Shivanna is a roadside tea vendor who was known for his funny gestures and respect towards regular customers. As always, he had some new visitors. One of them thought that Shivanna would not know English and kept on talking to someone on the phone about something.
As soon as this visitor left, Shivanna called up the police control helpline number and said, “Sir. I’m calling from M.G.Road. I sell tea here on the roadside. Though I never did schooling, I learnt English in my childhood when my mother was working for an English lady. Very few people know that I can speak and understand English. I had this visitor today who also thought that I do not know English. He was talking to someone on phone. In his own words – I got all the equipment ready. Get ready with the people for the plan on Independence Day. Let us seek the revenge that we were planning for a long time. The ammunition has already been placed. The triggers need to be assembled. I need the help of at least four people. We have only two days left.”
The police officer on call recorded the information received and alerted his boss and more people about this strange and weird piece of information.
Radheshyam worked as a taxi driver. After finishing his graduation, he struggled hard to get a job. But, he never got a good job. Going by his name, many people thought that he hailed from Gujarat or Delhi. And, he did not look like a Tamilian. He was as fair as any North Indian guy. Today, he had two strange people in one of his rides. He had to drop them off at the central bus station. He talked to them in English and Hindi. He heard them planning something in Tamil and acted as if he did not understand any of their words. He would often plug in his ear phones without any music playing in them. That habit helped him this day, too.
As soon as he dropped the passengers, he called the police control helpline number and told them, “I had two passengers today who did not know that I understood Tamil. They were planning something dangerous. So, I thought it is my responsibility to share with you. They were planning about some bomb attack near Airport road on Independence Day. The Chief Minister of the state is expected to visit a school on this road. And, they are planning to bomb the school before or after the visit depending on the situation.”
The officer on call recorded all the information received and asked the cab driver to come to the police headquarters and help the police authorities by identifying the passengers. After the call, the officer shared the details with his boss and other key people in the department.
Swetha Hariharan is a school teacher. She was shopping in a clothes store when she overheard two men talking about a bomb attack near Airport Road. She immediately called the police helpline and informed about them. She was asked to report to the police headquarters and help the cops in identifying them.
The cops received two more calls about a possible terror attack that they have heard from two men.
Navdeep Singh, the police commissioner of the city was confused about the calls received. He went through the information received and asked his subordinate, Santosh, to investigate about these phone calls and find out if it was a hoax affair or if there was something more to this. Navdeep summoned another officer, Varun, to find out about all the callers and do a background check about them. Navdeep did not want to take any chance. Meanwhile, he also got in touch with their regular sources of information for all terrorist related activities. These sources were bewildered at the latest reports. The people who regularly gave them information about possible terrorist attacks were baffled by these calls as they did not see any rise in terrorist activities. These turn of events confused Navdeep. But, he wanted to wait for a few hours to hear further from Santosh and Varun about the phone calls.
Unknown to the police authorities, the media already received information about possible terror attacks in the city on Independence Day. News channels started showing news and frightening people. Unrest started spreading across the city.
Navdeep Singh got a call from the Home Minister who asked him to sort out this issue at the earliest.
Varun came to meet Navdeep Singh after a few minutes. Varun said, “I did some background checks on all the people who called us about the terror threats. They are all normal people going about with their normal daily routines. None of them have any criminal records or any connections to terrorist organizations.”
This piece of information did not help Navdeep much. He wished they all had something common. After telling this, Varun did not leave the room as he normally does.
Navdeep said, “Is there something more to this that you want to tell me? You would have left already. Please tell me even if you think that I might shrug off that idea.”
Varun replied, “You guessed it right, sir. I have some piece of information about them that might seem to be too absurd. All these five people were stranded in an elevator yesterday evening for nearly an hour with two other men. I know it makes no sense. But, only these five people were there in that lift at that time. Though it sounds absurd, I wonder if there is something strange that happened in the lift yesterday.”
Navdeep was tired of these indirect references. He asked, “Can you come straight to the point? I will not dismiss your consideration. I’ll summon at least one person to investigate this matter in that angle. I’ll assure you of that much.”
Varun said, “Hynosis. I feel that these five people were hypnotized in the lift yesterday by two young men and that prompted them to make calls to the police control at the same time today afternoon. All of them called at the same time and shared the same piece of information. Though the situations changed while they shared this piece of information, the main story and theme seems to be the same.”
Navdeep Singh thought about this and said, “How will someone benefit by doing such a silly thing? Isn’t it equal to a prank call? What are they trying to achieve by this?”
Varun said, “The other interesting finding is that none of these people remember being stuck in the lift yesterday. It is erased from their memory. When we tracked their presence over the last one week, we found out that all of them were there at this mall yesterday. And, we ran through the video footage available through the surveillance cameras there and found that they were all trapped in the lift. The camera in the lift stopped working two minutes after the lift stopped midway to suggest that someone used a signal jammer.”
Without seeking permission, Santosh walked into Navdeep’s cabin and said, “We have a situation here. We received seven more calls from people talking about the same bomb attack near Airport Road. But, there was some problem with security forces on the other side of the city for the last two days. Usually, we get this problem before any terrorist activity or during peak holiday season or during a natural calamity such as heavy cyclone. So, this leaves us confused.”
Navdeep asked Varun to share his findings with Santosh.
After listening to everything, Navdeep said, “Is someone trying to divert our attention? Are there any major events planned on that day?”
Santosh said, “My wife works for an IT company. She said that her colleagues and many people from various IT companies are planning a protest march on Independence Day against the Government regarding some human rights issues. They did not want to inform police in advance. The last time they did, we rejected their application citing some security reasons. They want to get permission saying that it is a small gathering. And, then, they plan to add more people. I did not think that this was gaining momentum. But, now, I can see the connection. The place where they are planning to protest is in the center of the IT hub and they plan to gather at least ten thousand IT employees on that day.”
They could quickly connect the dots. After further investigation, they came to know that this entire thing was planned by a new terrorist outfit to kill the maximum number of IT employees at one place. The phone calls were part of their operation to divert the attention of the police to Airport Road. It would take at least three hours for the cops to reach the other end of the city where the actual bomb attack was planned.
Navdeep and his team thwarted the plans of this new terrorist outfit. It took them three weeks to pin down the originators of the protest and the people who hypnotized innocent people and made use of them.