The Kill15 mins 365 15 mins 365
The downpour stopped nearly 6 hours. It showered like some clouds busted relieving all the precipitation at one go. The sun now has gone below the horizon and the raindrops on the thatched roofs, sliding down to touch the ground to make pattering. My boats made of paper are racing to the finish line, which is a post placed into the ground to support the shade in front of the houses. The smallest of them is ahead and is nearing the destination to finish the race. The paper boat race, when about to complete, the rainwater splashed due to footsteps towards my direction making the boat descend in the water. And in no time, I saw a person who is slim with a fierce expression, with a long and partly white beard in the mid-thirties, coming towards me and followed by four others. They all are wearing an olive-green uniform and heavy boots, their hand-holding assault rifles.
Terrified of watching them, in no time, leaped sideways in a hurry and scurried into a small hut made of dried toddy palm leaves where my neighbor keeps his tools regularly. Those groups of combatants walked past the place I rushed in and entered the house where my sister and her husband stays along with me. I went near the shacks fortification to follow happenings in the next house. Their voices are loud and audible, and the conversation is unfriendly. I can hear my sister’s voice. She is arguing with them and her voice is loud. When my ears are all over, understanding the dialogue, the sudden sound of shelling made me go in terror. Tears started to flow from the eyes and down the cheeks. In a mechanized way, I stood up from the place and started to walk towards the hut, where the firing happened. With every step closing near the entrance, my heart pounding harder. In deep shock, I forgot the presence of combatants in olive-green attire, other surroundings and made my way to the hut, to see the bodies lying in a pool of blood. The scene is very gruesome. My body started to shiver with unknown fear and inconsolable grief, my face turned red with anger remembering my helpless age. With all sorts of feelings in my little heart, I yelled into the air and started to run away from the scene.
Running continuously, faster and even faster, strain in the little legs growing, my body profoundly sweating, breath getting heavier, heart-thumping harder, darkness looming around, burning sensation in the chest increasing and am about to collapse. Then I felt a sudden jerk, the inertia of motion pulled my body to stumble down and to wake me up in the police van. It is the insomnia disorder that troubles me since my childhood.
Coming to senses, I realized that we reached the Parishad school where the greyhound's team made their camp after their combing operation in which the captured two extremists. We are here to take the captives to the District Jail, the next morning.
While the Sun with gold hue rays rose above the nearest mountain range kissing their head and coloring the sky in tangerine and giving a blue camouflage to the clouds, we walked towards the van dressed in uniforms with green and straw shades holding our trademark AK47s with under-barrel grenade launchers held over the left shoulder, 9mm pistols positioned in the belt pouch and carrying a twenty kg rucksack containing the essentials.
As we reached the rear of the vehicle guarded by four commandos, I can see the captives seated inside the vehicle in casual outfits, contrary to their custom olive-green clothes. Their hands cuffed with Double lock cuffs. One of them is a woman in her mid-thirties with a lean and medium built-in structure and an angular face. She has sharp black intense eyes with medium brows and long lashes. Beside her is a tall guy in his fifties with a long beard and hair grown up to his shoulders. He is having an oval face and there is a scar running from his wide nose to his forehead. His face seemed very well-known, but my eyes transfixed to the woman. When I am busy observing them, our ACP walked towards us.
He said to us, “Today is going to be tough and tiresome. There is a possibility of ambush or any other setbacks, which you all shall overcome. No matter what happens do not deviate from the plan.”
He then turned to our CI and instructed, “Rizwan, keep me posted.”
“Yes, I will,” said Rizwan and moved toward the front of the vehicle to take his seat.
“And you know what has to be done,” said ACP.
Rizwan nodded his head before getting in the vehicle to take his seat beside the driver.
We got into the vehicle and took our seats. In no time we are on the way to Ongole District jail.
Our vehicle crossed the Ardhaveedu police station and entered the town. Our routes are planned to avoid most of the PWG’s strongholds. Although we travel to the main roads and through the populated towns, precaution is necessary to avoid any uncertain circumstances.
Our vehicle picked up the pace and the team of police commandos is vigilant. I am sitting opposite the prisoners. The male prisoner had his legs crossed on the seat and his arm crossed over his chest with his head straight and eyes looking at the window grille of the van. The woman has her eyes closed, leaning sideways and resting her chin on the arm. She had her hair knotted at the back of the head, letting a few wispy strands fall freely across the face making her look more elegant.
“Water”, asked the old prisoner. It’s more like a demand. I turned to him, looked at him with an irritated look and gave him the bottle of water. He drained out the water.
“Even life is short like this journey, but everything cannot be obtained. Be it an object or anything”, he mentioned while handing back the empty bottle to me.
I did not respond. Took the bottle and placed it in the holder.
The officer sitting on his side mimicked a handgun pointing to the rebel and said “Silence.”
The old man smirked and expressed, “You can’t.” and continued,“ Anyway, how could you threaten an old man chained and held captive? You might be feared.”
“No fear. We are bound to our rules and follow them strictly. We are not freelance murderers like you,” the officer explained.
“We are a revolutionary group. We have ideologies with which your governments contradict and name us as extremists”, the old man pointed out.
The officer retorted, “Revolutionary group! Ha!. You roam the forests with arms in hands terrorizing the people of nearby villages, looting them, killing them. You cause a great burden to the government treasury.”
“You better don’t speak. We guys can’t resist shooting extremists. We can create a different scenario and still can be in line with the regulations of our job.” Cautioned the fellow police sitting beside me.
He leaned forward and looked into his eyes and said, “feared!” then moved back to rest himself. That was a fierce look. That look made me slightly nervous. Same time there is a point of anger.
The vehicle reached the checkpoint in Cumbum.
“We are at the first checkpoint. You need to give your thumb impression”, I tried to sidetrack the conversation.
Rizwan got down from the vehicle and reached the officer in the station. He signed in the register provided by the police officer and started a chat with him. Meanwhile, a constable came to the rear of the vehicle with a small register along with a stamp pad to get the thumb impression of the two captives. We opened the door and the police entered the vehicle to get the impression of thumb from the captives. He placed the register open in front of them along with the stamp pad. First, the old man made his mark followed by the lady. After that, the constable got down the vehicle as he completed his task. Rizwan also bid his adieu to the officer at the gate and got into the vehicle. The gate opened for us to move ahead. Our vehicle crossed the checkpoint and hustled.
We only crossed Cumbum and still to pass-through Tarlapadu, Podili, Chimakurthy, and Santhanuthalapadu before we reach the Ongole town. It’s only a 140km journey, yet a tiresome one due to the PWG prominence in the region. There are small farms on both sides of the road in the outskirts of Cumbum and after a few minutes of travel, those farms faded out and vanished away giving a vast space to barren lands. There is medium traffic on the road and most of it is the trucks supplying goods to various places. After a while of looking through the window, my gaze turned towards the lady captive sitting crosswise me.
“How many have you killed?” I asked the woman looking at her. Her skin like mahogany, very warm with high undertones and freckles due to excessive exposure to sunlight, had a tiny laceration on the nose indicating a past piercing.
“None were murders. Some were executions for the unlawful acts and others were for self-protection.” conveyed in her modulated tone.
“You don’t run a judicial system to execute someone. They all were very much unlawful killings.”
“When Kali walks the world failing Dharma, Kalki rises. Your system failed to protect the rights of the downtrodden, so we stood to fight the wrongdoers,” intervened the old man who is having his head resting on the knees. He tried to justify their actions.
“Killing doesn’t justify anything. Where is the proof that whoever you killed was an offender?” I asked the old man. “You guys are destroying the roads leading to tribal lands and obstructing developmental activities taken by governments fearing opposition from the tribes whose lands PWG is used as support bases,” I protested.
“You want to construct roads, but don’t want any telecom connectivity. It is only because the government wants it to be a blind zone. The government schools were kilometers away from the tribal villages, no hospitals for them, no electricity. Also, they were thrown out of their lands, farms ceded to capitalists with phony publicity for development. Government’s tribal welfare schemes are fodder to the political leaders,” stopped for a while, he looked into my eyes and continued to say, “Above all, the police their helplessness to turn them on their tribes. With all these schemes on par, even with no awareness of our ideologies, having no other option, they are holding the arms or turning Naxal sympathizers.” He concluded.
“It is hard to miss police atrocities on tribal women,” the woman pointed out.
I stared at her as those words struck me as a personal affront.
“Her sister was raped by your fellow policemen and the elder brother got killed in an encounter,” disclosed the Oldman.
“Why are we taking a diversion to Lingojipalli road which is longer in distance and a remote one than equated to Cumbum-Bodicherla road!” the police sitting side of the Oldman surprised.
I glanced out to see, traffic on the road is a bare minimum. But I felt like any deviation from the original plan will take place only with the instruction from the top.
Our vehicle is moving faster than before. Now I can find a sense of worry in the face of the woman captive.
“There will be an encounter,” said the woman in suspicion.
“Next day with the flash news, few people in powerful circles would be happy,” the old man said calmly, as he knows what will be happening next.
His words a very slow and alarming. Those words don’t fear us, as we are trained to face the worst.
I took out my bottle from the sack and lifted to have a gulp, and then with a huge impact on the front, the vehicle plummeted. With the impact, I rolled in the air to hit the grill of the window with great velocity.
