Bangalore: The 38-year-old woman bank officer, who was brutally attacked on the head with a machete at an unguarded ATM kiosk, was left paralysed on her right side and there was no trace of the assailant whose gory act caught on CCTV footage sparked a public outrage.
Amid mounting angry reactions over the brazen attack, a rattled Karnataka government sought to crack the whip on erring banks, telling them to shut ATM booths unless they provide security.
The victim, a manager with the Corporation Bank, was repeatedly hit with the machete by the assailant shortly after she entered the ATM kiosk around 7 am on Tuesday. She was left in a poll of blood for nearly three hours as the assailant had downed the shutters before the incident came to light when two school children saw blood stains and informed a policeman who shifted her to hospital.
The victim was recovering from a 'long surgery' and she was able to speak, Dr N.K. Venkataramana, who performed the operation at the BGS Global Hospital, told reporters. He said her skull was fractured and a small piece of bone had gone into the brain, causing a 'penetrating injury' and added that she had been paralysed on her right side.
"We have taken all precautions and are closely monitoring her condition. Hope everything will go well... she is able to speak", the doctor said. There was no danger to her life now, he said.
Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, who visited the victim, said she was recovering and speaking. Police have formed squads to nab the assailant and were in touch with their counterparts in neighbouring states also to crack the case.
The woman was attacked after she apparently refused to draw money and hand it over to the assailant as demanded by him.
The assailant had followed her into the ATM, located in a busy traffic intersection and closed the rolling shutter and initially threatened the woman with a revolver asking her not to raise an alarm, as CCTV footage of the gruesome act showed.
He had walked out of the kiosk after downing the shutter and taking away her mobile, leaving the bleeding woman in a serious condition.
Apparently jolted by the shocking incident, Karnataka Home Minister K.J. George held a high-level meeting with top officials of his department and police to review the situation and discuss measures to curb such incidents.
George said more than 600 of the total 2,580 ATMs in Bangalore have no security guards.
"We want them to deploy security guards immediately or close down the things until suitable arrangements have been made.....that's why the Police Commissioner (Raghavendra Auradkar) will take appropriate action", he said.
George said a committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary (Home) has been formed which would hold discussions with managements of banks and law department for drawing up guidelines vis-a-vis ATM security in the interest of customers.
The Bangalore Police Commissioner said police officials were being sent to different districts and states to track down the assailant, "who cannot be a first timer".
Auradkar said the police had two rounds of meetings with banks on the issue of security at ATM booths earlier and given strict guidelines to them.
The incident has grabbed media attention, with repeated beaming on cctv footage on television channels, sparking debate on security at ATMs.
The victim's husband Uday said, "She is fine. I met her in the morning. She is recovering very fast. This has happened in broad daylight. There should be more patrolling and security for woman."