I lay on the table, pressed by three men, leaving KSS free to show his bravery. He matched his strength with my resistance. KSS struck the soles of my fee with all the force he could muster. While hitting, KSS asked me with every stroke, `Speak your bastard, did you not go to Pakistan?' The remaining heroes of the gang who had pressed me and pinned me to the table created an ear shattering noise. The noise so created was enough to drive even a healthy person insane. And me? I was already a tatterdemalion; with an appearance of a ghost which had risen from a century old grave. A ghost with a difference; majority of human beings are afraid of ghosts, but was a ghost who was under a morbid fear of the human beings.
The sound proof interrogation room thundered and vibrated with incoherent shouts; emanating from the patriotic mouths. `Bastard....d ... d. Traitor... r ...r. Kill him .. klm .. klm. No.. o.. o. Pak spy.. spy.. ee.. ee. Don't let him move..ov ..ov. Went to Pakistan..an..an..an. He has a lot of strength, Chotte Sahib press his hands with force..orce..orce. He's a sula..a..a Did you go to Pakistan or did you not..ot..ot. No he didn't int..int..int. Janwar Sahib you appeared to be tried..ied..ied. Come out..ot..ot..' In addition the hum was arrayed with abuses.
My body arched in an involuntry spasm. My wrinkled face seemed like a winter apple, contracted in a soundless scream and my swollen lips were drawn away from my teeth. Me head flew side ways with a jerk showing the taut sinew of my neck and the muscles stood out in knots all over my depredated body. My fingers clenched in a fist until they were white. Then my body sagged and perspiration, mixed with blood came out from my body on to the table. I uttered a deep groan and then there was a complete black out.
When I came back to my senses, they again started beating the soles of my feet with a ruler. I pleaded for mercy and incoherently told them with each stroke that I did not go to Pakistan. The pain ripped my heart apart. I remembered and beseeched God to come to my rescue, and save me from the torture or to take me away from this senseless world. But its said "When fate strike, then even one's own shadow leaves him alone to suffer." It was true in my case. My own toughness and strength of conscientiousness, about which I was so proud, could not keep with me. In an attempt to pull through the calamity that had befallen me, I had tried beyond the limits that are not conceivable to a human mind. And thus when I could bear it no longer I said, "Oh leave me. I had gone to Pakistan but please don't beat me." Even then, before effecting the cease fire, I received five or six more strokes; each followed by dirty abuses. And then suddenly a hush descended upon the room. The interrogators were charged with a relief of Hitlerian victory over Poland. The only sound which disturbed the calm atmosphere of the room were my mute sobs. I was looking at the miserable state of my feet and trying to caress them with my hand which was paining as much.
It certainly is a matter of great pride for any soldier to die at the hands of his enemy; either in a battle or in custody. It's a matter altogether different for him to die at the hands of his own people, his close friends, for their unfounded misconceived sense of patriotism; for their perverted minds fantasies; for reasons unknown to him. Such a death is highly noxious. I also faced the latter situation. I sincerely wished that I had died in a battle in the 1971 war. Then at least I wouldn't have to see this day, but the inevitable always happens and disregards wishes; and for that I was alive, to face the incredible drama.
A clip board with papers clipped to it and a pen was handed over to me. I was asked to write down about my having gone to Pakistan and to sign it. I took the clip board and the pen, hesitated for a moment the clip board to Major Jolly. Looking at what I had written and smiling crookedly Jolly said, `Heh, heh, heh! Clever bastard. Aren't you?' And then displaying anger with deep furrows on his forehead, added `Write down the whole story from the beginning till the end. Do you understand that?'
`But I don't know the story,' I replied.
At that KSS leapt from his seat, apparently with an intention to hit me, but he was pulled back by Jolly who said, `Kanwar Sahib leave that. So what if he does not remember. `What are we here for?' He then turned to me and producing a few written sheets from his bag said, `Sign it... here.' He pointed to the place where my signature was required, with the tip of ruler, which he kept swinging in his hands. I closed my eyes, thought for a second; hesitated but when I heard Jolly shouting `Sign it you bastard,' I quickly put my signature down, while wondering what could the contents be, then dismissings the thought that, whatever it may be, let fate now takeover. I returned the signed sheet.
