It was just like a scene from any Hollywood flick, where the serenity inside a local shop on a calm Sunday morning was vehemently disrupted by a group of armed intruders who launched a massive, sustained, and completely unprovoked attack on two staff members inside the shop.
The attack continued relentlessly for a few minutes by one single person, while six other accomplices were busy gathering cigarettes, cash, and other stuff from the shop.
The attack was not only relentless but was systematically executed as well, with the female staff member receiving few hits from the baseball bat, so as to be scared, whereas the male member received successive blows so as to be neutralised.
The shock, the thrill, and the pain in this scene were picture perfect as if everyone in the scene had practised their part to perfection.
In fact, the realist pun added to such scenes, as in a good movie, was also perfect when one of the offenders returned, calmly, to the shop from the car to collect the remaining cigarettes as if they believed it was rightfully theirs.
The only deviant in this scene was that the scene was a real life incident and not a movie flick, and the pain, both physical and emotional that it created is for real and is going to remain for a prolonged time.
Indian Weekender spoke to the two victims of Crown Superette aggravated robbery in the North Shore Hospital to find out more about what actually happened on the morning of Sunday, March 12.
The description of the above scenario came directly from the victim and the family members supporting them in the hospital.
The victims are husband-wife duo who has been managing this shop—owned by their brother-in-law Raj Chopra—since the last two years and were expectedly too traumatised and injured to speak about the incident.
Jitesh Arora was not in a condition to talk and is waiting for his third surgery to be conducted on Thursday, March 16 and his wife, Preeti Arora, was too traumatised to risk any further “attack” as the offenders were still “roaming out free.”
However, in the end, Mrs Arora agreed to speak with Indian Weekender along with Mr Chopra. Excerpts from the interview below.
IWK: How are you feeling today?
Mrs Arora: Not too bad. Just trying to get over what happened on Sunday morning.
IWK: Would you like to tell us what happened on Sunday morning?
Mrs Arora: We had opened our shop in the morning around 7 a.m. and after cleaning and our morning prayers, we were standing in the middle of the shop thinking of making tea for us when a six-foot-tall man came running inside our store followed by six other people. That man started hitting us incessantly with his baseball bat. I was too scared and shocked.
IWK: Just to be a little bit clear here, did they hit you spontaneously or you had provoked them in any manner by resisting or refusing to cooperate?
Mrs Arora: No, we did not provoke them in any manner. We didn’t even realise what happened. This man walked into the store and went straight to my husband and started hitting him on the head and all over the body. My husband started bleeding profusely. I tried to hold his baseball bat but was kicked by that man and then I am not sure how many times the baseball bat hit me. Then I just put my hand on my husband’s head to stop bleeding, and somehow we managed to escape through the back office and closed the door.
It was a scary moment for me, as my husband collapsed and I thought for a second that I was going to lose my husband. We are so shaken right now that we could not even sleep in the night due to that nightmare.
IWK: What injuries did Mr Arora receive?
Mrs Arora: He has got many stitches on the head and multiple fractures on the hand and will be undergoing third surgery tomorrow morning. Doctors have indicated that it might take five to six months for him to completely recover.
IWK: Who called the police and emergency and what was the time of their response?
Mrs Arora: I am not sure. All I remember is that I started shouting for help from our neighbours from the back office. It was only when the neighbours started coming in that the offenders escaped in their car. Then I ran straight to my family who lives next door. I think one of our neighbours would have called the police, as when I came back an ambulance was there and they took my husband to the hospital.
IWK: How prepared are you to go back and open your store?
Mrs Arora: I am really not sure, as I am badly injured myself with sore arms and multiple bruises. My husband is still undergoing surgery, and I have to be at his bedside to look after him. Plus, honestly speaking, we are too scared of the thought of going back and opening our business.
IWK: Mr Chopra, you are the owner of the shop and a close family member. So how are you currently managing the situation?
Mr Chopra: We are in a bad situation here, as on one side we have got our family members gravely injured, and on the side, our business is closed, and we do not have any idea when we will be able to open again.
I am not much impressed with the way entire victim support system is working, as we have to deal individually with different departments such as victim support, ACC, and insurance, and their individual actions are dependent on several pieces of information such as police report and medical report. Why cannot we have a one window support for the aggravated robbery victims?
This is not a crime on an individual, as it affects the whole family and entire business.
We are struggling to figure out how to manage our small business, family and medical emergency.