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HARSH TRIPATHI

Crime Drama Tragedy


4.5  

HARSH TRIPATHI

Crime Drama Tragedy


The Duo - Mrig Mareechika

The Duo - Mrig Mareechika

42 mins 24.9K 42 mins 24.9K

The next day while returning from the office, Nandan visited his in-law's home.


Pathak ji welcomed him “come, come Nandan….let be seated here.” Rajini Devi was also there. Nandan then touched their feet and asked for blessings. Rajini Devi was wise enough that She never expressed her jealousy towards Geetika to Nandan or any outsider.

Nandan inquired about Pathak ji’s health, his Delhi trip, and the doctor’s prescription, which normally everyone asks. Pathak ji too answered as a person is supposed to do “No, no…not that serious…but look Nandan…the age is catching me now. The doctor has also said this very thing. He advised me to stay away from much traveling, stress, etc. Some precautions regarding food were also advised….and you know, I am not going to contest the election this time too….what can else I do at this juncture?....Geetika is already handling a lot of works from my area, now She will have to bear more workload." After some formal greetings exchanges, Rajini Devi went from there to the kitchen for the tea. Both son-in-law and father-in-law were discussing many things. Rajini Devi served them tea and went inside her bedroom. She did not want to hear anything related to Geetika, such was her jealousy towards her. Pathak ji was well aware of that too.


Pathak ji asked Nandan “Tell me Nandan, what did you want to discuss?”


Nandan was serious “I think you would have certainly heard about it…..that Rasoolpur Nindaura thing….it is getting steam now.”

“So are the numbers increasing there?”

“For the last 10 days or so, pretty less number of people had been sitting there…I mean 8 to 10 person at max…..but a few days back, one of your party leader….that son of Mr. Krishna Prasad Mishra….what is his name?....yes, that Vijay…..he went there and I do not know, what did he say to them, but since then the numbers have been steadily rising. Now approx. 35 to 40 people are sitting there, some of them with their family members too…..all of this is creating a lot of trouble there.”

“what does it mean?”

“You would have known it quite well, that a London-based I.T. major ‘Photon Infotech’ is coming there with huge investment.”

“Of course I know…after all I am MP from that area” Pathak ji smiled. “It is a Rs. 1000 Crores project. Is not it?”

"Yes, and such huge investment has not come in North India till date. Definitely, southern states have got some such projects but this one would be a one-of-its-kind and first such project in this part of the country. This farmer's agitation will have a detrimental impact on the proposed project. The world will get the wrong signal regarding investment in India. Our already stressed investment climate would only suffer more….first this Babri demolition, then this huge and barbaric communal violence….all these have already damaged severely to the business class like us, and now this agitation will harm it probably more. The growth story of India is to be written through these investments, and the investments would be at the receiving end due to such agitations."

Pathak ji was listening. After a pause, he said "Nandan, please don't mind but your business class has certainly this wrong habit or mentality…..and we have seen this very thing so far, that if a poor sells his or her precious land for your real estate projects, at the time of compensation to him, you just behave like a Lala of a village. You need cheap land, you need cheap labour, you need prime location, you need a very good business there but when it comes to compensation, you show malaise…..this is wrong……if one provides them proper and logical compensation, you will see, you will get a smooth run.”

"What do you think?....do we not compensate them properly and logically?...this is not the case Papa. Our record so far, tells that we have been offering decent compensation for every project we have handled till date. The problem becomes serious only then when they do not leave the land at any cost even after getting the offer of fair compensation. We are witnessing this very stubborn attitude here which is causing problems…..and that youth leader of your party….that Vijay….he is provoking them further…..now please don't say that we should change the location of the project. The location is quite perfect for the project."

Why?....where are you in this project?” Pathak ji asked him.

"There is our interest too" Nandan said.

“what?”

"Actually India is an emerging market Papa…..they will invest in I.T. Knowledge Park with Rs. 700 Crores, and with the rest of Rs. 300 Crores they wish to enter into India's real estate market with a trusted, tested, and experienced business partner. They issued a tender in this regard, and we too participated in the auction. Fortunately, we got it."

Pathak ji was thrilled “what?....what did you just say?.....means they are investing Rs. 300 Crores in your firm too?” He was actually unaware of this development.

"Yes….that's the point," Nandan said.    

“So what do you want from me?”

"I just want those farmers should accept compensation and end this agitation, they should leave the land…..and that Vijay….he should keep his mouth shut.” Nandan put it bluntly.

Pathak ji was calculating the minutes in her mind.

Then Nandan suddenly said without much thinking “…and Papa, most of the farmers are Muslims.”

Pathak ji stared at Nandan and said after a moment in a harsh voice "What does it mean?....what are you saying?.....a farmer is always a farmer….why are you differentiating it between a Hindu farmer or a Muslim farmer? Yes, that area is Muslim dominated, I know, so Muslim farmers may be there in the majority…but Nandan let me tell you, I know about the area and I am their MP…..if you randomly pick 40 farmers of them, I am very sure that 20 of them would be the Hindu farmers…and you know, every farmer, who would lose his land will have to be provided adequate compensation, be it a Hindu or a Muslim farmer.”


Nandan was listening silently.


"So I must tell you that please do not look at that matter through Hindu-Muslim prism….this is a completely wrong approach." Pathak ji explained to him clearly. Pathak ji had been securing electoral victories so far with the help of those very farmers and their families, and of course, it became imperative that maximum caution and restrain should have been exercised after the Babri demolition.

Nandan asked then “So what should be done?”

Pathak ji asked, "Please tell me in detail….may this project not be relocated somewhere else in Akbarabad?, it is a large district by-the-way."

“No Papa, and we have a reason behind it….Rasoolpur Nindaura is located on the Akbarabad-Lucknow-Kanpur highway and is almost equidistant from both Akbarabad and Lucknow. It is located at around 50 kms, and 70 kms. form Akbarabad and Lucknow respectively….and from Kanpur too, it is a maximum 150 kms. , therefore working professionals from all three places can travel easily to and from Nindaura, without any hassle. Also, in the future, massive developmental activities would take place in these three districts, for example, the opening of many engineering colleges and polytechnic colleges, so the companies at Nindaura I.T. Knowledge Park would reap direct benefits of it. There is also a point Papa, that Lucknow is the capital of the province….there are definitely some extra benefits of doing business near the capital which cannot be extracted at any other remote location….everybody wants to do business in or around the capital of the state….and if an investor is entering with Rs. 1000 Crores…..he will always prefer it…..it would take very fewer efforts to invite the software companies to that I.T. Knowledge park. This I.T. Park may be the beginning of an excellent Industrial Corridor between Akbarabad-Lucknow-Kanpur….and the very important thing is to be noted that we are getting very cheap land there. The prices are not so low near Kanpur or Lucknow….this is a fact which cannot be ignored.” Nandan put it effectively.

Pathak ji was getting Nandan's explanations, He said "O.K. ,give me some time. I will look into it and I will see what can be done here….if Vijay has visited there then surely he would have some valuable and pretty much information. He never works superficially."

Nadan nodded.

Pathak ji further said “Nandan, I suggest you one thing….Vijay and Geetika were classmates during their University days…they are good friends….you should also discuss it with Geetika that She should talk to Vijay about it. Quite possible that you may get some middle path.”

Nandan affirmed it.

Then they started to discuss various other things. It was dinner time by then. After dinner, Nandan stood up to leave. He sought their blessings and came outside of the house with Pathak ji. Nandan asked Pathak ji again “Papa, please look into it, its important.” Pathak ji assured him not to worry. Nandan started his car and went away.


After 2 or 3 days, Nandan coincidently thought about it at breakfast and immediately asked Geetika “Please tell me about it…Papa was saying that you know him….that Krishna babu’s son….what is the name?.....were you classmates in the University?”

Geetika replied “who?....is that Vijay?....Oh yes!...certainly I know him. He is a good friend of mine. He frequently visits at our home too.…...yes, I met him just a few days back, maybe the last week. He visited there. I asked about it then he told me that Mother has called upon him. But why are you asking this?....where it has come from in your mind this morning?”

Nandan said “No…nothing specific as such….Papa was saying that Vijay is used to be very active in party activities.”

"Yes, in fact, he is more like an activist, and this is not a new development….I have been observing him since graduation….that time too, he was lesser a student and more an activist…..but the irony was that he was an excellent scholar with some exceptional academics."

“were you both class-mates?....which time?”

"yes, we were class-mates during graduation. Actually, two of our subjects were the same, those were Sociology and Economics. He had the Political Sc. and International Relation as his third subject while I opted for the Hindi Literature…so we used to attend classes of those two subjects together. So, we know each other. Further, as the relations between both the families are quite strong…so this was another factor." Geetika said.

Nandan asked her "Geetika, I need help from you."

“What?”

Then he explained everything to his wife in detail. The mega-deal of Rs. 300 Crores was on stake. Vijay had actually intensified the agitation, and Nandan wanted to check it.

“so what do you want from me?”

I want that, if your time permits, then please talk to him and try to make him understand that how this investment is crucial in these tiring times…..investment climate is already severely strained and this would further deteriorate it. Another thing is, it is the question of credibility and a prestige issue for our company and business….it is not easy to get a contract of Rs. 300 Crores, plus the association with the giant like ‘Photon Infotech’….one does not get this chance frequently…..its a huge deal Geetika. Our reputation in the market would certainly increase manifold…from Lucknow to Delhi, and maybe to London too.”

Geetika was listening silently. She smiled and said to her husband with a sigh “It’s a tough task Nandan”.

“why?”

“tough because He is a Marxist…..that man is leftist….a tricky one.”

Nandan was silent.

She continued "Actually, he has been of this very type since the graduation, as far as I think….its a hard nut to crack…..to convince or to persuade him is a difficult task…..He is stubborn basically."

“Then why are you here madam?” Nandan smiled. He further said “tell this to him that a person should be practical. It is not good to be rigid…..tell him that because of this, The USSR has been disintegrated into 18 parts….this Marxism has been a failure.”

Geetika replied "that is the problem with him Nnadan….he is not a practical person. He is still following that ideology religiously…..I will try for you definitely, but you should not take it easy or for granted….keep your hopes low."

Then She asked, "tell me one thing, the relocated population, whose land would be acquired, where shall they go?....have you planned for it?"

“We will offer them the agricultural land and homes somewhere else.”

“where?”

“We will provide them…..but first let this issue be solved.” Nandan reacted bitterly.

Geetika smiled and then said "look, you don't have the answers of even my questions…..you don't have even a plan for relocation…..if Vijay or any third person would ask me about the proposed relocation, what I would say to him or her?...how I would convince them?..I mean, they have been living and tilling there for generations, definitely it would be a huge challenge to them to leave all that and to restart the life again from the scratch…that too at an unknown place."

Nandan said, "Therefore I am requesting you….maybe we would get some middle path if you would talk to him."


One night Krishna Babu’s telephone started to ring. He picked the phone “Hello?”

Vaibhav was on the other side “Yes Uncle...Pranaam!”

"Be happy always son! Tell me, why have you called?"

“Uncle ji…I need to have a chat with you. Tell me when I may come at the party office?”

"No, no…you need not come there…in fact, I will come to your residence myself. It has been a long time since I met Bhabhi ji….I am actually going to Lucknow tomorrow, will return after 3-4 days, then I will meet you and your mother."

“O.K. Uncle ji, its fine….Pranaam.”


After a few days, Vijay entered the party office as usual after parking his bike in the office parking. He was pleasantly surprised to see that Geetika was sitting there in his cabin reading newspaper. Vijay teased her “Oh my God!!....MLA madam in the party office!!...that too in the morning?” Geetika put down the newspaper on the table in front of her and smiled “You Vijay…you have started leg-pulling na ?”

Vijay laughed “this is the breaking news na!!....Geetika madam is in the party office rather than her at high-court chamber….is it not surprising?

Geetika smiled “No, definitely it is not surprising. I may visit here to meet my college friends at least….and of course, I am a frequent visitor here as my father is an MP, and I have to handle many of his works…so its not a surprise.”

“O.K. ,so is this Godly kindness for me this morning?”

“Yes, you may assume so” Geetika was smiling.

Vijay further teased her “well…I feel very happy to hear that….but Geetika, you will now visit here perhaps more, perhaps regularly….is not it?....after all you would be an MLA na?”

Geetika laughed “Vijay, will you please stop this leg-pulling?”

Then He asked “tea?”

“of course”

Vijay called upon the peon of the office, Shyam sundar "Shyam Sundar ji, please bring two first-class tea for us"

Then he asked, "How are you here Geetika?"


Geetika was directly to-the-point “I want to talk about that Rasoolpur Nindaura….the place where you visited a few days back….what is the matter there?”

“Nothing new it actually, this is the same old issue. There is a British I.T. giant ‘Photon Infotech’, which wants to invest about Rs. 1000 Cr. in a proposed I.T. Knowledge Park at that location….and the poor farmers are saying that it is a pretty fertile and productive land, gives a huge yield of food grains and vegetables per year. The farmers are not ready to leave that land. Due to this conflict between the company and tillers, the agitation has been started there."

“so…what do you think about it?”

“its an open and shut case….farmers are right.”

“why and how?”

 “what does it mean?”

"it means that industrialization is quite necessary for the development of rural areas of India….now any industry can only be established on the land, not in the air."

"I am absolutely not saying that an industry should not come-up there or industrialization should not be taken place…….but which industry is coming up there?....its an I.T. Knowledge park on the cards….which is of no use for the rural population".

“Why not?...with this project, so many jobs will also come up, plus many other economic activities will take place around it. Is not it?”

Vijay hit the table and said “what jobs?....what other activities?....they will get nothing, I am telling you.”

Meanwhile, Shyam Sundar came with the tea. After serving the tea, he turned around.

Geeta said to Vijay “Why?”

Vijay remained silent for some seconds and then immediately stopped Shyam Sundar “Shaym Sundar ji, will you please listen to me for a while?”

Geetika was not getting it, meanwhile, Shyam Sundar came nearer to him "Ji Bhaiya ji?"

Vijay looked at Geetika first and then asked Shyam Sundar “Shyam Sundar ji, can you operate a computer?”

“Shyam Sundar smiled and said “Mazak kar rahe hain bhaiya ji ap?...ye machine to aj tak hum chhue bhe nhin hain. T.V. mein zarur dekha hai usko….T.V. jaisa hi dikhta hai wo chhota sa, log log tezi se khatar-patar karte hain us par, jaise yahan office mein type-writer par log karte hain….lekin type-writer mein T.V. juda nahin hota hai bhaiya ji aur usmein kagaz lagaane ki jagah bhi hoti hai…..computer mein T.V. juda dekha hai humnein lekin usme kagaz nahin lagata hai. (Are you joking, bhaiya ji?...I have not even touched that machine so far. I have seen it in TV….it looks like a small TV, and people type very fast on it, just as our people do here in office….but bhaiya ji, type-writer is not connected with TV and it has space too for fixing the papers…..computer is connected with TV but it does not have space to fix paper.)”

Geetika was listening and Vijay signalled Shyam Sundar to go back.


“…therefore I am saying that farmers are right.” Vijay said.

“What do you mean?”

“It means Geetika, that most of the farmers in that area and their children are very much like Shyam Sundar ji, and they do not know anything about the Computer and I.T. What kind of jobe these people will get in that I.T. park? I.T, sector actually provides jobs to high-skilled or medium-skilled professionals. Farmers or their children don't have such high skills. They know only to produce food grains and vegetables in the fields or how to run a small tea shop or a small dhaba or a provisional store. They don't have any degree or diploma or any certificate related to Computer Science, I.T. or some Computer Application, so these people would be useless for that I.T. Park….they can only secure some petty jobs there, for example, a license for opening a tea shop in the premises or to open a small eating joint there in the park, not more than that…and you know, they are already doing these businesses without any I.T. Park….so what would be the benefit to them from this proposed I.T. Knowledge park?....if really somebody is interested in their upliftment and to give them jobs, then he or she should start some Iron-steel factory, or some cement factory, or some car or bike manufacturing plant or very importantly, some food processing industry. In all these units, the low skilled population of the surrounding villages, including Nindaura would get a job. In fact a food processing unit would be the most beneficial industry to them, because of which their agricultural produce, their food grains, and vegetables, their milk, would fetch some decent price, and their produce would not be at risk as they are perishable commodities."


Geetika was listening.


