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Mangesh Shirke

Action Classics Crime


5.0  

Mangesh Shirke

Action Classics Crime


The Revenge Of The Vanquished

The Revenge Of The Vanquished

18 mins 370 18 mins 370

“Hate crimes are the scariest thing because these people really believe what they are doing is right.”

 

It was a dark, moonless 3rd prahaar of the night in the city of Ujjain. However, something was not right in one of the noble houses. Four masked men in black outfits were chasing a middle-aged nobleman with bleeding legs, wearing an antariya & a gold beaded tunic running along the banks of River Shipra. Suddenly two arrows hit him straight in the back. Yelling in pain, as the nobleman was about to turn, two more arrows pierced his back again. Unable to sustain the pain, the man collapsed.


Jai Maa Indira…!” the men shouted, holding their swords upwards.

 

The next day, the chief of the police & internal security received an urgent scroll from the Chief Minister’s office: “Some peasants have informed that a theft has been committed in Niladriji’s house, one of the rich noblemen belonging directly to King Chandragupta’s court. The dead bodies of all the members of his family are found, except Niladriji himself. Attend the crime scene immediately and start your investigation.”

 

A large crowd had gathered on the banks of the river. In the presence of a Police officer, four divers wearing only the antariya with a kayabandh covered their noses & jumped into the river. Suddenly one of the divers signalled to the officer. The body was found on the shallow underwater banks of the riverbed.


Vikas, the Chief of Police and Internal Security at Ujjain, walked up to the riverside, just as the body was being removed out by the divers. He had been out of the town for some urgent work. Just yesterday night he was back after a tiring campaign from the North Indian Province. After receiving an urgent scroll from the Chief Minister’s office, he had come running down on the crime scene.


The officer, Bhargava, supervising the operation turned around and saluted his commander immediately, holding the documents containing all his observations. As the divers brought the body and placed it on the banks of the river, Inspector Vikas observed it carefully. Noting some useful things, he then observed the area around the banks of the river.

 

“What is the scenario of the crime, Vikas?” Purumitra, the Chief Minister & General of the Gupta Army of Ujjain enquired.


“We checked the house thoroughly. No evidence of any type, including the killing weapon, was found. The body was discovered inside the river. The entire family was killed by hitting on their chest & heads.”


“Anything you found?” Purumitra asked.


“The injuries on Niladriji’s legs,” Vikas answered immediately. “They were quite deep & appeared to have been made by a very sharp weapon, mostly a two-way sword. The arrow wounds had almost gone through the body. The arrows available in our army are made in bamboo wood, with their heads forged in steel, which is not capable of giving such wounds. These must be some different arrows, Guruji. The shoe marks indicate they used wooden flat soles with dotted design. No shoe of this type is ever found in our kingdom, Guruji. Also, I found something else,” he then showed a strange symbol that he had inscribed on a piece of paper. “I found this on the dried mud footprints. This probably would be present on the sole of the shoes that they were wearing.”


Purumitra looked at the symbol. It looked something like a half triangle, with its right side slightly curved and extending above the left angular line. He then appeared a little thoughtful before he spoke up: “When you were out of the town for the past some months, similar crimes had happened in our city. No evidence, no weapons, nothing was discovered. Towards the end of the Equinox, after rainfall, Chitrasen – administrator of the royal treasure, was found murdered with his family. Near the start of Winter Solstice – Mahendranath, the royal librarian, was murdered. Both men were killed by shooting sharp weapons, mostly arrows in their back. Their families were finished in the same way – by hitting on their heads & chest. All of their money was looted.” Vikas nodded, lost in his thoughts.


“Guruji, looking at the weapons they used and presuming these are outsiders who have entered our city as traders or merchants, I think they must have committed similar crimes in other cities as well. They must’ve entered other cities to do the same.” Searching his documents, he said, “As per our records, Chitrasenji was killed on the Equinox, the Bhadrapada Krishna Navami on a moonless night. We host a city market for some days after that, until Ashwin Shukla Navami or end or Navratri. Also… Mahendranathji was killed just before the Lunar month of Ashwin, again on a moonless night, on the day we celebrate Deepawali. Again, we have a big market for people to shop in. And now, Niladriji is killed, again on a moonless night, just after the Winter Solstice.”


