On 4 March, the Delhi High Court judge Yogesh Khanna directed the Uttar Pradesh Police and the chief medical officer of the Rampur District Hospital to provide the original X-ray plate and video of the post-mortem examination of Navreet Singh to the Delhi Police. Navreet, a farmer from Rampur, had died on 26 January while participating in a tractor rally against the recently enacted farm laws. Khanna passed the order while hearing a petition by Navreet’s grandfather, Hardeep Singh Dibdiba, seeking an independent investigation into the 25-year-old farmer’s death. Following the order, Dibdiba arrived at the Singhu border along with his son and nephew, who had seen the original X-ray on 27 January when it was conducted. “If the X-ray plate to be shown to us has a missing margin or trajectory of a bullet, it would mean that the original X-ray has been swapped,” Dibdiba told me.
“Three members from the family will see the original X-ray plate and the video recording, including my nephew—who was present in the X-ray room when the X-ray was being conducted—my son and myself,” Dibdiba said. “My nephew will ascertain or verify if it is the same X-ray plate that he saw earlier.” Dibdiba said the original X-ray showed a “three-inch long bullet trajectory” that clearly depicted the entry and the exit points of the bullet. Navreet’s post-mortem report had shown, among other injuries, a lacerated wound with “inverted and bone deep” margins over the left side of his chin, and another lacerated wound over the right ear with “irregular and everted” margins and “ear ossicles and brain matter coming out.”
As The Caravan reported earlier, eyewitnesses to Navreet’s death said that Delhi Police officials shot him outside the Andhra Education Society, in central Delhi, causing his tractor to overturn. The post-mortem report revealed injuries that, according to multiple forensic experts, could only be caused by bullets. Dibdiba and his nephew—Navreet’s uncle—were present at the District Hospital in Rampur when the post-mortem was conducted, and said that the doctors conducting the examination admitted to them that the injuries were caused by bullet wounds. The Delhi Police, however, maintain that Navreet died by accident, by crashing into a police barricade while driving his tractor at a high speed.
Dibdiba said that he had asked Subodh Sharma, the CMO at the Rampur district hospital, for the X-ray plate on the night of Navreet’s death, when the post-mortem and X-ray was conducted, and again on 30 January, but was refused both times. He said the CMO told him, “No, we absolute cannot give it.” When previously contacted by The Caravan for a response to this allegation, Sharma had said, “We are only liable to speak in a court of law.”
In his petition, Dibdiba asked for a “court appointed and court monitored Special Investigation Team comprising police officers with a demonstrable impeccable record of professional integrity, honesty, and efficiency, to carry out a time bound investigation” into his grandson’s death. He also sought directions from the court for the authorities to provide his family with copies of an X-ray report of the body and the video recording of the post-mortem. Khanna had issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh Police and the CMO of the District Hospital after the first hearing, on 11 February.