Pellets from a bank guard’s shotgun wounded four persons as the weapon slid from his shoulder, fell on the floor and fired on its own at a Bank of India branch near Hooghly’s Bhadreswar on Wednesday.
Guard Arabinda Roy had entered the bank around 2.30pm when he apparently collided with somebody and his 12-bore double-barrel gun dropped from his shoulder. The pellets hit four bank clients standing at the counters, police said.
The police arrested Roy, in his mid-40s, and charged him with causing hurt and endangering lives of others by negligent act. He has been working at the bank’s Champdani branch for more than a year.
The gunshot triggered panic and people scrambled for cover, witnesses said. “A few moments later when people realised what had happened, they rose to help the wounded,” said a bank employee.
Mohammad Sahabuddin, 17, Wasim Akhtar Ansari, 31, Quamrunnisa, 37, and Noorjahan Biwi, 34, were hit by pellets on their legs. They were taken to Chinsurah Imambara Hospital where two of them underwent surgeries while the other two were shifted to nursing homes.
The bank’s main hall was crowded with customers as the hour-long lunch recess was about to end.
“Apparently, the safety catch of the gun was not in off mode and the bullet went off,” said Amitabh Verma, additional superintendent of police (industrial), Hooghly.
Experts say if a gun accidentally falls, the safety catch may get activated on impact with the floor. “In a break-open double-barrel shotgun, the safety catch is placed right at the top near the opening lever. A ballistic examination could reveal how the catch opened,” an officer said.
The buckshot in shotguns contains small pellets that can hit several people. “Shotguns are suited for hunting. Some agencies use these guns because they are less lethal but act as good deterrents,” the officer added.