*B. L. Dhar
Hyder Ali was a formidable force in the strategic planning of his activities that were known to all the extremist outfits around the world. He had been the chosen disciple of Osama Bin Laden and was his loyal follower until Osama’s death in 2016, four years ago. After remaining inactive for two long years it took him a good part of the next two years to plan the present activity that would put him back firmly in the saddle after a long absence from action. He remembered the days when things were hot and he was at the helm of affairs organizing all operations on behalf of Osama. It was a thrilling activity that kept him alive. Terror flowed like blood in his veins and without it he felt a forlorn man, inactive and helpless. Looking back at events he recalled the most vulnerable landscape where he operated and his association with
Even the best of diplomacy since 2010 did not bring any relief from a constant threat of terrorism in the Indian subcontinent. Some terror elements in the region were eliminated, many sacrifices recorded and adjustments made to smoothen issues that had dogged India and Pakistan for decades. India became the ground zero for all peace initiatives. It was for India to showcase its diplomatic prowess and the wherewithal to straighten its position in the international community as an emerging nation that believed in the Ghandian philosophy of live and let live. Though progress was achieved at all fronts in industry, agriculture, science and trade, the spending in military activities kept an upward pace leaving barely enough room for the economic activity to flourish. All adjoining nations were also making attempts to wean away from economic disasters. It was with good intent that India decided to hold the 75th celebrations of its Republic Day on the 26th January 2020 with all pomp and show. With a fragile peace in the region the display of military hardware was necessary to be showcased at the parade. On a positive note the impetus given to nation building activities would also be displayed for the world to see. All the states and union territories of India would display their culture that was the highlight of the parade just to indicate how multicultural and multilingual societies could coexist in a nation. There was a special display that India wanted the world to see at this event in furtherance of its military technology developed indigenously and scheduled for induction in the army after having successfully carried out all the required tests.
It was the nuclear tipped missile with a range of 9000 km and a load capability of three tons. It was aptly named “The Silver Mace”, the invincible weapon of Lord Shiva. No other country had optimized this kind of technology so far to match this record.
With a long period of inactivity the Terror Industry was once again trying to regroup and raise its ugly head. Hyder Ali wanted world attention the way Osama did during his lifetime and he in fact wanted it in the most devious possible means so that recognition would come quickly to him. It did not suit his temper to sit and watch as the world was on its way to the path of progress. As an astute planner he meticulously planned something that was given to him on a platter. The occasion for the 75th Republic Day celebration that India wanted to share with the world was a boon in disguise. He wanted to take center stage and world attention to the fact that earth after all was not a peaceful place to live in. In order to achieve his objective he perceived a plot of action that needed the support of someone who was adept at the kind of work he had in mind. He could have picked up anyone anywhere but he knew the abilities of one man Najib Obaid who lived in Somalia and was known as an expert in nuclear hardware.
Najib was the son of a Somali pirate and an Egyptian mother who was more pious than the river Nile on whose banks she had grown up. Her marriage to a pirate was more of an affair of the heart than a religion of life that she believed in. She became distraught after she learnt about the affairs of her husband and one day she deserted him and returned to her country leaving a two-year-old son behind with whom she felt no attachment. Najib grew in bad company and without any motherly support he grew more devious than his own father. It was eventually at age 17 that Najib became a terrorist after he left home and received training in the camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He came in close contact with Hyder during a few missions that were planned by Hyder and carried out by him either singly or jointly with help provided as the circumstance required. He married a Pakistani girl in Rawalpindi and carried her to Somalia from where he used to operate for anyone ready to pay his fees. He had no convictions and he had no religion and worst still he feared no one. He was observant and had learnt a few tricks of his trade that included the trigger mechanism of bombs, any make, including nuclear. He learnt his lessons in Pakistan where this technology was up for grabs for anyone who cared to pay for it.
It was nearly at dawn that Hyder showed up at the oasis and received his associate with a hug and a floating kiss. After an exchange of pleasantries the two set off towards the village where a room had been prepared for the guest. Najib was introduced to the rest of the party of a dozen hard-core fighters who accompanied Hyder on this tour. Towards evening all beans were split and the prospect of a re-engagement in trade seemed easy to establish. A dozen gimmel (fast racing camels) were procured and some travel gear that included sleeping bags, light tents and an assortment of food articles including sheep skins containing water for a long journey that would last about a week before changing transportation to horses and continue till entering Afghanistan a few days later. All public transportation would be shunned as far as practicable. Next day at sundown the journey to the East began that would eventually take them across the Arabian Desert through many international borders. No travel documents were necessary as the land under their feet belonged to them and they well knew how to avoid a challenge of their movements. However, the route of the journey was chosen carefully to avoid monitoring of their passage across the desert. They would travel only at night and during day they had friends enroute to shield them from prying eyes. The mission was so important to them that they tread every mile cautiously. Conversations were limited and plans never discussed in the open. The final assault would be finalized only after the party reached the border at the camp in Afghanistan where Sardar Hashim Abdullah would meet them.
