The Kudada firing range on Thursday. (Animesh Sengupta)
A policeman accidentally shot dead his colleague on Thursday, the last day of the fortnight-long district police shooting practice camp at Kudada firing range in Sundernagar. The annual event is meant to help the men in uniform use firearms efficiently.
Head constable Sarayug Ram, deployed at Sitaramdera thana outpost, took the freak bullet on his right temple around 12.05pm and died at Tata Main Hospital (TMH) at 1pm, a day before he was supposed to catch a train to Siwan, Bihar, to celebrate Holi with his family.
Kadma (Uliyan) thana outpost head constable Bijay Shankar Singh, from whose carbine the fatal bullet came out, has been arrested for “negligence on duty”. He is too shocked to react.
Those who witnessed the incident said the firing was a mishap.
Policemen, who had fired 10 rounds at the last practice session, were crowding at the makeshift office of the Kudada firing range to get back cartridges in exchange of the empty ones. Sarayug, with 3-0-3 rifle, stood to Bijay’s left. Bijay, who had fired 10 rounds, had his carbine tucked under his left arm, but did not know that his weapon still had a bullet. Suddenly, amid the jostle, a bullet shot out of the nozzle of Bijay’s carbine, which was pointed upwards, and lodged inside Sarayug’s temple. He slumped, bleeding.
“Sarayug was very tall, over 6ft. If he were shorter, the bullet would have whizzed over his head. It was shocking,” said an eyewitness.
SSP Akhilesh Kumar Jha and other top brass rushed to TMH on getting the news. Police have taken the statement of eyewitnesses.
Later, a jawan told The Telegraph that around 150 district policemen took part in the shooting practice, a routine annual exercise.
“Each policeman practises firing 10 rounds from his service gun under the supervision of the district sergeant major (in this case J.P. Nag). After practice, the jawan collects the empty cartridges. The sergeant major must ensure no cartridge is left in the gun before allowing any policeman to fill new ones,” said the police jawan.
He added that it looked like both the sergeant major and Bijay had been careless. Bijay’s carbine had a capacity of 35 bullets in his magazine, of which he had 11 left before shooting practice. He fired 10, but no one remembered the one bullet that was still present. “Had Nag inspected Bijay’s carbine properly, this mishap would have been averted,” he said.
Deputy superintendent of police (law and order) Kanhaiya Upadhyay said they had arrested head constable Bijay for “negligence on duty”. “We are probing if sergeant major Nag was also at fault,” Upadhyay, under whose jurisdiction Kudada firing range falls, added.
Police have sent the slain policeman’s body to MGM Medical College for post-mortem.
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