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Clue drought in gun attack on Tata official

One whole day has lapsed since a Tata Steel employee was shot at and critically injured in an elite neighbourhood of the city, but police still do not have a clue who launched the attack and why.

Forty-year-old Vipul Kumar, working with the steel major’s urban services department for the past four years and a resident of Sonari, was shot at twice by two men on a bike near The United Club parking in Northern Town, Bistupur, around 8pm on Saturday. While one bullet grazed his left palm, the other hit Kumar in the lower abdomen.

Despite bleeding heavily, the former tennis coach managed to get into his car and drive to Tata Main Hospital (TMH) some half a kilometre away. Doctors on emergency duty admitted him to the critical care unit (CCU). He was operated on around midnight and the bullet removed.

Kumar is, currently, on ventilator.

General manager (medical services) at TMH T.P. Madhusudnan said his condition was stable, but serious. “A bullet penetrated the lower abdomen and caused excessive bleeding. The vital parameters are stable, but nothing can be said conclusively before 72 hours. He is under observation.”

On Sunday, the East Singbhum police brass inspected the shooting site and also checked Kumar’s car parked on the hospital’s premises. The officers conceded that they had made no headway in the case. “We have begun investigations. Nothing has been established yet,” said Amol V. Honkar, who has assumed charge as senior superintendent of police (SSP) only recently.

The SSP added that they were probing “all possible angles” and also talking to family members of the victim to fish for clues. He categorically junked an extortion theory behind the shooting.

Sources in police said they were waiting for Kumar to regain consciousness so that his statement, crucial in this case, could be recorded.

“For now, we have the victim’s cellphone and are checking call details for clues. Since the victim was not robbed, we suspect the intention was to kill him. Why? We do not know yet,” said an officer.

He added that in all likelihood the assailants knew their target pretty well.

“They knew he was a member of the club. They knew he visited the club on weekends. In fact, they perhaps knew the exact time when the Tata Steel employee would come out of the club and walk towards his car. What they did not know and expect is that he would still be alive. The probe is on. Grey areas will clear once we can talk to the victim.”

Deeply shocked family members refused to speak to the media on why Kumar, a Tata Steel area officer for Kashidih, might have been the target. A relative corroborated police, saying he liked clubbing and was a regular at The United.

“I cannot talk now. I am not in a condition to answer questions till my husband’s condition improves,” said wife Mousumi (32).

The couple has two children — a son aged 14 who studies at Loyola School and an 11-year-old daughter, a student of Sacred Heart Convent.

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