Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shot at by Maoists, left alone by own

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Mihir Singh, who has a bullet embedded in his spine, in hospital. (Samir Mondal)
Midnapore, April 26: His hands tied behind his back and a bullet embedded in his spine, a Lalgarh villager lay next to his dead neighbour after being shot at by Maoists and cried for help for nearly 10 hours.

But the residents of Bamal, from where the duo had been marched by the guerrillas to a kangaroo court, dared not venture out to help him. The gunmen had left both for dead after warning the villagers against going anywhere near the bodies.

As daylight broke, the villagers, goaded by Dulali Singh, gathered courage, they called police and walked to a paddy field, 1km from the village.

Dulali’s husband Mihir, 32, was still breathing. Biswanath Namota, 50, wasn’t.

“I did not expect my husband to be alive,” said Dulali.

The villagers carried Mihir to the primary health centre in Lalgarh town, 5km away. From there, he was shifted to Midnapore Medical College and Hospital in an ambulance.

“The bullet is lodged in the spinal chord and he has been paralysed waist down,” said Partha Pratim Pradhan, the superintendent of the Midnapore hospital.

Biswanath was shot in the head and throat.

The police said a group of seven, armed with revolvers, approached farmhand Mihir and asked him at gunpoint to accompany them when he was having tea with his friends at a stall in Bamal bazaar last evening. The gang picked up fish trader Biswanath from another part of the village.

Mihir’s friends trailed the gang for some time and then someone told them they would be shot if they moved further.

“We stayed back,” said Mithu Singh. However, one villager kept following the gang maintaining a distance.

“Around 9pm, I heard four shots but I started walking in that direction much later. In moonlight, I saw the two sprawled on the ground with their hands behind their backs. I spied a movement and went closer. Mihir was groaning, crying and begging for water. I stood helplessly for a few minutes and then ran back to the village and told everyone he was alive and we should take him to the health centre. But no one was ready to go,” said Babu.

At the Midnapore hospital, Mihir mumbled what he went through. “They branded us police informers at a kangaroo court and shot at us. Something piercing and hot entered my back, I lost consciousness. But I regained consciousness sometime later. I tried to sit up, but could not. I was feeling terribly thirsty and cried for water. I again lost consciousness but came around before dawn,” he said.

Hospital superintendent Pradhan said Mihir had been referred to NRS Hospital in Calcutta because “we don’t have the infrastructure for such surgeries here”.

People often survive if a bullet does not affect vital organs like the heart, lungs or kidneys. “In Mihir’s case, the bullet has not torn away any vital artery. So, there was not much bleeding also,” said Pradhan.

Bodies found

The joint forces today found the remains of three bodies stuffed in gunny bags in the Bhalukbasha forest in Goaltore.

In Belpahari, CPM local committee member Panchanan Dutta Khanra, 48, was shot at thrice in front of his house.

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