Vijay continued “Another very important aspect is the quality of soil there. It is actually a very fertile, very productive soil and farmers are saying that they harvest happily more than 2 crop a year. To build an I.T. Park on such productive and fertile land would be detrimental to their interests. If somebody wants to continue with this project, he or she should search for a barren land, an unproductive soil and that kind of barren soil, unproductive land is widely available in this Akbarabad district easily. Here, in and around Nindaura, if some other type of industry is to be established then it will work, but not an I.T. Park….it would be harmful to them. They need some other industry. This I.T. Park would take away their fertile and highly productive soil on one hand, and as far as the jobs are concerned, leave it alone.”


Then Geetika said “is there some other way out?...I mean, some middle path?...so that some win-win type of equation may be devised for both investors and farmers? It is actually necessary Vijay….look, you cannot ignore the fact that investment climate now in the country has become precarious especially after that Babri demolition followed by a heinous, barbaric communal violence. Also, the upcoming period in this world would be dominated by I.T. and I.T.-enabled high-end technologies, if we want to usher a communication and connectivity revolution in India, then definitely we need many I.T. Parks like this one, and foreign investment and technology too. The southern states have already started some I.T. Parks projects there which are to be completed by the next 2-3 years. In this sense, we have already delayed it by 6 to 7 years, if not more."

"South is a different case Geetika. They have some exceptionally fertile and productive soil only in some specific areas of their Delta regions, and the Deccan region. Rest of the soil there is not very fertile. Here in Indo-Gangetic plain, we have a very fertile and rich soil on an average.”

“But Vijay what I think is that it would not be a proper thing to stick or to be rigid on a single point…..this Marxism has not yielded much benefits to these poor people across the globe….then we must look at USSR…it has been proven catastrophic.”

“Oh no Geetika!....I am absolutely not talking about Marxism or any other ideological point of view. …O.K., I would not say much, if your time permits you, then you should go there…..I think you will see it yourself.”


The two friends also chatted about other things, like their college life, their friends, their families, and what not! They met after a long time and they were discussing freely, just as they were used to do during their University days. The time had just flown by and It was 1 O’Clock by the watch. Vijay noted the time and he asked her “It has been a long time Geetika, since we had lunch together…lets go to that Netram Crossing at Katra, and we will have a lunch together.”

Hearing the name of Netram Crossing, Geetika became so excited and said with joy "O.K., definitely I will go there today….its a nostalgic feeling."

After some time, on Vijay’s bike, both of them reached at Netram’s food court located at Netram Crossing in Katra locality near University campus. They ordered their favorite Poori-sabzi there. This was their favourite place during University days, where they were used to visit frequently with their friends and to enjoy Poori-sabzi. Netram’s Poori-sabzi was pretty famous among Akbarabadis.

 

 Geetika came back home in the evening and she was looking pretty happy. She met with Vijay after a long time that too, without any formality, and both of them immensely enjoyed the discussion and the food at Netram's. She was feeling quite happy and refreshed after a long time.


After coming back from Lucknow, Krishna Babu reached Pathak ji's place one day. Vaibhav was still there, he had not left for his office. Pathak ji was coming out when he bumped into Krishna Babu and said "Oh Dear Krishna Babu!.....how are you here this morning?" Krishna Babu too greeted him and replied with folded hands “ Vaibhav dialed me a few days back, he wanted to have a chat with me. I had to go to Lucknow so I did not have time then. So, I have come here today. Pathak ji looked back surprisingly at Vaibhav and then asked Krishna Babu "what?...did Vaibhav dial you?". Suddenly Rajini Devi came there and said "Yes, actually I asked Vaibhav to do it…a long time had passed since Krishna Babu met with us, so I wanted to meet him". Pathak ji then said to Krishna Babu "there is a seminar being held at K.P. College, Krishna Babu. I am therefore going there….I am in a hurry a bit as I am getting late, otherwise, I would sit and talk with you" to which Krishna Babu replied with a smile "Its O.K. Pathak ji…you should go there". Pathak ji swiftly entered into his car and proceeded towards K.P. College while Krishna Babu moved inside with Rajini Devi. After almost 2 hours, Krishna Babu came out with the mother-son duo. They greeted each other again and Krishna Babu started towards the party office in his vehicle.


Nandan asked Geetika after dinner one-night "Geetika, did you meet with that Vijay?"

“Yes”

"What did you tell him?....did you tell him that there is our stake too?"

“No. I did not tell such things to him” then Geetika told him entirely about the conversation with Vijay in a very clear manner. Finally She said to him “Nandan, I personally think that Vijay is not wrong”.

“what do you mean?”

“I mean to say that….he was mentioning quite relevant and genuine points…do not you think so?”.

“Its terrible!...if an industry is coming now then let it come-up first at least….where will we bring another industry from?...these are already very tiring times, nobody is coming here to invest” Nandan said it irritatingly.

“Nandan, I think we should visit there once, to assess the ground reality…..we should talk to the villagers there.” Geetika proposed.

“what do you mean by it?”

“Leave that Vijay, Nandan….it is our stake there…..it is our company, it is in our interest….at least once, we should visit there….do not you think so?”

“Absolutely I am not thinking….what would be the benefit in talking with those uneducated villagers?....and that too when majority of them are the Muslims?...it would be a time-waste only Geetika”, Nandan reacted.

“Nandan, why are you putting it in a Hindu-Muslim term?...they are just farmers and they will have to be compensated….and if they are uneducated and uncivilized as you are saying, even then we will have to listen to them. They are our own people Nandan……..and we are evicting them from their land they had been tilling and living upon for generations…..we are not uneducated at least." Geetika was sounding very much like Pathak ji. Nandan reacted angrily "I am not going there to talk to those uneducated, uncivilized, and stubborn villagers ….if you want then you go there…and let me tell you straight, they will not listen to you even a bit." Geetika was laughing "Nandan, we should meet them, does not matter how they are."


Then She decided to meet those villagers and farmers.


