St. John’s Hospital, UK
“All you have to do is to give us a tiny scrap of tissue . . .” The voice over the telephone was cold but persuasive.
“What will you do with it?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“How much will you pay for this tissue?”
“Fifty thousand dollars.” Silence followed the words.
“You there?” The doctor said hastily.
“I need time to think.”
“A hundred thousand dollars or we shall contact someone else in the hospital, tonight. Yes or no?”
“Yes.” The doctor said quickly.
* * *
Early next morning, a man dressed as a ward boy, entered the hospital. He headed straight to room No. 12 of that hospital and knocked it gently.
“Come in,” said a voice.
The man entered the room. “Is the consignment ready?”
“It’s here in the flask.”
“Give it to me.”
“First the money.”
“I have it here.”
The money and the flask exchanged hands.
“I have figured out finally what you will do with this tissue,” the doctor smiled as he saw the man put the flask in his bag.
“What do you think we are going to do with it?”
“Let me guess. This tissue belongs to a very famous nuclear physicist. The kind of money involved suggests just one thing – cloning. You plan to use the live tissue for cloning! Am I right?”
“You were. Past tense,” said the man.
Quite suddenly, the man pinned down the doctor. The doctor tried to scream, but the man clamped his mouth. In less than thirty seconds, the doctor slumped on the table.
Fifteen minutes later, a nurse in the hospital noticed the limp body of the doctor. She felt his pulse. He was dead. She screamed for help.
Office Of Pan-Biotech, In A Remote Area in Germany
The security officer accompanying the man in the black suit, removed the mask from his face. The man rubbed his eyes and screwed them to focus his vision as he had trouble in adjusting to the harsh lights of the office.
“What brings you here?” The Chief of Pan-Biotech asked.
“We need a clone, and someone introduced us to your contact.” The man in the black suit said.
“Whose copy is it which you want?”
“Someone really important, I am afraid.”
“You wouldn’t come to us, otherwise.”
“A clone of the Prime Minister of India. Do you have it?”
“I’ll show you a copy we have. See if it suits your purpose,” The chief of Pan-Biotech said. Then he typed a command on the keyboard. In less than fifteen seconds, the computer flashed an image of the Indian Prime Minister on the screen.
“That’s the P.M.!” The man remarked. “But these are images of his youth. How does your clone look like, now?”
The Chief of Pan-Biotech smiled at the man’s naivete. “We generally clone an imminent personality the moment he or she shows signs of becoming someone important or great in the eyes of the world. Obviously, this clone, when we make it in our lab, is an infant while the real person is making his or her name in the world. Our copy is thirty years younger to your Prime Minister.”
“Then it isn’t going to work. We cannot pass off this man even with a disguise. It is too risky. Besides it would need the services of a make up specialists every day for hours and this cannot be done without raising suspicions about why a seventy-five-year old man should need the services of make-up people.”
“Disguises are risky proposals in the present world which demands perfection,” the Chief of Pan-Biotech said summarily. “No, we will give you a foolproof match.”
“We will first make the clone bald. Then we will sew on his head, the colour and texture of hair that matches exactly with the premier’s present hair. We will then match the clone’s facial features with the aged looks of your Prime Minister. We will starve him, expose him alternately to heat and cold, and steam his face so that he develops wrinkles. Later, helped with plastic surgery, distinguishing between the copy and the original will be impossible.”
“What about the dentures?”
“We will modify them too. Since the P.M. of India is toothless, we shall extract all the teeth of the copy and fit dentures that are identical to the P.M.”
“And the limp?”
“A simple operation in which we will shorten the bone of the right leg of the clone by an inch.”
“How long will all this take?”
“One month at the most.”
“What will motivate your clone to suffer so much? Money?”
“Fear. We have complete control over him. We have to manage our assets properly for them to be useful to the people we sell them. Otherwise, they are useless. You forget he is one of the many clones of very important people we have developed in Pan-Biotech. Today, you name any important leader, athlete, scientist, surgeon, singer in the world and we will probably have his or her copy.”
