The Foundation Stone
I was ushered into the bathroom, where hot water was given to me. I found my shaving kit neatly arranged on the shelf, above the wash basin. I went near the wash basin and looked into the mirror, on the wall. I saw my reflection in the mirror; a swollen head, the disfigured cartilage of my ears, the patch work of injuries and abrasions on my face, a high blob that was my nose with a little hole for the air to pass when I breathed. My lips were swollen, and a few strands of my moustache which had apparently, escaped uprooting, stood out like twigs in a haphazard clearing in a thick hungle. My appearance was so changed that I did not recognise the face that the mirror reflected. It was a ghastly sight. It sent a cold shiver to the bottom of my spine. Closing my eyes in horror, I thought, did I really live through it? I stood in that position stupefied. Then I lifted up the shaving brush to my face. It pained. I dropped the idea of shaving and turned to take a bath.
The nursing of my body the previous night had not produced any significant wonder except that there was a little relief to me. And now that I had a complete rest, I found pains shooting from the joints and muscles of my body. I took a bath and allowed my feet to remain in hot water, given for the purpose, for about fifteen minutes. Then I was led back to the cell blind-folded. I was made to change my clothes and thereafter I was taken to the interrogation room.
In the interrogation room I found muself confronted by a man in his early fifties. The man had a round face, grey eyes, wheatish complexion and a grey moustache that matched the colour of the hair of his small round head. He was wearing civilian clothes.
`Do you know me?' Asked the man.
`No, sir,' I replied.
`Very good. I think as an introduction it is sufficient for you to know me as a secior officer (SO),' said the man and then kept looking at me for a very long time. Then the SO suddenly asked, `Rathaur, do you smoke?'
`Yes, sir, but I have not been allowed to smoke since my arrest,' I replied.
`Would you like it now?'
`I shall be grateful.'
`Anything, but if possible Gold Charminar.'
The cigrettes were brought and the SO offered one to me. I felt intoxicated, because I had smoked a cigarette after a long time. Then the SO opened up.
`Rathaur, your work of acquiring information was highly laudable. The army had recognised it and we still do. But it's most unfortunate for the same person, that is, you to have fallen in the trap laid by the Pakistan FIU. Tell me why didn't you report to your Commander or even to Major Jolly who was always around you, when you were deceived? He could have exploited the situation to our advantage. So you see, you helped and then damaged the interest of the army and the nation! Why? Because you didn't have the moral courage? Asked the SO
Moral courage, Eh I thought to myself.
What reply could I give? Where did the question of moral courage arise? What could I report; a thing which never took place nor had I ever dreamt of such a thing to happen! If the present situation was the product of biased minds, then what could I or anybody, possibly do?
I remained a silent and a passive listener. The SO was saying. `Pakistan knew about the damage you were causing to them. They wanted to stop you from causing further damage to their country. So they made out a plan. And according to the plan if you were not neutralised, then they would have got you killed. They were, however successful in trapping you through agents such as Nagial and Aya Singh.'
I agreed when the SO said that Pakistan laid a trap for me. They did. But not as per the story dictated and which is believed by framing me falsely. And God willing I shall not allow their attempt to succeed. I thought to myself.
`.... And we knew about your activities as early as October 1975...', the SO said.
`And was that the reason of my unexpected posting?' I asked interrupting the SO.
The SO looked at me for a while and then said, `Yes, that was the reason.'
I wondered if that was a wise step taken by the Intelligence. On the other hand, if they suspected me, was that not a heavenly opportunity for the Intelligence people to keep my activities under surveillance and catch me in the act? It certainly was. Then why had they resorted to posting me away from the target area and reduce practically every chance of apprehending me?
`.... And we could not arrest you earlier, because of your highly inflated service records. The outgoing Chief did not give permission for your arrest, unless we produced substantial evidence. So, the government had to spend colossal amount of money in procuring the evidence against you. Only then did the Chief, General OP Malhotra give his assent for your arrest.'
I marvelled at the ease, with which the SO was speaking every work which was a lie in regard to the evidence against me. Firstly the theory that Pakistan's FIU knew about my activities as early as July 1974, did not fit at all in the designed conspiracy against me by the FIU. I had just taken off in my work of acquiring information. It was thus not possible for me to have become so important a target for the FIU as early as August 1974. I must have become a target but not then. A proper analysis of the story did not stand the test of reasoning. And the reasoning was :
I was allegedly introduced to the FIU in July 1974, at their instance. It suggests FIU's early knowledge of the damage which I was causing to them. To make and execute such a plan, it requires considerable time and effort. And before making such a plan it was necessary to gauge the extent of such damage. This required first information and then confirmation, which also needed time. As no importance is attached to first information of this type, little interest may be created on the second, and serious considerations given on the third. This is not as easy a task as it might look. So a minimum of a give months period can safely be set aside, for collection and confirmation of the information. That means the first information about me was received by the FIU sometime in February end or beginning March 1974. It coincided with the period when I had just arrived in Samba. And it is necessary to grant that I must have worked for a minimum period of two to three months for such an exposure to the FIU. That brings it to December 1973, a time when I probably had not even received my posting order!!
And as it was, to start my first operation, a period of two months was needed. So it was November 1973, a time when I was serving with my parent unit. And to believe the evidence being talked about against me by the interrogators and the SO, suggested and indicated a possibility that the seeds of conspiracy were sown by the FIU at a time, when there were no grounds to even conceive of such a proposition! It was preposterous, stupid and completely absurd to believe the story in the above light.
