|Raja Mali’s father Amiya Mali outside CMRI on Tuesday and Sourya Ghosh’s mother (right) at their Purbapara home. Pictures by Sanat Kumar Sinha
The bystander shot at by robbers during Monday’s jewellery store heist at Behala’s Purbapara may not walk again as the bullet damaged vital nerves in his spine.
Raja Mali, the 26-year-old who became a father just nine days ago, is paralysed waist down.
Doctors on Tuesday said the bullet missed Raja’s spinal cord by a whisker but damaged some vital nerves.
“The bullet has damaged the vein that carries de-oxygenated blood from the lower half of the body into the heart and some other organs, including the intestines. We removed about two litres of blood from his abdomen,” said Ajay Mondal, one of the two surgeons who operated on him at CMRI.
Tamal Chakraborty, owner of the store Sonar Sansar, escaped with a deep cut in the scalp while another bystander, 41-year-old Sourya Ghosh, took a bullet in the right forearm. Mali and Ghosh are recuperating at CMRI.
Police officers said the gang of four fired three rounds, the first one hitting Ghosh, a regional manager with a pharmaceutical company, while the second found Raja.
Raja, a mechanic who fixed cooking gas ovens, was returning home on his bike from an assignment in the evening when he saw the four criminals running towards him from the opposite direction with a mob at their heels.
They caught hold of his bike and demanded the ignition key. When he refused, they shot him. But the robbers ran away without the bike as the mob gained on them.
The doctors said the bullet had been removed but his condition remained critical. “This kind of paralysis reverses in some patients. Let’s hope his does,” said Sudeshna Lahiri, the assistant medical superintendent of CMRI.
Raja’s devastated family prayed for him and at the same time worried about the medical bill. “My daughter-in-law, Joyita, gave birth to a boy on July 29. We haven’t even named him yet. Hard-hit as it is, we don’t know where to get the money for his treatment,” said his father Amiya Mali, a mason. “Our monthly income is Rs 8,000 and now my son….”
The police said a bag left behind by the robbers after looting 35 gram of gold ornaments from the shop could lead investigators to the gang.
The role of a shop employee is also being probed. He had left the shop barely a minute before the robbers came in posing as customers at 8.25pm.
The CCTV cameras in the shop had been defunct for the past five months.