They say dead men do tell tales. But here was one who did. A black curtain blocked his view, but not his stentorian voice. They said he was a holy man loaded with strange, mystic powers. He could see things that were happening afar, and he could travel far and wide, miraculously.
It was December 1962. The “holy man” was going back and forth in time for the benefit of his surprise visitor in a run-down structure in a deserted Shiva temple complex somewhere in Uttar Pradesh.
Transported there, you could have taken a close look at the visitor and not found any trace of daredevilry on his bespectacled face. You couldn’t have imagined that that frail-looking man had spent years risking his life for his people and their freedom. How one day, deserting his wife and young children he escaped to South East Asia to be with his Leader.
And as soon as the deep voice from behind the curtain resonated my intelligence officer, the past flickered past the of Dr Pabitra Mohan Roy.
Riding on a Japanese submarine, he had returned to Indian as an INA secret service man in 1944. But his mission was doomed by betrayal. A fast track trial under the Enemy Agents Oridnance against Pabitra, fellow spy Americk Singh Gill and Haridas Mitra, who had dared to shelter them, commenced in May and by June end their execution orders were out. The sentence was eventually commuted as Mahatma Gandhi was approached for intervention by Haridas’s wife Amtia, niece of Subhas Chandra Bose.
In the Shiva temple complex, on that spooky night, Pabitra Mohan Roy was convinced that he was talking to Bose, preseumed dead for the past 17 years. Your Dead Man-as the voice said.
Those were the days of the tumultuous aftermath of the India China war-the blow that took out Gandhian considerations from India’s national security calculus. Suddenly the lawmakers and the man on the street alike wished Netaji was there. The Intelligence Bureau had actually intercepted propaganda the Bose was alive and aligned with the Chinese somehow. Was it a case of psywar or there was something more to it?
Not too long age, Congress leaders had spoken disapprovingly of the military as they swore by ahimsa, the magical weapon they insisted had defeated the greatest empire in history. One of the most outspoken among them, JB Kripalani, had sided with Gandhi against Bose in 1939 and so had Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime Minister in 1962.
Reflecting on the bitter past, Subhas’s college buddy Dilip Kumar Roy expressed outrage because his friend had been “asked to eat humble pie and beg the high command to forgive him, when the boot was on the other leg” all because he had “the courage of his conviction and said openly that he did not believes in the cult of non-violence”.
I do not believe in vishwaprem (love for the world). It is bunkum, Dead Man often said.
Left to Nehru and Kripalani, the Indian Army might as well have been disbanded in 1947. The following absurdity is attributed to the former: “Our policy is ahimsa. We foresee no military threats. Scrap the army! The police are good enough to meet our security needs.” The latter actually went on to complain in 1958 in Parliament that “in a non-violent India the last thing the Government would contemplate would be an increase in the military budget”.
The Chinese did us a favour by pushing us from the dream world into the real world. Dead Man called them 100% correct students of Maharshi Kautilya.
Do you know what is the greatest misfortune of India? He asked once.
No military seer for the last two thousand years! No national military thinking for the last thousand years!
The holy man gave Pabitra a surreal lowdown on his “post death” activities. The ghost of the dead had been floating in and floating out of India, appearing in different place like Erebus, the Greek god darkness.
For Mother Bengal’s sake and for the sake of my entire trust in you, do not get startled or perturbed, he comforted bewildered pabitra. He alluded to a very vast region (not excluding portions of the Himalayas) where he enjoyed completely unhindered freedom. The concerned governments considered those regions as “dead”, of no use to anyone.
Dead Man directed Pabitra to arrange for and bring to him some assorted items: A chronometer wristwatch which must give absolutely correct time, without fluctuating a second; a pair of binoculars which must be most powered, longest range, utmost clarity, to be used by hands only ; a transistor, extremely powerful in shortwave and midwave; cigars and a Fowler’s dictionary.
Why did he need such a transistor?
It is meant for listening to their cipher messages. I knew their cipher codes. At present these are sent to me by registered post and couriers, for getting them deciphered. These methods are very riskey.
One very learned scholar, a Siberian Deputy of Supreme Soviet, several times requested me to get it for him. He can never dream of getting it licitly there (you know the reasons). He shall then become a ‘suspect’. He has become very attached. And he is a very great help to your Dead Man.
Everything that the holy man told Pabitra after their “reunion” had an ineffable air of mystery about it.
When your Dead Man was in Berlin, a great German doctor-scientist became very very friendly-affectionate and attached…. And in the course of his talks, he said that in his lab he found that Radar beam particles do not bounce back if they strike “…”, and the doctor felt astonished. That doctor could not inform any of the government agencies or other scientists. He was a bombing raid casualty.
....In one secret place, your Dead Man tested about the truth of that German scientist’s findings, and, he found it to be 100% fact. Particles of beams, directed at a point blank range, on “something” did not bounce back… Even now, the scientists of the Great Powers are feverishly trying to find out some means to avoid Radar detection.
Unlike hard-boiled Pabitra, Durga Prasad Pandey hadn’t been trained to put up with secrecy. The small time lawyer whose sheepish look concealed his astuteness was never at peace after coming to know the big secret of the unfriendly neighborhood holy man. Pandey spent months in summoning courage, gathering his wits and then wrote a letter in measured words in English as he knew it.
“An old and very religious ex-revenue officer late Sri Jawala Misra Vakil Basti told me as to your identity while breathing his last keeping full confidence in me to maintain the secrecy of this vital secret.”
“Truth can’t be pressed in, it abruptly comes out. You had been an ex-ICS officer… January 23 was celebrated as your birthday.” Pandey’s imploring met with a response:
I am a bonafide dashnami sanyasi and you will know that a man under the holy orders incurs death according to the civil laws and a sanyasi is dead to his former life…
As an afterthought, Dead Man added:
In passing, you shall find cogent answers to all your hypotheses, queries, thoughts… both as expressed in your heart calmly, quietly, lovingly. Every word, phrase, sentence and their constructions are pointers for you, they are pregnant with possibilities. Seek and thou shall find.
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