Suri, Sept. 4: A 12-hour hostage drama through a tense night inside a hospital ward ended this morning when Tiger Singh surrendered after shooting to death a patient he accused as the murderer of his father and brother.
Tiger — alias Hurai — aged between 35 and 40, was struck in the chin in the exchange of fire that started with police after he shot Sadananda Mondal. He was removed to Burdwan Medical College late this evening from the sub-divisional hospital at Suri, where the incident took place.
After visiting hours last night, Tiger with three accomplices burst into the hospital, hurling bombs and took over the male surgical ward, searching for Sadananda and Haradhan Roy, allegedly the killers of Tiger’s father and brother.
Soon after, his accomplices slipped away into the night with Haradhan, leaving behind Tiger who took the patients, stray visitors, the nursing staff and a security guard — numbering about 30 — hostage.
During negotiations with the police through the night and after surrender, Tiger repeatedly said his father and brother had been murdered and he was avenging their deaths.
The IG of western range, Gautam Chakraborty, the officer who negotiated with him, said: “Tiger kept shouting, ‘I want justice for my father’s and brother’s killings’.”
At one point of time, a wireless set was sent to Tiger as he refused to sit for face-to-face negotiations, threatening to kill himself and the hostages he had taken if the police tried to enter the hospital. Six of the hostages, including the security guard, had been strapped with bombs.
Incoherent after the injury as he slipped out of consciousness at times, Tiger referred to his father as both Iqbal and Ismail Sheikh, killed — along with brother Bablu — in nearby Asansol some five-six years ago.
According to him, Sadananda and Haradhan — both of whom had been admitted to the hospital at Suri in Birbhum district after being attacked while waiting at a bus stand at nearby Khairasol — were part of the group that killed them.
A senior police officer, however, questioned the revenge motive, saying police records of the past five years did not reveal any such case. Officers suspected a feud over sharing of spoils of coal smuggling to be the cause.
Tiger has told the police that he is from Dharampur village in the Hirapur area near Burnpur, and Sadananda and Haradhan were said to be from Pachra village under Khairasol police station. All these are part of the coal belt infamous for its mafia groups.
The police said neither Hirapur police station nor the one at Khairasol revealed any criminal record of either Tiger or the duo he was hunting. Haradhan is untraced.
Some police officers, however, stressed that absence of records does not mean the alleged murders did not take place or that the rival sides involved in the incident are clean.
They agreed with the feud theory but said the murder of Tiger’s father and brother could be a part of gang war which entered the corridors of a hospital last night, giving police in Bengal the taste of a hostage crisis in which they have little experience.