Calcutta, Jan. 11: An 18-year-old student today said that a bullet hit him while he was travelling in a convoy headed to a CPM rally in Calcutta ' a statement that goes against the official stand on an incident that has blown up in the state government's face.
"I was in a mini-van with my friends and an elder brother on our way to Calcutta. We had planned to attend a party programme in Calcutta and then visit the zoo. The convoy suddenly came to a halt amid a lot of noise and commotion," Sujit Das said over phone.
Sujit was not aware that he was speaking to a journalist. A person who visited the student handed him the phone and the reporter spoke to Sujit, assuming that the student knew that a reporter was at the other end.
The Class XI student was extremely reluctant to speak, probably fearing a reprisal since the police have been claiming that there was no evidence to suggest that anyone was shot at during the alleged Trinamul attack on a CPM convoy in Bhangar on Tuesday. Sujit also did not want to discuss if he was affiliated to any political party.
After the conversation was over, the reporter realised that the boy did not know he was speaking to a journalist. Considering the proportions the controversy has acquired and in the belief that putting all available information in the public domain is the best protection against possible misuse of official powers, The Telegraph is publishing his version.
The student, a resident of Ranigachi village in Bhangar, said he was shot at from behind at a place where vehicles of CPM supporters were set on fire allegedly by Trinamul.
"I can't remember the place but there was trouble. When I had started running towards the back, I felt a shooting pain in the left side of my chest and it was as if a ball of fire had pierced through my body," he recounted. "I fell on the road and the next thing I remember is unbearable pain," he said.
Sujit said that on his way to the hospital he became unconscious and only regained consciousness at the hospital.
Although Sujit could not pinpoint the location, the only place in the area where vehicles were burnt that day was Bamanghata, 25km from Calcutta. As many as eight vehicles were set on fire and 16 others damaged near the Trinamul office.
A probe ordered by the state government into the incident will not investigate allegations made by CPM supporters that they were fired upon. The government cited two reasons for the omission: the South 24-Parganas police superintendent's initial report to the home department does not mention the firing and the police asserted that there was no conclusive evidence that Sujit suffered the bullet injury at Bamanghata.
Sujit is now recovering from the bullet injury at the high dependency unit of R.N. Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) at Mukundapur.
Doctors at the hospital confirmed that the bullet entered through the back and exited from the front of the chest. They said the bullet almost brushed his left lung, which has a blood clot.
"The bullet entered his body through the back and passed barely one millimetre away from the left lung. If the bullet had entered the body one millimetre to the right, it would have damaged the lung and could have been fatal," said Arup Kumar Ghosh, consultant cardio-thoracic surgeon at RTIICS.
When the boy was brought to the hospital's emergency ward he had already suffered blood loss. However, because of his young age, he did not require blood transfusion. "Instead, we gave him lots of fluid supplements," Ghosh said.
He was brought to the hospital around 2pm and, the same night, a minor surgery was carried out. Doctors said he underwent debridement, a process to remove dead, damaged and infected tissues to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissues.
High doses of antibiotics were given to Sujit at the critical care unit. Yesterday, he was shifted to the HDU, a stepdown unit from the CCU. "Since his condition is improving, we have planned to shift him to the general ward tomorrow," Ghosh said.
However, doctors are still worried about the blood clot in the left lung. "We are monitoring the clot every day through chest X-ray. Drugs are being administered to dissolve the clot," the doctor said.