“Your mention about the singer reminds me…”
“Of Jenny Smith.”
“Yes, her. Rumours claim that she died in that motor accident but…”
“But she is alive!” The Chief chuckled.
“Surviving that accident was impossible. I heard that the record company paid you to resurrect her from the dead. She represents profits of millions of dollars.”
“Jenny’s story is very interesting. But this is not the day of finding the truth behind it. Maybe sometime later in history, but certainly not today. We do not divulge confidential information.” The Chief said evasively.
“Where do you get the material to generate the clones?”
“We have our own channels. Celebrities need to go to doctors for surgery, dental work, operations, laboratory tests etc. Money and a little persuasion can buy the ethics of even the best of the doctors…”
“So these clones really are your prisoners.”
“We call them our intellectual properties.”
“I am convinced, but what makes you sure that this clone will obey our orders?”
“After you confirm your order, this copy will undergo a severe mental alteration programme. We will programme him to obey whatever you say and want him to do. Just in case he decides to deviate, we have inserted several electronic gadgets in his body. The use of a remote control, which you will come to possess, will cause extreme distress. The possibility of experiencing extreme pain, violent epileptic tremors and bleeding will force the clone to obey your command. If he still decides to disobey your orders, we will exercise the option to kill him.”
“What if he is not very cooperative? I mean what if we are forced to kill him?”
“You shall get a second copy, free of cost.”
“Why the generosity?”
“It’s not generosity, but confidence in the compliant nature of our products.”
“Still, do you have another copy?” The man was surprised.
“The kind of money that these products demand ensures that we have at least two copies. In the past, there have been accidents, death of clones who tried to escape, suicides etc. We don’t take any chances.”
“What of those copies whom you think are important but they turn out to be unimportant. Like a promising politician whose career ends because of a scandal or maybe even natural death or death by accident?”
“We dispose that clone.”
“You are very clinical and ruthless in your approach. Even by our standards.”
“Depends on how you view a clone. To us, a clone is a product that exists because of our own research and effort. We have complete rights over it, just like other companies that manufacture ‘dead products’ like television, transistors etc.”
“What is the cost of this product of yours?” The sarcasm in the buyer’s voice was unmistakable.
“Two billion dollars.”
“How much in advance?”
“When do we get the delivery?”
“Within a month.”
“You will get the first instalment by tomorrow.”
“We shall isolate this clone for you then.”
“This deal should be strictly confidential.”
“Every country would hound and eliminate us if we were not discreet.”
The meeting was over.
Again, a security officer threw a black mask over the face of the buyer as he prepared to escort him out of the office of Pan-Biotech.
“You don’t trust me.”
“Ours is a completely illegitimate operation. We cannot afford to have the word trust in our dictionary.”
******** (Undisclosed Country)
The passport officer scrutinized the man with a huge crop of hair and large, thick spectacles. Something about the man sounded phoney. However, the passport was in order.
“Mr. Radhey Shyam Gupta?” Asked the officer.
“That’s my name.”
“Come here to see the country?”
“To visit my cousin also.”
The officer smiled. “It’s a good season to be here Mr. Gupta. Have a nice holiday.” He stamped the passport, satisfied with Mr. Gupta’s replies.
Mr. Gupta walked out of the airport. A car was waiting for him.
“Your delay at the passport counter made us nervous,” said the man who had been waiting for him.
“Shall I take off the disguise? It is extremely uncomfortable,” said the clone of the P.M. of India who had passed off as Mr. Gupta.
“No. It is still too risky. You will wait till we reach headquarters.”
The clone sighed and resigned himself to some more discomfort.
in the black suit
National Highway No. 4, India
The P.M. was on his way to meet the victims of a steel plant, which had caught fire, escorted by his security. Two hundred people had died and another 500 injured in the devastating industrial fire.
At a remote spot, the road beneath the cars exploded, killing the Prime Minister and all his security instantaneously.
