Continued from “Operation Checkmate”
On reaching home, and seeing Rani at the gate, Dhruva could realize how eager she was to hear it all from the horse’s mouth. So, as if to drive home his empathy at her having missed to see the exciting race, lighting his cigar, he began his narrative in the portico, and she said that in the excitement of it, the aroma of the lanka pogaku was more exhilarating than ever. Ending his move with the rescue of the captive, he said that for the checkmate of the captor, they have to wait for Shakeel to come on air at 9.
So, tuning into TV9, they began having their drinks; and in time, Shakeel was seen on the screen along with a handcuffed youth, whom he named as Pravar, the kingpin of the fake-note racket that he had busted that evening. As Karim laid some bundles of thousand-rupees notes on the table before a dazed Pravar, Shakeel boasted that the police would catch the other members of the gang sooner than later.
“I don’t believe a word of that cop, why his body language spoke all lies,” said Rani
“Given the stock of the khakis, you can’t be faulted,” said Dhruva.
“But I’ll fault you,” she said coyly, “if you default in telling the truth.”
“What struck me in the ransom note was the kidnappers’ choice of the rendezvous that too at a time when it gets crowded the most,” he said, switching off the TV and lighting a fresh cigar. “Maybe the idea was to enable the kidnappers to spot the cops in the mufti, if any, but still, it was risky as the police could lay in wait for them on either side of the Tank Bund. Wouldn’t have the kidnappers taken that into account? It only suggested that they could hit upon a foolproof plan to facilitate the Operation Exchange. But why were they specific that Ranjit should wait near the Tanesha statue; surveying its environs, I could see a nearby vaulted staircase that led to the roadside Maisamma temple down below.”
“When we were in Gaganmahal, I used to use the stairs for my morning walks on the Tank Bund,” she said reminiscently.
“How I wish I had met you then,” he said.
“Why, it’s better late than never,” she said.
“But not in the affairs of heart; thank god we have aligned before it was too late to write home about it,” he said squeezing her hand. “Well, given the location of the staircase, it wasn’t difficult to visualize the envisaged plan of exchanging the maal for the moolah; even as the male captor would deal with Ranjit on the Tank Bund, his female accomplice would hold Kavya on the road below, usually desolated at that hour. And once Ranjit is made to go down the staircase with the ransom, Kavya could be led up for the operation exchange midway with the violators blocking the way both ways. Even if someone happened to use the staircase then, the Ranjits could be silenced with advance threats, and what is more, the double entry or exit, as the case may be, affords the kidnappers a two-way get-away in the escape vehicles, one parked on the Tank Bund, and the other stationed nearby Maisamma Temple.”
“Isn’t it foolproof?” said Rani, “But how come they came a cropper.”
“No denying that but ironically it’s the brilliance of the plan that betrayed their idea behind it,” said Dhruva. “Initially I thought of freeing Kavya, by arraigning her captor without her partner on the Tank Bund getting wind of it but as you know, by then, Shakeel laid his hands on those fake notes in the Operation Moolah though the culprits gave him the slip. I don’t know why, but I got a naughty idea; what if the fake money was clothed as ransom amount and the kidnapper pictured as the kingpin of the counterfeit racket? Though Shakeel was excited at that prospect, yet he was afraid of the pitfalls, and it took a great deal of effort on my part to make him fall in line.”
Though Rani admired him for his ingenuous idea, Dhruva said that on second thoughts, he felt that it was morally reprehensible and conceptually unethical; and turning remorseful as he said that, given a chance, he would not repeat it for sure, she told him that the episode brought to the fore her own guilt in her cynical enterprise, and like him, she too would not like to repeat it. Puzzled by her mane and manner, though he pressed her to confide in him, but smiling sweetly, she said that he might as well wait for she was not running away from him right then. At that, he said in jest that he would break her legs to stop her from leaving him, and she reminded him coquettishly that she was within his arms reach, so even as he took her into his arms, he received a call from Shakeel.
Complimenting him for the finesse in the execution of the Operation Checkmate, though the detective invited him to exchange notes, the cop excused himself as he had to rush to his native place to see his ailing mother.
Continued to “Stockholm Syndrome”