The entry into the Indian State was scheduled at the border close to Kupwara village in Kashmir, where arrangements were already in place to ease them in. The party entering India had been downsized to only three people, Najib, Hyder and Hashim who should be in Delhi well before the Republic Day celebrations. The rest of the supporters would camp on the Pakistani side of the border close to Kupwara village, awaiting the return of the party after a successful mission. Najib was now fully armed with his tools of the trade besides his personal weapons and the rest of the team had conventional arms that all terrorists usually carry. They did not plan to strike any target in Kashmir, nor anywhere else and their minds were zeroed in on the assault they had meticulously planned on the 26th January at Rajpath. It was decided to cross the border at daytime, as it would be unsafe at night due to the night vision surveillance equipment installed by the Indians and infrared detection devices that were monitored all along the border. A diversion would be created by the Pakistani troops that would leave a gap for the trio to cross at the most difficult terrain where heavy snow would shield their movement and the path inaccessible to the Indian security. There was a satellite phone to help them remain in touch with each other and the handler was already in Delhi awaiting their arrival.
There was a slight drizzle a night before the Republic Day at Delhi and the parade route at Rajpath had a washed look, the winter fog having dissipated a week earlier. The morning air was crisp and the meteorological office had predicted a sunny morning that would give the people a chance to enjoy a fly-past and all the parade visuals that have become a significant spectacle for the last 74 years. At the venue at Rajpath barricades had been erected and seating arrangements made for people who paid to watch the parade at close quarters adjoining the podium where the President would take the salute. The non-paying public would stand downstream from India Gate along both sides of the road to watch the show. The entire neighborhood was sanitized and access to the area was through detectors and security checkpoints manned by the elite commandos of the army. A heavy police presence ensured that no untoward incident takes place at the show. All pass holders that included high government functionaries and media persons were screened and allowed entry after due verification of their antecedents. The traffic on the roads was totally shut down and no Metro service allowed operating during the function. But who would stop the trio from making a show? Unknown to anyone the trio had arrived from Kashmir a week ago and were all set with their plans that were given finishing touches in Afghanistan and the mode of operation firmed up with help available at Delhi itself. Actual operations would require only two of them to be at the site.
The underground tunnels linking the Metro that pass close to Rajpath are a buzz of activity throughout each day of operation and closed only for a very short period between 2 am to 4 am everyday. The tracks during the closure period are checked on routine basis and all required maintenance carried out by the staff holding a regular pass and wearing the uniform that tells them apart from the traveling public. A week before the parade was scheduled two people sneaked into the tunnel at the Parliament house station and hid themselves in the service areas to avoid detection. They had procured identical uniforms worn by the maintenance crew and wore ID patches that indicated regular crewmembers. For the actual groundwork Hyder had been stationed with the handler who would remain in constant touch with the two men inside. Information would be traded over the satellite phone only during the period 2 am and 4 am when the two would leave the area for the routine checks to be carried out by the maintenance crew and not make them suspicious. They would temporarily seal their digging done during the day with some patchwork that would raise no suspicion. During this period of inspection they would get close to the mouth of the Metro for communicating on their satellite phones, which was otherwise inaccessible in the deep recesses of the tunnel. They had a lot of work before the event and had dry rations to sustain them through hard labor required to achieve the objective. Pick axes and shovels were used to dig their way from the Metro track to the sewer line connected with the parade route at Rajpath, close to the saluting base.
An unreadable chatter from a satellite connection aroused the suspicion of the decoders at the RAW (Research & Analyses Wing) laboratory of the Intelligence Bureau close to the Parliament House. And the signals started two days ago at the same time every night and were in code that could not be deciphered. The matter was logged and reported to senior bosses who immediately arranged a crack team of decoders and a listening post established to keep a 24 Hrs watch. It was another two days until it was found that the signals were close enough for comfort. A tracking device triangulated the position of the two transmitters and a team was organized to make a ground surveillance of the area. Night watchers in and around the area finally zeroed in on the Metro tunnel on one side and a remote suburb Noida, 20 km away from where two simultaneous transmissions were heard indicating a contact between two parties unknown to the security personnel. The text could not be understood and there was no way to know the meaning of these transmissions. An alert about a possible diversion at the parade had been sounded earlier but no solid evidence was available. Before any decision could be taken in this matter it was decided to position a sniper unit of the Black Commandoes close to both locations from where the transmissions emerged.
It was right in time on the morning of 26th January that the breakthrough in the decoding of the satellite transmissions was achieved, barely hours before the parade route would be alive with the celebrations. Six Black Commandos entered the subway at the Parliament station and another six at Rail Bhavan and a dozen more positioned at the exit points at each place to seal off any escape attempt by the terrorists. About 20 more were deployed along Rajpath near the saluting base to protect the people at the function. All Commandos were in communication with each other on walkie-talkies. They wore special night vision glasses to track footprints in the underground and zeroed in on their hunt close to Rajpath. No alert was sounded in order to contain any scare but it was determined to delay the arrival of the VIP’s and special attendees and keep the general public at a safer distance till the all clear signal was sounded. The team leader detailed the sequence of action beforehand and all waited for a final go ahead signal.
