Medical Report Adds Weight to Activist Shiv Kumar's Allegation of Police Torture

Kumar, the president of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, and Nodeep Kaur were arrested by the Haryana police in a criminal case.

Content warning: Descriptions of violence, torure

New Delhi: The medical examination of Shiv Kumar, a labour rights activist who was arrested in a criminal case registered by the Haryana police along with Nodeep Kaur, has added weight to his allegations of custodial torture.

The report submitted by the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Chandigarh to the Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday says Kumar, 24, has at least two fractures and multiple injuries caused by “blunt object/weapon” which are “more than two weeks old”.

The findings, reported by the Indian Express, add weight to the allegations that Kumar was “brutally tortured” by the police. The Punjab and Haryana HC had taken cognizance of a plea by Kumar’s father and ordered his medical examination on February 19.

Kumar, who is the president of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, was picked up on January 16, four days after his co-accused Nodeep Kaur was picked up. While the Kundli police station in Sonipat has registered a case of extortion and assault of police officers against Kumar and Kaur, members of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan say the duo fought for the rights of workers who were not paid their wages.

According to the Indian Express, the GMCH report says Kumar has “right foot swelling…swelling and tenderness of left foot…nail beds of right second and third toe are broken and underlying skin is reddish in colour and showing healing changes… left big toe shows blackish discoloration… nails of left thumb and index finger shows bluish black discoloration with tenderness… tenderness over right wrist…”

“There is fracture of distal phalanx of the second digit of left hand… fracture of 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),” it says.

The report quotes Kumar as saying that after his arrest on January 16, he was “taken to old Kacheri, Sonepat, where the C.I. staff assaulted him”. Kumar says that the police “tied both his feet, lay him on the ground, and hit him on the soles”.

“His second, third and fifth toe nails 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

The report details other methods of torture allegedly meted out to Kumar, including not allowing him to sleep, pouring water on his head and pouring hot water on his feet.

Doctors from the orthopaedic, psychiatry, general surgery, radio diagnosis, forensic medicine and toxicology departments were part of the team which prepared the report.

According to the Indian Express, the psychiatric evaluation report says: “He appeared sad and distressed, with occasional crying spells. He expressed preoccupation with his current situation, reported predominant anxiety symptoms, flashbacks of brutality meted out to him, nightmares, feelings of loneliness, uncertainty about future and sleep disturbances.”

On Wednesday, the Punjab and Haryana HC sought Kumar’s previous medical records and fixed the next hearing for March 16.

While Kumar was apparently picked up on January 16, he was arrested on January 23. According to Newslaundry, his family learned of his arrest only after 15 days. He was presented in court on January 24 and was sent to 10 days’ police remand.

Kaur’s family has also accused the police of custodial torture.