“We have a big market happening in our city to shop for people before Maghi or Sankranti…” Bhargava, the reporting officer, replied.


“Exactly…” Vikas exclaimed, “These people are following certain pattern for the killings. We need to find all the other areas where such crimes were executed. I’ll visit the neighbouring kingdoms and will check with their police department if killings similar to the ones happened here had happened in their cities or not.”


Vikas then ordered Bhargava, “Assemble 12 men with weapons & armour. We need good horses for this long expedition. Take minimal clothes with you, we won’t rest too much. We’ll meet here again in 15 days.”

 

The next day, before the 1st prahaar, Vikas divided the 12 men into four groups and spanned them in four different directions. The north side was entirely ruled by the Gupta Empire; however, the south side was ruled by Vakatakas, Pallavas & Kadambas. Taking minimal rest, his teams finally reached back at the capital after a rigorous journey of 20 days. 

 

Vikas called upon a meeting with all his officials on the same day with Purumitra.“In the south side, no crimes of such type are ever committed. However, in the north side,” he then pointed to the map of India & said, “Notably, every year since the last 3 years, 4 noblemen belonging to royal courts were assassinated in different states in our empire. The killing pattern of every royal person killed was the same.”

He then opened up a map of Sindh area. Pointing at Taxila, he said, “Guruji, last year a gang of about 6 people had been imprisoned in Taxila, in the northern province of Sindh. They had looted a house in that area and were escaping, however, our army noticed it and chased them down. The point to be considered here is, the families were attacked on their chests & heads, similar to the killings happened in our state. The arrows they were shooting to kill the royal noblemen were going quite deep in the human body, causing maximum damage. Looking at their killing patterns, this may be the same gang which is present in our state. Our northern army managed to have a sketch done of one of the gang members.” He then opened another Red scroll & produced a representation of the person. It showed a coloured portrait of a man with dark complexion & sharp eyes, with a clear scar on his left face.


“Why didn’t you arrest them and get them here?” Purumitra asked.


“The fact is… they escaped.” Vikas replied. “I predict they must be from a forest area, or from a hunting tribe.” Turning to Bhargava, he said, “Circulate this sketch amongst all our troops. If you notice any person resembling him, inform me immediately.”

 

It was just one week before the Maghi or Sankranti. The entire team started their work immediately. The whole city was searched, including every lane, every road & every dwelling. But even after 4 -5 days of extensive searching, there was no clue anywhere at all.


“Sir…!” Bhargava came running to Vikas’s office on the day of amavasya, just after the 4th prahaar of the day. “Our informers have notified that the man in the sketch was spotted on the outskirts of Ujjain city.”


Before he could complete his sentence, Vikas immediately ordered his men to advance towards the boundary of the city. The entire team of 12 horsemen immediately started galloping towards the outskirts of the city and rode as fast as they can to nab the culprit and his gang.


“Bhargava…!” Vikas screamed as he reached the outskirts of the city, “The check post police has informed the culprit was last seen riding a horse across the road towards Vindhya Mountain ranges…! You take the other side route and reach there right away…! I’ll come from behind...!”


“Ok, Sir….!” Saying this, Bhargava took 5 horsemen with him and took the other route through the forests.

 

It was very well known that Harisena, a famous poet and writer, had his villa on those mountains.

 

“Loot whatever you can…That inspector is reaching us fast…!” One of the Gang members shouted. They were 8 masked men wearing black antariya & black tunic with a black mask.


The gang had already finished Harisena’s family by hitting rods precisely on their heads and chest. Harisena was blindfolded and taken outside in the open air. Four masked men had surrounded him. Two of them had bows and arrows made up of iron and steel and each arrow had the symbol of the half triangle.

