BREAKING NEWS: Conspiracy to bomb Asia’s and India’s richest man, Kuber
News anchors across channels hollered this news. ‘An abandoned car was found outside Mr. Kuber’s residence.
It was stuffed with explosives. A bomb squad, the Crime Branch, and the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) are present at the crime scene and investigation is on …’
Utter chaos ensued inside and outside the newsroom. Panicked individuals ran back and forth between desks as if the country itself was under threat. Screams and shouts, interspersed with expletives, added to the bedlam. The scene was similar across all news channels in the country as they relayed the breaking news of the hour.
Images and videos of siren-blaring police vehicles, Kuber’s photographs at his residence—Kuberia—stock footage of him, and the explosives-bearing vehicle being examined by a bomb squad dominated all TV screens.
About an hour ago, Aman Choudhury had driven into Kuberia in his impressive white Range Rover. Tall, with short white hair and a muscular build, Aman had barely crossed the gates of Kuberia when a file of security officers saluted him. The security personnel had already been informed of this suited and booted man’s arrival; the gates had been opened in anticipation. Kuberia was a symbol of opulent grandeur enjoyed only by three people: Kuber, his socialite wife, Meeta, and their young son, Dhruv.
Located in the poshest area of south Mumbai, adjacent to Peddar Road, it was an uber-luxurious multi-storeyed building that stood facing the sea majestically. It was home to India’s richest man, and crores and crores of rupees had been spent on it. From innumerable servants to multi-level parking, gardens, an in-house tennis court, a swimming pool, a movie theatre, an auditorium, and a banquet hall, Kuberia had it all. The interest surrounding this magnificent residence was so intense that the news of any threat to it continued to maintain
the top spot across headlines.
Having retired early from the R&AW (the Research and Analysis Wing), Aman had not only been the head of security of the Kuber family for decades but also their most trusted person. While Aman enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Kuber’s unbridled trust, Dhruv was another matter. His strange and adventurous ideas were often risky and put Aman in a tight spot. Currently, under Aman’s command were hundreds of trained and armed commandoes responsible for the security of the Kubers.
Kuber was a gracious host. On account of the numerous soirées and business meetings he hosted, Aman’s duty hours often extended till late into the night, which was why he usually reported working in the afternoon. Today was no different. As usual, Aman reached Kuberia in the afternoon and headed straight to the temple to pay obeisance to Ma Amba, after which he took in the specifics on the security front from his juniors. Post this, as per routine, a route parade followed wherein the security guards patrolled the roads within a two-kilometer radius of Kuberia. The roads were sanitized from a security point of view, with the objective of spotting suspicious persons or activity and addressing threats.
The upmarket area around Kuberia, Peddar Road in south Bombay, was the abode of the very wealthy. On an average, each family there owned at least two cars. There were families where each member had his or her own car, with some having a separate vehicle designated just for their pets. Cars priced in crores were often parked directly under the blue sky on this road and, for security reasons, the number plates and other information pertaining to the owners of these luxury vehicles were always with Aman’s security team.
Today, too, the patrol had commenced at the scheduled time. The buildings flanking both sides of the road, their balconies, the security guards manning the gates—Aman minutely scrutinized it all. His eyes scanned the cars parked on either side of the road as he slowly drove past the BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, Porsches, Jaguars, and the Scorpio. Something clicked in his mind.
He quickly reversed his car and gazed at the Scorpio. The registration number looked familiar. It belonged to one of the cars in the Kuberia fleet, but that vehicle was not a Scorpio. Unknowingly, his hand inched towards the Ma Amba locket around his neck. He quickly got his cell phone out and dialed a number. The call was disconnected. Aman dialed again.
The Gamdevi Police were the first to reach the scene, with other agencies following. Mumbai Police’s CIU (Crime Investigation Unit) trailed in just behind the local unit. Then came a bomb squad, followed by the ATS and the IB (Intelligence Bureau). Even the officer of the CPF (Central Police Force) who had granted Kuberia Z+ category security descended on the scene. In short, people who had no reason to be there also arrived to partake in a slice of the action. An uncalled-for ambulance and fire brigade joined the melee, too.
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Curious residents began to gather on their balconies to get a view of the happenings below. Some even started recording on their phones, unaware that just one phone call had led to an enormous gathering of invited and uninvited authorities outside Kuberia. The hullabaloo made Inspector Andhle’s head spin for a second. His three decades of experience in the police force came to his rescue.
As in charge of the local police station, he knew that the media would follow soon. He was aware that his role in the case would be limited to registering the case, which would most likely be passed on to the CIU, ATS, or another agency for investigation. His role would slip to that of a host, whose only job would be to ensure a seamless supply of tea, snacks, and mineral water for the officers, along with managing traffic at the scene.
The bomb squad that had arrived minutes ago thoroughly recced the Scorpio and then proceeded to open it. What they found inside was troubling. A Jay Bharti pink jersey and a bag bearing the Jay Bharti logo were in the boot. Jay Bharti was a PCL (premier cricket league) team from Jaipur owned by Kuber. During the premier league matches, a host of parties had been organized for the players at Kuberia. But the tournament had not begun—it was one and a half months away—so why the jersey and bag?
This excerpt is taken from the book CIU: Criminals in Uniform with Permission from HarperCollins Publishers India and the Authors Sanjay Singh and Rakesh Trivedi.