A bullet fired “mistakenly” by security forces last month pierced mine worker Ashok Oraon’s stomach. He survived and doctors asked him to avoid hard labour for at least a couple of years.
Ashok, 25, is not sure about taking the much-needed rest. Sitting on a rock near his home in Marwai village of Gumla district, he asks, “How will we survive now? I am the sole breadwinner. Who will feed my wife and two children? I can hardly stand and walk on my own.”
He was discharged recently from Ranchi’s Apollo Hospital after a month-long treatment.
Ashok was one of the six men aboard a truck that came under a volley of gunfire by security forces in the wee hours of September 3 this year. All of them were labourers and were headed for a nearby bauxite mine for work.
When the firing stopped, the bodies of Hiralal Oraon, 25, and his neighbour, Neelesh Oraon, 30, lay in a pool of blood, riddled with bullets. Ashok and another worker received serious gunshot wounds, while the other two escaped unhurt.
Security personnel said they mistook the workers for Maoists.
“We were moving at a speed of barely 10 kilometre per hour. They could have easily stopped us showing us the spotlight. But they seemed determined to kill,” he said.
Ashok was seated near the door when the bullet him. Bleeding profusely, he crawled to a nearby field where tall grass hid him from the sight of the security personnel. Plugging the wound with his hand, Ashok walked home and collapsed soon after.
“I opened my eyes and found myself in the hospital,” he said.
While the government paid for his treatment at the hospital, Ashok’s impoverished family is paying for the post-operative medicines and nursing of his wound.
“For the past two months we are surviving on ration being donated by our neighbours and kin. How will I raise my kids if I cannot work?” Ashok said.
DIG Pravin Singh said he was not aware that the family was paying for medicines. “I will look into it sooner,” he said. Chief secretary Sajal Chakraverty said he will ask the Gumla deputy commissioner to visit the family and address their problems.