Quickly, three people rushed the clone of the P.M. from their car which they had hidden from view. They had deliberately injured and made the clone to bleed from several places to make him look like a credible survivor. They removed the body of the dead Prime Minister and left the clone along with the wreckage.
Quickly, the three men drove away into the night.
Near the suburb, one of the men got down and dialled a number from a telephone booth to a news agency. This man who posed himself as a member of a Pakistani-based terrorist outfit suspected to enjoy the support of Pakistan’s ISI, claimed responsibility for the attack on the PM’s life.
“We shall not rest until Kashmir becomes the rightful part of Pakistan. We promise many more violent incidents,” shouted the man into the receiver, before he slammed it down. He gave a signal of thumbs up to his colleagues and flashed a smile.
All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (A.I.I.M.S.), New Delhi
“The PM is out of danger. He is going to survive,” The Chief Medical Officer of AIIMS told the reporters. “Still, we would like to keep him under observation to rule out any internal injuries.”
The whole nation was glad that the P.M. was alive. It was a miracle. Only he had survived while everybody else had died.
The Prime Minister’s Office, India
It was an emergency, all party meeting convened by the PM. The violence in Kashmir had stepped up to alarming levels. As always, the same group claimed responsibility for the terrorist acts emphasising that the violence would continue until Kashmir became a part of Pakistan.
“For a long time we have offered the option of peace to our neighbour. Yet they have perceived our peace initiatives as a sign of weakness.” The P.M. addressed the meeting. “These terrorists, aided by Pakistan, have become so bold that they tried to destabilize this country through my assassination. This has to end or our neighbour will become bolder and bolder with each incident. In the past, I was the one who had ruled out the idea of a limited war. Today I am asking all of you to consider it as unavoidable. We have to give them a response that will show them we wont accept their hostile attitude, indefinitely.”
The P.M. persuaded everyone through his forceful arguments that Pakistan had crossed all limits and the time had come to tackle the situation with a limited war, meant to flush out terrorists across the borders. Except for a few voices of protest, everyone endorsed the PM’s idea.
Line Of Control, India-Pakistan Border
The first of the Indian warplanes crossed the line of control and bombarded the terrorist outfits in Pakistan.
Pakistan retaliated by launching a full-scale war with India.
Again the country’s most prestigious newspaper office received an anonymous call. The caller said that Pakistan, under the fear of losing the war was seriously considering the use of a nuclear first strike option.
It merely confirmed what was always believed to be the official line maintained by Pakistan for years.
The news stirred a panic throughout India. Indian stock markets crashed and many people began to leave the metropolitan cities in the fear that they would be the first target of attack.
Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, India,
The P.M. sat huddled with senior intelligence officers and the Chief of the armed forces.
“You think there is a possibility of Pakistan using the first strike option?” The P.M. questioned the Chief of Intelligence.
“I cannot say for sure. We have no evidence . . .”
“When shall we have the evidence? When our cities start burning? After they reduce our country to another Hiroshima?” The P.M. said angrily.
The Intelligence Chief remained silent.
“What do you expect us to do, Sir? In the circumstances?” Asked the Chief of Army.
“What do you think should we do?” Retorted the P.M.
“A pre-emptive nuclear strike? At Pakistan’s nuclear facilities?” Suggested the Naval Chief.
“What? India a nuclear aggressor? It is against our stated nuclear policy.” Another intelligence officer objected. “What will we say to a hostile world after using the first strike option?”
“The same that Pakistan will claim, if they opt for the first strike. That they did this because it was necessary. Based on the intelligence that they had gathered.” The P.M. said as he walked to the window, facing away from the officers. This was a crucial test for the clone. He had to say what he was about to say convincingly. Or he faced the threat of death from those who had complete control over him.
“Yet our intelligence has no indications that Pakistan is about to use the nuclear option.”
“What about the phone call? I think the newspapers know better than our intelligence does.” Remarked the P.M.
“It could be a hoax call, meant to create panic in India.”
