Sea Port.'
'Hold on for a minute! Are they exporting the drugs through 'Micks Sea Liners'.'
'Exactly! The driver told me the same name. Raghu, did you already know this?' Raghavendra raised his brows.
'No! Today I saw an envelope with the name 'Micks Sea Liners' on Dhyaneshwar's desk.'
'Hmm! Good observation and good memory. After all you are a writer.'
'Swami, I want my land back. Dhyaneshwar is really a very big bastard. He is an animal who doesn't care about other people's lives.'
'Unless and until we don't have strong evidence on our side we cannot do anything. Once we get it, we can meet the commissioner and get our work done.'
'Can't we submit this report as an evidence.'
'This is just printed on plain white papers. It has no authorized signatory from the department. Legally it is not a valid document. They might say we have compiled this document.'
'Then there is only one place from where we can get that evidence.'
'In Dhyaneshwar's cabin. I saw a lot of documents scattered on his desk.'
'Raghu, don't you think this is risky.'
'Do we have any other choice?'
'Ok! How can we get there? If we get into the office Dhyaneshwar will easily get to know. I came to know from one of the security guards that the guards erected at the office building will update him regularly about the movements of people.'
'Then we will go through the backdoor. I have a plan. Tonight we are going to break into the building and accomplish our mission. And tomorrow, we will meet the commissioner and get that bastard arrested.'
To be continued...