In the last Working Committee meeting of the party, it was decided that from then onward the meeting would take place at every two months. Now Krishna Babu, Ujjawal Singh and Vijay were preparing intensively at the party office, for this month's meeting. Geetika dialed to the Party office to talk with Vijay, but Shyam Sundar picked the phone and said "Bhaiya ji is busy in a meeting, I will convey your message to him." After the meeting, Vijay was informed about the phone call and he dialed to Geetika then, and found out that She wanted to visit Rasoolpur Nindaura village. Nandan declined it so She contacted with Vijay for it. Vijay asked her to come to the party office the next morning.

Geetika was there at sharp 10 AM. Vijay was there ready to move and started his motorcycle, to which She said "Why a motorcycle?...is not there any other vehicle on behalf of the party?" Vijay smiled and said "vehicles are there but many people here don't like my visits to Nidaura again and again….so here it is.” Geetika agreed “O.K., no problem as such!...but please come back by 6 or 7 PM….my daughter waits there at home and she complains too a lot." Then they both started towards Nindaura. They spend the whole day there and Geetika talked with so many villagers including womenfolk. Geetika asked Vijay not to interrupt so he was quiet throughout. She came back by 7 PM.


Nandan asked her "Geetika, did you visit Nindaura?...what happened there?"


Getika answered “Nandan, you should definitely go there once….you should see it….that I.T. Park will definitely harm them. Really it is no situation there for something like I.T. Park.” Then Geetika elaborated it all to Nandan. She said that She herself had talked to the villagers and Vijay was just silent there as She had restricted him to do so. He did not speak a single word. Nandan was in much more trouble now.


The three leaders Pathak ji, Krishna Babu and Ujjawal Singh ji, left Akbarabad for Lucknow in the three separate vehicles along with some other party workers. From Lucknow, their train tickets were confirmed. Ujjawal babu was in the first vehicle with some other people, while Krishna Babu was in the second one, Pathak ji was in the third one with some of his supporters. They reached a village near Unchahar. A railway crossing had been closed just by then, and the drivers of the vehicles were arranging the vehicles in a queue. It was no other vehicle around there. Just at that very moment, a powerful explosion took place in Pathak ji's vehicle and the whole car, with the passengers, was tossed up high in the air, like a plastic toy. It was such a huge explosion that nobody could get anything at first. The windshields of the other two vehicles were completely shattered. After a few minutes, when they regained their consciousness, Krishna Babu and Ujjawal singh ji somehow came out of their vehicles and they rushed towards the third one shouting their lungs out. The car was burning in an inferno. It was the dark, black, poisonous smoke all around and due to this, even The Sun was not visible. Both of them were trying their best but they could not reach up to Pathak ji.

At that very moment, some 3 or 4 motorcycles came there from nowhere. On every bike, two men were sitting having their faces covered. Suddenly they started indiscriminate firing upon Krisha Babu and Ujjawal Singh ji. They kept firing continue for some minutes and then they left the spot as swift as they appeared. 

All that happened, it was totally beyond the wildest imagination of the innocent villagers and nearby shop-keepers. They were completely shocked. Some youths came forward and they somehow picked-up the two bodies that were lying on the ground there. One of them was not showing any movement while the other one was gasping for breath. Ujjawal singh somehow survived the attack but it was no certainty about Krishna Babu. People rushed towards a local hospital with the injured. The flames were still flaring up high in the third car and it was a smell of burning human bodies all around. Nobody dared to enter the vehicle. Some other youths rushed barefooted towards the local police station to inform the police about the incident. In a few minutes the police party reached on the spot.

Local hospital which was actually a resource-starved hospital to deal with such sudden incident, could only manage to provide a support system to both Ujjawal singh ji and Krishna Babu such that they could be carried up to PGI hospital of Lucknow. Police arranged vehicles and send both of them to the PGI, Lucknow.


The news spread from Unchahar to Lucknow, Delhi and Akbarabad like a bushfire. It was a sense of disbelief all around. The people were completely shocked. The towering stalwart, a living legend of the politics of the largest state of India, who was like a ‘Bheesma Pitamaha’ to the ruling party of the state, was attacked in the broad day-light in his own state. His dead body was pulled out of the vehicle along with that of his supporters. They were burnt up to such an extent that they were almost unrecognizable. They were just like overcooked meatballs in a tandoor. The families of Pathak ji, Krishna Babu and Ujjawal singh ji were already informed and they had started towards the PGI hospital from Akbarabad. Ujjawal singh and Krishna Babu were admitted directly in the emergency ward of the hospital while the dead bodies of Pathak ji and other victims were carried to the burning ward of the hospital. It was a chaotic atmosphere outside of the hospital and the other leader and the party workers were so much disturbed by the news. After almost 2 hours, the hospital issued the first information bulletin which stated that Pathak ji and Krishna Babu were brought already dead to the hospital. Ujjawal Babu was very critical but stable and a whole team of the doctors is working to save him. Hearing this confirmation, the leaders and the party workers became dejected. Their emotions were overpowering them and their cry and sadness were palpable all around in the hospital premises. They were feeling helpless and they were sobbing inconsolably.


Geetika, Nandan, Vijay and Vaibhav entered into the premises with a cavalcade, and those vehicles reached up to the post-mortem centre where they stopped. The workers were dejected and they were weeping bitterly and some sloganeering was also there. The family members came out of the vehicles with red, teary eyes. Looking at Vijay and Geetika, the party workers got some relief and they started sloganeering vehemently. Some people were observing a typical pattern of sloganeering even at this time. First, the supporters of Pathak ji and Geetika were raising the slogans, then the supporters of Krishna Babu and Vijay raised the slogans. Some times, Ujjawal singh's supporters were also raising the slogans but in whole sloganeering, nobody mentioned the Shramshakti Party or Vaibhav. 