Once I had appended my signature, Jolly came to me and patted me most lovingly. I looked at the trio and found a kind of happiness radiating from their faces, which mostly manifests in a person on finding his hard and strenuous labour turning into a profitable one. And why not? Had they not stretched their every muscle and used every bit of their strategy to turn an innocent person to be a traitor? It was most remarkable that not a single senior officer of the Intelligence ever came to see what was happening in the Interrogation Centre. But what of senior officers, when the Commandant responsible to put me under arrest did not think it necessary to find out where the officer was. It would be very interesting to note that Colonel Harbhajan Singh, responsible for putting me under close arrest never showed up. It would do good to analyse the most irresponsible and unbecoming acts of the so called senior officers of the Indian Army. It proves the death of their morality and conscience. What of it, if I had died? How would Colonel Harbhajan Singh have accounted for his responsibilities? Was he not under the legal obligations to provide protection to me, as the law demanded? Alas no; there are plenty of escape routes for the senior officers that are intrinsic in the Indian army, which is nicely guarded with a tight iron curtain drawn on it by virtue of its being a highly secret organisation! Here the lives of innocent people really don't matter, is a conclusion one reaches after such analysis.
A physical wreck with my senses paralysed I became dumb. I had neither the strength nor the capability of thinking or appreciating anything. I was drifting without wings in the air; treading on unknown and hostile paths, stumbling with the reflexes of my new masters of destiny, who were to become the masters of the destinies of countless innocent people and that of the army itself.
`Jolly Sahib, I think you should let him write the whole story in his own handwriting...' it was suggested. I was sitting with closed eyes, thinking about nothing, almost asleep.
`Rathaur, don't sleep. You'd get plenty of time to do so, I'll make sure you get all available comforts due to an officer, but before you get that, write down the confession in your own handwriting,' Jolly said. `It would not take very long... I shall dictate it to you to make it quicker.' Then he passed the clip-board and a pen to me. On dictation I started writing.
`While I was posted in Samba, one day Captain Nagial came to me some time in third week of July 74. We met....'
`Sir, third week of July 1974?' I stopped writing and asked in surprise, `In third week of July I was not in Samba, but in my village...'
`Bastard stop wasting our time your game is over now. You cannot detrack us,' interrupted Jolly.
I looked at Major Jolly unbelievingly and thought to myself, so he is a friend of mine, who is not even prepared to listen to what I was going to say, eh? Then I decided something and said.' I'm sorry, sir, I will not interrupt you.' And I continued writing.
`.....affectionately and talked about our past. While tallking Nagial asked me about my work. Then changing the topic he talked about smuggling. He said that there was a lot of money in smuggling, that was easy for them. He tried to lure me into smuggling. I told him categorically that I did not want to earn a bad name and to put the name of my family into disrepute by indulging in unpatriotic and anti national activities. And when I enquired if he was already indulging in that, Nagial denied saying, don't be silly. After sometime, he left for his home in Manwal Camp.
He came again to meet me about a week late, in a taxi No. JKT 5290 belonging to his brother Rup Lal. I asked him, where was he going in the taxi. He tole me, he had come to leave a girl in one of the border villages, Nanga; and that the girl was a game. He asked me if I was interested in enjoying her. I consented. He invited me to his place at Manwal Camp. I went to him...." What was the date, 30 or 31 July 74?' Jolly asked.
Whatever it may be, how does it matter?' I thought and said, `I think it was 31 July.'
`Well then write it down,' said Jolly and I wrote it.
`... on 31 July 1974 I went to Manwal Camp, in my civil jeep. When I reached his house, I learnt that Nagial was at his in-laws house in Kishanpur Camp. In the house, his aunt Shrimati Shahni Devi was present. I was disappointed and I wanted to leave when suddenly gunner (Gnr) Aya Singh came. He made me wait while he went to fetch Captain Nagial. After about half an house, Captain Nagial, his wife Bechno Devi, Gnr Aya Singh and his wife, came in my jeep. Nagial introduced me to his wife and the others. Then he asked me to send the driver and the jeep back to Samba. He said he would drop me in Samba en route to Nanga, where he had to go to attend the marriage party of one of his friends Dr. R.K. Sharma. Thereafter, we started taking drinks..." What drinks did you take?' Asked Jolly.
`Scotch,' I replied mechanically.
Hmmm... scotch! Bastard you took whisky. Didn't you?' Corrected Jolly.
`Yes, sir, it was whisky.' What else did I know?
`Then write it down,' And I wrote, "... We took whisky.
It was over two hours past since we had started drinking, I started losing my senses. Nagial told me, let us go, and if you wish you can have the girl tonight, the one I promised to you. I agreed. Thereafter we set off in the taxi to Dr. Sharma's house, Gnr Aya Singh was also with us. We reached Ramgarh...."
`Which way did you drive?' Queried Jolly.
`No, no you clown. You drove via Samba.'
`Yes, sir, we came via Samba.' I conceded.
