“Police? No! Kill me,tear me apart but don’t give me to the police!”,he begged.
“So afraid of police eh?”,Abhi asked.
“The reason is quite simple. What will they do if they get their filthy hands on me? They’ll beat me black and blue slowly and then churn out all the required information.
With all the media attention on me,they would become famous and then a separate committee would be sanctioned to fastrack my case since it is “special”. And then the case which would have taken 8-10 years in accordance with the Indian Judicial System’s pace would be completed in 6-7 years. In that time,I would have to rot in those high secure suffocating cells and make up lies for defending myself. Nah. That’s so boring. I prefer death or freedom. Not this stupid time consuming stuff.”
“Oh..quite practical thoughts”,I clapped sarcastically.
“Thanks!”,he smiled half heartedly.
That was it. The problem of most Asians. Especially in and around the subcontinent. They lack the ability to understand sarcasm and take it as a compliment instead. But a terrorist doing the same? This was new to me.
“So,you better reveal everything about JeM to us now Junaid!”,Abhi steered back the topic.
“Why should I? Do I look like a mentally challenged person to you?”,he guffawed.
Seeing our serious faces, he understood that his joke wasn’t a joke at all. It was a fact.
“I can help you and myself out of this situation. But I have some conditions.”,he said,purposely stressing on the last word.
“What conditions?”,we ask in unison.
“Condition 1: If I’ll reveal you the info, then you should stick to your words,that is,you will free me. If you don’t abide by it, then I guess you and your family will be deep in danger.”
“He’s bluffing!”,Abhi laughed at his nonsense.
“Nah! I’m not!”, he roared.
“What’s the proof?”,I asked.
“Never underestimate technology!”,he flashed his evil smile.
“Be clear you.. ”,I threw the bottle at him in anger. Purposefully, I missed the target.
“Calm down boy! Haven’t you ever heard of GPS?”
“Heck!”,I sighed in disbelief.
“The ring on my index finger,my mobile device,and even one of my molar teeth has a micro-GPS unit attached to it. Even if you destroy one, the other one will get activated by itself. If you destroy all the three it’s pretty evident that my life is in danger. They will come and extensively search for me at the last location where they received the GPS signal. And you know what happens next.”,he said with a devilish twinkle in his eyes.
We have no other option,but to agree to his condition. Damn!
“Condition 2: The information that I will share will only be among you three. No sharing with anyone else.”
“Anything else Sir?”,I folded my hands and bowed to him.
“It would be better if I get a glass of orange juice. Even mango will do.”. Junaid was now literally crossing the limits.
I waved my hands and asked Abhi to bring a bottle of water from the refrigerator.
“Ohk we agree to your conditions. But..”
“You sure?”,Adi and Abhi stopped me in between.
I flashed a thumbs up sign and indicated that I know what I’m dealing with.
“Ya..so what was I saying..yeah! I didn’t understand one thing Junaid..”
“Why are you telling us all this stuff..your organizations info and all..ain’t there any rule or teaching from your trainer like:’if you get caught you must try to escape;if you can’t escape,you die..just don’t let out any info’ ”.
“For me it’s my life over JeM.”
“Priorities.”,he cut me short.
“Ohk then…”,I was intrigued by his response.
After some moments of awkward silence,Abhi broke the awkward silence.
“So how did you join JeM,and why?”
“Assuming that you have accepted my conditions, I’m answering this….”
I signalled him to continue.
“Well,my Dad was an Army Officer and we used to live peacefully at our little home at Karachi. Even my
Uncle was in Army. Their army style behaviour resulted in my and my sister’s strict upbringing.
My Dad was my only hero. I badly wanted to be like him when I grow up-to be in the Army and serve the nation.
Everything was fine until the 1999 war against your stupid nation!”
“Dare you call our nation stupid! ”,Abhi being a true patriot went ahead and gifted him a tight slap.
He winced. He had no other option, but to continue.
“The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC,which serves as the border between the two nations. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan’s Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces.
The infiltration was codenamed “Operation Badr” and its aim was to sever the link between Kashmir and Ladakh, and cause Indian forces to withdraw from the Siachen Glacier, thus forcing India to negotiate a settlement of the broader Kashmir dispute.
My Dad was stationed at Command and Control Building at Tiger Hill, whereas my uncle was controlling the situation at Direction Center for Forward Artillery in Dras Sector.
Our army was in the lead,but then the air force from our rivals decimated us.
We never estimated that the Indian army would respond with such a big strike. Our forces faced lots of problems during war because the food supply and logistics’ support line went down. We lost many army men.
And I still remember that fateful day.
June 24 1999.
The Indian air force bombed both Tiger Hill and Dras Sector and made a comeback in the war.
Uncle miraculously escaped,albeit with serious injuries.
But..but..my Dad..”,he started sobbing like a small kid.
Terrorists cry? They have feelings? Bizarre!
“He became a martyr.”
“and..?”,Adi was glued to his story.
“From that day onwards,my hate against your nation increased manifold. You won’t understand
the mindset of a 6 year old boy who lost his Dad- his hero,his everything. You won’t understand..”,he sighed.
Adi went ahead and made him sip some water. We still hadn’t freed him from the ropes.
“My uncle- who had to leave the Army due to his mutilated limbs stayed at our home after all his treatments. His wife had already succumbed to cancer very early in their married life. His relatives were his only support.”
“..and for me,he was like a fatherly figure. Although, he was physically challenged,he always looked to the fact that I was taken proper care of. He used to tell me stories of his Army days and how they decimated the Indian Army many times. His hatred against India was so strong that his words influenced me. Your nation was the reason why I lost my Dad.
Mom was devastated after Dad’s death. She used to weep and pour out her emotions the entire day. And that broke me everytime. That increased my anger more. ”
“But your Dad was just doing his duty. He died for the nation and that..”,Abhi tried to reason.
“Let me speak you scoundrel! You won’t understand the pain behind my words and decisions!”,pat came his anger filled reply.
Before Abhi could move ahead and gift him another slap,Adi stopped him from doing so.
Junaid smirked at us and looked around the room.
“I guess one of you is a cricketer..”
“I am.”,Adi raised his hand.
“Reminds me of those cruel cricket matches where your national team used to thrash our team most of the times. Some days I even prayed to Allah but even he ignored me many times. To be frank, I felt these matches are fixed by Indians. The BCCI is the richest cricket board and..you got my point right? ”,he laughed madly at his own stupidity.
Seems like he has lost it..
“And how did you join JeM?”,I brought back the topic to stop his hysterical laugh.
“Well,my increasing hatred and bottled up emotions against India reached its peak when I was 19. My uncle was already nearing his end. I learnt that he had close ties with IS and knew deep secrets about the army and their support to…”,he paused in between.
“Support to whom?”,I inched forward and signalled him to speak.
There was an uneasy silence in the room after those words. We knew about this long ago, still it was hard to digest.
“My uncle always believed in aggressive attacks against the enemy. He was a staunch supporter of terrorism against India and had contacts with top terror organizations that wreaked havoc every now and then in your country.
He even used to meet them personally sometimes.
And one fine day,he introduced me to someone named Mohammad Saleem who I guess was the state head of one of the most feared terror organization. And then, my life changed forever.”