CRIME BRANCH INQUIRY (political fiction)
By Neel Anil Panicker
“It all happened in a flash; I mean we, four of us—Vikram, Shruti, Akhtar and I— were sitting in the canteen sipping tea and biting into our biscuits when we heard this huge commotion followed by a sound as that a Diwali cracker blast.”
Pravin Rana, senior Crime Branch inspector waited for his interrogatee to
catch her breath while he pencilled some points into his black notebook.
“Sir, before we could realise what was happening we saw some people, all masked and weilding batons and swords enter through the main door.
They were followed by a dozen or more people, all shouting rabid slogans, mouthing expletives and vandalizing anything and everything around.
Fearful of our lives, we tried rushing out through the back door and as we did lathis rained on us.
Amidst cries of “maro…maro saale gaddaron ko…ABVP Zindabad…Bharat Mata My Jai…”, we ran helter smelter screaming and praying and hoping that a sword or a knife would not slice through our limbs and kill us”.
Investigator narrowed his eyes and looked at Aishe Ghosh, the reed thin 25-year-old Doctoral student of Jawaharlal Nehru University with thinly disguised disbelief.
She was his third interrogatee of the past four days, and all he had heard was that this seemingly innocent girl with pale pimply face and her head and face covered with reddened bandage was one among the main if not the primary instigator of the mayhem and violence that had unfolded in one of the country’s oldest and most reputable universities.
Scratching his temple with the rough end of the pencil, he thought for a moment, and then decided to change tack.
“Listen, we all know what happened was unprecedented, of epic portions if I may add.”
Even As Aishe nodded her head, he continued, “Listen, please don’t treat this as an interrogation and all I am doing is just reaching out to all those who I believe can help string together the sequence of events that led to violence of such a magnitude,”.
At that instant, looking into his cold as steel eyes, Aishe knew this man was dangerous and his intentions were not as noble as he claimed.
She quickly made up her mind and muttering something to the effect that she had said all that she remembered and that there was nothing more to ads, she beat a hasty retreat after excusing herself by offering the ruse that she had to submit her library books lest she be charged with late fees.
As Crime Branch cop Rana watched his start witness leave all he could was stare at her and twiddle his thumbs wondering what he would say to his political masters who had tasked with with the Herculean but not impossible task of pinning the blame for the campus violence on a particular political party and its affiliates.
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