A medical report has shown that Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan president Shiv Kumar, a co-accused in the cases registered against activist Nodeep Kaur, has eight injuries that are more than two weeks old, The Tribune reported on Wednesday. The report was prepared by a five-doctor board of the Government Medical College and Hospital and submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday.
The court had on February 19 directed the superintendent of Sonipat Jail to have Kumar examined at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, after his father Rajbir alleged that the jailed activist was “subjected to police torture”, reported The Indian Express. The board examined Kumar on February 20.
Kumar suffered multiple fractures, torn toe nails and was “mentally and physically abused in the police remand”, said the four-page medical report, reported Article 14.
“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,” the medical report added. “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.” It added that Kumar has alleged that he was also not allowed to sleep for three days.
Kumar showed signs of “post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms”, according to the medical report. “All injuries [on Kumar’s body] are more than two weeks old and were caused by blunt object/weapon.”
Police records show that Kumar was booked on January 24 and arrested two days later. However, the family of Kumar, a 24-year-old Dalit activist, has alleged that he was arrested on January 16.
The medical report, quoting Kumar, said that he was taken to old Kacheri, Sonepat, on January 16 after he was arrested and assaulted by seven people. The activist alleged that the police tied both his feet, lay him on the ground, and hit him on the soles.
The psychiatric assessment said that the jailed activist appeared sad and distressed with occasional spells of crying.
“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. Appetite is normal. He denies delusions, hallucination, ideas/plans of self-harm. Overall, evaluation is suggestive of post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms.”— The psychiatric assessment, reported by Article14.
On the injuries afflicted to Kumar, the medical report said that there were fractures on the bones of the fingertips of his left hand as well as the middle section of his right foot. The medical report also pointed to a possible fracture on bones embedded with the muscle at one of his foot and at the right wrist.
After receiving the report, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has sought a report of Kumar’s medical examination, which was conducted when the Sonepat Police arrested him. The court has listed the matter for hearing on March 16.
Kumar’s condition was unknown till the medical report was submitted as neither the activist’s family nor his lawyers were allowed to meet him between February 2 and February 20. Anup Surendranath, a lawyer and executive director of Project 39, National Law University project on the death penalty, said that Kumar should not only get proper medical attention but also be released.
Surendranath also called for fixing accountability for Kumar’s torture. “Now the period of Kumar’s custody is known and the duration of these injuries as per the medical examination map on to that period,” he told Article 14. “An FIR must be registered against the police and criminal prosecution be launched against them.”
Kumar’s lawyers hoped he would be moved from prison to a hospital given the severity of his injuries. Advocate Harinder Bains told Article 14 that the police arrested Kumar and tried to allege criminal links and got 10 days remand, arguing that they needed to take him to other states, such as Assam and Bengal, to establish those links.
“In fact [the police] did not take him there and instead took him to Haridwar on 30 January in the remand period and brought him back to then put him in prison from 2 February onwards,” said Bains, who alleged “extreme mental and physical torture” of his client.
Kumar and Nodeep Kaur were arrested in January on charges of extortion and attempt to murder after they mobilised workers near the Singh farm protest site. In early January, Kaur and her colleagues from the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan staged a demonstration in the Kundli industrial area, near Singhu, outside a factory that had not paid wages to its workers. Kaur’s family has alleged that she was sexually harassed in prison, even though the police have denied the claims.