The family members came out with the dead bodies and the already chaotic atmosphere turned emotionally charge further. The Police were facing immense difficulty in managing the crowd gathered there. Some private channels and The Doordarshan was covering actively. The bodies were kept inside a bus and the family members moved into it. Vijay asked the driver "please make a stop at the emergency ward…Ujjawal Babu is admitted there." The bus reached the emergency ward where Vijay, Vaibahv descended along with the family members of Ujjawal Babu, and they went inside the ward. Geetika was very sad and shell-shocked, she did not descend of the bus. The children of Ujjawal Babu then refused to go to Akbarabad to which Vijay and Vaibahv agreed. They both came out of the ward and swiftly moved into the bus. The bus was charting its course very slowly among the spirited, emotionally-charged party workers and their vehement sloganeering. The vehicles came out of the hospital and proceeded towards Akbarabad swiftly. The party workers were following them in large numbers as nobody wanted to miss the last rites of their beloved leader.


Akbarabad police had been already informed that the bus would arrive at the party office, not at their respective residences, so a huge crowd was gathered at the party office there. Around 1 AM in the night ,the cavalcade entered into the premises of the party office. It was a chaotic, emotionally charged atmosphere there. The party workers were still pouring in from remote areas and they were weeping inconsolably.

After some necessary rituals, the bodies were wrapped in the National flag along with the party flag and white cloth, and they were kept in the hall of the party office for the public and the party workers. The visitors had started paying their last respect to their leaders from that night itself. It was a very tough time for the Akbarabad police. They had been already informed about the visit of the CMs of 3 states along with the Governors. Some senior Cabinet Ministers from the Central Council of Ministers, had already started towards Akbarabad from Delhi. Geetika was stunned and She was sitting silently on a chair, not saying anything to anyone. Her face had become life-less and only tears were rolling down her cheeks. There was a reason too, in that house, only Patahk ji was the person closest to her. He loved her so much, and now Geetika had lost her only pillar of support at her home. Vijay was very busy in arrangements, he had no time to think or rest. Vaibhav was too taking care of arrangement and probably the first time, the party leaders and workers saw him working. He was looking very sad too.


By the next afternoon, their dead bodies were handed over to their families respectively. As Vijay reached with the body of Krishna Babu at his residence at Georgetown, the atmosphere became gloomy and very sad. He requested the people to show some sensibility so that after some necessary family rituals, the arrangements regarding funeral procession could be made as soon as possible. Similarly, Vaibhav reached at his residence with the dead body of Pathak ji and he watched that his wife, Beena with her family members had arrived by then and She was trying to console Rajini Devi who was weeping and crying inconsolably. She had not eaten anything since last night, and She was a diabetic so her health was deteriorating because of this crying and sobbing. Some other necessary family rituals had been started so that the last rites could be performed along with that of Krishna Babu. Both of them started their journey together some 35 years back, now they were ending it together.


Sharp at 5 PM when the funeral procession of the two most admired leaders started towards the Nigam bodh Ghat of the city, among thousands of their sad and emotionally charged supporters and their vehement sloganeering, on the flower-laden, open police trucks, in the presence of the top officials of police and administration of the state, whom both the leaders personally knew by their names, the whole Akbarabad traffic came to a stand-still. A bumper-to-bumper-grid-lock pattern took place on the roads of the city. Even oldies were unable to recall when they witnessed such a huge funeral procession last time in the city. The people were showering flowers from their balconies upon the trucks throughout. It took around 6 hours to cover a distance of 7 kms. Around 11 at night, both Vijay and Vaibahv completed their last rites among the gun salute by a battalion of the Akbarabad police. The CMs and Governors of some other states including that of the U.P. were present there along with some senior ministers of the central government and thousands of farmers and supporters of the deceased leaders who came there from remotely located villages. As per the Hindu customs, women of the family never visit crematorium but Geetika continued to be there with Nandan throughout the procession and at the time of cremation too.                  


 The next day, the farmers' agitation at Rasoolpur Nindaura was called off with immediate effect as farmers decided to show respect towards the demise of their great leaders. The state government had also announced that the culprits would not be spared and there would be an exemplary punishment for them.


After completing all the related rituals in upcoming days including ‘trayodash sanskar (13th day's ritual)' , Vijay started to attend the party office. In the last few days even Vaibahv visited the party office too. More than a month had passed since the tragedy when one day Vijay was working in the party office as usual. Suddenly people in the office premises saw that 3 police jeeps entered into the premise honking sirens. They all were surprised as the police had never entered the party office in such a manner by then. A Senior inspector descended from one of the jeeps and proceeded towards the office with some other inspectors and constables. All the people there were stunned at it. Vijay was coming out of the office as he also heard noises. The Senior inspector with his team stopped Vijay in the way.

He brought out a white paper, and giving it to Vijay he said “Vijay ji, we have an arrest warrant against you.”

Vijay was stunned at it “what?...what the hell you are talking about?....warrant against me?”

“yes”

“for what?”

“Pathak family has filed an FIR yesterday against you in connection with the assassination of Pathak ji…. and Vaibhav Pathak, his son has framed the charge of assassination upon you”

It came as a shocker to everyone who was there including Vijay. Vijay asked the inspector “May I have a chat with my lawyers?” to which the latter agreed.