`Then why the hell do you say, Jammu?'
`I think, sir, as you say I was drunk, so probably I didn't know which way.'
`Well, that's okay. Then where did you go from Ramgarh?'
`I say where did you go from Ramgarh?' repeated Jolly
`Yes, sir. I think to, Nanga. Where else?'
"From Ramgarh we drove to Nanga. Then from Nanga we drove to Kamore, and from there to Palota. Near Palota the taxi broke down. Nagial suggested, that since the village was near by we should walk down to the house. Nagial asked me to open my bright shirt and Gnr Aya Singh went running to a nearby pond and returned with a wet towel. He placed the towel on me saying, it would ease me from my drunken state. Gnr Aya Singh was carrying a knife. He asked us to wait for him, while he went to leave the knife at one of his friend's house. He said, carrying a knife to attend a marriage party was improper.
While waiting for Aya Singh, we were suddenly surrounded by the Pakistan's rangers. I told Nagial to run away, but he kept standing and dissuaded me from running too. The rangers overpowered us saying, we were in Pakistan. I pleased to the rangers to let us go, since we had inadvertently crossed over the border while going to attend a marriage party. They refused and took us to Pak Post Gandial and there we were confined in a small room. After about an hour, a person came and introduced himself as Major Khan of the Pak Field Intelligence Unit (FIU). He shook hands with us, and thereafter persuaded us to work for Pakistan. After a little hesitation we gave in. Then we were entertained with the drinks, that Khan had brought with him. While we were drinking, another person in civilian clothes and dark glasses came in. He was introduced as Major Akhtar Mahmood of the Pak FIU. Then we were taken to separate rooms. I was asked to give information...'
`What information did they ask from you? Did they or did they not?' Questioned Jolly.
`Yes, sir, they must have, but since I was drunk already and as you say, had consumed liquor offered by Khan, so naturally I was not in my senses. Won't anyone else had become the same?'
`Major Jolly looked at me, smiled, and then said, `That's all right son, you keep writing.'
"... of my formation Hqs. The information passed were as under :-
(a) Orbat HQ 168 Inf Bde.
(b) The name of the Commander and the COs.
(c) The detail of the Bde defences and its area of responsibility.
(d) The battle location of flanking formations.
Then I was photographed with Majors Khan and Akhtar Mahmood.
Major Khan gave me an envelope containing....." `How much money was there in the envelope?' Asked Jolly.
I thought for a second calculating how much would I have paid to my sources for the above information, and replied `Sir, I think there were five hundred rupees.'
`Humm. Five hundred! And how much did you pay to Gnr Aya Singh?' Asked Jolly. Asked Jolly.
`You see, sir, since I didn't want to work, I gave all the money to him.'
`Heh, heh - heh!' Major Jolly laughed, twitching his lips and said, `Clever bastard, aren't you? - so you gave all the money to Aya Singh. tst-tst-tst,' he looked at me mockingly and said, àny way you keep writing.'
"... rupees 15,000/-. Then I was made to fill in a contract form and sign it."
`Weren't you? And were you not photographed with that form standing beside Khan?' Jolly suggested and said, `And son, those photographs are with us now.... in this bag... here,' and pointed to the bag usually carried by KSS. He further said,' You thought we just laid our hands on you!... Didn't you?... Son never underestimate us. We did, what we did to you to hear this from your mouth and make you realise the damage you have done. But it's okay now.'
Is it from my mouth that you're hearing? I wanted to say, `Yes. Yes devils, you don't have even an ant's brain to analyse things. You can't differentiate facts from fiction. Otherwise there was no reason for me to suffer the extreme torture and the ignominy, I've suffered. All the same never mind and let me get out of this cell, then you'll see every evidence including my photographs with Khan, and you'll keep seeing them for the rest of your life. You'll forget torturing people.
I said none of it, of course. I was too frightened to the people who had inhumanly tortured me and frightened of their biased minds. So instead, I feigned surprise and asked as if shocked, `Oh my God! I never thought you'd collected my photographs, infact, so much evidence against me! Why then didn't you tell me earlier!!' I said quizzically and muttered to myself, you visionary enthusiasts!
`That's okay son. Now you continue writing', Major Jolly thundered, assuming an air of authority.
"Then, from nowhere, suddenly Gnr Aya Singh appeared. I was surprised to see him there, and when I enquired, he just smiled. Thereafter we left. En route I asked Nagial, why did they do so to me, and asked if Nagial was already in the game. He told me, he wasn't but Gnr Aya Singh was. In the taxi I gave Rs. 200/- to Aya Singh as a reward, and asked them to work whole heartedly and earn as much money as was possible. Because I knew one day we would be caught.
