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Bengal hostage drama ends; gunman surrenders

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 04, 2003 12:35 IST

The nightlong hostage drama in Sadar Hospital in Suri district, West Bengal, ended on Thursday morning with the gunman holding seven persons, including patients in the male ward surrendering.

But the gunman killed one hostage.

The gunman, who identified himself as 'Tiger Singh' and 'Tiger Khan', worn out by 12 hours of negotiations, gave himself up at 0735 hours IST after being shot and injured in the chin by the police.

Inspector General, Western Range, Gautam Chakraborty, who took over negotiations from District Superintendent of Police Akhil Kumar Roy a little past midnight, said the gunman, after surrendering, broke down.

He was being treated for his injuries in the same hospital.

Chakraborty said the hostage taker said his father and brother were killed five to six years ago by the hostage identified as Sadananda Layek who was killed by him in the hospital before he surrendered.

Deputy Inspector General Narayan Ghosh said at Kolkata the real identity of the gunman was Hurai, a history-sheeter, who was a resident of Dubrajpur in the district.

The gunman had initially demanded to speak to Sailen Mahato, a local Trinamool Congress leader of Dubrajpur, besides the district SP.

The National Security Guard was on standby to secure release of the hostages.

Chakraborty said a total of 16 persons -- two nurses, six patients, seven visitors and a hospital guard -- were taken hostage by Hurai at the Suri Sadar Hospital.

Of them he released two, including a woman, last night after strapping bombs on three of the hostages and holding a gun on another, Haradhan Mandal.

Mandal, however, managed to escape on the pretext of going to the toilet and was escorted out by police commandos, Chakraborty said.

The gunman last night had expressed his determination to take away Mandal with him but could not do so.

Among other hostages, four were also allowed to go by the gunman.

The hostage drama apparently centred around Mandal and Layek, a Congress worker, who were both admitted to the hospital on August 30 with gunshot and bomb splinter injuries they suffered in an attack on them.

The gunman had also shot and injured in the leg a Trinamool Congress activist, Babin Dutta, who had tried to barge into the ward last night.

Two others, Kajal Bhattacharya, a patient, suffered bomb splinter injuries while Satya Mal, a National Volunteer Force guard at the hospital, was injured in crossfire, the IG said.

Chakraborty said after the gunman surrendered, it was found that he had two handguns and a bagful of bombs.

Narrating the sequence of events, he said the gunman stormed into the hospital at 8.15 pm last night.

After taking the hostages, he announced his demands through one of the windows of the ward. Later he was provided with a walkie-talkie.

After negotiations with the SP failed, tea laced with a strong sedative was offered to Hurai who insisted that others holding parleys with him also drink it. But when the negotiators agreed to do so, he refused the brew.

Following this, he was told that his demand for a Tata Sumo to take his hostages and himself to Asansol in neighbouring Bardhaman district would be met.

He was also told that his demand for a policeman to escort him to Asansol, where he promised to release his hostages, would also be met.

Hurai, however, refused to stir out of the ward.

The policemen fired four rounds targeting the gunman at around 05.30 hours IST in the morning when talks appeared to be breaking down.

Hurai, who was injured in the chin, immediately fired back and also hurled a bomb at the policemen.

The police said they had to fire cautiously to prevent injuring the hostages who, the gunman kept close to him with their hands tied behind their backs.

Through the major part of the tense crisis, the Rapid Action Force, which arrived from Durgapur, threw a cordon around the hospital, with none being allowed to enter.

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