Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Death Route; CHAPTER 1

The Death Route


CHAPTER 1


September is the month of year which I have always loved the most, September, the month with which winter starts setting in. When flowers of different colours and hues bloom, releasing a fascinating aroma in air and into the atmosphere. Since my, I have been in love with the flowers and nature. I have loved and still love the blue sky, blue waters, lush green trees and grass.
                                   
With every mention of the word September, I get reminded of a classic movie, ‘Come September’ released sometimes in early 1960’s and I do love that movie, its music particularly. It was dreamy and it still fills me with strong nostalgic feelings and emotions. I remember the plot of this 1961 romantic comedy directed by Robert Mulligan, and starring Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrrigida, Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin. It had a simple plot though. Wealthy American businessman Robert Talbot (Rock Hudson) owns a villa on the Ligurian coast, where he and his Roman mistress Lisa Fellini (Gina Lollobrigida) spent each September in each other company year after year. When Robert moves up his annual visit to July and calls her en route from Milano, she cancels her wedding to Englishman Spence (Ronald Howard) and rushes to meet him. Upon his arrival at the villa, Robert discovers that, in his absence, his major domo, Maurice Clavell (Walter Slezak), had turned the villa into a hotel, currently hosting a group of teenage girls, including Sandy (Sandra Dee), and their chaperone, Margaret Allison (Brenda De Banzie). Their departure is delayed when Margaret slips on a champagne bottle cork dropped by Robert and is forced to spend a day in the hospital. Four teenage boys who irritated Robert on the drive to his villa, including Tony (Bobby Darin), set up camp right outside of the villa and begin courting the girls.

Robert chaperons the girls on a sightseeing tour and then to a music club, where he dances with each of the girls and appeals to their virtues, stressing the importance of chastity. Trying to get Robert inebriated, the boys end up drunk themselves. Sandy revives Tony, but slaps him when he makes a pass at her. She then recounts the lecture received earlier to Lisa, who gets infuriated over Robert's double standards. The next morning, she leaves to get back together with Spencer. A sobered-up Tony apologizes to Robert.


           


Accompanied by Maurice, Robert gets after Lisa, but she refuses to take him back. Maurice decides to play matchmaker, telling the police that his employer is a notorious criminal wanted in Rome. He also tells them that Lisa is his accomplice. His plan fails though. When it is all straightened out, Lisa returns to her apartment, where she finds Sandy. Hearing the teen's lament about lost love, she has an epiphany and leaves to take Robert back. On her way out, she meets Tony, whom she directs to her apartment, where he and Sandy reunite. Later at the train station, she borrows a toddler, and then tells the railroad people that the father is abandoning them. Taken off the train, Robert reconciles with her. As a married couple, they return to the villa, which Maurice has turned into a hotel again. Very fascinating and spell binding musical comedy it was.

And it ushered in the era of legendary "Billy" Vaughn, William Richard William Richard "Billy" Vaughn (April 12, 1919 – September 26, 1991), an American singer, multi-instrumentalist, orchestra leader, and A&R man for Dot Records. He had immense numbers to his credit and they are still a rage, but his ‘Come September’, appear to me to be the best and remain an all time favourite. A party number and anything associated with merry making and joy.

So this was and still is my mind set about the month of September, the month of happiness, vivaciousness and gaiety.

But again the month of September also ignites another set of memories, painful memories. From its foundation in 1971 until 1976, ‘Black September’, the ‘notorious international terrorist organisation’ carried out a number of terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jordanian targets around the world. Though all were equally dreaded, but the one which, in particular, sends shivers down my spine, is the Munich massacre of September.

I could not have anticipated ever that this month of September was to become a turning point in my life as well; but it was to be and it did change the course of my life, I mean the remainder of my life and that too at the time when I was gradually heading towards my sixties. Because of various so called administrative reasons,  I was destined to be appointed as head of the prison department of Punjab government, a tiny state of the Indian union. 

