30 October 2012
Pitampura, New Delhi
The white Qualis parked by the road side 3 men alighted. 2 of them were carrying small canvas bags much like the ones favoured by workmen. They were dressed in grey uniforms typical of many construction and utility companies that have sprung up all over the place. Third man was wearing a white shirt and pants and he looked and behaved like their senior. He was carrying nothing apart from a small notebook and a mobile phone. They opened the back of the car and started pulling out a small hoarding advertising a discount sale on Manik Jewellers.
"Hurry up. We have to finish the job before 2:30." The senior looking man barked.
The other two men were probably used to such talk. One of them shrugged but nevertheless both quickened their steps. In two trips they had carried and deposited all their stuff below the metro line passing above the road. It's pillars were nearly 9-10 meters high and constructed right in between the divider of the road. The pillar they were interested in was nearest to the traffic lights that controlled the traffic from 3 roads that converged there. The place had no official name but was informally known as Radio chowk due to the big radio tower nearby. During the day, it was bustling with thousands of people but there was nobody in sight at midnight.
After taking inventory of all the stuff, the man in white shirt let out a satisfied grunt and asked the other two to begin their work. They opened their bags and started taking out their tools. One placed a small folding ladder near the pillar and climbed on it . Taking out a measuring tape and a small piece of chalk he started making marks on the pillar with help of the other 2 men. After the markings were made, he took out a portable drill and started drilling holes in the pillar. He was still in the middle of drilling his second hole when they were interrupted by the irritated voice of a beat constable.
"What the hell you guys are doing ?" Loud voice of the constable so startled him that he almost dropped the drill on the head of his mate standing below. The drill was a comparatively silent type but the sound carried far at that deserted hour. The policeman had walked in completely unnoticed, his footfalls masked by the sound of the drill.
White shirt guy barked at him to stop and strode towards the cop with a big smile pasted on his face. " Good evening sir." We're from NewWays Enterprises." Motioning towards the hoarding he said, We need to put up that hoardings on metro pillars."
"At this time ? Couldn't you do it during day time ?" Cop asked while nudging their wares with his stick.
"We had instructions for night time only. " white shirt replied without allowing any change in his smile,
"Really ? Who gave you these instructions ? "
"uh..our boss did. Mr. Nehra is his name. "
"Do you have permission from government agencies ? You can't put up advertisements on government properties just like that. Where are the official letters ?" he demanded.
"We have that too sir. In the car. I'll show you. " Saying this, he turned and started walking towards the car with cop ambling after him. He opened the car door and rummaged amongst papers littering the dashboard. After making a show of it for some time he emerged triumphantly waving a sheet of paper.
"Here it is. Letter from NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council)."
Policeman took it from him and read through it absently. Handing the paper back, "But this is from NDMC and the pillar you are hanging your stuff belongs to Delhi Metro. You can't do anything without their approval."
"I'm sure Delhi Metro has approved it. Our boss wouldn't have sent us otherwise." white shirt stammered uneasily.
Policeman snapped, "I really don't care about your boss or his instructions.. If you are going to hang this hoarding on that pillar you need.."
Rest of the sentence was left unfinished as the policeman dropped unceremoniously to the ground. One of the 2 uniformed guys had sneaked up behind him and hit him on the head with a hammer. He watched with cold impassive eyes as blood started to spread around the fallen constable's head.
White shirt looked at him with a some surprise but quickly composed himself, "Good work."
2nd uniform had walked in close by then and he too was staring at the blood. In a voice barely audible he asked "Is he dead ?"
White shirt crouched and felt the neck of policeman "I can't find pulse. Must be dead or would die within minutes. Now lets carry this body and dump it in that under construction house over there. It's full of rubble, nobody will find him before morning. Hurry up before anybody sees us."
3 of them quickly lifted limp body of the cop and hid him behind a mound of dirt. All then sprinted to the pillar and resumed their work feverishly. "You two finish drilling the holes. I'll finish connected the electrical stuff by then. Hurry up. We've got to catch the train at 3:00. No time to waste. That moron cop could've messed up everything"
Working quickly they fitted the hoarding and packed up their tools before 2:30. "Everything finished ?" White shirt asked glancing at both men in turn. Both nodded yes. "Let's go then. Change you clothes in the car. Train leaves in half an hour."
Picking up their belongings they quickly threw everything inside the Qualis and drove away towards Old Delhi railway station. They changed in to new clothes while on the road and threw old clothes and their tool bags in an sewage gutter in the way. They parked their car a few 100 meters away from the station and caught the train to Gorakhpur near Nepal border, They were out of New Delhi before 04:00 am.
30 October 2012
Pitampura Police Station
Head constable Shashi Tamar was warming up his morning cup of tea in an ancient kettle when constable Shubhash came running through the door. "What happened ? Some mad dogs chasing after you ?" A bleary eyed Shashi asked with with mild irritation at being disturbed so rudely.
"Leave all doggy thing aside sir. Take the keys of Gypsy. We have to go to hospital." Subhash answered breathlessly.
Suddenly alarmed at the mention of hospital Shashi asked "Why ? What happened ?"
"Somebody whacked Bhushan last night when he was on duty. Some labourers found him in that under construction building near Radio chowk. Now hurry. It looks serious."