Vijay dialed to his trusted lawyers Adv. Sahni ji and Adv. Yadav ji, had a chat with them and then he agreed to go with the police. To come out of the office and to sit inside a police jeep, it was a completely unthinkable to the people at the party office and to the Vijay himself. But this was exactly happening in front of their eyes and it was happening to Vijay, the most loved and admired person in the party then. The most promising youth leader of the party and the apple of everybody's eye, the head of the election campaign committee of the party was going to jail and that too, over the charge of assassination of V.P. Pathak ji, the founder of this party, and a historical figure in state's politics. 


This news spread like a bush-fire, and it shattered completely the morale of the party workers and the leaders who were already mourning the demise of two of their top-most leaders. There were as many opinions as the numbers of people. Factionalism was already there in the party but the stature and the persona of Pathak ji somehow covered it, after his death, the fissures had been exposed as The Pathak family openly alleged Vijay for the murder. But no one was getting why Vijay would kill his own father Krishna Babu?......someone could assume it about Vaibhav, but for Vijay, it was impossible.

Vijay's lawyer immediately rushed towards the Civil Lines Police station and pleaded that Vijay was being framed falsely and in fact he had lost his father too, but the police refused it firmly and politely, saying that whatever they wanted to say, they would say it in front of the magistrate only when Vijay would be presented in the court. The senior inspector said "…till then we cannot release him."


This news was a further jolt to Geetika who was already reeling under the enormous pain of her father’s death. She could not even think that her old and trusted friend, with whom she visited recently to Nindaura on a motorcycle, could be like that. She was hearing this again and again from Rajini Devi who was crying inconsolably "..Pathak ji denied him of the MLA or the MP ticket….he denied him of the Party President post…so he ruined my family….he killed Pathak ji only for that…" The media was also toeing this very line. Newspapers were full of the news indicating the conspiracy theories. According to all of them, Vijay was feeling humiliated and cornered in the party and was looking for a chance so that be Pathak ji might be taught a lesson or two. The outcome of the party’s working committee meeting was a triggering point from him and he felt that without eliminating Pathak ji, he could not move up the ladder in the party and in the politics. He was sure about it that only assassination would be the way forward. And he did it.

But a million-dollar question was banging everybody's head if Vijay hatched a conspiracy to eliminate his own father Krishna Babu and Ujjawal singh ji along with Pathak ji? …..If it was true then certainly he will see the gallows. Had he become so much desperate for the power and the prestige that he hatched the conspiracy of eliminating not only Pathak ji but his own father? …..Why Vijay would kill his own father?....and the suspicion grew strongly, when the bail was denied to him after the hearing.  


Geetika thought for a while that She would meet him at the jail but then She dropped the idea. She had developed so much anger inside that She only wanted to shoot him…..the possibility of a meeting with him would not arise for sure.


After a few days, the news came that Vijay would be shifted at the Central Jail, on the outskirts of the city. The dreaded criminals were kept there. After that, some other hearings too had taken place but despite the best of their efforts, Vijay's lawyers could not secure bail to him. They had already filed a petition in the High Court but the date of the hearing was yet to be decided.


Almost after 3 months since that tragedy, the joint teams of the Civil Lines police station and the Georgetown police station entered into the office premise of Vaibhav. He was there with his friends, playing cards. A senior inspector brought out a paper and said “Mr. Vaibahv, we have an arrest warrant against you.”

“why”

The police informed him that Chhaya Mishra, the daughter-in-law of Krishna Babu and the wife of Vijay, had lodged an FIR against him in which she alleged him for her sexual harassment. According to Chhaya’s FIR, after the arrest of her husband Vijay raj mishra, Vaibhav Pathak was continuously pressurizing her to sell their house. He wanted to demolish some of the properties of the Georgetown area and wished to construct multi-storied apartments there. He targeted Krishna Babu's home first because of a reason. Chhaya was left alone mature member of the family thereafter the demise of her father-in-law Krishna Babu and the arrest of the husband Vijay. Further, She was living there only with her 3 years old daughter. Vaibhav Pathak exploited this situation to the fullest and molested her and he also used the name and the power of his father for it along with the sympathy wave out of the demise of Pathak ji. It was also true that nobody in that area could stand against Vaibhav once he would annex the Krishna Babu’s house. In her report, Chhaya framed the charges under some very serious sections of the IPC, and CrPC. Sexual harassment was a very serious crime, in which there was zero possibility of a bail. Police arrested Vaibahv from his office and took him to the jail.


When Rajini Devi got this news, She was completely shocked. She was well aware of the philandering nature of her son but this was too much to handle. She did not think that Her family would come across this, that too just within few months after Pathak ji's death. Had her son become so much desperate after the flesh that he did not spare even the daughter-in-law of Krishna Babu? Krishna Babu had done so much for the Pathak family and what this man had done?......did he find only that locality of Georgetown fit for construction of apartments?.....Sexual harassment is the crime of very serious nature with almost no bail, had not this rascal thought about it even once?   

Around 11 that night, Rajini Devi reached at Police station with her lawyers. The lawyers showed the papers to the Police officer and asked for a meeting with Vaibhav, their client, to which Police agreed. She entered into the lock-up with the lawyers and Vaibhav stood up looking at her. Beena was not there with her. It was so much rage simmering inside Rajini Devi that without uttering a single word, She took her slippers in her hand and fell upon Vaibhav. She was abusing him so vehemently that one should have closed his or her ears. She always protected her son, She had been covering all his mistakes since his birth but now She was breathing fire. Somehow, her lawyers and police personals controlled her. The Police Station In-charge arranged some chairs for her and her lawyers in the lock-up to sit and allowed them interaction for only 20 minutes. He said "It is not allowed to arrange chairs for the visitors inside the lock-up, but madam, seeing at your age and as we have immense respect for Pathak ji, we are allowing it but for only 20 minutes, otherwise if some journo or photographer or any senior official will come, he would raise objection definitely." Lawyers and Rajini Devi thanked him and agreed to end it in only stipulated 20 minutes.