Aah, ‘administrative reasons’; is a concept which is prevalent in advanced countries as well, but in the context of our country as also of Banana Republics, it is a wider term and includes 'political and economic' reasons as well. The word ‘administrative reasons’, in context of such like countries is meant to ‘accommodate’ the protégé of political personalities / goons and striving to keep them happy and appeased. Another slang definition of ‘protégé’ is a ‘blind, brainwashed and bonded labourer' who does not hesitate to bend backwards to please one’s political masters. Hey, by the way, I did not define the last word, that is, ‘economic’ reasons which amalgamates well with the developing / backward countries; including Banana Republics’ like India where some of the ruling political masters ‘accommodate’ or appoint someone for purely ‘economic reasons'. Ha ha ha, so you too could not understand, ‘dim wit’.  You must as stupid as I am. It means ‘economic reasons' of political masters. In simple language it means graft, bribe, or grease money for the politicians by someone to get his favoured posting. And it is not uncommon in India; it is, in fact, the order of the day.
                                       


I know that I should not have been that blunt. But I am what I am. I was blunt, I am blunt and I will die a blunt man. I know that a very large number of people, particularly politicians and officials, my former colleagues in police and I.A.S. included, shun me like plague because of this reason. May be the ghost of Che Guevara resides in my body, making me an ‘activist’ and reactionary, which, somehow, I always was. Lol,

I do not know; yes I really do not know my friends.

So it was month of September in year 2011 when I was posted as the head of prison department in Punjab. It was avowedly known as a totally third rate and 'side lined' posting. I am sure that most of my readers here, had ever heard this department till I took it over. Frankly, I was certainly not happy about this posting, the reason being that it was out-rightly a ‘non-police’ posting and I was a police officer and an ‘activist officer at that; 'Karela aur Neem Chadha'. Moreover, I had also not heard much about this department and I was totally ignorant both of its working and ‘rules of the game’. But it was the destiny which got me posted there and changed the entire course of my life. Within a few days of my joining there, one late afternoon I got the information that there was a massive ‘revolt’ in Kapurthala prison house. Kapurthala is a small district in Punjab. Prison riots and revolts were not a new thing for Punjab. There were several in the past and i had read about them in the newspapers.

 I rushed for that place without informing either my minister in charge or the Chief Minister. It was the call of duty.

 

                                                               Kapurthala jail

The facts that later emerged were that allegedly there was an ‘easy’ supply of drugs, including heroin (smack), in the prison house. In Punjabi smack is called ‘Chitta’, deriving its name from its white / brownish whitish colour. The colour visually indicates its grading / purity. White colour gave rise to the slang 'Chitta'.

 One inmate had reportedly died of an overdose of drugs and this had led to massive disturbance in the prison house, which had a large number of drug addicts among its population of three thousand plus. This prison house had a state of art, thirty bedded hospital and a ten bedded drug de-addiction center as well. Leaders of rebellious inmates, followed by drug addicts, had first raided this de-addiction center. Whereas addicts consumed whatever psychotropic drugs they could lay their hand on, others ransacked and set the hospital complex on fire. Then apparently they raided and looted the hospital stores, consuming whatever medicines that they could, thinking that they also could be psychotropic drugs. Thereafter, under the influence of drugs they, accompanied by the rioters, set various other buildings including kitchen, its factory and offices etc on fire. They were soon joined by remaining of a few thousand other inmates and also set the small electricity sub-station which catered to the needs of entire complex, on fire. They, non addicts included, brought down heavy iron gates all over the prison house cutting them with the flames of cooking gas cylinders which they carries on their heads. Entire prison house was set on fire and jail staff bashed up. After pushing the jail staff to confines of administrative block, they tried to demolish the main Iron Gate also. A few prisoners also escaped climbing over the high walls taking benefit of the situation.

With great difficulty we ‘regained’ the prison house despite heavy brick batting, hurling of fire balls and burning gas cylinders on us. Gas cylinders were exploding all over. The scene was not very different from what is depicted in movies. It was as if a war was on. Incidentally that happened to be the night when an international level ‘kabaddi’ (a rural sport which is very popular in Punjab and among Punjabis all over) was being played in Ludhiana. The entire state cabinet, Chief Minister included, were busy enjoying the gala night to promote this game for political reasons. Incidentally subsequently it came up that quite a few 'kabaddi promoters' form Canada, were themselves involved in nefarious drug trade and generation / utilization of drug money.

