10 Operation Checkmate
'Is this the residence of the Home Secretary?'
'Is he there? Home Minister Jagannath Rai will speak to him.'
'One second, Sir. I will pass the line to Home Secretary Sahib.'
'Hello. Baglay speaking.'
'One second, Sir. Minister Sahib will come on the line.' Beep. Beep. Beep.
'Good afternoon, Sir. I am sorry, Sir, I couldn't call you in the morning. My fax wasn't working. But now I have the data. Since yesterday we have had seven cases of murder. Two dacoities have been reported from Hardoi and Moradabad. There have been four rape cases in Azamgarh, Bahra-'
'I am not interested in your daily crime report, Gopal. I am calling you about something much more important. Tell me, have you heard of an American film called Donchi?'
'Maybe Vinchi… Vinchiko?'
'Do you mean The Da Vinci Code, Sir?'
'Yes, yes. That is the film. Have you seen it?'
'Yes, Sir. It's rather good.'
'I want you to immediately ban this film in Uttar Pradesh.'
'Ban it? But, Sir, this film is quite old. It has already completed its run.'
'Doesn't matter. Just ban it. I am told that it has offended the Christian community in the State. It makes all kinds of wild allegations, like Jesus was having an affair with some prostitute. How can we allow such films to be screened?'
'Don't you think you should see the film, Sir, before we ban it?'
'Since when has it become necessary to watch a film before banning it? Don't we ban books all the time without reading them?'
'But Sir, there are other issues, such as freedom of speech. Article 19 of the Constitution-'
'The Constitution be damned, Gopal. Hardly anybody reads in this State. Who has time to read the Constitution? Have you read the full Constitution?'
'Er… No, Sir. May I ask, Sir, who mentioned this film to you?'
'It was Father Sebastian. He is a good man. I like Christians. They are such nice, docile people. Always dressed immaculately and they speak such wonderful English. He told me that if I ban the film our party will get some Christian votes in the local elections. That can do us no harm. But I don't want to lose other votes into the bargain. So tell me, if we ban this film will the Hindus in the State be unhappy?'
'I don't think so, Sir.'
'Will the Muslims be unhappy?'
'Will the Sikhs be unhappy?'
'Then there is no problem at all. Just ban the wretched film. It is my order.'
'As you say, Sir. I will have the gazette notification issued today.'
'I believe you have still not carried out my instructions regarding that Superintendent of Police Navneet Brar. As long as I am the Home Minister he is not to be given any medals or awards.'
'Sir, I wanted to discuss this with you. Navneet Brar is a very meritorious officer. He has single-handedly liquidated two major Naxalite outfits operating on the India-Nepal border. If we remove his name from the State Republic Day Gallantry Award winners, it might demoralize the police force and-'
'Gopal… Gopal… Who is the Minister, you or me?'
'You, of course, Sir.'
'And who gives the orders, you or me?'
'Then carry out my order this very minute. Otherwise from tomorrow you will not be Home Secretary but Secretary of the Child Welfare Council. Understood?'