Thursday,about 12.30 p.m.
Tariq bhai,canteen helper in the morning and khakhi-uniformed Bull by evening,recognised me immediately. I had graduated from AMU in 2001.
So where do you work, he asked,after he had opened the gate to the stairs leading to the canteen balcony so I could click some pictureshe let me shoot as a favour to an old student.
Back downstairs,he directed me to a table where four men sat. Do you recognise them? he asked. Introductions were made,with no names except mine mentioned. One of them enquired about my profession. When I asked them what they did,one said,Hum bhi aap ke jaise hain (we are like you). Patrakar (reporter)? I asked. There was silence,and then came the answer: LIU.
Kitna paisa milta hai (how much do you make), they asked me. I quoted an outrageous figure,drawing appreciative glances. Emboldened,I asked,We have heard a lot about you. So what are you? Surprisingly,one answered: We are not that sophisticated. We carry mobiles. We are 15,and our job is to create a network of informants and maintain it. We are salaried employees who have been here since the 1980s. There is no hierarchy among us, revealed another. We have our office in the proctors office, he said.
Our people know you are here. We spotted you on camera outside Sulaiman Hall last evening. Your vehicle was here last week, said one of them. Another said they had little to do these days. The cameras help us spot people with ease. We also have our children studying here,and we are happy with the situation now, he said.
We are talking to you only because you are a former student, said one,rejecting my request that Deepu be given a chance to speak to them. Concluding the conversation,one said,Our mobiles have official numbers,so we cant give you our contact details. We cant give you our names.
When we approached Proctor M Zubair Khan,he did not deny that we could have been followed. Some of our Watch and Ward staff work in civilian dress,and they keep a watch on people and events on campus. It has helped us make sure the campus stays secure, he said,adding,They are Watch and Ward,they are not called Local Intelligence Unit.
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