Vaibhav was sitting there in front of her, keeping his head down in shame. Everyone was silent there and people were looking up to Rajini Devi. The only audible sound in that lock-up was coming from the nostrils of old, weak and ill Rajini Devi who was trying to control herself. A constable was standing beside her chair with a glass of water. She became normal in the few minutes, then took water from the constable and signaled him to go out and he went. Vaibhav was looking at it and he asked somehow “has not Beena come?” Drinking the water She said with anger “your karma are such that nobody will come to see you…..its just my bad luck that I have to come to your rescue again and again, whether your father is there or not….I did not even think Vaibhav that I would see this day at this age.” Vaibhav was silent.


She asked then “what the hell is this?” Vaibhav was listening but did not respond. The lawyers said “look Vaibhav ji….we are here only to help you….we can only save you if you would tell us the truth. We cannot do anything without knowing it. Rajini Devi then became angry “Oh you rascal!....were you not seeing at that time?...did you not see or think even once before it?” The lawyers somehow controlled her. Vaibhav replied in a low voice “I….I…have not done anything.” Rajini Devi was furious at it “Yes you rascal!!.....are we sitting here in the police lock-up at 11 PM to enjoy?...you idiot….you should think once that I am an old, diabetic woman….how many times you would kill me at this age?....if you can’t provide me some relief, its O.K., but then please don’t torture me at least.” Lawyers again made her calm down, and asked Vaibhav their questions again to which he replied in a stuttered voice “I am telling you….I have really not done anything….I mean……whatever took place between us……I mean…..it was…..actually it was a consensual relation…..I am telling you the truth." He was weeping bitterly now. The lawyers were left completely stunned at it and Rajini Devi was cursing herself repeatedly "what did you just say?.....say it again you rascal….consensual relation?.....say it again….” ,and She again started to beat him mercilessly with her slippers. The lawyers somehow again made her calm and She sat again on her chair. She was weeping inconsolably and was feeling very sad. The lawyers were looking at each other and nobody was speaking then. After a few minutes when She became normal, She asked him "Why and How it happened?....why were you so much desperate after the women?......you used to go to the hostels and hotels, was not it enough to you?" Vaibhav was sobbing "She told me that she was unhappy with her husband Vijay and her married life….She did not like her husband's ways and philosophy of life. He spent more time in remotely located villages rather than at home……and also my wife had not been living with me for the last 3-4 years….after all….I am also a human……so it happened." Rajini Devi was listening and She was in a shock. The lawyer then asked "If it was a consensual relation then why She did frame charges against you about Sexual harassment in her FIR?....do you know about this sexual harassment law?......it means you have violated the woman's modesty forcibly….this is a non-bailable offense, you know……She has framed you under some very serious sections of the IPC and CrPC…..and the most difficult aspect of this law is that the court presumes the allegations and charges by the woman as truth and the entire responsibility of proving yourself as an innocent lie upon you only." The lawyers said further " Another thing you both must take care of…….that you would not harm her physically, at any cost, otherwise her all the allegations and charges would be proven correct……and you would lead the rest of your life in this lock-up……so if you people are thinking in this direction, please drop it immediately. Is that clear?"


The mother-son duo nodded.


Whatever the developments took place in the last 2 or 3 months, they had shattered completely the Shramshakti Party. The party was facing an existential crisis. The party which was seeming quite promising and just invincible a few months back, it was now fighting for survival. It was not just about to fill the vacant seats of the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assembly. The real thing was that the two strongest pillars of the Party, Pathak ji and Krishna Babu had gone and the third person was Ujjawal babu who was fighting a battle for his life in the hospital. Though his condition was continuously improving and he was out of the ICU now but he could not take part in the party's activities at all. Further, he was not considered as the face of the party who could fetch votes. The aura, charisma, and popularity of Pathak ji and Krishna Babu were completely absent in the persona of Ujjawal Babu. The party could not rely upon him for the electoral victories. His own Assembly seat would be vacant and it was also a question.

Another very important point was that those people who were considered once as the fittest candidates for taking up the challenge after the demise of Pathak ji and Krishna Babu, they were licking their wounds in the jail under some very serious charges. Vijay was charged as the main conspirator of that V.P. Pathak-K.P. Mishra assassination case and he was in jail, thanks to the FIR filed by the Pathak family. On the other hand, the daughter-in-law of Krishna Babu had filed an FIR against Vaibhav pathak, the son of Pathak ji and framed a sexual harassment case against him, so he was in jail too. Election Commission could issue the notifications regarding bi-polls anytime. Keeping such a situation and future challenges in mind, the party leaders asked president Geetika pathak to convene a national working committee meeting immediately which would lead the future course and strategy of the party. They also requested her to increase her engagements in the party affairs and meetings. So it was decided that an emergency meeting of the national working committee of the party would be convened after a week at Akbarabad.


Many crucial decisions were taken in that party meeting. Geetika was elected as the full-fledged Party President and the Party President was fully authorized to take all the necessary decisions which She would consider appropriate for the party. It was decided that Ujjawal Sigh ji would contest from City Central Lok Sabha seat as the party candidate while another senior leader of the party, Mr. Durga Prasad Yadav would contest the Assembly by-poll from the Phulpur Assembly constituency which had become vacant due to Krishna Babu's demise. Geetika would contest the Assembly by-polls from Jhusi-Jagatpur Assembly constituency. Durga Prasad Yadav was also appointed as the new head of the election campaign committee of the party and the son of Krishna Babu, Vijay Raj Mishra was expelled from the party with immediate effect.        


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