2001 Parliament attack: ‘A shot missed me and possibly hit a reporter’Updated: Dec 13, 2019 07:16 IST
In those days, the Opposition was up in arms over alleged nepotism in the allocation of petrol pump dealerships. Almost every day, the House would be adjourned within a few minutes after start. On that fateful day in the winter session of Parliament, the Lok Sabha got adjourned and I came out of Gate 1 (the main gate opposite the statue of Mahatma Gandhi) to go to the Rail Bhawan for some work. I suddenly heard sounds as if someone had burst crackers. Since I have never seen how bullets are fired in real life, I didn’t have the slightest inkling that guns are being fired. But as the sound was coming from my right side, I turned towards that side. The first visual I saw was a gardener, who was giving water to plants, suddenly slumped to the ground. Within a few seconds, a security personnel clad in combat fatigue also fell down. I was so surprised that I didn’t move.
From a distance, a figure emerged holding a gun and he turned towards me. His shot missed me by a few inches and possibly hit a reporter. Then, a security person screamed from behind the main gate, “Aatankvadi ghus gaya. Bhaago.” I took barely 4-5 steps before I fell on the ground just beside the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. At that time, security forces also began to retaliate. I was lying on the ground and could sense that the number of bullet shots had increased.
I moved behind a short pillar as bullets were literary flying from all directions above my head. For about 15 minutes, I was sitting beside the pillar and after some time, the action shifted to an area farther away from where I sat haplessly. The doors of the parliament building were closed. I took this opportunity to run out of the parliament complex towards Vijay Chowk. There used to be a taxi stand outside the House complex. I ran towards the taxis and hid in a car’s belly for some time. It’s a day I will never forget in my life.
(As told to Saubhadra Chatterji)
Kharabela Swain was an MP at the time of the attack