Satisar, The Valley of Demons-V

Mahaballi sent a message to Yousuf Shah requesting him to join the national mainstream and contribute sincerely in restoring the political process. The message clarified that all future deliberations would have to be conducted strictly within the limits of Ain-e-Akbari. Yousuf Shah was thrilled with Mahaballi’s message. Breaking protocol, he called on Birbal, who had brought the message, and invited him to his house. Birbal expressed his desire to taste a steaming Wazwan. Yousuf Shah immediately rang up the royal cook, Sultan Khosa, and ordered him to report. Sultan Khosa, on receiving the royal command ordered his men to load the copper ware in the waiting Matador van and drove off to the palace. Birbal was getting bored with all the waiting, so Yousuf Shah ordered Khatoon to prepare saffron kahwa. The lady replied that they had run out of all bakery items. Since kahwa could not be served alone, Yousuf Shah drove out immediately in his Maruti car to GN Bakers, where he was received with full state honours. While the items were being packed, he suddenly saw some people from the press and he began an impromptu and informal press conference.

From Delhi, Todermal announced that the government would never hold any negotiations with gun wielding militants and all accusations about human rights violations were false and meant only to lower the morale of security forces working under difficult circumstances. Todermal’s statement was heard by the flying squad on the walky-talky fitted in the vehicle. The flying squad suddenly came to life and surrounded Yousuf Shah. He was nabbed without any resistance and straight away driven to Papa-2. In the company of militants, Birbal, reclining against a soft cushion and drawing from a beautiful hookah at Yousuf Shah’s residence heard of the arrest on Doordarshan. But somehow they did not hear the Hindi news. Birbal promptly switched over to MTV channel as the remote control was with him. Madonna was raining and all the militants were thoroughly drenched. Birbal seeing that the militants were busy with Madonna, gave them the slip by jumping out of a window. It was very dark outside. He walked to the nearest lamp post and requested him for light. The lamp post told him “Yes, it is a fact. The light that Mohan Das saw in Kashmir is my legacy but the Udhampur transmission line has become outdated. Now, there is one way out—a political and economic package. If you can manage that, the bulb hanging from my head will come to life and under my dazzling light you can enjoy your Wazwan.”

Birbal was happy to learn all this and he immediately started for the Qaf mountains. He knew that out there, on the top of a black mound stood the mouth of a cave, and within this cave lay the city of demons. Situated in this city was a palace—the Anand Bhawan—and this palace had 10,000 cellars. In each cellar, there were 110,000 iron cases. In one such case was the package shrouded with a red rag bearing a white plough insignia and it contained a pack of 52 cards and 370 gold coins. Birbal set out on his journey to get the 52 cards and 370 gold coins. He knew that once he had them he would win the jackpot at the casino in Delhi and could enjoy his Wazwan in downtown Srinagar.

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In a famous auditorium at Delhi, ‘Kenun Kashmir’ had organized a public meeting and a large number of Kashmiri pandits and their women had assembled. A good number of speakers were seated on the dais. Kashyap of Kenun Kashmir, in his inaugural address, dwelt in detail on the Kashmir question. He clearly brought out the Kenun Kashmir stand on various issues confronting the Kashmiri migrant pandits.

                He strongly demanded a homeland inside Kashmir in which Kashmiri pandits could live a protected existence. It was to be like the Dachigam Hangul Sanctuary. There at the sanctuary, with financial help from international agencies like World Wild Life Fund, the threatened Hangul had been provided a haven, which preserved this near extinct species of deer. Kashyap argued that if such an arrangement could work for Hanguls, then surely it could work for Kashmiri pandits.

In the first row of listeners, detached from the noise that periodically rose from the audience, seemingly listening to each word spoken from the dais, sat a handsome young man. He was wearing a denim jacket and holding a black briefcase in his lap. One by one, the speakers spoke giving vent to their thoughts, detailing their plans and priorities, demanding action, relief, jobs, admissions in schools and colleges, promotions, flats, plots, etc. At the end, it was decided that the entire assembly of men and women would in a procession move to the prime minister’s residence and submit a memorandum, listing all the demands that had been made. Consequently, the people came out into the street and began their noisy march. They raised slogans and appeared highly agitated. The handsome young man also accompanied the crowd silently. After walking awhile, the procession came face to face with the Delhi Riot Police holding batons and carrying tear gas guns. The officer on duty ordered the assembly to disperse, but the agitated men and women pressed on. The police swung into action and baton charged the processionists. A few tear gas shells were fired. A baton charge caught the head of the man with the denim jacket. A tear gas shell burst under his feet. He fell down on the road, unconscious and bleeding profusely from his wounds.

He regained his senses and found himself on a hospital bed, surrounded by police and medical staff. The doctor on duty, seeing him open his eyes, called out to the police officer in a bored voice. “Here…he comes. I think you can talk to him.”

The police officer came closer to the man and asked in what sounded to his ears a very professional tone. “What is your name?” The young man looked at him for a while and answered in a royal accent, “Zain-ul-Abdin.”

The police officer made an entry in the sheet of paper he carried. “What brought you to the procession of Kashmiri pandits?”

“My legs!” The young man replied with a mischievous smile on his lips. The officer then nodded to one of his men who presented a black briefcase. Pointing to it the officer asked, “Is this yours?”

“Yes, this belongs to me.”

The officer turned round to one of his juniors. “We are right. He is a dangerous terrorist, a hardcore militant.”Saying this, he began giving instructions for increasing the security around the hospital. The young man in the denim jacket had meanwhile closed his eyes and gone into a deep sleep.

An excerpt from Ayaz Rasool Nazki’s  book SATISAR, THE VALLEY OF DEMONS published by Vitasta Publishing and the book is available on www.vitastapublishing.com