Judicial Probe Finds Haryana Cops Guilty of Torture, Illegal Confinement of Trade Unionist
Trade unionist Shiv Kumar was detained illegally for a week and tortured in custody by the Haryana Police during the farmer protest from January 16 to February 2 last year, an inquiry by Faridabad’s district and sessions Judge Deepak Gupta has found.
The torture resulted in Kumar losing vision in the right eye, fractured limbs and uprooted nailbeds. The labour rights activist alleged that he was tortured to identify other union members at the picket line outside the metal fabrication factory Sharan Elecmech.
Gupta, who is now the district judge of Panchkula, found that government doctors and even a Sonipat magistrate were complicit in covering up the crime, reported The Telegraph, which has a copy of the inquiry report.
A resident of Kundli, in the Sonipat district, Kumar is associated with the Majdoor Adhikar Sangthan, which works for the rights of labourers denied wages by factory owners in his native place.
Kumar and fellow labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur are under trial after three FIRs were lodged against them for alleged extortion and attempt to murder. Kaur’s protest against the erratic wage payment in the Kundli Industrial Area was supported by the agitating farmers at Singhu border.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) had ordered Gupta to probe the torture allegations in a petition filed by Kumar’s father Rajbir, a Dalit farmer, last year. Gupta completed his probe in July and submitted the report to the HC in August. The complainant was finally given a copy of the report on December 12.
“The police did not inform us about the arrest of Shiv Kumar. We came to know about his detention after 15 days on January 31, 2021, through our neighbour. My son was arrested on January 16, 2021, from the farmers’ agitation site at the Delhi border by the Sonipat Police,” Rajbir told The Tribune.
According to the 29-page inquiry report, Kumar “was badly tortured by the police, causing numerous injuries on various parts of his body including fractures”.
“I was tortured by police personnel. I received eight injuries, including a leg fracture. I was beaten with sticks. They abused me and spat on me,” Kumar told The Tribune.
“The judicial probe report has clearly mentioned that the police kept me in illegal custody and doctors did not perform their duties honestly. We will hold a protest march soon seeking punishment for these officials,” Kumar said adding that he has “full faith in the law”.
One of Rajbir’s lawyers Harinder Bains told The Telegraph that Kumar has “lost 60% of his vision, and his job. There is pressure on him to arrive at a compromise but he has not budged. In the next hearing on January 27, we will demand the registration of an FIR and investigation by the CBI”.
“I got a problem in my right eye while in custody which was not treated and I have no vision in that eye now. The doctors say the damage is permanent,” Kumar told The Telegraph. “There is a lot of pressure from the administration to settle the case. But I want justice and the perpetrators to be punished.”
Gupta held Kundli sub-inspector Shamsher Singh “directly responsible for the torture”, inspector Ravi Kumar of the same police station complicit in the illegal confinement and Ravinder Kumar of Crime Investigation Agency, Sonepat, complicit in illegal confinement, and doctors at Sonipat government hospital and the jail guilty of “dancing to the tune of the police officers” by making the victim’s medical reports, The Times of India reported.
Bains said that the report “reveals that it wasn’t merely one officer torturing someone but the entire system including a magistrate was complicit. We will ask the honourable High Court to set an example of punishing the guilty, who have been identified by the judicial inquiry that this court had ordered”.
The report found that Kumar was “examined as many as five times from 24.01.2021 to 02.02.2021 but none of the doctors of Government Hospital, Sonipat, or the doctor deputed in jail performed their duty and they apparently danced to the tune of police officials”.
However, following the court’s order, a medical examination at the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh, on February 20, 2021, found fractures on Kumar’s hand and foot and broken nailbeds on his toe caused by a “blunt object” and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Sonepat judicial magistrate first class Vinay Kakran also did not purportedly do his duty, the report found. According to Kumar, Kakran granted his police remand after the illegal confinement without seeing him. “Had the learned magistrate seen the accused Shiv Kumar in person, he could have noticed the injuries visible on his body,” Bains added.
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