The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No injury but scarred for life
- Shock numbs girl who ‘felt’ gunbattle that killed Ram

Paschim Borka village (Changsari), July 13: From the first spray of bullets from an AK-47 to the sound of the last para bomb bursting, Chitra Deka felt it all.

The ear-shattering sounds, the shaking of the ground beneath her feet and bullets piercing the wall close to where she lay crouched. Above all, the painful wails of dying men.

A day after the death of FCI official P.C. Ram, the daughter of Gobinda Deka, the farmer in whose house the incident occurred, remained in a state of shock inflicted by seeing death up close. She has not had a drop of water since.

Chitra, 15, survived the hail of bullets only because she hid under a heap of clothes in a room next to the one that was targeted.

“She has not spoken a word since last night,” her elder sister Kamini told The Telegraph this afternoon. “We may have to take her to a doctor.”

Chitra’s family was expecting the worst when the gunbattle between Ram’s captors and the police raged. As soon as the exchange of fire began, her parents and siblings entered the room where she was already hiding, only to slip out through the side door and run to the safety of a neighbour’s house. Alone and frightened by the gunfire around her, Chitra collected all the clothes she found in the room and hid under them.

The youngest of Gobinda’s three daughters could barely utter a word when she was traced to the room and escorted out long after the gunbattle ceased.

“We were allowed to enter the house much after the action ended. We found her under a heap of clothes and she looked as if she was fast asleep,” said Kushal Deka, a neighbour of the family.

In between bouts of sobbing inconsolably, Chitra uttered a few words today but remained incoherent even to her family.

She has been staying in a neighbour’s house along with her two sisters since yesterday because both Gobinda and his wife were arrested for giving shelter to militants. Gobinda’s two sons stay in Guwahati and have not visited home for fear of being harassed by the police. One of them was at home when the militants came for shelter, but left on the day of the encounter.

Kamini said she saw Ram twice since the captive FCI official was brought to her house on Tuesday night. “He came out of the room they were in twice during the day. He went to the bathroom and a boy followed him on both occasions. He was clad in a lungi and a vest, and half of his face was covered by a gamocha.”

Kamini later cooked what turned out to be Ram’s last meal.

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