Neighbours recount shootout at New Town housing complex

The second-floor flat at Shukhobrishti housing complex in New Town where Bengal police conducted a raid and gunned down two men on Tuesday.

Around 3.30pm on Wednesday, a 29-year-old IT professional stepped out to visit the ATM at the gate of Shukhobrishti housing complex when two men with guns asked her to immediately get back inside.

Maitrayee Sen was barely in the lift lobby when the men, one of whom was clad in a bulletproof vest, shouted “ekkhuni bhetore jaan (go inside immediately)!”

She had just about moved into the stairwell when gunshots rang out. 

“The sound was that of firecrackers, only 20 times louder. As each shot rang out, I froze and seconds seemed like hours. I have seen gunfights only on television and in web series and could not believe that something like this was happening right in front of my eyes,” said Sen.

According to her, she could barely move her muscles and had a prayer on her lips when the building’s guard grabbed her by the arm and dragged her up a few flights of stairs.

“In the melee, both of us had completely forgotten about the lift. We stood there on the staircase for what seemed like hours before the shots finally stopped,” said Sen.

The two then went downstairs after waiting for some time when they saw a number of police vehicles and buses pull up and men wearing bulletproof vests and armed with assault rifles fan out in every direction.

“All through, the policemen warned us to stay back. It was then that I checked my phone and saw that several residents had posted on our Telegram group that a gunfight was on and everyone should be indoors,” said Sen.

A little later, Sen saw a white SUV pull up and then speed away.

A senior police officer said they had posted men near the surrounding buildings to ensure that no resident or guard got caught in the crossfire.

Sen had gone to the market in front of their housing complex in the morning and spotted several policemen outside. 

Some were inside the complex, too, but she did not think much of it as the police have been regularly carrying out checks to enforce Covid curbs.

Shukhobrishti residents watch from the terrace of a building in the complex after the shootout

Mainak Kanrar, who lives in a 12th-floor flat opposite the building where the gunfight broke out, said he rushed downstairs when he saw armed men in bulletproof vests and fatigues running around across the road.

Kanrar was working on his laptop when he glanced outside his window and saw men with guns running around on the service road right in front of his building.

“I immediately went down and called the guard. Several policemen shouted at us and told us to stay inside. It was then that I heard the shots and posted on the Telegram group warning people to stay indoors,” said Kanrar.

According to him, the building where the gunfight broke out is mostly occupied by tenants.

“There are 16 flats and most of them are occupied by tenants. Although I posted a message warning people to stay inside, many had stepped out to see what was happening,” he said.

Shukhobrishti residents watch from the terrace of a building in the complex after the shootout

Minutes later, he said, a large posse of policemen gathered and started putting up guardrails. “The policemen asked everyone not to cross the guardrails. By then gunshots had stopped,” he said.

Kanrar, the joint secretary of a residents’ body of Shukhobrishti, then asked around and came to know that the men the cops had come to nab had been staying in the second-floor flat since May 22.

“The owner of an outlet that sells milk and eggs in our complex said the two men had bought eggs and milk from him this morning. It sends shivers down the spine to think that such hardened criminals were staying in our complex on rent,” Kanrar said.

Shukhobrishti housing complex has around 12,000 flats of three categories. There are 400 low-income group (LIG) towers, 60 middle-income group (MIG) towers and seven super MIG towers.

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