Around 9.45 am on May 24, Nagaland Armed Police (NAP) Head Constable Anato sat on his bed inside a porta cabin, turned his self-loading rifle towards his forehead and used the big toe of his left foot to press down on the trigger.
What happened over the six hours following the suicide at the security barracks of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial, on Delhi’s Tughlaq Road, still has witnesses rattled.
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According to Delhi Police officers, Anato’s toe got jammed in the trigger guard after that shot was fired, leading to a bizarre and dangerous situation where any attempt to release it could release the three cartridges left in the chamber.
The solution: 60 sandbags to cover the lifeless body, bulletproof vests, iron plates and the hope that the remaining bullets would not ricochet on to the police team trying to pull the toe out.
“His leg remained straight, with the gun’s barrel pointed towards his forehead. The big toe was stuck between the trigger and the guard. There was the probability of another shot being fired if it was pulled out in a hurry,” said police sources.
“We could not use the safety catch either, because it was below the trigger that was jammed by the toe. A police armourer, who was called in, warned that the next cartridge stuck in the chamber could be released if the toe was pulled out in a hurry,” said sources, adding that the first shot had pierced the portacabin’s wall.
Finally, following frantic consultations, sandbags and iron plates were deployed before experts wearing bulletproof vests moved in to secure the gun. “The armourer carefully pulled out the toe from the trigger guard. Thankfully, the bullet inside the chamber did not fire,” said sources.
Confirming the incident, Jatin Narwal, DCP (New Delhi), told The Indian Express: “It was all planned in a professional manner. The sandbags were kept beside the body of the deceased so that if the gun fired, the bullet would not go here and there, or get pumped into the deceased’s body.”
Police sources said preliminary investigations revealed that Anato, from Dimapur, had committed suicide due to personal reasons. “He had been deployed at the memorial for three months. Police did not find any suicide note, and the body was handed over to his family after autopsy,” said sources.
They added that he was part of a platoon of 25 NAP personnel on security duty at the memorial. “The platoon is on duty round the clock and work in three-hour shifts. Anato had finished his shift from 5 am to 8 am that day,” said sources.