Names of some drug barons are also being associated with this game. Anyhow, none of them except the Chief Minister himself appeared to be a bit worried over whatever was going on in Kapurthala prison house. He kept on calling up D.S. Bains, his principal secretary (home), who was also with us on the spot, urging him to call in the army. The CM did not talk to me even once. Somehow, we two never had a comfortable equation despite the fact that I had always stood by him during all my previous postings, thereby giving me a wrong, painful and erroneous title of being an Akali minded officer. It was totally erroneous because I always stood by the rule of law, not rule of any individual political leader. Anyhow, despite repeated calls by the Chief Minister and pleas, in his favour by Bains, I refused to agree to the calling in of the army since I was confident of controlling the situation and we did.

          


The night passed off successfully, but by the next morning, as a result of overdose of looted and consumed drugs and medicines, about three hundred prison inmates were taken seriously ill. It was a painful sight watching these three hundred odd inmates crying in agony and in pain all over.

They were lying all over the prison house, which had a capacity of three thousand plus and was stretched to limit. They were in broken and half burnt down barracks as also on grounds all over. There was no hospital, no medication and no doctors. It was disturbing watching them helplessly, with tears in my eyes. I was in a state of shock and disbelief. Unfortunately the Punjab government was totally apathetic. Not worried at all, they were sitting in their own ivory towers, least bothered about prison inmates and their agony. It kept reminding me, time over again, of the saying, ’Nero was fiddling with his flute while Rome burnt’. Watching those three hundred crying, groaning and 'dying' inmates was the sight which changed the course of my life.
 


                                             2011 world cup ‘kabaddi’ at Ludhiana

Fast flash back of my life since then goes on in my mind as I try to pen my thoughts. Faded memories get refreshed and then all of a sudden, several years later, today, I find myself running, not running away from life, but after some political rogues, drug smugglers and their accomplices, evading and dodging their volley of threats of dire consequences to me and my family and attempts on my life

India is a funny country. We proclaim ourselves to be one of the forerunners of civilizations on this earth. We claim to 'have been' a great civilization, which we certainly are not 'as on date'. I find our country, its so-called leaders included, to be suffering from Ostrich syndrome. Shying to admit and then learn from our failures'. Most of our leaders have just buried their head in sand, feeling hep and great.  More or less this we are being run by mafia, mafia of all sorts. Generally, speaking and with a few insignificant aberrations here and there, it is the fact. Entire world, except us, knows it. This country is indeed, more or less, being run by Organised Crime Syndicates and Criminals of all sorts. More often than not, they are our political masters, swindling the country; suppressing human rights, encouraging riots and enmity and generally fooling masses with a view to divert attention from their criminal and anti-national activities and creating a smoke screen.
                              



 We have a totally rotten and decaying political system in this country. Time appears to be coming when with a little push it will go down like a humpty dumpty.


                                                      


Humpty dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty dumpty had a great fall.
All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men,
Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again.
Yes, it is going to be the future of India, if  it’s political and administrative honesty does not get restored?
 Hmmmm
But Humpty Dumpty was lucky for at least all the kings horses and forces and all the kings men had tried to put him up together again, albeit unsuccessfully. But here, in this great country called India, the modern version of Bharat, the golden bird that it used to be, things are all topsy turvy. Very often thieves, robbers, dacoits and mafia are our rulers, robbing the country and us with impunity. And the ruled ones, ones who have been thieved and gang raped are enjoying this victimization.
Wise guys, our variety of Indians are, believing in the good old dictum that if ‘rape is inevitable then lie quietly and try to enjoy it lest one gets injured’.
Wow, what love for life?
Divine eh?

But, hey hold it.
Before I am ‘done away with’ by powers that be, let me tell you a goddamn story.
Heck of a goddamn story,
Story of Black Gold nicely wrapped in ‘Green Backs’, the latest variety of which has since turned Blue.
‘Blue and Green Backs’ oozing out of the poppy…

I am the one who has exposed it all and consequently Mafioso of Punjabi politicians, besides some others, are not amused. They are trying their level best not to let me keep exposing them and their rotten smelly empire of drugs created on the carcass of a...

“DEAD  CIVILIZATION, THE PUNJABI CIVILIZATION”





               


                                            





                                          
                                                 


                                     
                                    The black gold wrapped in green backs 


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