“…..Is there any problem in your jurisdiction? Over.”
“No Sir. No problems till now. We are monitoring the situation continously. Over.”
“Okay. Keep a watch. Be extra vigil. Over and Out.”
Waman Bhosle offed the walkie talkie. He asked his colleagues in the police station to assemble. When all had done so, he told them what had happened. Apparently a few belligerants had landed at the CST and started firing indiscriminately. They seemed to have no agenda, no demands and no motive to negotiate. They were firing to kill. Without any apparent motive. He had been instructed by the Control Room to be on alert and monitor the situation. His area being “minority” dominant, any and every incident, from a blast in the train to a blast of an LPG cylinder would lead to such warning calls. Normally it was ignored. Not today. Today was different. Today was going to be a long day (rather night).
Bhosle always wanted to be a cop. Not because he wanted to clean the society of criminals (well, not just to). Not because he had no other option. He wanted to become a cop because he thought of them as stylish. When he was a little boy, he used to always observe one of his neighbours who was a cop. He used to like his “style”. The way he walked, the way he talked. The way he kept his gun in the holster just like in the films. It did not matter that this neighbour of his was later suspended of having relationship with those he was supposed to apprehend. What mattered was the style.
As he finished telling about the situation, he began to observe their reaction. There was a gamut of emotions and reactions in front of him. Some were shocked, some were in a state of denial and some (mostly the oldest serving members of the force) had that kind of weary expression which said “It had to happen sometime. Why during my lifetime?”. He waited for their questions. And after a few moments of silence, they poured. How, when, why, Why was the Intel not aware of this, What are we going to do? Questions to which he had no answers. Because no one gave it to him. He was given just one order. “Monitor the fucking situation”.
Bhosle became a cop at age 25. Unlike what they showed in the films, he did not top the class. He did not get any special pat on the backs from his teachers. He was an average student who did just enough to move smoothly up the order. His first posting was at his current station only. He was happy. Now he could move around stylishly with his service revolver. He had stars in his eyes. What a rude shock he was in for.
As instructed, Bhosle started telling the havaldars to start making rounds and be “extra vigil”. Which was nothing but havaldars moving around with their “dandas” looking important. What else could they do? There was confusion all around. Apparently there was no organized plan to counter the attack. He started getting more info from the unofficial mode of communication i.e. other Sis located near Ground Zero and his band of khabris. More whackjobs had entered the Taj now. They had started taking people hostage. Firing was heard on the streets outside CST as the first batch of killers made a run for it. Most probably their attack was going to be restricted to the area in and around South Mumbai. He wondered what it took to co -ordinate a counterattack on this small bunch of chutiyas who had boxed themselves in a corner. Must be difficult if the eminent people handling the control room were not able to do it. He wondered what the superstars of Mumbai police were doing. Mumbai police was famous for its daredevil supercops. Definitely they were on to something. Then he got the shocker of the night. Karkare sir dead.
Your first days on the job are an eye opener. They are a reality check. Like when your dreams get cut short by the sudden splash of water on your face. Yes, those first days are like a splash of water. Cold water to be precise. Bhosle’s were icy. As he became acquainted with the inner workings of a police station, he became disillusioned. The long hours, the registering of FIRs regarding petty issues like fighting over water taps, theft of rubbish items, etc. Sometime a real case came his way. However they ended up pretty quickly unlike in the films. Most of his time was spent doing totally “unstylish” work. Then there were the under table adventures. Bhosle was not the Harishchandra type. He did not mind the “extra” income. What he minded was the pettyness and the shamelessness which he felt while going about collecting it. Once, his team set out in their fancy Toyota SUV for their hafta collection. He watched the havaldar going around and trying to collect the money “dicreetly” just like a black marketeer going around selling his tickets in law. There they were, upholders of law in all their glory watching one of their own going around and acting like a fucking “tapori”.
Bhosle had tears in his eyes. Karkare sir was one of the supercops who he looked up to. One of those rare tough officers who brooked no nonsense. He was handling the Malegaon riots and had the balls to charge the local toughies there who had political connections. Those bastards took away Kamte sir. This was getting personal. But what could he do? Except being “extra vigil”. Was this the reason he took this job? He was feeling frustrated.
Just then, a lady walked in. She was wearing a Punjabi suit with the typical jari work which the women in the neighbourhood of his station found fashionable (What did he know? He was a bachelor and had no clue about such things). She came up to him. Closer and Bhosle could see that she was a little tense. Of course she would be tense. No one comes to the police station on their own when they are happy.
“Inspector saab, My name is Rubina. I want to file a missing report.”
“Who is missing”.
“Where was he last before you lost contact.”
“At the…near CST. Around 9.00PM. He had called saying that he was reaching the station in fifteen minutes.”
“Ohh…I am sorry. It will be difficult to find him this soon considering the situation there. What is his name. Do you have any photo.”
She gave a photo of her husband to him. He looked a man in his 20s. Sharp features. A confident look. Smart beard.
“His name is Akhtar Ali Sheikh.”