 

Vikas and his 3 men rode with full speed towards the mountain ranges. The mountain on which Harisena’s villa was built had dense trees & forests surrounding it. Suddenly an arrow zoomed past him and hit a tree. The crew halted abruptly. Instantly 4 masked men, shouting and raising their swords charged towards them. Vikas took off his sword and fought their attack. It was almost midway through the second prahaar of the night. In that darkness, without flaming torches, he spotted the attackers and dodged their attack. Swords clanged on each other. The attackers were aggressive, but Vikas defended them out. The masked men were skilled in their art, knowing their movements perfectly. They attacked Vikas, but he was equally alert. In spite of the darkness, he dodged their attacks and fought them back, injuring 2-3 of them.

 

The blindfolded Harisena was down in the open air. One of the gang members aimed an arrow towards him.


Jai Maa Indira…!” the men shouted, holding their swords upwards.


Suddenly, Bhargava and his men attacked them from all sides. Before the gang could understand, the horse-ridden police had already surrounded them. A huge fight emerged, with the police dominating the gang members on the ground. With swords, the police started slashing them, giving no opportunity for defence. The gang members, in black dress and masks, started loosing on the police. They had weapons but were not prepared for such an attack on themselves.


Abruptly, the police heard a conch shell blow. Within minutes, the entire gang ran towards the house in darkness. All the gang members broke the front entrance door and ran outside. Before the police could follow, they had already disappeared.


“Check the rooms for evidence… one of you go down and check where is Saahib…!” Bhargava ordered his men.

 

“We lost them, Guruji...!” Vikas, later on, reported to Purumitra, “They deliberately ambushed us in the forest. Somehow they came to know that we will be attacking them in two groups.” The injured Vikas then displayed evidence that they had gathered from the crime scene.

“It is the same gang, Guruji. They used iron arrows which gave deeper wounds. And – this symbol.” Saying this, he produced the arrow he had collected from the crime scene which had the symbol: a half triangle with one side slightly curved & extending upwards. “I’m sure I’ll nab them again. I’ve circulated that sketch to all the city check posts and exit points. Meanwhile, Bhargava has spoken to Harisena. The thieves were speaking in Prakrit language, one of the ancient languages of India. I grabbed a scroll from one of the attackers.” He then showed the scroll to Purumitra. “It’s written in Brahmi language. I can’t read the whole text, but they mention something about coronation & summer solstice…”


At once Purumitra understood their motive, “Now I get this. The entire government and King Samudragupta himself has decided to coronate King Chandragupta as Vikramaditya, exactly on Summer solstice…”


“They may be planning to kill the king on the same day…!” Vikas now started to get a clearer picture, “They are doing these attacks to give us a warning. Their main aim is something else. They want to finish our king…! It means we need to arrest them immediately…! We need to know who are they, and why are they doing this…!” Vikas exclaimed.


“Inform the security general to tighten the security of the king…!” Purumitra immediately ordered his assistant.


Following the orders, the security was tightened. Informers & detectives were told to keep an eye on every unknown person. In spite of these efforts, the police still couldn’t track the whereabouts of the gang. For some days, the gang totally vanished. No crime was reported and not a single person resembling the gang members were spotted. After some days, however, one of the informers brought news to the police department.


“Guruji…our informers have seen a person resembling the sketch going in the Vindhya mountain ranges…!” Vikas exclaimed as he entered the royal chambers of Purumitra.


“Assemble your men, take enough weapons and march towards the mountain...! I’ll send in more reinforcements immediately…!” Purumitra gave orders to the inspector.

 

Vikas rode swiftly towards the mountains taking about 15-20 men with him. Within a short -time, he crossed the city limits and reached the bottom of the mountain which the informers had instructed him.


Vikas then broke the group. “7 of you, accompany me… Bhargava, you take the rest of them and work according to our plan...!”


Vikas and his men went from one side. There was a cave below one of the mountains. One of the policemen tiptoed softly to look and signalled that there were 3 men in the cave. Considering it was the 4th prahaar of the day, sunset would happen soon and the rest of them would come back. Vikas waited with his men behind one of the rocks.

 

After sunset, midway around 1st prahaar at night, a group of men in black clothes entered the cave taking flaming torches with them. Vikas silently signalled his men. Coming out of their hiding place, they walked towards the entrance of the cave and waited for the signal.


