Indian officer: Welcome to Pathankot Air Base.
Pak ISI agent: Good morning. I am Sherlock Sharif of the ISI and this is my colleague Watsonuddin.
Indian officer: Air Commodore Srinivasavadivelu here.
Sherlock: My apologies for you having to hurry up and rush here.
Srini: How on earth did you know that?
Sherlock: Your left boot is less polished than your right one, so clearly you were in a hurry. Also, your fly is unzipped.
Sherlock: Elementary, my dear Srinivasavadivelu.
Srini: This is my colleague, Mycroft Kumar.
Sherlock: Ah, from the Intelligence Bureau. You have the look of a man who has spent a lifetime eavesdropping on boring conversations.
Mycroft: Ha ha, bhai-saheb.
Srini: This is the crime scene. See, here’s an identity card that clearly says LeT, or Lashkar-e-Taiba, and a paper signed by the JeM.
Sherlock: But LeT stands for Ladies’ Education Trust and Jaish-e-Mohammed always uses recycled paper. JeM here stands for Juvenile Education Mart, a shop for selling school books. The guy from the JeM was probably dating the LeT girl.
Watson: How many terrorists were there?
Srini: Ummm…we aren’t sure, either six or four. Here are the records of the calls they made to Pakistan.
Sherlock: Oh they probably ordered some drugs from that number, that’s where I get my cocaine from.
Mycroft: Tut, tut.
Sherlock: Smuggling drugs is big business. Did you notice the curious incident of the dog in the night time?
Srini: What dog?
Sherlock: Precisely. There was no dog in the night time.
Srini: Eh? What about these food packets with Karachi written on them and this hanky bearing the mark ISI?
Sherlock: Don’t tell me you haven’t tasted the famous Karachi halwa, which is what these packets contained. The hanky shows the terrorist was from the Indian Statistical Institute.
Mycroft: Those guys terrorise data, not people.
Watson: Why is this area scorched so badly?
Srini: Because of all the firing, of course. Hey, the imprint of your boots is the same as that of the terrorists.
Sherlock: Quite possible. We had a major theft recently. They ran off with hundreds of boots. Ok, here’s what happened. Six Indians, including a girl student, a bookseller and a statistician, got friendly with a drug dealer in Pakistan who also supplied them with stolen arms and boots and they came down here in a drugged haze, ate Karachi halwa and started shooting people at random. Four of them were killed while two, probably the bookseller and his girlfriend, were abducted by aliens whose spaceship scorched the earth around this place.
Sherlock: Thanks. My guru Holmes used to say that when you have excluded the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal.