THE TERRORIST'S LEAFLET - A Short Story By Dr Ratan Lal Basu | WBRi Online Magazine

Mao in 1927

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Dr Ratan Lal Basu

A short Story

Hello, doing your morning walk?

The loud voice made me look back without any conscious effort. I had already recognized from the voice, the sub-inspector residing just three houses away from my newly constructed rural house. In fact, he was my first acquaintance and may be the most well known person in this new unfamiliar place. He on his own made acquaintance with me as soon as I started constructing the house. This helped me in three ways. First I got some garrulous person to spend the odious time of looking over construction work (he had very little job in the police station of this extremely peaceful locality, and his absence was desirable for obvious reasons to constables and other subordinate staff). Second, my intimate friendship (as it appeared) with the police officer made the masons and suppliers of building materials cooperate with me in a way more than expected. Third, the local clubs exempted me from the subscription considered due from any new comer.

Now he was in his police jeep, stopped just a few yards from me. I replied promptly, Good morning daroga sahib, so early? Has anything serious happened  stealing, robbery, murder? I expressed surprise as this was something unexpected from him who never rises from bed before eight in the morning. And then too, takes two more hours doing this and that.

Something far more serious than robbery or murder, there were unquestionable signs of worry in his voice. Professor, I dont think I would be able to enjoy your precious company for a long time. I cant help it. Im soon going to take help of my IPS relative for a transfer. He has much influence in the political circle.

Sure Id miss you if youre transferred. But what prompts you to take such a drastic decision. This is the best of the places so far police job is concerned, unless one is after bad money. There was real surprise in my tone.

He motioned me to come near the jeep and leaning to my ear whispered (as though he was uttering something terribly inauspicious), the terrorists, now they have made their unholy appearance in our locality also.

This really panicked me. I had built this house after retirement just to have some peace. I had to work hard as a teacher and academic administrator for long years. Now I need some respite.  But if the sub-inspector is right, all my hopes are on the way of being shattered.

What have they done: murder, mine-laying, bomb blast?
No, they have yet to go that far, but soon these will happen, its just the beginning, they have just made entry into our locality.

How do you know? It may be simply a guess work, or concoction by some rural folk just to play practical joke on you?

The sub-inspector laughed aloud, How do you imagine that the simple rural folk would have the audacity to play jokes on me. Can you spare an hour, so that you may see with your own eyes? If you need toilets and all that Ill arrange for it.
I accepted his offer right away. Ive heard much about these awesome creatures, the terrorists, but never had the opportunity to see with my own eyes anything of their activities. And it is safe now  this officer would never go with only one lean and sickly constable if there is anything risky.

It was a pleasant journey along the jerky narrow rural roadway gliding jig-jag through the paddy fields adorned with golden ripe paddy, tiny birds chirping here and there, a queer smell of earth and unknown wild flowers, and above all the sweet mildly cool breeze of a summer morning. The jeep hitched to a halt near a dilapidated wall, bricks eroded by salty air. The sub-inspector almost jumped out of the jeep and remained standstill with his horrified eyes affixed at the middle of the crumbling wall. My eyes moved in his direction to the very spot of the wall, a beautifully painted picture of Mao Zedong, the clearness of smiling Chinese face and the red cap calls for praise for the painter. So this is the source of panic and desire of the police officer to leave this place as soon as possible! I got down from the jeep and stood alongside the sub-inspector.
Have you seen, the bewildered shaky voice queried. I looked intently at the picture.

Are you sure the real Maoists have done this? It may as well be some benign enthusiastic sympathizer, say some romantic self-styled revolutionary.
May be and may not be, but Ill try my best for transfer anyway. e looked gloomy and thoughtful.

Upon returning home I pondered over the matter and many possibilities went through my restless mind. My wife was a bit worried to find me morose and thoughtful and said, Ive forbidden again and again to taking the morning walk. At this age you cannot endure the cold morning breeze. You must have caught head cold. Take some simple Homeopathic med.
Okay Ill do. I said just to get rid of her verbiage.

I decided to contact the young journalist whom I happened to meet in the last conference of the college teachers. Mr. Banerjee got elated to hear my voice over telephone and said ebulliently, How are you uncle? 
Fine. Ive some important talks with you but cannot discuss the matter over telephone. Will you be home tonight?
Ive some important work today and may return home late. So better call on me tomorrow evening. 

