Kalyani, Aug. 3: Gunshots shoved the biggest hospital here out of sleep around three this morning. Minutes later, a man lay slumped in a pool of blood, painted to a corner by a police officer.
The half-lit premises of Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital was witness to a sequence of events made familiar by Bollywood.
Amit Varma, who had at least 10 cases of murder, rape and looting against him, was admitted to the hospital by members of a rival gang who thrashed him at a dhaba off the Kalyani Expressway.
But a bleeding and gasping Varma snatched his revolver back from the captors and bolted himself inside the nurses’ room. The standoff climaxed in the shootout with the officer in charge of Kalyani, Arunabha Das.
Varma and his friends were dining and drinking at Shunu’s Hotel, an unlicensed bar off the Expressway, a little after midnight on Sunday when they picked a quarrel with another group comprising Ajay Pathak, Nirmal Singha Ray, Rahul and Buddhiani (surnames not yet known).
In the midst of the quarrel, Varma whipped out his revolver and shot at Pathak. As he neared him for a shot from a closer range, Pathak’s friends closed in and snatched the revolver. They did not kill him. But the beating was bad enough. Varma’s friends had fled by then and the profusely bleeding Pathak had to be treated. Ray, Rahul and Buddhiani rushed to the hospital but did not let Varma go.
Both Varma and Pathak were admitted to the hospital. The Kalyani police station was alerted. Pathak’s friends kept watch on Varma. They knew he could spring back.
He did. Taking advantage of a moment’s confusion, Varma bit Ray’s hand and snatched away his revolver from his pocket. Warning everyone around not to take a step forward, Varma inched towards the nurses’ room. Sister-in-charge Mira Bhattacharya, who was inside, sensed trouble. But she mustered courage to run to the doctors’ room with the fear of a bullet felling her from behind stalking her.
Varma entered the nurses’ room and shut the doors behind him. “Everyone stay away,” he warned at the top of his voice.
Das got a beep on his cellphone and rushed. Most of the hospital slept blissfully in the build-up to the shootout.
Das kicked open the nurses’ room, his revolver in hand. He saw Varma’s back, scooting towards the adjoining store-room. Das threw open that door, too. Varma opened fire.
The bullet missed Das and he knew his target was in no mood to give up. The officer fired three rounds. At least one bullet hit Varma. He slumped.
“We have detained Pathak’s friends,” Nadia superintendent of police Benoy Chakraborty said. “We are in touch with North 24-Parganas police to find out more about their antecedents.”