Read the 5th post here. 🙂
The final mission
During that time, the capital of India was under turmoil. The cases of assault against women had reached record numbers and there were huge protests against the government. One of the incidents that added fuel to the fire was kidnapping of a primary school van by some unknown group and all the boys in the van were found at secluded place in the border of UP. All the girl children from then were reported missing. The school was one of the biggest schools in Delhi and the kids belonged to influential families. The chief explained the tough times and requested him if he could take up this assignment with the members of his team and save these young kids. They were the best commando team available in the army. Time was less as usual, and Akeel thought of letting her mother know. He explains the scenario over the telephone and informs that he is taking up this one last assignment for those young kids, without waiting for her to give a nod.
Again the same old team, again a mission with no clue of where to start. The commandos start by asking the children in the van for information. They understood that none of them spoke Hindi or English. Men of dark complexion and they spoke a very weird language which obviously none of the kids understood. The first and obvious guess went to south India. But the van had south Indian kids coming from most and still they couldn’t understand the language, which led the officer in command to guess that either it’s a code language or from a gang from adjacent countries. Akeel came up with Srilanka and if it was true then they had to travel south, very soon. But they couldn’t trust this. This was their best guess, what if it’s not right. The message is passed to all the main police control rooms and this operation was not top confidential in nature as media had already on it.
After couple of days, there is news from Punjab police control room that they have found some school uniforms abandoned near the trash bins at different parts of a place. Doubts aroused when they found quite a few numbers from the same vicinity and all of them had matching patterns. It was confirmed in some hours that the uniforms were of the missing kids. This meant that the kidnappers were on the move. The army men reach the spot wasting no time. The first thing they do is question all the nearby shops for any clues. The police force helps them with this. After a long hunt, the police find out those shops from where clothes for children of various ages were purchased in bulk. Around 5 shops were shortlisted after initial enquiry, but sadly the clothes purchased were by Punjabi families for weddings and celebrations. The only way left as per the officer in command was to get all these shop keepers to their conference hall and allow each and everyone a quick glance of the sketches of the 5 member team drawn as per the male kids in the school van.
Two different shop keepers could find similarities of 2 men in the sketches shown. They remembered that the men spoke very bad Hindi and they mentioned that they could be natives of south India, which was very vague information. Each of them bought 3 dresses. Those shopkeepers confirmed that they couldn’t speak the proper slang of Hindi.
Quick searches began in the bus stand and railway stations. Message passed to all the southern states and important places throughout the country. The search in Punjab proved to be futile. They carried on with the search for another 24 hours, and then the commander in charge of the group received a message that couple of Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTE) had found 5 kids in a compartment with 2 men. The interesting part was that the men were dark in complexion and the kids very fair. On questioning they said that the kids belong to their cousin, and the TTE let them travel easily for he never expected such a thing.
The commando squad flew down to Mumbai and the TTE was made to identify the faces of kids from the photographs they had. Just as they suspected, it was the kidnappers moving towards the south. They had booked the tickets to Kanyakumari, the furthest part of India but now whether they travelled to Kanyakumari or broke their journey half way, a million dollar question! It was also confirmed that out of the total kids, only 5 were present with 2 men.
As per the instructions of the leader in charge of the group, all the passengers who traveled in the same compartment and were seated were contacted from their railway forms. They were asked about information about the gang, for which they found out that the gang got down in Salem, a place in Tamil Nadu with all the kids. None of them spoke in Tamil and kids were completely drowsy throughout the journey. The in charge was sure that the kids were drugged, and this could be a part of racket who are trying to smuggle kids for their organs or as illegal workers to other third world countries. If that was the case then they had to act fast, as they would transfer the kids within no time as the risk of being caught is very high.
The commando group alerts all the police station in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. All the airports and railway station were ordered to be monitored. From further investigations in Salem, they got an idea that this group had moved towards a place called Sivaganga. It was really strange as the motive was unknown and going to a small town like Sivaganga didn’t justify anything at all. They follow the trails and reach Sivaganga, from where the arrow pointed to Tuticorin. There was a domestic airport and a sea port at this place. The Tuticorin port had a lot of union and corruption issues which were very well known in the recent years. A year back there was a massive shootout between gangsters and police officers trying to smuggle psychotropic drugs. As much as 4 police officers were killed while all the gangsters managed to escape with the goods.
Everything began to sense now. The plan most probably must be to transport the kids to Srilanka and the gang was from Srilanka speaking Singla which resembled Tamil but was by far very different. They must have spent at least a year researching the conditions in India. How they survived and what they did for a living was still a mystery! It should be Tuticorin Port. The commando’s station themselves at a lodge in Tuticorin introducing themselves as people from a travel magazine to the hotel authorities. They got the clear map of Tuticorin Port from the army headquarters for no local organization was to be trusted including the Police. The best part of Tuticorin is that there are plenty of abandoned places which have proper extensions towards sea and a small boat can easily come in and take them to deep sea. The main ones were to the north and to the south.
