I was nervous. As instructed, I boarded the New Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express. I located the coach and seat number marked in the ticket I have been sent. Just as I was about to sit, I noticed a piece of paper under my seat. It read “Don’t Leave” in big letters. I crumpled the paper and sat down. Ten minutes till departure. My thoughts jumbled in my head. Just as the horn blew, I rushed out with my briefcase.
I exited the station, ran madly, jumped into a cab, and told him, “CBI headquarters. Hundred rupees if you really rush”. The driver smiles and takes off. I kept nervously glancing at the window and thought a motorbike was following us. That thirty-minute ride was the longest I have ever taken. Just as we were reaching Lodhi Road I paid off the cabbie and ran out even as he was screeching to a stop.
A man in a trench coat got out of the motorbike not even bothering to park it properly and rushed at me. With a cortisol rush, I rudely pushed him down, entered the building, and reached the office of the Chief Inspector taking the staircase, skipping steps.
CI Deshmukh smiled at me and greeted, “what have you got for me, my young friend?” I gasped, “Chief, I am being followed. Danger!” Without wasting even a second, Deshmukh warned the security of an imminent threat and requested armed guards at his office.
“What is going on, Pandey?” barked the chief.
“I was set up. My girlfriend from college turned out to be a foreign spy. They had compromising photographs, recorded conversations, messages, the whole lot. I had been sent a ticket to Amritsar with instructions to take the file of the local minister I was investigating for espionage. I was to hand it over at Kundan Dabha exactly at 3.00 pm today. I was scared for the safety of my parents and family and decided to obey them. Just as I was about to occupy my seat, I found a note that warned me not to leave. That shocked me to my senses. Here I am. You have to help me, Chief.”
Without a word, Deshmukh arranged for my parents to be moved to a safe house. He took me to the Assistant Commissioner. We were closeted for almost two hours.
I was placed under arrest and lodged in a cell at the CBI headquarters. Word has leaked to the media that a potential spy was under custody.
I was pacing nervously in my cell as sleep eluded me. Precisely at 3 am, Deshmukh took me out, “Sudhir, you are on your own. I am taking you to our special operations unit. They will change your appearance and provide you with false Ids and supporting documents. It is for you to get your girlfriend and break the spy ring. You can call on any resources you want.”
I succeeded spectacularly and got the police medal for gallantry.
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