Residence of the journalist was at the nearest suburban town about twelve kilometers from my house. I was cordially welcome by Banerjee, his wife and their son, a class VII student of a convent. Over tea, I related the last mornings incident and my worries over it. Banerjee admitted that the terrorists are no doubt making inroads into tribal villages close to ours but fortunately our village cannot be their target as theres no tribal in this middle class village. He also told that the black-dragons with their heinous activities pertaining to indiscriminate raping of tribal females and trafficking in women and narcotics are responsible for the invasion of the terrorists. Getting no justice from the police and government authorities the tribal people have invited the terrorists only who could rescue them from the black-dragons, they think. The terrorists have gladly accepted the invitation as this gives them a golden opportunity to expand their sphere of influence. Banerjee, along with some other intrepid young journalists, could arrange an interview at a secret place in the deep forest, with the terrorists who told categorically that it was their moral duty to help the poor tribal people against the torture of the black-dragons.

My village, he assured again, was not a tribal village and operating center of the black-dragons and therefore nothing to do with the terrorists. The problem of the police officer was that most of the adjacent tribal villages fall within the jurisdiction of his police station and it was quite natural that terrorist insurgence in these villages would be a headache to him.

Three days after I had visited the journalist, a man was murdered at a village five kilometers from ours. It was a gruesome murder and everyone in our village got panic stricken. The house of the man was ransacked and, thereafter, set fire on. Media men reported strongly that the administration was doing nothing to curb terrorist activities and a political party claimed that the victim was an important member of their party and terrorists were murdering their party men selectively.

The police officer was awfully perturbed and panicked and applied for a few days leave which was denied by the higher authorities. He poured out his grievances to me acrimoniously and told that he was thinking about resigning from his job. Life is more important than job, he said sadly. Banerjee had visited the spot and he told me over telephone that the victim was an erstwhile notorious member of the black-dragons and had been involved in the past in gang-raping of tribal women.

Basir Ahmad was terribly panicked to learn about the murder and hastened to the local hideout of the black-dragons. Ostensibly it was an ordinary land brokers office. Basir advanced toward the inner door of the office, told the gateman there the password and he was ushered into an underground room. The chief looked up and said jovially, hello Basir how are things going? 

Not very good sir, Basir said meekly.
Whats wrong?
The recent murder sir.
What has it got to do with you? He was not in your team.
Im actually talking about the infiltration of the terrorists in villages in my operating area. It would now be almost impossible, by cajoling or by force, to pick up the beautiful tribal girls Ive been assigned to.

I dont want to hear this lame excuse from you, the leader raised his voice in anger. Its you who is responsible for inviting the terrorists. We are offering you money to coax out girls from tribal villages and taking advantage of protection against law of our party, you are indulging in raping women indiscriminately. Now go back and pick up those girls by whatever means you can within the specified time. Terrorists and all that, its your problem and you yourself take care of them. We here only want the girls in time.

But I cant do it right at this moment, Basir mumbled. Terrorists are now lurking in the forests around and they have informers among the villagers. My name too is in their hit list for sure.

I dont want to hear all these nonsensical stuff. You are to accomplish the assignment anyway.

Cant you wait a few more days and let things settle down. We could shift our activities for some time to other safe villages and terrorists would not be hunting us after some time.

You and your team are accustomed to only these areas. You would be useless in new areas unknown to you. That means youre putting forth some ruse so that you may spend time idly and loll around safely on our money. Furthermore, these girls are for export and not for the harems of the leaders; contracts for supply with important foreign parties have already been signed and the girls are to be handed over to them in time. We have our goodwill after all. Ill be in trouble with the leaders if I fail to supply the girls in time.

Basir got utterly unnerved and panicked and made the last effort. 

Sir, I may try my best but your mission could by no means come to fruition at this moment. I and members of my team would simply be annihilated by the terrorists. If your target is simply to get rid of me shoot me right now and you could hide the dead body safely. Sir, cant you undertake, as in the past, large scale invasion with say three to five hundred men to frighten the terrorists and the villagers and in the chaos we could safely abduct the girls.

Its absurd, the leader laughed affably. Basir sahib, these terrorists are not stuffs to be terrorized by sheer numbers. They have sophisticated modern weapons which can by no means be outmatched by sheer numbers. Moreover, media men and the higher authorities are keeping strict watch and we cannot do those things any more without being detected. Anyway, I understand your problem and thinking about an alternative. Wait for a while and let me discuss it over with my colleagues.
Keeping Basir seated on the sofa the leader and his followers entered the adjacent smaller room and shut the door.

