Four different doctors from the Civil Hospital in Haryana’s Sonipat district examined the Dalit labour-rights activist Shiv Kumar five times between 24 January and 2 February, and found no injuries to indicate custodial torture, according to a status report by the Haryana Police. In end February, five doctors from Chandigarh’s Government Medical College and Hospital had concluded that Kumar suffered from multiple fractures, broken nail beds, several injuries and psychiatric symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. In a detailed interview, Kumar recounted his ordeal to me, accusing the police of illegally detaining him on 16 January and torturing him in custody for over two weeks. His account corroborated the GMCH report, which stated that his injuries were over two weeks old. Yet, the medical examinations conducted at the Sonipat Civil Hospital revealed “nothing abnormal” and added, “no active medical intervention needed.”
The Haryana Police filed the status report on the instructions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a case filed by Kumar’s father, Rajbir, seeking an independent investigation into his son’s detention and torture. During the proceedings, the court first called for a medical examination at GMCH, and after reviewing the report—which described severe custodial torture and PTSD—called for the records of previous medical examinations conducted. On 27 February, Virender Singh, the deputy commissioner of police of Sonipat, submitted five medical reports—four conducted at the Civil Hospital and one at Sonipat Jail—and all of them were in stark contrast to the GMCH report. After acknowledging the contrast, the high court directed the district and sessions judge of Faridabad to “hold an inquiry with regard to the allegations of illegal detention and custodial torture of Shiv Kumar.”
Kumar is the founder and president of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan—or Workers’ Rights Organisation—which, among other activities, organises peaceful protests to pressurise factories to release the wages of workers. According to the police, Kumar was arrested on 23 January in relation to three different first-information reports for committing offences pertaining to rioting, unlawful assembly, extortion and criminal intimidation, among others. The three FIRs followed two MAS protests demanding payments for workers at the Kundli Industrial Area, located on the outskirts of Delhi, which has a large number of factories that employ workers primarily from marginalised communities. He was released on bail on 4 March.