Amitava Banerjee |MP | 2 April 2017 | Darjeeling:A 14-year-old boy died and three others were grievously injured when an object with which they were playing exploded. The condition of the three injured is reportedly critical.
The incident occurred at the Teesta Army Firing Range at Bagrakot in the Malbazar sub-division of the Jalpaiguri district on Sunday morning. All four were residents of Junglee Line in the Sonali Tea Estate.
"The incident occurred at around 6 am when they were playing in the firing range. An object they were playing with suddenly exploded. All four were rushed to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) near Siliguri," stated Saniya Oraon, father of Ramen Oraon, one of the injured.
While 14-year-old Solomon Oraon breathed his last at the NBMCH, 9-year-old Ramen Oraon, 12-year-old Surjit Oraon and 13-year-old Rajib Oraon are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Incidentally, the Army firing range on the banks of river Teesta is not enclosed with a boundary wall. Though it is cordoned off during firing practice, at other times, local residents have easy access to this range.
With the region steeped in abject poverty, it is a common practice of children and youth who scout the range for used ammunition and shells which they sell as scrap. It is believed that Sunday's incident could have been a fallout of this practice. It could have been a mortar shell that had exploded.
Often mortar shells also land in the neighbouring labour lines of the tea garden.
"In the past few years, many have lost their lives while others have been maimed. We demand the administration to take up the matter with the Army," stated Babulal Oraon, a panchayat member.
When contacted by Millennium Post, Rachna Bhagat, District Magistrate, Jalpaiguri stated: "We are conducting an inquiry into the incident. If it is ascertained that the Army is connected with the incident, we will definitely take up the matter them."