Thriller Short Story – The Assassin
It was 4 in the morning when Babu received the e-mail he had been waiting for all day long. He had been speculating what the next few days or may be weeks had in store for him. With little idea, all he could do was wait for the instructions to come.
Babu has been in Delhi for almost 6 months now with very little or no work to do. His expenses were taken care of by the Extremist organization he worked for. He has been staying in Madangir, an old colony in the southern part of the city. The colony had about 46 lanes in a row, with three or four storied narrow buildings standing tall on both sides of each lane. It was a crowded place. The ground floors were occupied by the landlords. Most of them crossed the border and came to India at the time of partition. Rest of the floors were leased out to tenants, the major source of income for the locals. All one needed for a room in the locality was ready cash. No paperwork. No verification. No references, valid or invalid. Cash was not a problem for Babu. Madangir was a perfect hide-out for an assassin like him. He rested all day in absolute peace waiting to make his move.
He carefully read the mail he had been waiting for. He decoded the message. The hibernation period was over. The assassin had to get back in action. The plan seemed perfect as always.
He turned off the laptop, switched off the lights. He was standing in the balcony, contemplating on the plan. It was perfect but was on paper. Execution was the real task and indeed the most difficult. He assured himself. He had done it before.
Soma Sarkar was the new face of Jan Ekta Manch (JEM). She had become a potent force in less than a year, one that cannot be ignored by the power corridors of the National Capital. She had brought back the past glory of JEM. The image of a young fearless woman leader was fast catching up with the Delhites and the Nation.
Soma arrived as a political force when she stood up for Nazia Khan, daughter-in-law of Bhurenath Nautiyal, the President of the ruling party in the State. Shekhar, eldest son of Bhurenath, who had married Nazia against the wishes of his family and the so-called well wishers of the Nautiyal family, mysteriously died a year ago in a car crash. It was termed an accident and one had to believe it to be an accident when the ruling party, the police and the media wanted us to do so.
Soma had different plans. She got the right opportunity and grabbed it with both hands when Nazia moved to court to demand custody of her only son. Nazia was forced to return to her family in Meerut after Shekhar’s death and was denied the right to take her son along.
Exactly 3 months after the unfortunate incident, Nazia lodged a complaint against the Nautiyals. She had been living under constant threat. She was not even allowed to speak to her son. The complaint lodged was a dying case until Soma stepped on to the scene. The days to follow saw the rise of Soma Sarkar. The Nautiyal family was summoned to court. Nazia was allowed to meet her son in the presence of a Magistrate till the Court reached a decision. The media published different versions of Shekhar’s accident and Shekhar – Nazia relationship. From accident to murder, from wife to mistress, every morning had a different story and each more exciting than the other.
After a few weeks, there was nothing new to write. There were no readers as well. Nazia vs. Nautiyals case witnessed a sudden death, just like many others in our judicial history. The Nautiyals still have the custody of their grandson. Nazia was back in Meerut. The court case dragged and dragged and even the judge won’t remember when the next hearing was scheduled.
However, justice to Nazia was never the prime motive. The plan was successful and the arrow had hit the bull’s eye. In just a matter of weeks, Soma Sarkar was everywhere – television, newspapers, magazines, blogs, hoardings, processions. You name it and she was there and so was JEM. Soma was not only the new face of JEM; she was the voice of women, the leader of youth – something that worried the ruling coalition. That would just have been fine for Soma but she in a way now represented the minority community. She did not just stand up for Nazia. She stood up for Nazia’s community. It was great to gain a lot of political ground but she managed to attract some unwanted attention too. The Granddaughter of late Pradeep Sarkar, the great Hindu Nationalist, standing up for the minority community did not go down well with Hindu extremist organizations.
Babu’s day started at 8 in the morning. He took a direct bus from Madangir to Gaffar Market. Gaffar Market is the electronics super-market of Delhi, may be even India. You name a gadget and you have it there – new or old. Prices are reasonable and negotiable. Documentation is not required.
All Babu needed was a cell phone. A phone with wireless internet access was preferred. He might have to send across or receive a message and going to an Internet Cafe was something he did not consider very safe. He did not want to leave a trail. Madangir and Gaffar Market were a part of the plan. Nobody would ever be able to trace him.
After spending nearly two hours in the market, he boarded a bus, headed back to his small room in the crowded locality. All seats were occupied by the time the bus made its move with a few people standing waiting for others to get down. However, for a daily commuter in Delhi, the bus was still the least crowded. Babu was sitting next to a middle aged man. The man ignored Babu’s presence. He may be did not like someone of the same sex sitting next to him. Looked like he would have preferred a girl, age and shape no bar. That would have certainly made his journey memorable. He got down at the AIIMS with many others but forgot his parcel below his seat. It was a small parcel, the size of a cigar box, wrapped in brown paper.
In about an hour, the bus halted at its last stop. Passengers got down. Babu made his way to lane no. 36 with the small brown parcel in his left hand. The man seated next to him in the bus was Hari. They have met before but never spoken to each other. Hari’s job was to deliver whatever Babu needed for his mission. He’s been doing that for more than 5 years now. This time the parcel contained a country made pistol, 25000 in cash and some instructions which he was supposed to destroy after he had decoded and read them.
The parcel made Babu think and think hard. Why a pistol? He could have managed the task, make it look an accident and disappear. They’ve done it before. Pistols and explosives were used when the Organization wanted to make a statement or publicize something.
