Thursday, December 29, 2005

‘We thought crackers were being burst’

‘We thought crackers were being burst’
The Times of India

Bangalore: A conference in full progress, delegations from all across the globe.
Moments after the conference ended and the assemblage of professors just heaved a phew, five persons took the wrath of bullets.

For no apparent reason. The oldest of them all, Professor M C Puri, 65, succumbed an hour later, at the M S Ramaiah Hospital and his body was bundled neatly to be taken to the morgue.

Vijay Chandru, 52, a professor at IISc, is also an entrepreneur and founder of Strand Genomics. Having sustained bullet injuries in the shoulder and leg, he was operated upon at the Mallige Nursing Home and on Wednesday night, 10.30, was declared out of danger. A slew of Chandru’s relatives waited anxiously outside the Operation Theatre.

Chandru is the son of late bureaucrat IAS officer H G V Reddy (who served as BDA chairman) and the grandson of Gururaj Reddy, who was a minister in erstwhile Mysore Maharaja’s cabinet. Chandru’s friend and associate Prof Rajeev Gowda said that Chandru was supposed to have presented a paper at Wednesday’s conference organised by Operation Research Society. “We have the head and heart to take this,’’ added Gowda.

Chandru has an illustrious academic career, his resume includes a PhD from MIT, he later taught at Purdue and other universities in the US. He came to India 10 years ago and has been a revered scientist since then.

The condition of the other attacked person Sonia, aged around 30, was what worried doctors, physicians and her colleagues who were part of the delegation from Delhi. Sonia is four months pregnant and her two friends who were with her at the Mallige Medical Centre were battling their conscience on whether they should inform her family immediately or not.

“We don’t know a word of Kannada, when we were sitting with Sonia and thinking if we should call her family, we saw the news on TV screens, which means her family knows something,’’ said her friend.

“I was inside the hall when I heard loud phadar sounds, we thought it was crackers. Then we realised they could not possibly burst crackers at IISc. We rushed outside and saw Prof Puri lying in a pool of blood. To our horror we then saw Sonia clutching her eye,’’ recalls her friend.

Adding to their apprehensions, a specialist doctor whom the hospital called in to attend on her, was 20 km away from Mallige and traffic being what it is in Bangalore, till the doctor came, Sonia clutched her friend’s hand feverishly sipping water every now and then. “I’m unable to see, please help, where’s the doctor’’ she kept repeating.

The scene at M S Ramaiah Hospital resembled a fortress with police and security-men guarding every entrance and exit. Within the disinfectant sprayed halls, doctors, para-medics, nurses ran from Operation theatre to radiology department to blood bank to OPD (out-patient department).

The senior Prof M C Puri died, there was no information forthcoming on the other two victims who were fired at.
Pankaj Gupta, 37, reportedly sustained injuries in the thoracic region and left thigh.
Patel, 36, reportedly sustained bullets in the bladder region.


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