Credence, inspite of it being a conspiracy by the FIU, can however be given, if someone who knew the extent of the damage that was being caused, was a person who knew about the type of information obtained by me and who was an agent of Pakistan. Could such a person be Ajit? Certainly not, because, for one : he was simply a sepoy and as such had no access to the information, two : He was not in Samba but at Yol, so there was no scope of his knowing the details about the activities. Then was it Nagial? Yes, he could be the person. But then Nagial himself was allegedly introduced to the FIU as late as the third week of July 1974, only a couple of weeks before, my alleged introduction. Thus this, possibility was also ruled out. And the only person left was Aya Singh. But I did not know him, as it would also be seen later, that Aya was asked by Major Khan if the former knew me, and Aya had said that he did not. Then who was it?
I was not in a position to solve the mystery then. I held nagial responsible.
`... So you see, that's how you are here,' said the SO.
Here? I thought, I am here, but not because of what you bastards believe to be correct, but because you're victims of your own whims. You have no minds to differentiate between facts and fiction; no minds to determine a concocted story. A story, even without going into the roots of which, looks so incredible. How's it possible that a person who was not prepared to indulge even in smuggling, terming it as unpatriotic and anti-national, would have meekly or to be more precise enthusiastically, taken to spying, when deceived! Instead of expressing shock and reporting the matter to the highter ups, I had gone a step further by giving rewards to Aya Singh! Sure enough, I concluded to myself, they are misled totally by unscrupulous people like Nagial.
Could it be that Nagial, purposely implicated me, while his accomplice is still busy trying to cause damage to the army in complete freedom? The idea of such a possibility flashed like a lightning. I became conclusive in that, and waited for the right moment to come.
The moment came. The SO who was none other than Colonel Gupta, the then Colonel Intelligence of Northern Command, when I was in Samba, asked, `Rathaur tell me, why did resist so much?'
`Resist? Resist what?' I replied, `Sir, you resist a fact which is known to you. There was no question of my resisting, when I am innocent. I don't have any knowledge of the contents of the statement which have been signed by me under the torture.' I then pointed out my badly mauled body. `And,' I said, `if I had not signed and statement, I would have been dead and not living in front of you.' I looked at my tense audience and proceeded to clarify his doubts. `.... Sir, this is a game which appears to have been played by the incriminator of my name, while his actual accomplice is someone else.... I can help you to trace the real culprit. For that I request you to act on the directions I give you... If you don't believe me, you are welcome to keep me under your custody, here, till you have been able to track....'
`Shut up you bastard of a director,' shouted Colonel Gupta and then looking at the trio, who had got up and were moving towards me in their slow but measured steps, said, `Devil! Gentleman the devil in him, is up again and I direct you to crush the devil in such a way that it does not raise its head again.'
And the trio was already at the job, crushing the devil.
Lifeless as I already was, and seeing the malicious attitude of Colonel Gupta and the revived torture, I succumbed to the pressure. I said, `I am sorry, sir. Please don't beat me.'
Colonel Gupta pulled out a tape from his brief case, got up and then showing it to me said, `Look here you clown, this is your graveyard! Because you have already cut you hands. It has already been played on and heard by the Chief...' then after a pause he continued, `I was thinking of recommending a lessor amount of punishment for you, considering the work you have done. But that can't be done unless you cooperate.... You are a wise man,... to appreciate what is good for you.... I shall not be available hence after, to give you advice... You shall get nice officer like treatment by your sincere cooperation. And in case you decide the other way, then you've seen just now what can happen'.
Before departing Colonel Gupta asked me about my sources.
`I believe your sources got dried up just before you were posted out of Samba. Was it your deliberate act to compromise them?'
I looked at Colonel Gupta for a while and then said, `It's wrong to say in the first place that my sources were dried up just before my posting. That happened immediately after Major Jolly's posting to Hqs Northern Command. And that was in July or August 1975. And, Sir, the gardener, it's seldom heard, would destroy the plants, watered by him with his sweat and blood. And that is what exantly were my sources to me.'
`Then could it be Ajit?'
`Ajit. Certainly not. He never came in contact with my sources.'
`But you had maintained their records in a file.
`Yes, that is correct, sir. I did maintain a file on them, and so was a record maintained by the Hqs 16 Corps Intelligence Staff, that is by Major Jolly.'
`But, Ajit could have an easy access to such records maintained by you.'
`Firstly, no one could, let alone Ajit. The records were always kept under lock and key, and the key was always with me or with Havildar Raghubit Singh, in my absence from the station. Secondly, even to assume that Ajit did have an access to the records he would have been unable to decipher the records.'
`Because those records were coded. The code was my own invention. And no one but my successor knew the key to that code; not even Havildar Raghubir Singh.'
`Then how was it possible that your sources were dried up just after my posting?' Asked major Jolly.
`I don't know, sir, how they were neutralised. It may be that one of the rare coincidences... And in any case that is not the question in issue.....'
`You're right. That's not the question in issue,'Colonel V.P. Gupta repeated the sentence, and then he left saying, `So I leave you to these gentlemen to handle the questions in the issue.'
After Colonel Gupta's exit, I was led back to the cell where I kept wondering as to what they meant by "cooperate sincerely" and "to handle only the questions in issue". Now what else did they want, I thought. And I was soon to know the answer. I was being laid as the foundation stone to the inverted pyramid that was to be built later.
|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 ||