They dropped me at the forest check post near Samba. I caught a bus and reached at the Bde Hqs. After three or four days Nagial came to me and told me that Sepoy Ajit was already working for Pakistan and hence he would act as my courier. I handed over an envelope to Nagial containing some information."....
`And what were those informations?'
`Well, sir, the same information as I gave verbally to Khan. This time they were in writing and in more detail.'
`Was it not the detailed deployment of the Brigade and its units, and the alignment of the DCB?' suggested Jolly.
`So, you know those details also which were contained in the envelope I handed over to Nagial, which subsequently, as it seems, must have been passed over to Pakistan?' I enquired tauntingly, but in such a way, so that the effect was not noticed by the interrogators.
Jolly said, `Damn it. You still think we don't know? We know each and everything.'....
`Son when you people used to enjoy' KSS interrupted, `wine and women we used to suffer all the unimaginable hardships to keep a track of your moments.....'
`... And wherever you have even pissed, we have put a circle around that place.' it was Chaudhary, giving the talk, a final touch.
I thought, while trying to resist the drowsiness due to utter exhausion, great detectives and big talks. One wonders why they wasted their efforts, putting only circles, instead of apprehending me? Alas! I wish I had done, what you're claiming. Then I wouldn't have been here... You're nothing but a wicked and vicious bunch of biased minds. That is what exactly you are. But I refrained from saying anything.
`And you were also given the task by Major Khan to submit the Orbat of 39 and 26 Infantry Divisions, and you gave that to Captain Nagial, did you not?' It was Major Jolly who was supplying me with answers that I was being made to write.
At that moment the light went out and the room was pitched into complete darkness. I wanted to take advantage of the darkness; to assault and kill them. I tried to raise my left hand which was handcuffed. But instantly it was evident to me, that the handcuff chain was too heavy for my hand to lift let alone strike. So even as the idea came to me, I let it pass. The adventure was too risky to undertake.
`The bastard is stinking like a decayed garbage heap,' Jolly uttered in disgust; apparently they had not realised earlier, because the celling fan running at its full speed, had warded off the nauseating smell, emanating from my unwashed and uncleaned body, which by then was covered with a thick paste of a mixture of blood and sweat. Meanwhile, the generator was switched on and the lights came on.
Everyone had blocked their smelling holes with handkerchiefs. I saw them with their disgusted looks, pulled up faces and contorted eyes. It was a wonder to see the scavengers acting aristocratically.
`Ohe Rathaur,' said Jolly, `Dammit, are you man? When did you take a bath? And since when have you not changed your clothes?' Then making his voice sound sympathetic, `After all you're an officer. At least you could have looked after yourself, by taking baths and changing your clothes! shouldn't you have?!'
I remained silent. infact I could not speak a word, as I found my voice choked, to listen to a sympathetic voice, of a person, whom I thought was my very close friend. I knew, the sympathy was nothing but a very hurting and painful joke. I considered. `He has a face to say that "who stopped you." And out of helplessness, the tears gave vent to the voice.
`Come on now, don't cry. You shall have a bath with a massage. Forget what all has happened,' Jolly consoled me.
I controlled myself and requested, if the remaining story could be dictated later on. I said, I was utterly exhausted and so, unable to do anything. The request was turned down. The important task must be completed first, in case I changed my mind, was what they probably thought.
`So where were we,' asked Jolly and then looking at the paper held his hands, said, `we were at the deployment of 26 Infantry Division.... Am I correct? Now that's the deployment of this formation?' Asked Jolly.
`I don't know, sir.'
`What? What did you say, you don't know?'
`I'm sorry, sir, what I mean is I don't remember.. I don't remember it now,' I tried to evade the question. In fact, I did not know the deployment of that formation as I had no concern with it, ever.
`Don't worry. What for I am here? I'm here to remind you everything.' said Jolly and dictated the deployment of 26 Infantry Division. Since I knew the deployment of 39 infantry Division, I wrote that myself.
`Nothing, sir. Because I decided not to work against my own organisation,' I replied.
`Heh - heh - heh. Look at the well wisher of the organisation!', Jolly said mockingly to me. `Son as yet your friend Ajit has not figured. What do you say to that?'
Oh! Where the hell are you dragging me? Now what about this fucking Ajit? What's he going to say? And you Nagial bastard, you shall never live in peace. You accused me, why did you have to do that?' I cursed God and every one alike. Though I was soon to learn why Nagial incriminated me, if at all it was Nagial who did that! But not then. That time I cursed and cursed Nagial.
