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Death roll with crocodile

Calcutta, Aug. 10: Bangarani Das wrenched herself out of the jaws of certain death in a Sunderbans creek this morning.

A crocodile, about 15 feet long, locked its jaws inches below her left knee, tried to tug her below the water and make a death roll for several minutes, till the 56-year-old fisherwoman pierced one of its eyes with an iron hook.

Bangarani is now struggling for life at a health centre in South 24-Parganas’ Pathar Pratima, about 90 km from the city.

Her husband Shambhu Charan said the reptile shredded her “flesh to ribbons. Flesh and bone was exposed... the portion below the knee was reduced to a stump”.

Life for Shambhu Charan and his wife was not easy. Poor fisherfolk at Khetramohanpur in Pathar Pratima, their day began early. This morning, they went to Wall’s Creek with several others to catch shrimps. Both the husband and the wife ventured into the water, little realising what the murk had in store.

Bangarani felt a twang and shrieked. When her husband heard her, she was being dragged midstream. By the sight of blood Shambhu knew what was happening. Every time Bangarani tried to free herself, sharp teeth got entrenched deeper in her flesh.

It took a while for the rest to notice Bangarani’s plight. When they waded to the spot where the crocodile was tugging at its victim armed with sticks and bamboo poles, the reptile had started its death roll. The blows were rendered ineffective as it repeatedly turned over under water trying to drown Bangarani. “She suddenly got hold of the hook we use for fishing and pierced it into its eye. The crocodile freed her. She was unconscious,” Shambhu said. A limp Bangarani was pulled out of the water.

Additional superintendent of police B.C. Mondal said: “Once a crocodile starts rolling under the water, chances of it releasing a victim are next to nil. Bangarani exhibited great courage and presence of mind.”

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