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Fate wards off death
- Last-minute seat switch on Srinagar bus kept couple alive

Destiny saved the lives of Parthapratim Chowdhury and his wife Pranati. Part of the group of tourists whose bus was made the target of Tuesday's terror attack in Srinagar, the couple from Dum Dum Park is still alive only because of a last-minute decision to switch seats.

Seven fellow passengers, including Geological Survey of India (GSI) director Ashis Ghosh Roy and his wife Kaberi, who died in the grenade blast, were sitting in the front row of seats, where the Chowdhurys were also meant to be.

The injured couple returned by the special Air Force flight from Srinagar to Calcutta on Wednesday night and is undergoing treatment at AMRI Hospitals in Dhakuria.

Doctors said Pranati, 50, suffered multiple fractures in her right collarbone, a deep wound on her right chest and also has splinters stuck in the lung. She needs surgery.

Parthapratim, 58, has several splinter injuries in his head and a deep puncture on the left hand.

On Tuesday, before boarding the bus from their hotel near Dal Gate to Chandanwari, the two had told the others they would sit in the front row. But before leaving the hotel around 10.30 am, the two tried to call their son Pratyushpratim, in Calcutta.

The call took longer than expected and so by the time they boarded the bus, Chhaya Bhattacharya, her husband Sandip and his mother Pratima had occupied the front row.

'We decided not to disturb them, since the three had come all the way from Hyderabad to join the Dum Dum Park team so that we could all travel together to Kashmir,' recounted Parthapratim. 'We moved towards the rear of the bus. I, in fact, joked with Ashis (Ghosh Roy), who was sitting up front, that we had been left out of the group.'

Seconds after that, he heard a soft metallic sound. 'Instinctively, clutching my wife, I ducked and then heard a big bang,' Parthapratim said. 'The first thing I saw when I got up was Sandip lying on the seat, gasping for breath.'

The grenade had, ironically, been lobbed through a window at the rear of the bus but rolled to the front and exploded, claiming the lives of those sitting in the first row.

'I never thought this would be our last journey together,' said Pranati, eyes filling with tears.

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