The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AIIMS lifeline for commando in coma

Ahmedabad, Oct. 4: His one-year wait is finally over, but it is his family members who will be breathing easy.

National Security Guard commando Surjan Singh Bhandari, who was injured in the Akshardham attack last year and has been lying in coma at the Civil Hospital here, will be shifted to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences tonight.

AIIMS authorities communicated to Civil Hospital medical superintendent Anil Chadha that arrangements have been made to receive the 25-year-old who was hit by a bullet during the operation to flush out the militants who stormed the Gujarat temple on September 24 last year.

Thirty-three devotees were killed in the terrorist attack.

The Black Cat commando, who was flooded with get-well messages since the time he was brought to the ICU ward at the civil hospital, received the Kirti Chakra for his valiant role during the temple siege.

Chadha, who got a telephone call from senior NSG officials yesterday asking whether Bhandhari could be shifted immediately, says the hospital has prepared the commando’s case papers and is ready to move him.

NSG officials will escort Bhandari to Delhi along with a medical team comprising an anaesthetist, neurologists and a male nurse.

The Gujarat government has announced that it would cover the expenses of the commando during his treatment at AIIMS.

Bhandari’s elder brother Uttam Singh Bhandari, who will fly with him on the Indian Airlines flight scheduled to take off at 9.30 pm, expressed his gratitude to Union minister Harin Pathak.

“Pathak had assured us that Surjan will be shifted to Delhi. Since then we have been eagerly waiting for the orders to shift Surjan to Delhi,” he said.

But relief could not conceal the bitter knowledge that the delayed decision might come in the way of improving Bhandari’s chances of survival.

“If he had been shifted earlier, it may have helped. Now, doctors don’t see any chances of his improvement,” the commando’s said.

The delayed decision to shift Bhandari has had its share of controversy.

The Delhi institute’s public relation officer was sacked for his reported statement that the hospital could not spare an emergency bed with a ventilator.

The statement created an uproar, prompting the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and eventually pave the way for shifting the commando to the institute.

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