Editor: Read Chapter XXI here.
After the men had their dinner, they assembled for a pre-operations briefing.
‘We are going to change our tactics a little bit. Henceforth, we will only attack large commercial buildings and the attacks will be carried out when there won’t be too many people inside those buildings. In other words, we will try and minimize the number of people we kill, even rich people,’ Tarun addressed them.
Ravi gave a sigh of relief, though the others didn’t seem to care.
He continued. ‘In my opinion, it will take us another month to achieve victory. When the masses see even more tall buildings fall down and the rich hide in terror, they will come out on to the streets in support of us. When that happens, we will throw away our disguises and lead from the front.’
Morale was still high and the men continued to be optimistic of the promised revolution and glory, though some cynicism had also set in.
‘Now listen carefully. Timing is the most crucial thing tomorrow. I will not be with you when you attack the building. I will be behind you.’ Tarun paused for a few seconds. ‘Comrade Niranjan will explain why I need to do that.’ At that, he gave Niranjan an encouraging smile.
‘When we attack this building, Comrade Tarun will be carrying out an important mission. The building we plan to attack is a commercial building which houses many offices. However, Maxim Bank occupies most of the space within this building. Maxim Bank is owned by Lankesh Nath. This man Lankesh Nath stays in Worli. When we attack Maxim Bank’s office and destroy it, Comrade Tarun will seek out Lankesh Nath and kill him,’ Niranjan spoke importantly.
‘I should tell you why it is necessary to kill Lankesh Nath at the same time as his bank being blown up,’ Tarun said. ‘By destroying this building, we hope that the price of shares in Maxim Bank will also fall. Many rich people will lose their fortunes. However, the share price of Maxim Bank will fall even more if its owner is killed at the same time.’ The men listened carefully, their faith in Tarun and the Unit Leaders still largely unshaken.
‘Comrade Tarun, how will you be able to kill this man Lankesh on your own? Shouldn’t we be there to help you?, Dinesh asked.
Tarun delicately cleared his throat. ‘Actually, Lankesh is a friend of mine. Or rather,’ Tarun laughed to hide his embarrassment, ‘he used to be a friend. You people know that I used to be a capitalist and worked for a capitalist enterprise. I’ve told you about my life at Nebraska Securities. Well, I have known Lankesh for a long time. I know how he made his money, by denying a living wage to the poor workers who toiled at his factory. He used that money to buy a small bank and then he used every corrupt means possible to make his bank such a roaring success. Lankesh knows me well. He is a bit older than me. We have been out of touch for many years now, but we used to be friends. I plan to go to his house just before you people attack his bank and kill him.’
‘But why can’t one of us go with you?’ Dinesh insisted.
‘Because if I turn up with a stranger, Lankesh may get suspicious.’
‘Our attack will be straightforward. Other than the guards, there will be no people inside the building when we attack,’ Sanket informed the men. ‘We will rush the building, just as we did at Everglades. I don’t expect there to be more than three guards. Remember, this is not a residential building. Go in, kill the guards and then park both cars in the parking area beneath the building. As you leave, press the remote controls and boom!’
The men laughed. Ravi wanted to ask if there was a plan to avoid killing the guards. If they surrendered, did they have to be killed? Would they have the time to tie up the guards somewhere far away from the buildings? He didn’t ask any of those questions since he knew that they would only laugh at him.
‘After that, quickly and quietly, without forming groups, make your way to the Kurla Railway Station. Kurla is around three kilometres away and you can reach there in thirty minutes. From Kurla, take a slow train to Kalwa. I will give you ticket coupons for the train. Remember to validate the coupons before you get on a train. Do not travel ticketless. I will meet you outside Kalwa West and tell you where our next hideout is. Any questions?’
‘Our belongings? Do we carry them with us?’
‘Well, the cars are to be blown up. You could leave the bags in the car when you fight and after you have subdued the guards, you can take them out before the cars are detonated. But then, you will have to walk to Kurla Station and if you carry your bags, you are more likely to be noticed. Also, you’ll take longer to reach Kurla. Tell you what, leave all your bags in my car before you leave. I will take them to our next place. What do you think Comrade Niranjan? Comrade Sanket?’
‘Good idea Comrade Tarun. I think they should leave them in your car.’
‘Any more questions?’
There were none, not even on how they would replace the two cars which were to be used as car bombs in the forthcoming attack. The men had absolute faith in Tarun’s ability to provide them with hideouts and vehicles.
‘But I have a question,’ Tarun said. The men switched themselves back on to meeting mode.
‘Remember what I told you just before we left that training farm? What will happen to you if you are captured?’
‘We will not be captured,’ Sanket announced. ‘I will kill myself.’
‘Good. We will all do the same if we are likely to be captured. And if anyone tries to surrender?’
‘We will kill the bastard,’ Niranjan replied tersely.
‘If someone is wounded and is likely to be captured?’
‘Gift him death!’
‘Excellent. Make sure you do not forget any of that. As we carry out more and more attacks, the resistance from the capitalist dogs will increase, till they collapse. Casualties are inevitable, though we have been lucky so far.’
The men started to disperse, their faces aglow with commitment and dedication.
‘Sanket Sir, can I make a phone call?’ Dinesh asked.
‘Be quick about the calls tonight. Remember, we are in Kolkata right now,’ Tarun told them, which caused some merriment. ‘And you will all be home in less than a month.’
‘I too want to make a call,’ Ravi told Niranjan as all those who wanted to make calls queued up with their phones in hand.
Ravi was the last in line and when his turn came, he dialled Swapna. Niranjan tried hard not to smirk as Ravi’s call was answered after a few rings.
‘How are you doing?’
‘Your father is also doing well.’
‘I know, I spoke to him earlier today.’
‘I am doing alright,’ Ravi volunteered. There was silence from Swapna’s end. Niranjan listened with a yawn and moved off to talk to Sanket.
‘Goodbye then,’ Ravi told Swapna and disconnected. He looked around. Niranjan was talking to Sanket and neither of them looked at him. Ravi had Opesh’s number saved on his phone and he quickly dialled, desperately hoping that Holambe would be in Mumbai.
‘Opesh, can I speak with Holambe? It’s Ravi.’
‘Hold on.’ Opesh had never liked him, considering him to be equally wayward as Holambe, but it didn’t matter. It sounded as if Holambe was in town.
‘Hi Ravi! How are…’
‘Are you in Mumbai? I need to talk to you.’
‘Yes, I’m in Mumbai. What’s the matter?’
‘Can’t tell you. This is very, very important. I will come to Opesh’s chawl soon, Stay there okay? Till I get there. This is important.’
‘What’s going on? Shall I come to your chawl?’
‘No, don’t do that. Don’t.’ Ravi could see Niranjan return. ‘Okay, okay.’
‘What’s this? Can you hear what I am saying?’
‘Okay, okay. Thank you.’
‘Is someone listening to you?’
‘Yes, yes, okay.’
‘What do you want me to do? Shall I hang up and call you back?’
‘No, I’m fine. Your father is also fine.’
‘My friend you seem to be in trouble. Can you listen for a minute?’
‘I came to Mumbai a week ago. I will leave tomorrow evening. Did you get that?’
‘Call me back or come over when you can.’
That night Ravi could not sleep as a million questions poured into his head.
Why did they ever attack residential buildings in the first place? Weren’t they supposed to be helping the masses? True, most of the people they killed were rich folks, but still they were innocent. Why was Comrade Tarun not going to be with them the next day? There was something fishy in that. Finally, Ravi made a promise to himself which allowed him to fall asleep. Ravi swore that he wouldn’t kill anyone the next day, come what may.
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