I behind the shack’s fortification, trying to understand the argument between the group of extremists and my brother in law.
“You can walk free from the group, but not supposed to reveal the information to police,” said a man from the group.
“I came out of the PWG as the ideologies of the group have been buried deep in the forest. And a few of our group colluded with the people in the high castles. The information I gave to the police is in line with the agreement we had during my surrender and none of the information includes your hideouts or movements. It was only a few names in high ranks. What I did is justice for the betrayal of those leaders,” said my sister’s husband.
“Likewise, you betrayed us. It is the only life, we take from you for what have you done,” it's the same voice as the previous one.
“Can’t kill him. The group cannot forget the services he rendered. He lost much working with you. Can’t lose his life,” screamed my sister.
There happened to be some struggle between them, I understand from the sounds coming from the house. Then there was a crackling sound of someone getting hit to some hard surface. After a moment of silence, the shelling from the assault rifles started. The continuous shelling in the hut next to where I am hiding shook me. In fear, I closed my eyes and held the fortification very tight in my little hands. After a while, the shelling stopped. I opened my eyes, tears rolled down. Stood with trembling feet, moved to the entrance of the hut. The group in the olive green uniforms walked out of our house and stood in a formation in the small street. Now the rain has stopped. The tall man with an oval face and a fierce expression in it stood in the front. He had a cut on his face, a fresh one from the recent fight, running across the nose to the forehead. Blood leaking from it.
With command over the area, he started to say “Listen! All of you, We are fighting for you, your rights and the future of the next generations. Anything like this madness will only cost your life. Don’t hatch behind your tribe,” concluded and started walking. The group behind him followed. The fierceness in his eyes startled me and I moved a little backward while they moved forward, and hit the threshold at the entrance letting fall hitting my elbow to the ground.
There is excruciating pain in my left elbow. I got an injury in my ribs as well. I am being dragged by someone. Opened my eyes to see old captive dragging down the road shoulder. There are glass splinters all over my arm and back, which caused more pain when being dragged. His handcuff was broken or maybe shot with the gun. I tried to observe the surroundings to understand what has happened all sudden. The vehicle in which we traveled before was on the edge of the road tilted and its front was crashed killing the driver. Due to heavy rolling on the road is what I assume, the body of the vehicle got heavily damaged. Two of my colleagues on the ground lying dead. There was a truck whose front body was damaged to a large extent. The air is filled with the scents of blood from fellow police bodies and other toxic liquids of the motors. Ammunition all over the ground indicating the firing, which stopped a while ago.
I was pulled to a side and turned backward. My arms were pulled back and crossed over. My head on the ground turned sideways, there I saw the woman behind a log with one of our AK47’s. The old man pulled a piece of cloth and tied the hands behind the back. I now became a token of their freedom. I looked down the road to find Rizwan and I saw him with two other guys covering behind the truck which hit our vehicle.
Everyone is still hiding at their positions and waiting for the right moment to strike their enemy. A few minutes later, Rizwan called out “ Leave our guy and surrender.”
Not one from the opposite responded.
“You know, there is no other option apart from I suggested. There is no way of escape for you. The only thing you can do is to either surrender or get yourself killed,” shouted Rizwan.
The old man with his back resting on the ground and seeing upwards to the sky said, “the whole accident plot is to kill us. Nicely played by your team.”
“There is no question of surrender. Even we let you go, he will shoot us down and also the other two of guys hiding with him. Even you cannot survive. This head is having great value in your political circles,” he said, pointing his index to his head and he continued,
“They fear that I may spill out all their dirty deals during the judicial inquiry or in front of the press, for which I have no interest at all. There are implications. It holds PWG equally responsible,” when saying this he lowered his right hand and placed it under the abdomen. He was hit by a bullet and there was a heavy loss of blood. Sensing it the right time, in a fraction, bringing all the strength to my legs pulled myself up and leaped to my right high above the ground to fall on the hard surface of the road. Seeing me, the old man got up to get hold of me.
And that was the moment. Everyone waiting to capture the right opportunity. All hell broke loose. The guns in everyone's hand roared spitting the typically cylindrical metal projectiles piercing in each of their flesh. First, it was the old man to fall, followed by the two guys, then Rizwan and lastly the woman.
Pulled myself to rest my back over the wrecked police vehicle, I looked at the old man with the scar on his face responsible for the death of my only loved ones and the insomnia disorder I have.
Although he is the reason for my loss, retribution never crossed my mind. All these years I fought myself to overcome my weaknesses.
I believe everyone here today faced their karma. Thinking of what had happened today, I closed my eyes, with a hope of no haunted memories in sleep.