The JEM office had looked different in the past few months. There were more people ready to join the party. There were more patrons ready to spend millions. The vote bank had enlarged. There was energy in every step and hope in all eyes. Hope of forming a government in the State in the forthcoming general elections. JEM on its own would not be able to earn a majority, but it could have a major share in a coalition government. Vilassingh Verma wanted to increase this share. The party had grew leaps and bounds in the last couple of years under his leadership. Soma had indeed been a decisive factor but Vilassingh had guided and used her well.
Vilassingh was the Chief Ministerial candidate for JEM. How close was he to becoming one? He knew none other than him in JEM had ever been so close. His plans have been a success so far. Results have been better than expected. The momentum was with JEM but with 4 months to go for the General Elections, things could change. He had seen overnight success and failure stories in his 17 year long political career. What could bring him closer to his dream?
The JEM ideology was being embraced by everyone – youth, women, workers, minority communities. Vilassingh had his contacts in the Business world. Funds won’t be a problem. Soma had emerged as an icon. The media was backing Soma and JEM. Predictions were in their favour. Success was inevitable but would that be a decisive win?
Forthcoming elections had kept all parties and their supporters busy. Meetings, demonstrations, processions had been the order of the day. Inflation, security, unemployment were the common issues in every party’s agenda. Almost every party had a similar solution for them and the results won’t be too different as well.
JEM has been busy encashing Soma’s success and support from the minority community. Vilassingh wanted to give equal attention to their traditional vote-bank – The Hindus. Soma had assured him the support of the traditional voters. Party workers have been kept busy in Hindu dominated areas. As a plan to strengthen the minority vote bank, Soma along with Vilassingh and other prominent JEM leaders had held a janta-darbar in Azad Nagar.
They would spend an entire day in Azad Nagar, listening to the problems of locals, promising quick fix solutions. They would be visiting madrasas and government hospitals and would assure to raise funds for their developments. They would express their concern on the poor infrastructure. They would have lunch and tea with the residents of Azad Nagar and would return to the JEM office hoping to win the Azad Nagar assembly seat for the first time in JEM history.
Babu received a message on his cell phone early in the morning. That was the day. He deleted the phone logs, made other arrangements and set out to accomplish his mission. He hired a rickshaw today, in fact a few of them – from Madangir to Saket, Saket to CP, CP to Karol Bagh and then Karol Bagh to Azad Nagar. Once again, he did not want to leave a trail.
The JEM workers had made all necessary arrangements. Vilassingh, Soma and others arrived right on time. The anxious crowd was overwhelmed to see Soma – the Hindu girl who stood against all odds to fight for Nazia Khan and their community. This was indeed a landmark event in India’s communal history. I pray it would had been for some other cause but politics.
It was Vilassingh who addressed the crowd first. His speech was a verbal version of JEM’s election manifesto. He knew what the crowd had been waiting for so after a short but impressive speech, something too easy a task for a seasoned campaigner like him, invited Soma on the stage. He introduced Soma as the JEM’s candidate from Azad Nagar constituency. The crowd was taken aback but was overwhelmed. They had not expected this.
The so far silent and patient crowd erupted like a volcano. It was too good a news for them. Party workers started reciting – Soma Zindabad, JEM Zindabad. The crowd joined in. Soma could not hide her emotions. She thanked Vilassingh. Vilassingh awarded her for her selfless service to the people of Delhi and the crowd acknowledged with a loud roar. Along with the roar there were five rounds of firing. Security personnel got into action. Controlling the crowd was a huge task. More police force was asked to come on the spot. Ambulances carried the injured JEM leaders and others to the AIIMS.
G9 0465, the Air Arabia flight from Nairobi to New Delhi was two hours late when it landed at the IGI Airport at 6:00 in the morning. The fellow passenger woke up Babu and he acknowledged with a smile. Babu made his way to the taxi stand and was soon on his way to The Taj Residency where he would rest for a couple of days before he received further instructions from the headquarters.
The past 5 months had been a much needed vacation and a perfect hide-out in Nairobi after the Azad Nagar incident. He was happy to be back home. He was reluctant to know what had happened after he left for Nairobi but as per the instructions given he could not make a call or contact anyone else. He switched on the television once he was done with his shower and breakfast.
The story of the day was the newly elected Chief Minister’s oath taking ceremony. Every news channel had something exclusive and every now and then they flashed a breaking news on the television screen. JEM’s historic success had come as a surprise. JEM was just 7 short of decisive majority – a success that Vilassingh and none other would have ever imagined even in the wildest of their dreams.
Gyanendra Sahay, the Governor of State, invited Soma Sarkar for the oath taking ceremony. Soma was JEM’s Chief Ministerial candidate after Vilasisingh’s death in the tragic Azad Nagar incident. He suffered four injuries – two on his chest, one in the right arm and one in the lower jaw. Soma had survived an injury in her left shoulder. Both were rushed to AIIMS after a terrorist attack in Azad Nagar constituency.
The terrorist attack, an injured Soma and Vilalssingh’s death brought in a lot of sympathy votes for JEM. The result was a historic electoral success. The entire story was relived that day with news channels covering every bit of it. The rise of Pradeep Sarkar’s granddaughter from a struggling youth leader who refused to join the Organization founded by him to the State’s first ever women Chief Minister was unbelievably true. All that praise for Soma brought a smile on Babu’s face. There was something about the whole story which he knew.
Babu switched off the television when someone knocked on the door. It was Hari. He had brought a packet of sweets and some good news. Devidayal Saxena, president of Bhartiya Hi**u Sena, an extremist organization founded by Pradeep Sarkar and the one which Babu was associated with, had been sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister. Bhartiya Hi**u Sena’s 9 assembly seats had ensured that the JEM led ruling coalition had a decisive majority to form a government in the state.