SATISAR THE VALLEY OF DEMONS (XV)

The authorities considered it too risky to keep Yousuf Shah at Papa-2. They immediately flew him to Kot Balwal interrogation center at Jammu. There, he was treated well and provided a separate room all to himself. He was allowed to meet his friends who were already there. Even his relatives came from Srinagar to meet him. Yousuf Shah was really impressed with this treatment, although he would not forgive Birbal for the treachery.

Then one day all these niceties disappeared. On that day, the jailor brought over a top-secret confidential letter for him. It had come from Mahaballi’s office. Yousuf Shah was thrilled to receive the envelope. With excitement and hope he tore it open and got out the beautifully decorated letter. He unfolded it and began reading the contents. It read:

To Yousuf Shah (abdicated ruler of Kashmir),from Mahaballi, the supreme Monarch of Monarchs. Be it known:

That, to break away the territories of Jammu and Kashmir from the kingdom you waged a war against the empire.

That you also conspired with foreign agents, through Nullah Khan and Ms RobinHood who have cast an evil eye on the paradise on earth.

That you did not arrange the wazwan for our Rattan Birbal at the appropriate time.

However, all these acts can be condoned if you agree and declare that the territory is an integral part, and you a humble subject of the kingdom, ready to join the national mainstream and you agree to the initiation of a political process in the valley.

If you agree to break away from all those who work against our interest, and, if you agree to the above, Mahaballi shall be pleased to appoint you as ‘Naib-Tehsilda’ of Tangdar.

Mahaballi

Yousuf Shah suddenly flew into a rage. He tore the royal letter into pieces and threw them at the jailor’s face. This enraged the jailor who saw it as an insult to Ain-e- Akbari and bringing out the cordless phone from his shirt pocket straightaway dialed Mahaballi’s private number. He informed Mahaballi of Yousuf Shah’s behaviour and received fresh instructions.

Immediately, men ran into Yousuf Shah’s room, removed his clothes and brought him out, and then paraded him naked through the jail premises and took him to the death cell. Here they chained him in a filthy dark cell. Two men entered and with iron bars beat his whole body blue and red. He bled from his multiple wounds. In the morning the floor of the cell appeared red and Yousuf Shah had passed out.

The sun’s first rays cast a magical spell over the woods. Light pierced the dark canopy of the forest vegetation and reached the interior. Maqbool Dar sitting under the Deodar tree had gone into a slumber. The rays kissed his closed eyes and he woke up with a start. The entire village folk were fast asleep in front of him. They slept in gay abandon. Having had their full meal, they no longer seemed to bother. For a fraction of a second Maqbool Dar thought they were dead. Were they dead? How could they be dead? They had to be alive. He stood up, stretched his hands, looked around and saw a gushing stream a little distance away in a gorge. He set out towards the water. He would wash and pray to his God. The God in the heaven, for all the strength he would need. As he descended towards the stream, his eyes spotted a few riders down in the valley headed towards the stream, while a few others seemed to ride in his direction. He turned and went back to his sleeping comrades. He knew the state had moved, and he wanted to warn his fellow beings of the doom that loomed large in front of them. He called out to them. No one stirred. He shook them by their shoulders; he pushed them, pulled them, trying to break the deadly spell the sleep had cast. But he failed for not a soul stirred. He went back and took another look below at the riders. They seemed to be riding fast towards the woods. In a moment they would arrive. What should he do? Leaving the cluster of sleeping bodies, he moved away and, concealing himself behind a bush, began to wait.

As the riders finally negotiated the last steep stretch and came to the flat top, they saw the entire village folk lying there. They were soldiers of the Maharaja’s force, accompanied by the Nambardar. The beast in them suddenly awoke, and quietly encircled the sleeping populace as they moved on their steeds. Maqbool Dar watched in horror as they brought out long leather whips. Then, acting in unison, they pulled the whips into the air and with a crash brought them down with the might of powerful state. As the leather caught the flesh of sleeping men, women and children, cries of pain, shrieks of horror suddenly broke out. Maqbool Dar watched as the soldiers lashed his men, women and children. With a vengeance, the soldiers hit, tearing and cutting the innocent flesh, and the mass of unfortunate humanity in horror and pain moved closer. So did the riders, hitting them hard. Maqbool Dar could see the leather lashes turning crimson red and shining as the rays of morning sun touched upon them. The soldiers continued with their task and then Maqbool Dar, unable to control himself any longer, picked up a boulder and took aim at the rider nearest to him. With all the might and pent-up centuries old anger, Maqbool Dar flung the boulder and it struck the rider’s head. With a shriek he fell down and his horse sped away. The fallen soldier’s companions rushed towards him. He was dead.

“Who did this? Who did this?” they asked and quietly Maqbool Dar came out of the bush, and head held high, shouted to them:“I did this, I did this, and I shall do it again and again. Till that day you leave us alone. I did this.”

The soldiers pounced on him, brought him down and used all their lashes on him. When finally their anger subsided, they tied his hands and dragged him down the hillslopes. He was followed by the entire population of the village, who bled, moaned, cried, wept, from their own wounds but followed Maqbool Dar till they reached the nearest town.

Lally Tigress was formally arrested at the airport and under heavy security driven to Papa-2. She was ushered into a small room where she had to spend her immediate future. Col Sharma accompanied her into the room and once they were seated began, “Look young lady, I will see to it that you are comfortable here. Of course, I will expect you to cooperate with the investigating officers. We would not like to use any 3rd degree methods on you but remember its use is not ruled out. It will totally depend on your cooperation. You may tell me if you need anything. Anything I can do for you. Personally I admire your courage. I wish it had been chanelled in the right direction.”

Lally listened very patiently till Col Sharma concluded. Then very quietly she said, “Thank you Col. I want your help. I want my baby. I want to keep my baby here with me. I just can’t keep it away.”

“I can understand but it cannot be allowed I am afraid.”

“Well then Col, my cooperation will depend on this alone. Get my baby and then send your investigators.”

Col Sharma was dumbstruck. He knew nothing would change her resolve. If she decided to keep her mouth shut, no degree of torture would open it. He told her he would speak to his bosses and try his best. Saying this he took leave and went away.

Lally was now alone in the room. She examined the room in some detail. Strong sturdy walls of concrete with only a small window in one of the walls. The window was secured with heavy iron bars. There was a cot on one side and a chair lay on the other. That was all. An electric lamp scattering its yellow pale light hung from the ceiling.Lally sat on the cot. She was trying to understand how all this had happened. Who had given her away? No one except a few close associates knew of her movements. She had been in Delhi for the last three months and no one knew. She had gone there after her doctor told her that she was likely to have a complicated delivery. The doctor had suggested a hospital in Delhi and there she had been admitted a month before her expected delivery. She was treated well and gave birth to a baby boy who looked lovely with pink rosy cheeks. She had stayed there for two months after the delivery and then decided to fly back. She knew her organization needed her and she could not remain away for long. Even the girls who were very close to her did not know of her Delhi stay or of the birth of the baby. The security forces did not even know of her marriage.

Lally was sure of one thing—her captors would have to get her baby. She wanted the baby, and this was the only way to break the monotony and boredom of the prison cell. There were other reasons too. It would strike an emotional cord among her followers. The news that she was being held along with her infant in the prison cell would make a much better headline in the newspapers!

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