Vishal Agarwal on his hospital bed on Monday. (Anindya S. Ray)
Vishal Agarwal, one of the two youths injured in the bike-and-bullet shocker on Ballygunge Circular Road on Sunday, belonged to a circle of friends who loved partying but were prone to getting into trouble and were “banned” by many night clubs. The trainee DJ, 27, tells Metro from his hospital bed in Hedua how he got embroiled in a bar brawl and ended up with a bullet in his right thigh.
I have been a regular at Caught ’n’ Bowled (in City Centre, Salt Lake) for the past three years, which is where I became friends with Shaqueel (the other injured youth) and his cousins Salim and Nadeem, who is a DJ. Babar (the alleged small-time crook who started the fight on Saturday night) was a customer who gradually joined our group, comprising seven to eight people.
We were all bound by our love of partying; we weren’t bothered about who did what for a livelihood. Most of us didn’t even know where our friends stayed. We would meet on Saturdays and party the whole night, go back home in the morning and meet again on Sunday night to wrap up the weekend.
Caught ’n’ Bowled became our meeting point because I have been learning DJing there for the past six months. We would leave the restaurant-cum-lounge bar around 1am and head for Tantra, Venom or Underground.
But Babar and some other members of our group were prone to picking fights, which landed us in trouble. We soon started getting bad vibes wherever we went, with most night clubs making it known that they didn’t want us around.
So once we started going to Ginger, in Hazra, we made a conscious attempt to build a rapport with the pub authorities. It seemed to work, and Ginger was our regular haunt for the past couple of months.
On Saturday, we decided to meet, as usual, at Caught ’n’ Bowled. Babar arrived with his girlfriend. My girlfriend came in by 11pm. Shaqueel and his cousins also arrived a little later. Around 2.30am — Caught ’n’ Bowled remains open till 2am on Saturdays — part of the group headed for Ginger in two cars, belonging to Shaqueel’s cousins.
My girlfriend and I hopped into another friend’s car to reach Park Circus, from where we took a taxi to Ginger. On reaching there, I saw Babar having an altercation with a man. I had seen him with Babar several times at Caught ’n’ Bowled but didn’t know who he was. I could make out that the trouble was over a girl.
Since Babar was a friend, Shaqueel and I decided to side with him and asked the other man to back off. Once order was restored, we partied till dawn and decided to head for Sharma dhaba (New Sharma Hotel) on Ballygunge Circular Road for breakfast. But Babar left with his girlfriend.
We reached Sharma dhaba around 5am. While the others were ordering food, Shaqueel and I stepped out to buy cigarettes. We paused opposite the petrol pump (near Azad Hind dhaba) to chat when a motorbike screeched to a halt just in front of us. I recognised the pilion rider — he was the one arguing with Babar at Ginger.
He got off the bike with a gun in his hand but could not stand straight; he probably had too much to drink. He asked us where Babar was. We told him that he had left Ginger before us.
“Zyaada sayana ban raha hai…abhi mazaa chakhata hoon (You trying to act smart…I will teach you a lesson right now),” he said, pointing the gun at Shaqueel.
As he pulled the trigger, I felt a shooting pain in my right thigh — the bullet had hit me. I collapsed. I heard three shots after that and the bike speeding away. I lifted my head and saw Shaqueel unconscious on the road and bleeding profusely. I screamed.
The last thing I remember is our friends putting us in a car and speeding to hospital.