The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Blast child fate hangs by thread
- Surgery performed on five-year-old as more than 40 patients remain hospitalised

Siliguri, Nov. 22: The brain surgery on five-year-old Arjun Verma at a private hospital here was carried out satisfactorily last night. Arjun had been seriously in the Belakoba blast.

“We removed all the dead brain tissues and stopped the haemorrhage,” said neurosurgeon S.R. Sharma, who conducted the three-hour operation.

Giving a guarded prognosis, he said the boy would have to be kept under observation for a week before a definite statement could be made on his recovery.

“As of now, we can say that he does not require a ventilator. But the responses on the left side of his body are a bit weak,” the doctor said.

The boy’s mother Ronju Verma had a smile on her face for the first time in the 48 hours that have elapsed since the tragedy. Her husband Amaresh, who also sustained injuries in the blast, is among the 20 patients recovering at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) here.

Five of the patients at NBMCH belong to one family. The ill-fated group had boarded the train on their way home, after attending a marriage reception at Belakoba, when the blast occurred. The two aunts, sister, niece and nephew of M.B. Rehman, who lives in the New Jalpaiguri area here, are all being treated at the hospital.

“My sister Rabbani was given only Rs 500 by the railways. But the medicines that we have had to buy have already cost Rs 2,100,” Rehman said, hoping for some assistance from the authorities.

Forty-three of the injured are still lying in hospitals and nursing homes in the area. While the casualty count at NBMCH is 20, that at the Jalpaiguri district hospital is 12. Two patients are under treatment at private nursing homes, while the other nine are at the railway hospital.

Of the injured, Ashis Mohanto (25) was perhaps the happiest as he headed for his Deshbandhupara home in Siliguri. He is the only one to be released from the Jalpaiguri district hospital today, said hospital superintendent S.C. Bhowmik.

“The wounds will one day heal, but the memories of the tragedy will haunt us forever,” said Sukantha Roy, a patient at NBMCH.

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