Dalit activist Shiv Kumar faced custodial violence, medical report reveals

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A medical report by the government medical college and hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh submitted to Punjab and Haryana High Court found that Shiv Kumar, president of Mazdoor Adhikar Sanghatan was subjected to brutal custodial violence.

The board of senior doctors of the GMCH examined Kumar on February 20 and concluded that he suffered at least four fractures, broken toenail beds, and showed symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Shiv Kumar, who is co-accused in cases registered against Nodeep Kaur, was arrested on January 16, four days after Kaur was picked up by the Haryana Police. His family and lawyers weren’t notified of the arrest until January 30. Police records however say that he was booked on January 24 and arrested two days later.

The High Court ordered the medical examination after Kumar’s father Rajbir Singh filed a petition seeking the HC’s intervention in the case. Rajbir alleged that his son was illegally detained and has since faced custodial violence.

Kumar is currently being held at Sonipat jail and Rajbir said in the petition that he wasn’t allowed to meet his son. According to the petition, Kumar, who has difficulties with vision, was refused his spectacles. The plea also revealed that officials did not allow Kumar to sign a vakalatnama until after multiple failed attempts.

According to the medical report, 23-year-old Kumar has:

  • Swelling on the right foot, nail beds of the right second and third toe are broken and the underlying skin is reddish in colour and showing healing changes
  • Swelling and tenderness of left foot, left big toe shows blackish discoloration,
  • Nails of the left thumb and index finger show bluish-black discoloration with tenderness and tenderness over the right wrist
  • Fracture of distal phalanx of the second digit of the left hand
  • Fracture of the base of 5th metatarsal bone of right foot
  • Possible fracture/ sesamoid bone at left navicular bone… possibly fracture of the right ulna bone (right wrist)

The report quoted Kumar saying that after his arrest on January 16, he was taken to Old Kacheri, Sonipat where he was assaulted by seven police personnel. The report also revealed damning details of violence. Kumar alleged that the police tied both his feet, lay him on the ground, and hit him on the soles.

“His second, third, and fifth toenails of the right foot were torn and the nail of the big toe of his left foot became blue. They also hit him on the buttocks with flat sticks, then they tied his hands and stretched his legs. He was made to lie on the ground with both legs straight and a metal pipe was placed on his thigh and rolled over the thighs by two people. They also hit him on both hands and palms and on the back of his head,” the report says.

Other forms of torture as described by Kumar include, not letting him sleep for three days, tying him to a chair, and pouring water on his head when he refused to answer their questions.

Kumar’s psychiatric evaluation revealed that he showed symptoms of PTSD. He appeared sad and distressed, with occasional crying spells. “He expressed a preoccupation with his current situation, reported predominant anxiety symptoms, flashbacks of brutality meted out to him, nightmares, feelings of loneliness, uncertainty about the future, and sleep disturbances,” says the report.

In his petition, Rajbir also sought an independent investigation into Kumar’s case. Alongside ordering a medical examination, the HC on February 19 said, “The respondents are also directed to ensure that the petitioner is permitted to meet an advocate of his choice.”

In a subsequent hearing on February 24, Kumar’s lawyer Harinder Deep Singh Bains requested that Kumar be shifted to GMCH Chandigarh for urgent medical attention. The state counsel assured that Kumar will be provided with the required facilities and will be shifted to GMCH if needed.

The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for 16 March. The honourable justice Avneesh Jinghan sought Kumar’s previous medical records.

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