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   I was at the CBI office this morning... (February 9, 1996)

I was at the CBI office this morning (not for interrogation) and one of the officers was telling me: "We are holding daily prayers for the health of Mr. Sukh Ram."

"Is that so!" I said. " I did not know the CBI was taking it that seriously."

"The chief is dead serious," the officer said. "He has made it compulsory for the entire staff to attend the prayers, unless somebody is engaged in some urgent work like interrogating Mr. Afzalpurkar."

"Is Mr. Sukh Ram's condition serious?" I asked.

"We don't know, we can only go by the medical reports, as provided to us by his lawyer. But it must be serious otherwise he would have been here by now," the officer said.

"Yes, I can see that," I said.

The officer said: "As you know, Mr. Sukh Ram is very keen to return to India. In every message he has sent us, he has stated how much he wants to come back immediately, it is only his health that is preventing him from doing so."

"That's true," I said. "I wonder what exactly is wrong with him."

"That only his doctors can tell," the officer said. "But it must be something very serious, otherwise, with all the money in the world that he has got, he would have cured himself by now."

"What is the latest medical bulletin you have got on him?" I asked.

"They are not issuing any medical bulletins. You know how confidential English doctors are about the health of their patients, very hush, hush, unlike our own doctors. However, from what we have gathered from Mr. Sukh Ram's lawyer, he has been advised at least two more weeks rest. Of course, that is not the final word on it."

"Of course," I said. "Are you planning to send a CBI doctor to see him?"

"The CBI does not have doctors, it has investigators," the officer said. "And, in any case, why should we send a doctor when the best doctors in America and England are attending to Mr. Sukh Ram. Do not worry, he is in good hands."

"I am happy to hear that," I said. "The country must be spending a fortune on Mr. Sukh Ram's medical bills."

"As I understand it, Mr. Sukh Ram is paying his own bills. After all, it is the country's money that he has got, so, why not," the officer said.

"What do you plan to do when Mr. Sukh Ram is finally found fit to travel and returns to India?" I asked.

"Well, the first thing we will have to do is decide whether to lodge him in Tihar Jail or a hospital," the officer said. "Though the CBI will not have to decide that, that will be the court's decision."

"Well, for your sake, I hope he gets well soon," I said.

"That is the prayer of the CBI," the officer said. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get down on my knees and pray for the good health of Mr. Sukh Ram."

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