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2 Jan 2017

Bullet fired at murder witness hits 11-year-old niece

Juthika at Malda Medical College and Hospital. Picture by Surajit Roy
TT, Malda, Jan. 1: A bullet purportedly fired at a murder witness missed the target and hit an 11-year-old schoolgirl last night in Malda's Kaliachak.
Juthika Mondal, 11, was operated on at Malda Medical College and Hospital today. Doctors said her condition was critical as the bullet could not be taken out.
The intended target of the bullet seemed to be Juthika's uncle Hemen Mondal, who had witnessed the murder of his brother.
Hemen, whom the attackers targeted at his house at Akandaberia near Kaliachak, had seen the murder of his brother, a local BJP leader.
The family filed a police complaint, naming eight persons, including Trinamul leader Sunil Mondal, in connection with yesterday's incident. Trinamul has denied the charge and said the BJP is trying to politicise the incident
Sunil has also been accused by Hemen's family of shooting dead Hemen's brother Ram at their house in October last year.
Ram, 43, was the BJP general secretary of Kaliachak III block. "My brother was popular in the area and was killed for political reasons. I had seen the attack and I am the principal witness in the case," Hemen said.
Sunil had been arrested for the murder and was granted bail a week ago.
"Since his release, Sunil had been intimidating me and demanding that I withdraw the case. Around 11pm yesterday, my niece Juthika needed to be taken to the toilet. I was accompanying her and didn't know that some miscreants were hiding in an exposed portion of our house. As we walked out of the room, they fired at me. The bullet missed me and hit Juthika in the abdomen," Hemen said.
He alleged the attack was organised by Sunil and his associates. "They had plans to murder me," Hemen said.
Juthika is the daughter of Chabilal, another brother of Hemen. Chabilal is physically challenged and his wife Pushpa is a homemaker.
The brothers and their families stay in one house in Akandaberia, 40km from Malda town.
Juthika is a Class IV student at Gayeshwari Primary School at Akandaberia.
She was taken to Malda Medical College and Hospital first. "A bullet entered the right portion of her lower abdomen. We carried out a surgery but could not take out the bullet. The girl is under treatment in the intensive care unit and is in a critical condition. Today, we will again conduct a surgery. If we cannot take out the bullet this time, we will refer her to Calcutta," Jyotish Chandra Das, the deputy superintendent of the medical college, said.
Swadhin Sarkar, the BJP MLA of Baishnabnagar under which Akandaberia falls, also alleged that last night's attack had been carried out by Trinamul supporters.
"Our party leader Ram Mondal was murdered at his home by Trinamul-backed criminals last year. The same group has organised another attack on the family and this time, a girl has been hit by a bullet," Sarkar said.
Trinamul denied the allegations.
"It is an unfortunate incident but none from our party was involved in it. As far as we know, the incident is the fallout of a family dispute. Some people are politicising the incident by dragging Trinamul's name into it. Police should probe the case and reveal the truth," Moazzem Hossain, the Malda district Trinamul president, said.
Arnab Ghosh, the superintendent of police of Malda, said: "The accused have fled the village. We are searching for them. A probe is on to obtain more details."

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