Gun violence shatters girl's big dreams

Gun violence shatters girl's big dreams

It was not a happy Diwali for 12-year-old Suman and her family this year. While the city celebrated the festival of lights on Wednesday, the girl’s house in Jheel Khuranja in east Delhi bore a dark look as she is currently fighting for her life in a city hospital, for no fault of hers.

The girl wanted to become a doctor but a tragedy last month left her staring at an uncertain future.

The class 8 student lost one kidney after she was hit by a bullet in her abdomen as a group of men opened fire in the area after getting drunk.

It has been 41 days since she was admitted to hospital and her condition is still critical. The infection has spread to her other kidney as well, her uterus has been removed, and according to family members, doctors are non-committal on her health.
On the night of October 5, a group of a dozen men in Jheel Khuranja main market went on a shooting spree allegedly after an altercation with a waiter.

According to earlier reports, the men who were drinking and gambling at the office-cum-home of Tarun Dua alias Sonu, a local property dealer, got into a brawl with the staff of the restaurant located across the street over the food they had ordered.

One of them pulled out a pistol and fired a few shots in the air. That drew the local residents out of their homes.

Suman was preparing for her English class test at 11 pm when she heard people screaming on the street and rushed outside, and joined a group at the exit of the lane to watch the fight in front of the property shop across the road.

The drunk men started firing indiscriminately, injuring four people, with Suman being the most serious victim.

A bullet hit her in the abdomen and another struck her palm. Three men are currently in jail in connection with the incident.

Locals claim that it is not the first time that the men had opened fire with their illegal weapons and that many cases have been registered against them with various police stations for similar crimes earlier. But no action was taken against them.

"These people use weapons like toys. There was a similar incident in Geeta Colony involving the same men some time ago but police didn't take any action," says Ramesh Raghav, Suman's uncle.

The incident has drastically changed the life of the girl who wanted to become a doctor and treat the poor for free. She lost her father a year ago in an accident and the mother was trying to make ends meet by working as a domestic help.

"We have informed her school that she won't be able to come anytime soon. We are completely shattered. Doctors are not saying much about possibilities of
improvement in her health. Right now she is unable to walk. We don't know how we will afford the treatment further. We will have to sell a few things in the house," says Raghav, who is helping the family after the death of her father.

Problems multiplied

Raghav’s problems have multiplied as his 65-year-old father was also critically injured in the incident.

He was hit by a bullet in the head, following which the right side of his brain has been removed. He is currently undergoing treatment in Max Hospital.

A 17-year-old youth and a 55-year-old man were also injured. The youth, Himanshu, sustained a fracture in his left arm. "It still hurts a lot. My classes are going to start after a few days, but I don't know how I will resume my studies with so much pain," he says.

Though reports say the incident took place after an altercation between the restaurant staff and the men, locals claim the firing was done to "teach them a lesson" as the residents had earlier complained to police about the "nuisance" in the area because of activities at Dua's office.

“These rowdies operate like a gang, which also includes a policeman. That is the reason they don't fear anyone. Two years ago there was a similar incident in our area involving these men. But no one was hurt that time. Had police taken action then, Suman would have been healthy," the uncle says.

Along with police inaction, locals also blame incidents like these on easy availability of illegal firearms and the failure on the part of the authorities to keep a check on their trade.

"A gun in the hands of such people is a dangerous thing. Police should not close their eyes to these incidents," Raghav says.