Barasat, on the northern fringes of the city, witnessed scenes from a Bollywood potboiler late on Sunday.
A man, who passed lewd remarks at a newly-married woman, whipped out two six-chamber revolvers from his trouser pockets and went on a shooting spree. The woman’s husband had protested when he misbehaved with his wife.
People of the locality chased the gun-wielding youth, who, in desperation, held a five-year-old girl hostage for hours. When they tried to take him by surprise, the young man fired six shots in quick succession and fled.
The hostage drama was enacted at Hridaypur — bang opposite the CPM’s local party office — in the Barasat police station area, around 10 pm on Sunday.
Trouble erupted when Mithun Dutta and his wife Sanghamitra — married seven months ago — went to a nearby drug-shop.
On their way back, a young man, identified as Subhash Pal, made Dutta’s wife the target of his prurient remarks. Subhash was accompanied by two others.
“I asked the young man why he was misbehaving. But he threatened me with dire consequences, so I left,” said Dutta.
Later, Dutta, along with four friends, went back to the area. Mihir Adhikary, one of Dutta’s friends, asked Subhash to apologise. But, instead of doing so, Subhash took out the revolvers.
“It was then that I tried to pin him down,” said Mihir. Dutta, who was standing next to Mihir, said: “Subhash began to fire and the bullets barely missed my shoulder.” Subhash managed to break free and hit Mihir’s forehead with a revolver butt before fleeing with his two accomplices. The three men ran in different directions.
The noise of gunshots drew residents out of their houses, and they ran after Subhash.
He ran into the house of Joydeb Mandal close by, pushed Mandal and his wife aside and held their only child — a five-year-old girl — at gun-point.
By then, the crowd had swollen into a few hundred-strong. It stood frozen in silence in front of the house.
“There was complete silence. We tried to enter the house, but gave up because the girl could get hurt. We waited at the doorstep for over two hours,” said Suman Bhattacharya, who was in the crowd.
Subhash was ordered to come out. But he did not respond.
Assuming that he had spent all the bullets, a few gutsy youths stormed the room. “As soon as we entered, Subhash started firing,” said Uttam Chakroborty. The crowd waiting outside the house panicked and dispersed. So, Subhash managed to escape.
Bhuban Mandal, sub-divisional police officer, said a hunt is on for the culprits.