The Midnight Intrusion
The Midnight Intrusion6 mins 290 6 mins 290
The Darjeeling Express clanged into the platform and there was a mad rush. The entire station seemed to be in a whir---almost like a disturbed beehive. Everybody moved in all directions----they went helter-skelter and haywire, but somehow or the other they managed to reach their destination. The porters pushed their trolleys at a speed which posed a mortal threat to passengers, also being propelled like missiles through the teeming crowd. The vendors eager to sell their wares quickly moved to safer havens, apprehensive of their valuable products being unceremoniously ejected by the pushing and pressing specimens of humanity. In all the hullabaloo, the Brown family managed to find their berths in the First Class compartment. They were all beside themselves with excitement because they were going for a weekend holiday to Kalimpong.
The train hiccuped out of the platform in fits and starts, then gathered momentum and shot out of the platform. The two youngest boys, one five-year-old, and the other three-year-old, both wanted to sleep on the upper berths. They climbed up like circus artists and made sure that no one dislodged them. As for their two-year-old sister, she was content to share a berth with her mother and snuggle up close to her. Both Grand dad and Grandma were allocated the lower berths whilst dad was given an upper berth as men were supposed to be able to manage feats which the weaker sex was unable to perform. They had bought Noodles for their dinner and after they had had a meal better than that served at a Five Star Restaurant, they made preparations to retire for the night.
The Ticket Checker came on his round and the Sniffer Dog went through the compartments, making sure the passengers would be safe. The lights were put off and tranquility descended on the Darjeeling Express, as it sped through the dark moonless night. The heavy breathing of those in deep slumber broke the silence of the night, whilst the sonorous snoring of those indulging in much-needed rest added to the music emanating from the continuous beating of the rumbling wheels. The train sped on, piercing the darkness and devouring mile after mile of looming expanse.
It was perhaps two o’clock in the night; the train was passing in the vicinity of Farakka, when there was an unexpected thumping on the door. The thumping became deliberate, pronounced and threatening. It became louder and louder and finally with a sharp grating sound, the handle of the bolt gave way and the door flung open. In jumped seven fierce-looking ruffians, ferocious and aggressive, with black hankies tied round their faces so that no one would be able to identify them. But they seemed to be hefty and robust, with muscular bodies. What marked them out was their uncouth and vulgar mannerism. They banged the glass door, and with a vicious kick pushed it open. Then they hammered the compartment walls with their metal guns and shouted out in their gruff uncultured voices that everyone should hand over to them whatever jewelry, watches, mobile phones and valuables they had with them. If anyone resisted, they made it amply clear they would shoot them instantly or hack them into pieces with their choppers. No one was to utter a sound. They marched up and down the corridor menacingly, with their armors glinting in the dim light.
The passengers were in a stupor----they were paralyzed with fear. The children had got up from their sleep with a start and clung to their parents in sheer terror. Grandma and Grandpa were both shaking like aspen leaves. Without a word the passengers started handing over their valuables with shaking hands into the dacoit’s massive bags. Dipti Ghosh did not hand over her diamond necklace as she had known it had cost her lakhs. A cold sweat had broken out in abject trepidation, but she quickly covered it with her scarf. The big burly dacoit noticed it, and with one cruel stroke, ripped the scarf into two and cut the diamond chain, which fell clinking on to the floor. Streams of blood ran down from the wound inflicted by the razor-sharp blade and the passengers watched petrified. Seeing his wife collapsing, Mr.Ghosh quickly held her in his arms. At that, the man who had dealt the inhuman stroke, laughed aloud, and showing his monster-like stained teeth, articulated some obscenities, and then with a resounding biff, sent Mr. Ghosh sprawling on the floor. Intimidated, more prized possessions poured in. The man laughed aloud like a demon.
Little Robert, who was in the toilet, opened the door and witnessed the drama that was being enacted. In terror he quickly bolted the door. His elder siblings had educated him about the utility of the chain on the wall which had always been an object of his curiosity. So his first response was to pull the chain with all his might. The train screeched to a halt and the dacoits caught off-guard, started jumping off.
In no time the Railway Police Force came running, it seemed from nowhere. They ripped out their pistols and aimed at the dacoit’s legs. Some missed their target, but some made the men roll in pain. The Chief of the Police Force, Mr Tariq Ahmed was agile enough to jump on the man who had struck Mr. Ghosh before he could escape. With one quick manoeuvre of his hand, he dislodged the sharp knife, and with another, threw him on the ground. With Two more hard blows, the man lay prostrate on the floor, gasping for breath. Three men were hand-cuffed but the others escaped.
The passengers could breathe freely at last and they all were very grateful to the valiant officer who had exhibited such bravado. The next day the photograph of Mr. Tariq Ahmed was in the front page of the Telegraph with the highest accolade for such a selfless act.
The Brown Family blessed their stars that they could reach their destination finally. The Railway Doctor had been called and he had administered the required First Aid on Mrs.Ghosh. The children were in trauma but they were lucky to have escaped greater disaster. As the saying goes “All’s well that ends well.”
There was still more to the drama enacted that night. It was found out after the CBI had made secret investigations that the Chief of the Railway Police Force, Mr Tariq Ahmed was actually the Mastermind of the most dangerous and obnoxious Terrorist gang who were financing the Alqaida. Their daily onslaught was carried out as this was an easy way to fill their coffers and the police chief would feign he was taking action, and let the culprits go scot-free.
All the papers publicised the findings with Mr.Tariq Ahmed’s photograph on the very first page again. There was also another photograph side by side of a little boy who had saved the lives of so many people. Robert was the hero of the day!