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The Mysterious Tunnel
|by Aakriti Sinha|
"Mummy, Saurav has hidden our ball and is not giving it to us", cried Deepa and Sudha. Hearing this commotion their mother came running. "What is the matter? Why are you two shouting?" "Mummy, Saurav has hidden our ball! He is neither letting us play nor is he playing himself", answered Deepa angrily. Mother told Saurav sternly to give the ball back to the girls.
Deepa, Sudha and Saurav were brother and sisters. Deepa and Sudha were twins of aged ten. Saurav, being the youngest member of the family, was very naughty. He used to tease his sisters and would not let them play in peace. Three would be fights between Saurav and the girls everyday.
Examinations were approaching fast. Deepa, Sudha and Saurav became serious in their studies. One day there came a notice in their classes. As the teacher reads it, whispers broke the silence of the class. The notice was about a tour to Kashmir. "Children, listen to this. The school has organized a tour of fifteen days to Kashmir for students of standard III to V. Students wanting to participate in this tour should submit the money by the end of this week. They should bring all the things needed and a mountain kit." Everybody was excited. On reaching home Deepa, Sudha and Saurav gave this information to their parents and they were granted the permission. The deposited the money the very next day.
On the appointed day, they reached the school in time with their luggage and boarded the bus. "Kashmir, here we come", the school echoed when the students shouted.
After a day's journey, they reached Srinagar. First ten days passed in sight-seeing. On the twelfth day they went for trekking. "Stay in groups. Stay near. Don't go too far away. Watch your steps. And don't be afraid," the teachers gave these instructions to the students. Deepa, Sudha and Saurav formed a group with five other classmates and started trekking. They were so engrossed that they did not realize that they had come far away from other children.
After trekking for about half an hour, they stopped for a rest under the shadow of a very large boulder. When they thought of starting again, to their surprise, they could not find Saurav. Now Deepa and Sudha became tense. They started searching for him. "Has he fallen down? No, it is impossible. There was not shout from him. Oh! Where is he?" Such were their thoughts. Suddenly, as Sudha sat down tired, she saw Saurav trying to squeeze between the boulder and the side of the hill. Both girls were very angry. They were about to beat Saurav when they saw that the place behind the boulder looked like a narrow opening of tunnel. "Let's explore it!", said Saurav. "Yes! Let's explore it!" chorused the twins. Using a torch they had brought along, they went into the tunnel. It was actually a long tunnel. They saw many beautiful statues. This made them feel suspicious. "If it had been an art gallery then our teacher would have told us about it. But it is hidden in such a way that nobody can find it easily," exclaimed Sudha.
Suddenly there were sounds of footsteps. The children hid themselves between the statues. They saw three men coming and talking. When they tried to come out of the tunnel, they saw the men sitting at its mouth and talking about exporting something. There was only one way to get out but the men were blocking it. From their talks, they came to know that the three men were thieves who stole statues and smuggled them out of India.
Now they must think of a plan to escape. They were also worried because their teacher would scold them. It was about 6 o'clock. Night was setting in. Two of the thieves went to get food and the third one was trying to catch a sleep. Suddenly Saurav had a great plan. Grabbing the torch he ran out of the tunnel silently leaving the girls surprised. He wanted to contact the Police. He had seen a Police jeep passing through but at a distance. Saurav was about to shout when he realized. "If I shout the sleeping man will wake up. Moreover, if the two thieves are nearby, I'll be in trouble". So he flashed the torch due to which the Police jeep was attracted. They though this boy would have been lost, when they saw Saurav. When they reached near Saurav, he saw sniffer dogs with them. He told everything to the Police. When Saurav took the police to the tunnel, his sisters were waiting. They informed that the thieves had run away. The girls showed the direction to which the thieves had escaped.
The children lost hope. The police told the children that the statues had been stolen from the fort near the foot of the mountain. Suddenly, Deepa's sharp eyes fell on a handkerchief. She knew that it belonged to one of the thieves. She suggested, "If your dogs smell this hanky, Inspector uncle, you can come to know about the thieves." This point was noticed and soon the dogs ran after the trail left behind by the thieves.
The children were brought back to their teachers. The teachers and the other children were very tense. On returning, they got scolding. But when they told everything about the incident, everybody started praising them.
Next day the Inspector came to the camp. "Hello, Inspector Uncle! Are the thieves caught? I hope they have been!", asked the children. The Inspector answered, "Thanks to you, yes! The thieves have been caught. They would have slipped from our hands if you had not helped us. And there is one more good news for you. I am recommending your names to the Prime minister for a reward that you have won due to your bravery and intelligence. So please give me your address." The children were thrilled.
A few days later, the newspapers all over the country carried the news of this achievement of Deepa, Sudha and Saurav. They were praised by one and all. This made their parents feel proud. On 26th January, they were called to Delhi for the award.
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