Editor: Read Chapter XLIV here.


When surrounded by the police, Holambe and the three other Maoists put up their hands in the air and surrendered without a fight, an action, which saved their lives. They were whisked away to a detention centre and interrogated for a few hours, during which time they cooperated fully with the police and confirmed everything the police knew or suspected.

Holambe’s revelations regarding Janak’s execution by his former comrades-in-arms offered Janak’s parents a silver lining, even as they mourned his death. The parents of all young men from Marxist Thoughts, other than Janak’s, had to live with the truth of how their sons had been misled into fighting a war whose objective was so far removed from what they wanted to achieve and what they thought they were fighting for, not to mention the tragedy of so many innocent lives snuffed out on account of their rash mission. However, Janak’s parents could hold their heads high, proud in the knowledge that their son had chosen to walk away from the violent path sought to be foisted on him by Tarun, Sanket, Niranjan and others. They could also recover Janak’s remains from the farm where he had been buried after his execution, cremate it over prayers and tears with appropriate ceremony and scatter the ashes in a holy river.

However, the police had little luck in locating Tarun. After Yaroslav’s photos were shown on TV, the police control room was inundated with calls from various people who had known the men before they took to violence. The police weren’t particularly interested in Avinash and others from Marxist Thoughts since they were all dead.

However, most calls were about Tarun. There were calls from his teachers who had taught him at Kendriya Vidyalayas at Indore, Agra and Coimbatore. Some of his old school friends from Coimbatore and Bhubaneshwar called in to confirm that the man in the pictures was indeed Tarun Anand. His roommates from his Dehradun days dialled in as did classmates from Chlorophyll and colleagues from Nebraska Securities. Finally, there were calls from at least two young women he had dated, one as recently from two years ago when he became part of the Marxist Thoughts study circle.

Despite all that, there was no trace of Tarun. It was as if Tarun had disappeared off the face of the earth. Policemen hunted for him high and low. Volunteers combed through Tarun’s old haunts. His parents and sister made tearful appeals on television asking him to surrender himself to the tender mercies of the Indian justice system. The DGP suggested in an interview that if Tarun were to surrender and cooperate fully with the police, revealing full details of all those behind the attacks, he might be spared the death penalty. Immediately the DGP’s offer was denounced by all and sundry, especially by politicians who made it clear that as representatives of the general public, they would settle for nothing less than the death penalty.

‘Now he has a real incentive to surrender,’ the DGP was heard to say with bitterness.

After ten days of such madness, a domestic help in one of the most secluded buildings in Malabar Hills complained of a rotten smell emanating from the neighbouring flat. No action was taken for another two days until the smell became stronger. Since it was observed by the security guards and the cleaners that the smelly flat had remained under lock and key for the previous ten days, it was suspected that some animal might have died inside. Inhabitants of posh buildings in Malabar Hills, possibly the most expensive real estate in Mumbai, normally don’t talk to each other and the residents of the building with the smelly flat were no exception to the general rule.

Nobody in the building had a real idea as to who lived in the flat from which the malodour emanated. Since the landlord lived in Hong Kong, it took another two days for the building society to contact the landlord who informed the society’s secretary that his tenant Neha Naigal wasn’t answering the phone. By that time, the smell had become intolerable and everyone in the vicinity had started complaining about it.

Finally, when the flat was broken into, they found that it hadn’t been empty as they had thought. Of the four young men who lay dead and decomposing in the drawing room, two were on a large sofa which could have easily seated three. The other two were sprawled on bean bags and looked as if they had been feeling very comfortable till they started feeling otherwise.

The empty beer bottles on the ground and the half empty beer mugs by their side suggested that they had been drinking when they died. The autopsy carried out by two doctors who masked their faces to escape the foul smell indicated a slow poison which had most probably been ingested with their dinner prior. However, there remained no traces of the poison or the spiked dinner which had led those young men to their deaths.

Tarun’s parents struggled to identify their son’s decomposed body. The other three bodies were found to be of men who had worked with Tarun at Nebraska Securities and had disappeared from the radar after claiming to have joined a firm in Riyadh. Grief stricken families were shown on TV, wondering how their innocent sons could have got involved in such nefarious activities.


Featured Image (Cover): Nisha Joseph

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