The weapons they carried were negligible as compared to the other operations. Some combat knives and hand guns was all that they had. The operation was a risky one as no planning could be done for they had no idea of the place. The best thing to do now was to find whether they were planning to move from the northern end or the southern end. The men began patrolling in disguise. But luck didn’t favor them.
All that was left to do was to split into groups of 4 and 3 and move towards the northern and southern end at the fall of night. They suspected that the gangsters could take off this night as they must have guessed police being informed. This guess by the officer in charge proved right. They did plan to leave Indian shores by midnight and travel to Srilanka.
Akeel, the officer in command and another experienced commando joins the group of 3 while the group of 4 moves towards the north. The plan was to check the northern ruins of the port thoroughly and return back if they found nothing to help the other and vice versa for the other group. This night smelled blood and death.
The group of 3 moved towards south swiftly. There were huge stacking of fiber reinforced pipes the ones which are used for underground piping works, all of huge diameters stacked in plenty forming mountains. These pipes could be tricky and gangsters could be hidden in them, while there was void space in between these huge stacking. They could also be there. On such a confusing note, they split again. Akeel goes for the pipes and the other two for the void spaces between the stacked pipes. The pipe stacks were long as one was very close to the other. Akeel starts crawling from one end. He was in the bottom most pipe while there were huge stacks above him which formed pyramid. The wind from the other open end touched his face but the noise of the wind passing through the hollow cylinder was very daunting. After crawling through about 3 to 4 pipe stacks he could hear movement in one of the upper stacks. He continues crawling till the end of that. While he was about to go above this level, he sees a silhouette of a small kid. Far in between the pipe stacks, he crawls slowly and carefully towards the kid. As he reaches near, the kid takes notice of him and suddenly he sees the facial expression of kid change. He turns back and sees a knife coming towards his abdomen. He lifts his leg up to save himself and the knife finds the muscles next to shin and tears it to pierce through. A small yelp and he gets back to senses. He gets a hold to the fist knife hidden in his vest with his weak left arm while his right arm firmly held the guy close to him. The knife still remained pierced in his body. As soon as he gets grip of his knife, he pushes it through the left ribs of the gangster completely inside and twists it twice in clockwise direction and kicks him away. He crawls on forward and reaches to the side of the pipe and sits with back supported.
The kid looks at him in fear and shock. He is in immense pain and he was sure that he won’t be able to move from there. In the meanwhile, reinforcements arrive from the northern end. The other two commandos were stuck at the middle those empty pipes.
Akeel smiles at the kid and asks her to come closer. She refuses to move in the first instance. He then tells her that if she wants to meet her parents, she must come near him and he was from the army sent by her parents to collect her. The child walks slowly to him. He touches the smooth skin of the child with his blood stained hands and asks her name.
‘Maria Jacob’ came the answer. The child was not more than 6 years, very cute looking kid with chubby cheeks and curly short hair. He tells the kid to stay close to him and he would protect her.
Next, Akeel opens his eyes to find himself alive. Pain covered his entire body. He was in the hospital. His mother was close-by smiling at him but tears trickling down. His father was also there at the chair in the room. The head nurse was called and she explained that he had seriously torn his muscles and healing would be a big deal. They also feared if he could walk in his usual pace but he was told to keep hope.
The mission had ended successfully. The reinforcements from the north helped them curb the gang and none of them were left alive. All the kids were found safe and returned to safe hands.
In the afternoon, his group from army came to visit him in the hospital. So did the army chief, who said in brisk words that the whole nation was proud of him and his deeds. He smiled to that.
The evening had another surprise for him. A young man, around the same age as Akeel entered the room. Akeel sees the young man and suddenly looks to the left to see the kid ‘Maria’ hold his hand. As they walk in, they are followed by Dr. Alexander and Alyna. Before they start a conversation, Akeel asks his parents to move out of the room for a while. Dr. Alexander and Alyna recognize Akeel and convey gratitude. The young man was Alyna’s husband and Maria was their kid. Alyna gladly holds Akeel’s hands and expresses heartfelt gratitude for what he has done. Akeel smiles and waves them a goodbye.
On the return journey from the hospital, Alyna’s husband was behind the steering wheel and Dr. Alexander was the co-passenger. Maria and Alyna took the back seat.
Maria asked Lyn, ‘Maa. Do you know that person?’
Maria again, ‘Is that the only reason why he saved me?’
Curious Maria had no intentions to stop, she asked again, ‘Maa. Then how do you know him?’
Lyn looks at her with a smile and starts narrating, ‘It was a spine chilling winter of December……………….’