Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Ambush

His name was Zeta, or atleast that’s what he was called in the Research and Analysis Wing. His work in the Indian Secret Service involved assassinating people involved in coveted operations against the Indian Republic. He had been involved in this work for the past 5 years; and for the better past of the last year, had been involved in the planning and execution of the assassination of a Pakistani ISI operative working under cover in India as a History professor in the Madras University. Zeta had reached the final part of the assignment- the actual hit, but had missed it- a first time in his whole career as an agent for the Organisation.

Protocol stated that he not have any oral communication with his source at the University, because of the risk involved in being caught in case of a combing of microwave-traffic. Hence, all communications were to be strictly electronic text messages transmitted back and forth via mobile phones at both ends of the agent-source setup. Zeta had made sure that the identities of both the SIM’s had remained completely anonymous and unknown outside the setup. This arrangement was supposed to be fool-proof, because no one would possibly run a trace on a random number. Doing so would be foolhardy and economically unviable, because it was practically impossible to intercept all the SMS’s in the air. But now, Zeta was having doubts about the secrecy, for he was sure that a breach had occurred in the setup, and that someone had intercepted the message from his source to him. The last message had been precise:

Target is to meet fellow ISI operatives at 2100 hrs today in the campus parking-lot.
Information confirmed by Stealth and Reconnaissance Team.

Zeta was supposed to take out the target in plain sight of his comrades. A sniper-rifle and associated kit had been deposited in a safe-house in the vicinity of the University. Zeta had picked out a stakeout 250 metres from the spot of the hit-to-be. He had, as was required, taken position 2 hours before the commencement of the meeting of the ISI operatives. He had waited in his position for the target to appear. But, no one had appeared. Instead, he had been ambushed by a group of men, whom he knew were ISI agents. Years of training had enabled him to escape alive from the spot, but he was mortally injured.

Now, as he lay bleeding in a temporary safe-house, he tried to second-guess what had happened. He supposed that either his source at the University had turned and betrayed him to the ISI, or the source had been captured by the ISI and interrogated. He did not believe though, that the former was possible. His source had worked with him for 3 years in 5 assignments. The latter was a possibility to reckon with. As he lay contemplating, an anchor’s voice drifted into his ears from the TV next room:

“…the CBI is yet to release a sketch of the gunman, yet. They found him hiding under a canopy of trees off the University, sporting an M52 rifle. The man is said to be seriously injured in the cross-fire, but he escaped alive from the spot. The CBI zeroed in on him while chasing the elusive brigand Jaggu. The CBI suspects that the sniper was an accomplice of Jaggu…”

Zeta swore loudly. So, his attackers were not the ISI. But, why hadn’t they appeared at their rendezvous? Had they been scared off by the CBI? That didn’t seem to be a possibility, because the CBI had got there only 15 minutes after the supposed beginning of the meeting. And then, suddenly Zeta felt that something was amiss. He checked the date of the message. It had been sent the previous day! He cursed the day he had given his source the CellOne SIM

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