All thoughts of his morning tea and traces of sleep washed away from his head, Shashi jumped to his feet and reached for the keys , "Bh******! Is he alive? "
"Barely. He has a fractured skull and lost too much blood. "
"Ma ** ***** whoever did this! Do you know who did this ?" Shashi asked as he asked another policeman to take his place and started running towards the Gypsy parked outside station.
"How'd I know ? Let's get to hospital first and hope he can answer the questions. " Subhash replied with no less irritation.
Traffic was still very light and they reached hospital within 10 minutes. A familiar hospital orderly met them in the ward and informed that Bhushan had been taken in for surgery. Swearing again Shashi asked, "Did he say anything while he was conscious ? "
"He was unconscious all the time he was here except for 1-2 minutes. I was there then but couldn't make heads or tails of what he was saying."
Shashi snapped, " I don't want YOU to make sense of what he said. Just tell me whatever you could hear."
Slightly taken aback at the outburst orderly looked at the policeman with reproachful eyes before continuing, "Uh..all I could make out was something that sounded like khamba, (pole). He just repeated khamba khamba. Khambe par .. (On pole) "
"What ? A pole fell on him or what ? " Subhash exclaimed.
"No. It can't be a pole. The injury was on side of his head and looked like somebody hit him with some heavy thing. A hammer or a stone maybe." Orderly replied, feeling slightly important.
"Was he robbed ? "
"No. He still had his wallet and mobile phone. "
"Hmm! How long will this surgery take ?"
"I don't know for sure. 35-40 minutes if there are no complications. But you can't talk to him anytime soon. "
Shashi turned towards Subhash, "Inform SHO sahab and come with me to Radio chowk. We might find something or someone useful there."
"Leave him alone here ?" Subhash asked with horrified surprise.
"I'm calling station. They'll send somebody and inform his family." Pointing towards the orderly he continued, "He'll take care of him till anybody arrives. Wouldn't you ?"
Slightly taken off balance orderly replied, "Of course. Of course. That's what I do anyway."
"Good. Come with me right now Subhash. There's no time to waste. "
Leaving the slightly confused orderly behind they ran to their jeep and started driving towards Radio chowk.
Traffic was getting heavy due to morning rush. Even then they managed to travel with a high speed. Soon the radio station, made conspicuous by it's tower was within their sights, although it was still 200 meters away.
"Almost there." Subhash mumbled as Shashi prepared to take a turn towards the road that proceeded to Radio chowk. He was turning the Gypsy when their ear drums were assaulted by the sound of a massive blast. Shashi was so startled that he almost lost control of the vehicle but managed to apply the brakes before anything happened. A column of black smoke arose from the general direction of traffic lights steadily growing in size along with shouts and screams of people.
"What the hell was that ? " Subhash asked in a panicked voice.
"What does it seem to you moron. Some ma******* bomb blast is that what happened ! Call HQ immediately. " Shashi shouted at the constable.
Within moments they reached the sight of the blast and what they saw made them freeze in their strides. The blast was so powerful that more than 2 meters thick pillar for metro line was nothing except for a small smoking stub of concrete poking from the ground. The 2 beams supported by the pillar had collapsed, forming a rough V. The 10000 Volt power lines had also snapped and were hanging precariously just 4 feet off the ground. A jam packed bus had taken the brunt of the blast as it waited adjacent to the pillar for green light. All the windows of bus were broken, it's roof all but torn off and bodies of dead and injured passengers hung limply. A few cars and two-wheelers had also suffered and were on fire.
But the thing that scared the hell out of everybody was not on ground, but above it. A speeding metro train had left the adjacent metro station and was coming right towards the damaged portion. Although it had lost all power due to damage to the power line, it still had sufficient momentum. Driver of the train had applied emergency brakes and sparks were flying off the metallic wheels. Standing on the ground, people could see the confused faces of passengers inside the train through the glass windows.
Shashi knew that the train had no chance of stopping before and wanted to avoid seeing the tragedy as it occurred. In spite of all his best efforts he couldn't tear his eyes off the horror before him. Right before his unwilling eyes, train reached site of the breach well in speed well above 25 kmph and plunged in to the gap. It's first bogey sailed through the gap for a while and hit the collapsed beam face first. That bogey was compressed to less than half of it's original size as rest of the bogeys crushed it from behind. Nobody could hear anything apart from deafening screeching of metal and horrified and painful screams of passengers in the train and the bystanders. But the ordeal was far from over. The train started to list on it's side and inch by inch started to slide towards the ground below. Then all of a sudden something that was holding the train on track gave away and all 4 bogeys fell on road below with a huge crash. A number of already damaged vehicles made immobile after the blast were crushed as the train fell on top of them.
Evening news listed 145 people dead and more than 14 injured, many of them in serious condition.
Condolences and calls for restraint from governments all over the world were still coming in when Mumbai and Hyderabd too were rocked by powerful blasts that killed 109 people combined
Constable Bhushan regained consciousness next morning and easily identified one of the suspects from file photos. The man's name was Mohammed Nazir, a long time member of SIMI. He was last seen at Nepal airport catching a flight to Dubai on a Pakistani passport. There were no leads to other blasts though.