Meanwhile faraway from Delhi, in distant Adidweep islands, Reds were livid. They were getting ready to levy a huge price for the indiscretion on the part of the government forces.
The usually busy state highway was unusually deserted on that winter morning. The three lonely government buses were slowly moving towards their destination on that deserted state highway. The eerie calmness had engulfed the entire route. Nervous passengers could clearly hear the loud muttering of buses’ engines, chirping of birds, rustling of leaves, and even the swaying of nearby trees. Like a serpentine, the isolated state highway was meandering along the thick forest cover. The bus-drivers and their commuters were well-aware about the lurking danger that lay hidden inside the lush green jungle. But they had no option. They were following their superiors’ orders. They needed to pass through that godforsaken road to reach Ajeebpur town.
All of a sudden, a deafening noise shattered the ghostly silence.
The powerful explosion tossed the first bus into air. Other buses in that fleet were alarmed by the loud detonation; they screeched to a grinding halt. Finding no escape route in front, they started to back away. Out of the blue, there was another huge blowout. It blew up the last bus on the fleet. The deafening blast not only created huge craters on the road but they also reduced those two buses to the mangled pieces of metal junk. The powerful bombs had killed almost everyone on those two buses. The charred bodies of the ill-fated passengers were strewed on the state highway. The metal debris of these two buses had blocked the routes for the last bus of the fleet at the front as well as at the back. Their buses were trapped. At that moment, they did not realize that they had walked right into the Red Rebels’ well-laid trap.
Panic-stricken, the freshly recruited, young, and inexperienced government soldiers rushed out of that bus. They did not want to get caught in another blast. They wanted to get away from the certain death staring back at them. But the indiscriminate firing from Reds’ sophisticated weapons continued from both sides of the highway. The adjoining hilltops and the dense forest had provided a perfect cover to the armed cadres of Reds. Returning to the safety of their bus, the government soldiers took cover inside bus and tried to fight back.
The gun-battle between Reds and government soldiers lasted for at least a couple of hours. Then the government soldiers ran out of ammunition. When the hail of bullets from the government soldiers finally stopped, the cautious Red Rebels left their hiding place and descended near the buses to check the gory mayhem that they had caused. They shot dead any government soldier who showed even a flicker of life. Reds were not at all in a hurry. After thoroughly checking the buses, they made sure that all the government soldiers were dead. Taking one body at a time, they pulled out all the dead soldiers and lay them on the state highway. Then they torched the buses. Alongside the deceased, they left a bunch of hand-written posters justifying their brutal attack, glorifying their cause, and slamming the government. After carrying out an angry mayhem, the Reds retreated to their safe hideouts in the impenetrable forest. It was a horrifying spectacle. The lifeless bodies of young soldiers were strewed all around the highway. The small stretch of the black tar road had turned into a Blood-Red road.
When the attending nurse woke up the Professor to serve him lunch, he requested her to switch on the television news. This spine-chilling news beamed out of Adidweep shook him up.
Red Forces had unleashed one of their most audacious assaults on the government forces at the Wada forest area of the islands. Its gory details were mind numbing.
Making fleeting appearance on TV news, the visibly shaken superintendent of police of the Raatehaar District read out a very short statement.
“We have already sent our additional police teams to rescue the survivors.” He cleared his throat and then added, “It’s too early to give you exact number of deaths in this cowardly attack.”
The retired top-cop honestly admitted the operational lapses, “In the Reds strong-hold areas, the police armoured vehicles and other police trucks draw unnecessary attention. So many a times our government forces move around in the local commercial buses. It is a tactical move to avoid direct confrontation with the Reds and to travel undetected. I have no idea how this highly secretive movement of forces was leaked to Reds. It highlights the massive intelligence failure on the part of the state government and the growing military might of the ambitious Reds. It’s extremely disturbing. This kind of setback pushes us back. It kills the morale of young soldiers.”
The top government forces official sounded more troubled by such violent incidents. He conceded, “With each passing day, it’s becoming far too challenging for us to handle.”
One of the political analysts summed up the grim reality, “Fear is a great motivator in this part of the world, and the Reds understand it. In fact, it is a centre-piece of their ongoing armed-war strategy. It is about who really controls these territories and the people on it. Everyone realizes that the Reds call the shots here. Such violent acts directly underlined the total breakdown of administrative control of the state government in its own territory. More so when such blatant acts of violence take place during the high-profile state assembly poll period in Adidweep.”
Surrounded by Z+ security cover in his fortress-like residence the Chief Minister Chatur Ji thundered, “It’s a war-like situation, but we won’t be cowed down. We vow to fight back.”
The news reporter made the closing remarks, “Red comrades have taken full responsibility for this ferocious massacre. Reportedly, they wanted to avenge the alleged assassination attempt on their Supremo Abhimanyu Ji. They have warned that more blood will be spilled in the islands in the coming weeks. This is just the beginning of their retribution.”
Deeply disturbed by the terrible news, Professor switched off the television and wondered aloud why one set of poor Indians kill another set of equally poor Indians. Like Red soldiers, these government soldiers too traced their roots to the equally poor sections of society, if not more. Why should one set of poor people take the lives of another? Maybe because the foot soldiers from both sides of the divide were caught in a complex situation, not entirely of their making. Both of them had to keep up the carnage going in order to survive in this cruel cycle of violence.
Will senseless bloodshed ever stop in Adidweep islands?
There were no easy answers. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander back in the time and space continuum to search for elusive clues into their lives.