Basir became remorse and regretted that he had been lured by money to join this notorious gang leaving behind his family in Bangladesh. Faces of his wife and the charming daughter came to his mind and tears rolled down his cheeks. Now he has no way out. He would be killed either by the terrorists or the black-dragons. Even if the latter do not kill him out of mercy, they would hand him over to the police with evidence of all his past crimes he had committed for them.

The leader returned and said gaily, All of us have agreed to the full-proof solution. You or any other member of your team need not go to the tribal villages yourselves. I think you know poor landless laborers in the border areas.

Yes sir. In the past many of them worked in my tam of bootlegging and drug trafficking.

Then contact these poor laborers and lure them by offering sumptuous money to enter the tribal villages under the guise of job seekers.
Yes I can do that, Basis felt some relief.
Then you chalk out a plan how they would pick up the girls and make the plan clear to them. They can do it at midnight safely.
Thats not a bad idea. Im soon going to contact these laborers in the border villages.

Do it without any delay. Heres a bundle of money for their payments. Contact me if you need more.

Basir left off jubilantly. But soon doubt invaded his thought and the operation by those nave laborers appeared to be an impossible task. It did not occur to him at that moment, but the shrewd leader must be aware of it. Then what was in his mind to suggest me to indulge in such an absurd project? Basir said to himself. Then the reason flashed across his mind all on a sudden, and the hidden motive of the leader became crystal clear to him.

Theres no doubt that the poor laborers lured by money would be killed by the terrorist while they would attempt to abduct the girls. There would be news paper reports that terrorists are killing poor laborers and this would tarnish the mass image of the terrorists to the advantage of the political party that sponsors the black-dragons. No, he cannot risk the lives of innocent laborers to save himself. He would have to escape to Bangladesh before the leader has any doubt about his intensions. Hes to do it right now.

Basir returned right to his den and without undressing dug up the hidden money, stacked all his money and garments in a bag and hurried out. It was midnight and the road to the border would be lonely now. Yet he is to advance very cautiously keeping to the side of the road lined by thickets and bamboo groves. He has acquaintances with border guards and bribing them he could easily cross over the borders and would be beyond the reach of the black-dragons. If he can walk at this rate he would make the border by dawn. He heaved a sigh of relief.  

He crossed the paddy fiends and took the railway track and then turned into the dust road that runs meanderingly through thickets, bushes and bamboo groves to the border. No vehicles were in sight and Basirs mind drifted to his family, his wife and the happy life of a poor cultivator he used to lead before his greed for money got him enmeshed in the satanic world. He asked to Allah for forgiveness for his misdeed and promised never to be involved in such heinous activities again. Two trucks separate by hundred feet came up the road and Basir hid in time into the bushy drain at the side of the road and from his hideout he saw they are smugglers vehicles.  For a while no other vehicle perturbed him. He then noticed a motor cycle coming from the other side. He hurried into the close by bamboo grove and waited patiently for the bike to pass off. He heard the bike stop nearby and then all of a sudden heard the gruff voice, Basir mia, you think yourself too smart!
Basir swiveled fast and was terrified to notice two masked figures pointing barrels of pistols at him.

A voice roared, you filthy traitor!

Police and newspaper men gathered around the spot and took snaps of the dead body of Basir and the terrorist leaflets spread around. The police officer looked awe stricken brooding over the injustice done to him by the authorities. He must resign and look for some other more safe and dignified job.  Once again a political party claimed Basir to be an important member of their party and the usual allegation against the terrorists.

Banerjee came to my house and showed me the terrorist leaflet he had picked up from the spot. I wore his specs and started reading the message in the leaflet with rapt attention. Banerjee interrupted and said calmly, Uncle, one thing is very funny about the leaflet. The terrorists never use this type of paper nor the printing font.

Dr.Ratan Lal BasuRatan Lal Basu, Ph.D. (Economics) is an ex-Reader in Economics and Teacher-in-Charge, Bhairab Ganguly College, Kolkata, India. Dr. Basu has written & edited several books on Economics.

Check out WBRi Online Bookstore Recommendatiuons on books by Dr. Ratan Lal Basu: CLICK HERE >

Apart from his passion for the field of Economics, Dr. Basu's other interests are Boxing & Small Game Hunting (gave up the nasty games during college life); Swimming in Turbulent Rivers (physically impossible now); Himalayan Treks, Adventure in Dense Forests, Singing Tagore Songs and also writing travelogues and fiction in Bengali and English.

Dr. Ratan Lal Basu can be reached at rlbasu [at]

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