The Ganesh Chaturthi Affair

celebration

© Lavanya

“This is fabulous, Ian. You’ve been to Ganesh Chaturthi here in Kolkata before?”

Ian Dennis could barely hear his assigned companion Victoria Craft over the celebratory yelling, music, singing, and chants as different representations of the elephant-headed god Ganesha appeared before them.

“Yes, Victoria. Over the years, the job takes you all kinds of places.” He felt a bit strange having an escort half his age, but he was her trainer and this was her first op. The two MI6 agents had been instrumental in preparing for the cessation of a forty-year dispute between India and Bangladesh over a common border that demarcates the eight divisions of Bangladesh and the Indian states.

She leaned up so he could feel her breath in his ear, “Do you think it will end?” He knew she meant the shoot-on-sight policy of India’s military on illegal immigrants crossing over from Bangladesh.

“That’s why we’re here. The pact will be signed in three days. If the killings continue, we put a stop to them. Meanwhile, pretend you’re on holiday.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge of February 13, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words. My word count is 174.

The image of the god Ganesha is distinctive, so it wasn’t hard to trace it to the annual Hindu celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. You can learn more about it by reading 14 Most Ingenious Idols Of Lord Ganesha This Year! and What is Ganesh Chaturthi? Why is it celebrated?.

Since the image of Ganesha in the photo appeared to be a float with the date 2011, I decided to set my story then, specifically on 2 September. I looked up the year and lo and behold:

September 5 – India and Bangladesh sign a pact to end their 40-year border demarcation dispute.

I also looked up when the celebration occurred in 2011 and it was held between the first and the eleventh of September, which was perfect.

The disputes over the Bangladesh–India border have historically been very difficult (and that’s putting it mildly) including this:

The border is used as a route for smuggling livestock, food items, medicines and drugs from India to Bangladesh. Moreover, illegal immigrants from Bangladesh cross the border to India. Because of a large number of illegal immigrants crossing from Bangladesh into India, a controversial shoot-on-sight policy has been enforced by the Indian border patrols. This policy was initiated with reports of violence between the illegal migrants and Indian soldiers. The border has also witnessed occasional skirmishes between the Indian Border Security Force and the Border Guards Bangladesh, most notably in 2001 (emph. mine).

I know a lot of people in my country complain about President Trump’s stance on illegal immigration from Mexico and other Latin nations, but frankly, that’s not nearly as brutal as the situation described above. You can click the link I provided to learn more.

Once again, I dusted off MI6 agent Ian Dennis last seen in the flash fiction piece The Bristol Connection and showcased in the short series The Mauritius Robbery Affair. In this case, I’m involving MI6 in covertly “facilitating” the India-Bangladesh agreement, which I’m sure the Indian government especially wouldn’t appreciate given Britain’s colonial history in their country.

I set the action in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) since it is relatively near the India-Bangladesh border. Ian needed someone to interact with to further the plot, so I invented an agent-in-training Victoria Craft. Perhaps we’ll see more of her in the future.

Oh, I apologize in advance if I’ve mischaracterized the celebration, Ganesha, any individuals, or the nations of India and Bangladesh. I’ve never been there and am getting all of my information on the internet, so any errors in this wee fictional tale are mine.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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17 thoughts on “The Ganesh Chaturthi Affair

    • Hopefully the end of one, actually. Ian and Victoria won’t have to “go into action” if the border shootings cease after the pact is signed. If the shootings continue, I’ve implied that MI6 will take a more forceful hand in stopping them, but that means interfering in the internal affairs of both India and Bangladesh, which I imagine would cause an international scandal if it became known. On the other hand, stopping the “shoot-on-sight” policy seems to be the primary motivator for the agents’ assignment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Well done James on that rather necessary context and so ably linking the intelligence heist Vs the political stage and connecting them up with Ganesh Chaturthi. Bravo. I have also written on Ganesh Chaturthi though a rather different take.

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  2. I wasn’t aware of the shoot on sight policy especially since I see humdreds of illegal immigrants flocking in regularly and settling down here with the state government’s treatment being more than favourable. Your interesting story has inspired me to read on that aspect.
    Great dialogue and awe-inspiring research work, as always, James.

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    • Thank you, Moon. If you find I’ve made an error in my research, please let me know (it’s happened before). I use Wikipedia as a “fast and dirty” resource and they’re not always known for 100% accuracy.

      Like

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