“Attack…!” Vikas screamed. Immediately his men forced into the cave and without giving any chance to the men inside, charged towards them. Using quick moments, in the flaming torchlight, the policemen fought with the thieves. Within minutes, all the people of the gang were injured. The hands of all the thieves were tied behind their back.


“Who’s your leader…?” Vikas questioned the first of them. “I repeat…Who’s your…”


His sentence was cut half as suddenly, a huge group of men dressed in black clothes entered the cave carrying flaming torches and swords. Some of them had bows and arrows. A huge fight emerged, with the police fighting the black men with swords, however, the black men outnumbered the police including Vikas. They captured the police and tied their hands behind. Vikas was kept facing the door. The whole cave was now filled with men dressed in black. Each one was wearing a pendant with the half triangle symbol.


“You want to meet our leader...?” one of the masked men said.


Vikas was bleeding on his forehead. Still, in the diffused vision, he saw a middle-aged man entering inside the cave, dressed entirely in black covering his face with a mask. He stood near Vikas and unmasked himself.

 

It was Purumitra.

 

Vikas couldn’t believe his eyes. The Chief Minister of their city was the head of this gang?


“You… Guruji…...?” Shocked, Vikas said… “But…Why?”


“Because your king defeated us and seized out our land…!” Purumitra growled back. “We are the Kshatrapas, who were ruling the western part of this country since the past more than 350 years. We were the oldest ones to come and rule, but later on, your forefathers started eliminating us. We are the proud devotees of Maa Indira and by her divine blessings, we were undefeated since the last many years, but then because of invasions by the Gupta’s, our empire started declining. Some months back, your king Chandragupta annihilated our empire entirely…! He killed our king Rudrasimha…! And in the battle that followed, we were lost…! He imprisoned many of our royal people. We then prayed to Maa Indira and then one of our sages told us to sacrifice the 12 jewels to our goddess. With that, on the summer solstice, we wanted the royal king’s blood to complete the sacrifice, following which, we would be granted powers to rule the whole world.”


“So, it was you….” Unable to believe what he heard, Vikas answered.


“Yess….! I then joined the royal king as a Chief Minister. I kept a track of all the activities of the noble people. You may not know this, but Chandragupta had robbed our royal treasury and handed over our ancient royal jewels to 12 of your noblemen…! All your noblemen were rich because they had taken our money...!” Purumitra uttered the last sentence growling angrily towards Vikas. “You may be thinking why I put you on this case. Because you were the biggest hurdle in our mission…! You could never have allowed us to win….! The best officer in the Gupta empire, you were smart in tracking us down. Using only evidence, you tracked us down till here. I admire your smartness, but now…. you’ll be finished...!”

 

Suddenly there was a huge explosion. The entire mountain shook. Again, there was a series of ear-shattering explosions in the mountain. Before the thieves could understand anything, in the midst of explosion and darkness, Bhargava and his men jolted inside the cave. With most of the thieves running around for shelter as the mountain started collapsing, Bhargava and Vikas took advantage of the darkness and started gashing their swords towards the thieves. Vikas grabbed Purumitra who was fighting nearby and dragged him out of the cave. Suddenly about 100-150 men from the Gupta army attacked the whole gang. A battle abruptly emerged, with Vikas and the Gupta army fighting with the thieves. Within minutes, the Gupta army swiftly brought the entire Kshatrapa thieves to their knees.

 

The entire gang was then taken to the court in front of King Samudragupta.


“Purumitra…” Vikas said angrily to the chief minister, “I knew this may be a huge gang, not just a minimal of 12 people. That’s the reason I instructed Bhargava to install tunnel bombs around the entire mountain. This did help me to pin down all of your army, traitor…! And I had also informed the Gupta army in case I may require their help. They came just in time on hearing the explosions…! But I never presumed it must be you…a backstabber…!” Vikas said, revealing all the details.

 

Purumitra was then presented in the royal court in front of King Chandragupta. He was held guilty by king Samudragupta and was imprisoned immediately. All of his men were caught & imprisoned. Later on, on Summer Solstice, King Chandragupta, Samudragupta’s son, was crowned ‘Vikramaditya’ in front of thousands of commuters in the city. 


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