`I am asking you something,' shouted Jolly, `Don't try to evade and start cooking fresh stories.... You can't. Your game is long over. Do you understand that?' Jolly squawked.
`Yes, sir, I understand that, but I cannot remember anything in the present state of mind, can I? Can't you see and realise my condition?' I said and then suggested, `It is better if you keep on dictating instead asking me questions...'
`All right, all right, now don't be jumpy. I shall do that,' Major Jolly said, and the rest of the story followed.
"... I was introduced to Ajit by Nagial later in December 1974 when he met me again. Iin March, 1975 before proceeding to attend the Junior Command Course, Nagial came to me. And we both, along with Ajit, crossed over to Pakistan. On Major Khan's arrival we all gave him the information that we had carried separately. This time I was given the task to expand my sphere of activities towards 11 Corps. I received rupees seven thousand and how much was given to the others, I don't know.
In July or August 1975, Nagial who had been posted to HQ 16 Corps as GSO 3 (Int), came to me and broke the sad news of Gnr Aya Singh's arrest. Though Nagial encouraged me by saying that Aya will not give our names. Through my contants with the local Intelligence agencies, I came to know that Gnr Aya Singh was lodged in the quarter guard of 5 Sikh Li. I sent Ajit to contact him and to warn him not to give our names. I also gave him Rs. 200/- to give to Aya Singh. Ajit came back and apprised me in the affirmative. I felt relieved. But in September 1975 Nagial was also arrested. I was perturbed. I learnt that Aya Singh had not disclosed my name during his interrogation, and that after the interrogation he was attached to 4/1 Gurkha Rifles at Dharamsala. I once again sent sepoy Ajit to meet Aya Singh and to tell him, not to disclose my name even if he was called for reinterrogation. And that I would help to fight his case. Later, Nagial was also attached with the same unit.
Thereafter I called Ajit and talked to him about the situation. We decided that I should provide help, while remaining undercover, whereas Ajit could do that openly, being a relation of Aya Singh and nobody would suspect him. While we were discussing sepoy Ajit disclosed to me that Sardar Ram Singh, father-in-law of Nagial was also working for Pakistan. hence we decided to take Ram Singh with us. Accordingly we crossed over. On Khan's arrival we apprised him about Nagial's arrest. Major Khan was grieved to hear the sad news. He gave us Rs. 30,000 and asked us to hire a top lawyer in the country for fighting Nagial's case. He also assured further help. On return I told Ajit to contact Major Ajwani, the DJAG, with whom I had already discussed the case after having taken him into confidence, soon after Captain Nagial's arrest..."
`Well now what happened thereafter? We would like to hear from you,' asked Major Jolly.
I thought for a while and wrote, "Thereafter I proceeded on leave. While on leave, I received my posting order. I felt very happy at the posting order, as I had become weary, because of my friends arrest. It was a break for me. And thereafter I did not work.."
God alone knows what the date was, but I was made to sign the confession dated as 31 August 1978. Then I was asked to read it loudly. I understood the meaning of reading it aloud. It was being tape recorded.
After the writing of confession was over, I was given a VIP treatment. I was led back to the cell where my injuries were nursed, antiseptic creams were applied to the wounds; a massage by one of the sentries was given, then I was ceremoniously led to the bathroom and given a hot bath treatment. I accepted everything with great relief, and was fast asleep in the cell. The sleep was much needed and hard earned! I was feeling content even after having signed the confession. At that time I did not want to think about anything, till I was fresh to do so.
During the entire period, since my arrest, I had not thought about my wife and my ailing daughter, except on occasional fleeting moments, which I was unable to hold due to the forced struggle for survival.
The following morning when I was woken up I realised, and said to myself, My God, how selfish had I been! Despite my chaim of unending love for my wife and children, I could not think of them; nor even once. So it was true; nothing is dearer than self. Even a claim of a true love is only a dictate of selfishness! And why, had Jolly not showed his true love for me.'
|Preface | Temporary Duty | The Move Order | The Train Journey | The Reception | The Army HQ | Close Arrest | The Interrogation | Background | The Intelligence | The Security | The Devil | The Confession | The Foundation Stone | The Great Detectives | The Corroborations | An Approver | Confrontaions | Hibernations | Leading to the Trails | Fairy Tales | Into the Fire | Army Procedure | As a Winess | Meeting with Family | Habeas Corpus | Death of Democracy | The Trial | Prosecution Case | The Defence | The Press | Rebuttal | Aftermath | Mystery | Postscript | Annexure I | Home ||