The summer of 1985. During sojourn of Bay Islands, had an extensive relishing experience of exploring entire Nicobar archipelago and many South Andaman Islands. Yet, my mind deep within harboured a strong desire to explore the splendid land of Middle and North Andamans, although had glimpsed it from sea and air. Look, how unexpected turn of events transpired to position itself in realization of my hidden dreams.
While dealing with certain high profile foreign branches cases, “my deep questing inquisitiveness”, antagonized my superiors for reasons best known to them. This torpedoed my rendezvous at Police Hqs. catapulting me to a new unimagined odyssey at Civil Secretariat.
Posted to a new assignment as Vigilance officer, chief of anti-corruption, having a jurisdiction of entire Andaman & Nicobar Islands, directly supervised by the Chief Secretary. My new boss was Rishi Dev Kapoor, a highly jovial and practical administrative officer.
I truthfully confided him the circumstances of my unexpected sudden departure from the police department. Appreciating my position he not only sympathised, but on my request allocated an independent official vehicle.
My office thus shifted a few hundred metres away to Secretariat, an elegant period building of British Raj.
MY 2, I/C was Alamgir, a highly proficient, competent weather beaten police officer.
Since my tenure to Bay Islands was nearing completion, without beating about the bush, approached CS desiring for having a grand informative tour of Middle and North Andaman Islands. Concurring with my unpretentious sensibilities he gave a green signal, advising me carry some pending files pertaining to area specific.
Thus began my cherished journey of Rangat, Mayabunder and Diglipur areas. My colleague GC Dwivedi, drove down all the way from Hqs. Mayabunder to warmly receive me at Uttra jetty, disembarking point after a enchanting ferry ride from Port Blair.
AT Rangat surprise warm welcome awaited, was lucky to have been lodged at VIP suite, where President Gyani Zail Singh had stayed sometime back. The elegantly furnished plush accomodation with four AC’s working full ballast was an unexpected extravaganza of luxury.
Enquiry from Alamgir attributed this superb gesture to a miraculous file in his possession which proved no less than Alladin’s magical lamp. Enjoyed the local hospitality as well as the abundant outdoor natural scenic beauty delightfully with an added interesting visit to spick and span ATI timber factory. Visit to palatial bungalow embellished with classic wood collections, inhabited by DFO Middle and North Andaman at Rangat situated amidst idylic forested surroundings was an out of world spellbinding experience. This was followed by an lavish lunch befitting any majestic grandeur.
Drive from Rangat to Mayabunder was another exciting journey with coconut, betel nut trees lining the embankments of lush green paddy fields, banana, papaya, pineapple, guava tree plantations were aplenty, chicken fowl, ducks, grazing cows, goats and hogs enjoying the greenery. Mesmerizing landscape alluringly blended harmoniously with magnificent seascape, with healthy mangroves distinctly dividing the contour lines.
Hospitality of Girish Dwivedi at Mayabunder happened to be abundantly overbearing.
Dwivedi, earlier while posted as security officer at residence of Prime Minister , Indira Gandhi, on request for change of assignment was exiled to Andamans, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), probably had no idea about these faraway enchanting Islands?
At Mayabunder spent a whole night at nearby Sound Island watching behaviour of wildlife in their natural habitat during nocturnal hours. We cruised smoothy to this Island across the placid channel by study Karen tribesmen, who had migrated from Burma a few decades back to these nearby Islands. Karens in Burma were now engaged in guerilla warfare with state armed forces. Their sleek dugout, locally built, powered by 5 HP engine was a superb well balanced high speed seacraft.
It was a marvellous adventure exploring forlorn sea beach in clear moon light, plus traversing across the thickly timbered undulating terrain of this rain sprinkled Island.
The local XEN happened to be my friend, we had travelled together in Indian Airlines flight from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Port Blair. He left no stone unturned to provide necessary resources for making my stay exceptionally memorable. Very few officers knew that Girish had shot a rouge elephant responsible for killing several forest workers, with a single .303 service rifle bullet piercing it’s head.
The drive amidst the pristine jungles to Diglipur was marvellously planned and executed by local Station House Officer. He not only made stay comfortable, but volunteered to drive through the stately lush green woods. We witnessed exceptional flowering of Pandanus odorifer plants (kewra) emitting natural aromatic freshness in the entire oxygen rich crystal clear atmosphere. That alluring freshening sweet smell still remains stored in the vital reserves of my brain.
Majestic Saddle peak jutting out of forest at elevation of 2418 feet retaining crowning glory as the tallest summit in the vast tempestuous Bay of Bengal, starting from Sunderbans to Sabang Indonesian Island edging the vital shipping channel of Malacca strait.
On arrival at Port Blair, I profusely thanked my mentor R D Kapur for his kind cooperation in helping me undertake this lovely pleasant trip. Otherwise it would have remained a lifelong regret, since it is almost impossible to coordinate resources to plan such rare visits to such, not so easily accessible places.
Sometime back we, myself and Sh. Rishi Dev Kapoor became FB friends, I am sure he still remembers those ‘kalapani’ days of togetherness, thirty three years ago.
(HPS Virk , author of the story is a retired Deputy Commissioner of Police.)