The Commando force that entered the Metro at Rail Bhavan got the scent of the terrorist and followed in silent pursuit. Hashim was a bit negligent and missed to read clear signs of pursuit as he tried to raise Hyder Ali on his phone for a quick feedback of the events outside. A bullet entered his belly and a groan escaped his lips. Najib heard the commotion and took stock of the situation. In order that no giveaways were possible he removed his dagger from the sheath and slit Hashim’s throat to prevent his capture alive. He could not see any other person and had no need to enter into any conflict with anyone. Realizing the gravity of the situation he changed course of his movement in the direction of Parliament Street and thought of using Plan B to carry out the attack on Silver Mace at its parking site instead of at the saluting base as planned earlier. He ran the distance of about two kilometers carrying his detonators along. He remembered the sequence of the activation code of the trigger mechanism and the GPS coordinates of the target to finally unleash the nuclear warhead to strike in London at the site of the British Parliament. Unknown to him the six Commandos who entered the Parliament Station Metro were headed straight at him. They had found the narrow tunnel that was dug out to reach the parking site of the Silver Mace and no time was wasted to understand the target in sight that the module planned to attack. They did not know how many were in the group and fanned out in four different directions. They kept themselves in touch on walkie-talkies and strong beams of light emanated from their torches to light the way ahead.
Najib reached the site where the Silver Mace was stationed and soon got to work at its trigger mechanism and fed in the GPS coordinates for destination London. He had enough hatred for the British people and this was the time to take revenge. He estimated that the entire British island would be annihilated and no one would remain alive after the nuclear bomb strike. Some people that would be maimed in the explosion would finally die a dog’s death in matter of days. He was ready to sacrifice himself once his objective was achieved. He would attain martyrdom as well and the gates of heaven would open up for him to be welcomed by the “houris” for his excellent work in the upkeep of jihad. It was but certain that there would be a war cry from the rest of the world at the bombing of London considering that the British would be in no position to make any noise for there would be no one left alive to do so. India would be singled out for not taking appropriate measures for the safety of its nuclear arsenal and would probably face more flak and hatred from the nations worldwide. The country would be disgraced and divested of all its nuclear warheads and sanctions imposed by all the nations maiming its economy of which it was so proud. The Muslims across the world would unite to take up the issue of Kashmir and free the state from the Indian clutches. At last his brothers there would be free and would remain indebted to him all through the resurrection of the state as a new entity. The merger of Kashmir with the rest of the Muslim world would be then taken up in the second phase. Insha Allah.
The fuels used for the propulsion for satellites in the USA are based on Cryogenic Engines. Cryogenic Engines are rocket motors designed for liquid fuels that have to be held at very low "cryogenic" temperatures to be liquid - they would otherwise be gas at normal temperatures. Typically Hydrogen and Oxygen are used which need to be held below -423°F and -297°F to remain liquid. The engine components are also cooled so the fuel doesn't boil to a gas in the lines that feed the engine. The thrust comes from the rapid expansion from liquid to gas with the gas emerging from the motor at very high speed. The energy needed to heat the fuels comes from burning them, once they are gasses. Cryogenic engines are the highest performing rocket motors. When USA agreed to transfer its technology to India, the same was used in its PSLV program to launch its space vehicle that orbited the moon in 2009. In order to thwart an attempt by the neighboring nations to bully it, India’s own missile programs were later related to this technology. What ensued was the making of The Silver Mace that would be the delivery vehicle to carry its missiles close to 10,000 Kilometers. The Americans were taken into confidence in this mission and both had become wary of China in its bullying tactics. This was a cool program for both countries to let the Chinese see reason.
Najib’s knowledge was limited to conventional rocket motors that use solid propellant and the trigger mechanism designed differently. As he prepared to fiddle with it, warning signals were emitted by the launch pad that held the Silver Mace. The Commando force identified the location, zeroed in at the site and blew up Najib into smithereens before anyone would learn about his existence. Close to the parade route information was relayed that all was well and the function was held as per schedule with all guests at the parade unaware they were close to a terror plot that would be the end of India’s integrity. No one was even aware that a plot to tarnish India was contained with the capture of Hyder and his accomplice at Noida and the killing of two others close to the parade route. The fly past was a sight to behold and the world learnt about the birth of a new weapon called the Silver Mace
B.L. Dhar was born and brought up at Srinagar. He did his Master's Degree in Mathematics. For work he joined the Civil Aviation Department as a Gazzetted Officer and later shifted to a PSU, Airports Authority Of India from where he retired as a General Manager in the year 2000.
Since his retirement he has been writing articles and stories, some of which have appeared in Shehjar on a regular basis. He claims he loves writing right from his college days, but majored in Mathematics instead of English only as a challenge to his talent. He lives in Delhi with his wife, the children having moved over to the USA for work.
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Excellent narrative and good use of English language. Well done sir.
Added By BalKrishen Dhar