Prashant Dayal (Deewal Part-82): There was an eerie sense of calm inside the barrack and the halogen lamp burning outside the barrack didn’t seem bright enough to fight the darkness outside. DIG Sinha’s mind was completely blank, that's when he spotted a guard standing at the gate of the barrack, with an eagerness to ask something. The guard asked if he could come in and Sinha signaled him with his hand to come inside. There was a bottle of mineral water in his hand which he offered to Sinha, who immediately took the bottle and chugged down the whole contents of the bottle. It looked as if Sinha has been thirsty for days. Soon he realized that the inmates too haven't had anything for the past few hours, especially Mohammed who has been speaking all the while. His throat might have dried by now, thought Sinha. He looked at the guard and asked him if he could bring some more water. The guard went out and brought in two more bottles of water, which Sinha handed over to the inmates. Sinha looked at the accused men as they quenched their thirst with the water. As the finished drinking, the guard was handed over the empty bottle, who immediately left the barrack and closed the gate behind him.

Sinha was now looking at Yusuf, who waited for the guard to leave. After he was ensured that there was no one inside except them, he said, “We were firm on our plan to escape, but on Saturday, a day before our escape, Parvez asked me that where would we go after breaking out of prison. This left me wondering. We were thinking about it the whole day. We had no hand in the blasts that happened in Ahmedabad, but we were still jailed for it. Till date, my daughter’s friends ask her if her father is a terrorist.” Yusuf began to weep again. He wiped off his tears and continued, “No one knows better than you that we are not terrorists. I am someone who immediately pulls the breaks of his scooter if I spot puppy in front of my vehicle. How can I kill humans?” Sinha had no words to say. Yusuf spoke further, “The stamp of terrorist on us would never go away. Wherever we go, that tag would follow us. I know your courts are never going to listen to us and it will send us to the gallows. I used to be scared of death first, but now that has gone away, I don’t know why. You can hang me to death today itself, no trial needed. I know my Mumtaz will grow up by her own”

Yusuf looked at Parvez, who picked up from where he left, “The plan was to escape through the tunnel on Sunday, but on Monday night Yusuf and I spoke to Major and informed him our thoughts. We told him that we’re not willing to escape like this. He tried to make us understand and convince us to change our thoughts. He was completely surprised by our stand. We put forth our arguments behind this decision to them. Probably no one slept that night. Next morning Major informed us that all this hard work behind digging this was not done for them to escape as they have no remorse for what they have done. They made the escape plan for us. Mohammed Bhai told us that they are not cowards to escape by leaving us here in the prison. Sir, every single person worked really hard to dig that tunnel but these men dropped their chances to escape to freedom just for us.” Sinha looked at each one of them in disbelief. Bringing an end to the conversation, Mohammed spoke, “Sir these two men are very brave. We’re here in front of you because of them. They might be uneducated and poor but are pure souls and true human beings. You can follow your law and whatever it says, I just wanted to tell you that these two innocent brothers of mine are here going through this punishment because of your ego. I called you in here, just to tell you this”

Sinha had no words to say. He got up and walked off, out of the barrack straight to his car. The constables and guards standing outside the barrack gate were surprised as Sinha left without giving them any instructions or orders. Sinha wanted to leave because had he stayed in the prison premises even for an extra minute, he might have broken down. It was 3 in the morning when he left the prison. He had told his driver to take him home. As the car sped through the empty streets, Sinha sat at the back, tears in his eyes. His driver couldn’t read Sinha’s expressions, probably because of the early morning darkness. Sinha was cursing himself for his decision taken nine years ago. He was not new to taking wrong decisions, but they were on the orders of someone else. But this decision of his was something which he had never expected to spiral out into something worse like this. Sinha usually never drank after joining the Gujarat cadre, but always had some whiskey in his cupboard. Upon reaching home, he hurried took out a glass and made a peg for himself. He finally couldn’t hold on to his tears any longer and he broke down. The glass in his hand felt heavier by every passing moment. He’d bring it near his lips but couldn’t take a sip. There was complete darkness in the room, but only a nightlamp was burning. Sinha sat next to the lamp with his glass of whiskey as tears rolled down his face.

This is the final part of the serialized novel Deewal, the Story of Sabarmati Jailbreak by eminent journalist Prashant Dayal, the editor of MeraNews.