Jorhat, Jan. 1: What would have been a big day in the life of brave girl Gunjan Sharma turned into a nightmare when she and her family suffered serious injuries in a road mishap early this morning. The incident took place near Hatikhuli tea estate on National Highway 37, about 28km from Bokakhat town, when the family was on its way to Guwahati.
Gunjan, 13, who voluntarily went as a hostage with a kidnapper to save her 10 co-students last month, was to receive the state bravery award from chief minister Tarun Gogoi at Pragjyoti ITA Cultural Centre at Machkhowa in Guwahati, about 400km from the girl’s native town Simaluguri in Sivasagar district, at 4 this afternoon. The function was postponed.
Doctors said all the six passengers in the vehicle — five members of Gunjan’s family and a neighbour — had received serious injuries and the condition of four, including Gunjan’s, was stable.
Gunjan has fractured her right femur and has minor bruises on her head and face.
The family had left home around 2am in an Innova provided by the government, Sunil Agarwal, brother of Manoj Agarwal, one of the injured and a neighbour of the Sharma family, told this correspondent at the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) where most of the injured are admitted.
He said the family had briefly stopped over at a relative’s place at Numaligarh in Golaghat district and had “some refreshments” before resuming the journey.
Around 5am, the driver reportedly lost control of the vehicle near a bridge on NH37 and it skidded off the road into the small water body. The accident site is not very far from Kohora range of Kaziranga National Park.
Agarwal said the driver fled the scene, leaving behind the injured, who were rescued by police and brought to Bokakhat first referral hospital for first aid. They were referred to JMCH, where they were all admitted in the intensive care unit.
Later, Gunjan’s eight-year-old sister Nancy, who was seriously injured on the head (subdural haemorrhage) was referred to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).
JMCH deputy superintendent and assistant professor Dr Purnima Baruah told The Telegraph that neurosurgery has to be performed on Nancy and she was taken to Guwahati in an ambulance around 1pm.
She said the condition of both Nancy and Gunjan’s father Shankar Sharma was “slightly critical”.
Shankar, 48, who has been admitted to the ICU of the medicine branch of the JMCH, has sustained multiple fractures on both his hands and one of the legs, along with minor bruises on the head.
Gunjan’s mother Maya, 36, has fractured one of her legs and has minor injuries on her body, while Gunjan’s cousin, Anand Sharma, 22, has suffered severe injuries in the back. Manoj, 40, has suffered a fracture on one of his legs.
Baruah said Gunjan was “coping” with the situation. “Initially, she seemed worried after finding herself on a hospital bed and refused to take food. But she ate after inquiring about the others,” she added.
The doctor said when chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who had come here yesterday and returned to Guwahati today, visited the injured at the JMCH around 10.20am, Gunjan wished him a happy new year and he reciprocated the greeting.
A government release issued here this evening said Gogoi wished Gunjan and the others a speedy recovery. It also stated that the government would bear the cost of their treatment, and, if necessary, provide treatment outside Assam.