| Relatives of blast victims wait outside PMCH on Sunday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
“Kisi ko bolo darwaza kholne ke liye, beta (please ask someone to open the door son).”
Middle-aged Anita Singh rushed towards the room, Ratri Grih, with these words on her lips. The fear of the possible loss of a relative was writ large on her face.
Finding no answers from anyone, she climbed a railing and peeped through the ventilator to see bodies piled up on the floor. “My brother, Anil, had come for the rally but he is missing and his cellphone is switched off,” she said.
Though the door of the room was locked from outside, one could peep through the gap in between and see five bloodstained bodies, victims of Sunday’s multiple blasts.
“A man has just locked the door and gone somewhere. He will come soon, please be patient and wait,” Naveen Kumar Singh told Anita.
Naveen (29) was also seen crowding outside the locked room, deep inside the emergency building of Patna Medical College and Hospital, his fingers constantly fidgeting with the keypad of his cellphone.
“My uncle is inside. I hail from Gaurichak in Patna district. Around 20 people, including my uncle, Rajan Singh, and me, came to the rally to see Narendra Modi. We reached in the morning and toured Patna before entering the ground. But the group dispersed in the crowd. Then some blasts went off. Around 1pm, I was coming out of Gandhi Maidan, when I got a call from home that some from my group had been spotted bleeding, including my uncle, and had being carried away by the police. After a frantic search at PMCH, I am here and have spotted his body through the ventilator,” Naveen told The Telegraph.
Suddenly, middle-aged Pramod Singh of Kaimur rushed towards the room.
“Please open this door. Mera bhanja hai andar. (My nephew is inside). Vikas, alias Guddu, came all the way from Kaimur for the rally. He just wanted to see Patna and Modi. Twenty-eight is not an age to die,” he pleaded with the passing nurses.
Anita and Naveen requested him to wait patiently. But their pensive faces betrayed the storm inside.
After around half-an-hour, a man came and unlocked the door and a big crowd surged in.
Clutching a handkerchief over her nose, Anita checked all the bodies. “He is not here. He is not here. Where is he?” she rushed off, muttering the same to someone on her cellphone.
“Can someone bring my nephew back? Can they?” Pramod told The Telegraph after spotting Vikas’s body.
Pramod and Naveen, however, didn’t leave the room though they kept staring at their dead relatives.
Through the day, PMCH was a scene of utter chaos, confusion and political gimmicks. Shrieks and wails rent the hospital air as BJP leaders made a beeline for the health hub along with their supporters, who seemed to be adding to further fright and panic.
“Till now, three of the five bodies have been identified. By late evening, more people will surely turn up,” a PMCH official told The Telegraph.
By evening, one could see a clutch of BJP leaders, including Giriraj Singh, Shahnawaz Hussain, Rajiv Pratap Rudi and others, arriving at the front gate of the emergency building and going inside. Their supporters were not allowed entry. Then, they started banging at the closed collapsible gate at the main entrance of the building and began jostling with the policemen posted at the gate in their attempt to get inside. Their act frightened many attendants who searched for a safe place. SUVs turned up at the narrow street leading to PMCH as ambulances and patients’ attendants struggled to make their way.
As this correspondent moved out of PMCH and took Ashok Rajpath, many more SUVs, including that of former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, could be seen speeding towards the health hub.