“Was Kargil a hoax too? Our intelligence agencies had no clue about the Kargil war. However, the entire world knew about it. The USA believes that a nuclear war is imminent in the region. The UK had intercepted a call between the Military Chief of Pakistan and its P.M. in which they discussed the use of a first strike. Now that they are losing heavily, can we trust them to use restraint? Moreover, should they use the option, what answer will I give to the people of this country? That we miscalculated Pakistan’s intent of using nuclear bombs.” The P.M. said sarcastically.
“Sir, I too think we must use the first strike if India is to survive this war,” the Chief of Navy said. “I don’t deny that if a nuclear war breaks out, the aggressor will have a huge advantage. Besides, Pakistan’s nuclear missiles are more advanced than ours. Then we must consider another thing….” The Naval Chief hesitated.
“What is it?”
“That if they decided to use the first strike option, they will not stop at a single nuclear bomb. They will simultaneously launch three to four nuclear bombs, aimed either at our nuclear installations or major metropolitan cities, to achieve a strategic advantage. Then, India will lose most of the war initiative it has gained so far. Also, it will push us back economically by at least thirty years while the death toll and destruction to our resources and assets will be anybody’s guess. We simply cannot afford to have an optimistic attitude in which we assume that the enemy will not opt for a nuclear attack.”
“But no one will win this war. Both countries will be losers,” the Chief of the Air force intervened. “To me it hardly matters which country uses the first strike option. Both countries will pay a heavy price. The country that doesn’t use the first option will at least have the advantage of world sympathy…”
“Of what worth will the world sympathy be for us when we would have already paid heavily with a huge death toll and a terrible loss in economy?” The P.M. retorted. “You forget that when the US roasted Japan there was an outcry but what happened of it? Japan was severely crippled and suffered immense damage. It won the sympathy of the world. However, did the rest of the world ostracize USA for the brutal way it had killed Japan’s citizens? No, the world’s memory was conveniently short. The scenario in the subcontinent is different. Everyone is aware that a nuclear war is a definite possibility. It is only an academic exercise as to when it will start or who will start it. But if Pakistan launches five to six nuclear bombs, like the Chief of Navy just said, which I believe it will do, then we won’t be much of India left to defend or retaliate.”
“Then are you suggesting that we go in for the first use option?”
The PM turned to face the officers. “I don’t think we have a choice.” He drew a deep breath and then said clearly and assertively, “I, the Prime Minister of India, chose to exercise the option that solely rests on me. I accept complete responsibility of this decision.”
“It’s your decision then,” the Chief of Air Force remarked, almost glad that the burden of the decision to opt for the first strike did not weigh on his conscience.
* * *
Outside the office, they walked in silence.
“What do you make of it?” The Chief of Army whispered.
“I think it is an invitation to untold death, destruction and misery. But no quotes. The PM is very angry and militant since the attack on his life. However, diplomatically he should have overlooked the attempt. He started this war and now he has just announced that he intends to use the first strike. Is he the same peace-loving person that I have known him to be? I wonder. God help India!”
“Yet how long could this forgiving nature of ours have lasted?” Asked the Chief of Navy.
“They call it diplomacy. Countries do all sorts of things but nobody goes all out for a war and a nuclear one at that. It is wrong, this decision of opting for the first strike. Against the spirit of peace and tolerance that we Indians have professed for centuries . . .”
“I think he did the right thing,” the Naval Chief Marshal remarked.
“I’ll not comment now but let history judge that . . .” said the Air Chief.
Islamabad was targeted with a nuclear warhead carried by an Indian warplane and was devastated completely. Before Pakistan could retaliate, another nuclear bomb was dropped at Lahore. A third nuclear bomb was dropped at Pakistan’s nuclear base. Several Indian fighter planes bombed Pakistan’s other nuclear bases mercilessly. In the concentrated attacks that India carried for more than ten hours, the Indian military forces assumed that they had destroyed all major nuclear installations of Pakistan and annihilated its nuclear strike capability.
But Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was far from eliminated. It eventually did reply to India’s nuclear attack. Four surface to surface missiles tipped with nuclear bombs were launched by night. One of them was intercepted over Pakistani skies, the other three dropped over New Delhi, Bombay and Amritsar. These three cities suffered colossal losses in property and lives. The damage due to radiation was yet to be evaluated.
The PMO was gutted completely. Although the army planned to house the PM inside a nuclear shelter, he had refused to do so, in a bid to win the confidence of people who were fleeing from major cities. Quite deliberately, the agency that controlled clone, had falsely assured him that Pakistan would be unable to retaliate.
The clone died in the nuclear attack. His death destroyed all evidence of a conspiracy.
As a retaliatory gesture, India attacked Pakistan with two more nuclear bombs and Pakistan deployed three more nuclear bombs before India roasted it. Millions of lives were lost across both the borders.
Most industrial cities of India had been destroyed. Pakistan was on the verge of extinction. Both Pakistan and India had suffered a heavy and unprecedented loss of lives and economy. Yet the dent on India’s economic front was the severest. It was pushed back to its pre-independence status in economy. The cities were without electricity and potable water was a scarcity. Medical aid, direly required, was nearly nonexistent. Red Cross and other medical teams sent by the UN were fighting a hopeless battle. The toll in human misery was heart rending. Political and administrative machinery was in a state of hopeless chaos. From nearly achieving its dream of becoming a superpower in both economic and military fronts, India was reduced to a third world country.
The world questioned and criticized the decisions of the late Prime Minister of India. Accusations and counter accusations flew on both sides. Pakistan vehemently denied having attempted the assassination of the Indian P.M. The remaining Pakistani military regimen denied that they had intended to use the first strike option. The ruling Indian government dismissed the claims to justify its action. Who was right? Who was wrong? It was too late for anyone to bother. Nevertheless, both the nations had already paid the price of the war.
********* (Undisclosed Country)
“But Pakistan was our alley! Why did we deliberately project it to be the culprit and caused its destruction by India?” The young man asked the senior intelligence superior.
“It was a necessary move. With our clone having penetrated the highest office in India, was there any other way we could have achieved India’s almost complete destruction?”
“We could have opted for radical policy changes promoted and endorsed by that clone…. Policies that would have checked its economic growth. After all our problems with India were purely on the economic front. What was the need to waste so many lives?”
“You are so naive, young man. If he went so brazenly ahead with schemes that were detrimental to India’s progress, how long do you think would he have remained in power? How long would it then have taken for someone else in his place to reverse those decisions? Could we have achieved results better than what we got? India is no longer an economic threat to us.”
“Still I didn’t expect our country to dump a long-standing alley. I thought Pakistan meant a lot to us.”
“That was your illusion. We weigh all relationships against the opportunities and gains they represent. We nurture or discarded them as a matter of convenience. As for us, it is our occupation to carry out the orders of the decision-makers. If not us, then there will always be someone else to do our job. To me it is merely a matter of my bread and butter and of course the perks that go along with this job.”
Office of Pan-Biotech, In A Remote Area in Germany
“We need a copy of the President of the United States. Do you have it?” The man in the grey suit cleared his throat. The demand, in the quiet stillness of the room, appeared unrealistic even to him.
“Yes.” The Chief raised his eyebrows. “Can you afford him?”
“Can I have a look?”
The executive of Pan-Biotech showed him about fifty photographs of the VIP. All the photographs were of a man who was at least twenty years younger than the President. The resemblance was uncanny.
“That’s him but he looks quite young . . .”
“We will remove all differences,” said the chief confidently. He then explained in brief the procedures they would adopt to make the clone look exactly like the President of the United States.
“What is the price?”
“Ten billion pounds. Non negotiable.”
“It’s a deal then. You will get it by the end of this week . . .”
“Frankly I didn’t believe your organization could afford the price.”
The man smiled. “We have means and the size of our funds will amaze you.”
“Which means I didn’t strike a good bargain?” The chief of Pan-Biotech chuckled.
“It’s a deal then?”
“Yes,” The Chief sighed. “It is a deal . . .”