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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Close Friend Of The DG!

One of the assignments in my job was to appoint dealers in all the district towns in every state for sale of cassette players and stereos. The products were made for the first time in India in a factory set up near Delhi. The great train journey started, with my wife wishing me safe and successful travel and I wishing if only she was traveling with me. But she could not take such a long vacation, especially after her summer vacations which had just ended. I would spend an extra day in all the cities which had places of tourist attractions, explore those places and take notes for a book on India that had been on my mind to write for a long time. I was feeling great that side-by-side of completing the assignment, I had collected enough material for the book, when I got a big jolt and my further journey came to a sudden halt. An intruder in my compartment robbed me of all my belongings on gun point, including my most precious diary. I was left with only a sleeping suit, which I was wearing. I did not know what to do next. I had only seen such train robberies in movies, but there they would focus on the thrilling chase scene after the robbery, leaving the victims as clueless as I was then.

As soon as the train stopped at the next station, I contacted the conductor and told him about the happening. He took it casually as if it was an ordinary occurrence that happened every other day. He advised me to get down and go to the Railway Protection Force office on the platform, to report the robbery. Within minutes the train moved out of the station leaving me alone on the platform in my pajama suit in the middle of the night. As I started to walk, bare foot and without baggage, trying to locate the RPF office, a security guard standing at some distance shouted at me to stop or he would shoot me. It was obvious that he had mistaken me for a miscreant awaiting my next victim on the platform. I stood still, pitying my own condition, while the guard closed in, the gun still pointing at me. He seemed disappointed to discover that I was not the prize catch he was hoping to be awarded for, but a victim of train robbery. He took me to the RPF office and handed me over to one of the six officers standing before another, apparently their boss. After hearing from me the detailed account of what had happened and where it happened, the senior officer asked me to wait in the adjoining room while they would be working on the case to trace and catch the culprit. After about fifteen minutes the officer called me to his room.

“We are on the move to apprehend the robber. The officer in charge of the RPF at the station nearest to the scene of incident will need your help to identify the robber as well as your goods, as soon as the culprit is caught, which could be in a day or so. My man will take you there and will make necessary arrangement for your stay at our guest house.”

I hardly had some sleep in the guest house when the concerned officer came.

“Congratulations. We have caught the robber and recovered most of your stuff from him. We shall approach the court today for arranging the identification parade urgently so that you can return home.”

Admiring him for the speedy action in apprehending the culprit, I told the officer that I might not be able to identify the robber as he was wearing a mask when he robbed me.

“You need not worry, I'll take care of that.”

The officer quietly passed on to me the photograph of the culprit much before the identification parade in which I was to identify him from amongst twenty criminals in the presence of a magistrate. In order to doubly ensure that I pointed to the right person, the officer told me that the robber would be placed as the third person in the right hand row at the parade. With so many clues there was no way I could have made any mistake in identifying the robber. The magistrate was satisfied and he also gave permission to return my two bags that were recovered from the robber. Some clothes, a cassette player and my diary were missing, but not the money that my wife had hidden inside a pack of newspapers.

Before taking the train back to Delhi, I, of course, profusely praised the officer for the amazing speed with which he caught the culprit, “I have been wondering how you were able to achieve it within hours of the happening.”

“For this you must thank your friend, our Director General. He himself called me in the middle of the night and asked me to go after the robber right then. We in the police force keep track of all such criminals and know where they reside and run to after robbing passengers in the trains. We can easily catch them there, though we do not do that all the time, at least not with this speed. Since in your case the DG was personally interested to solve it, I immediately drove to the village where all these robbers reside and caught the man without much difficulty.”

It was obvious from what the officer said that he had been all the time mistaking me as a close friend of his DG, whom I had never known earlier in my life. Apparently, the officer whom I first reported the robbery must be the DG whose presence at the RPF office at that late hour was coincidental, though the concerned Inspector thought that the DG must have come specially for me, and surmised that I must be a close friend of the DG.


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