Dalit activist Shiv Kumar says he was tortured in Haryana jail

Says he will return to continue fighting for the rights of the marginalised, brutalised but not defeated says from hospital he will keep fighting for labour rights

Image Courtesy:telegraphindia.com

Just a few days ago, the Supreme Court issued directions to all states and Union Territories (UT) to comply with its December 2020 order of installing CCTV cameras in all police stations and investigation agencies. Through its order dated March 2, the top court also expressed its displeasure as both the Centre and the states/UTs failed to take the matter seriously.

A Bench comprising Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, BR Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy said, “We reiterate that these are the matters of utmost importance concerning the citizens of this country under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.” 

On December 2, 2020, the top court had passed a detailed and specific order directing states and the Centre to take concrete steps towards ensuring that every police station in the country and all investigating agencies have CCTV cameras in their premises. The court had also sought action plan affidavits from all states within 6 weeks to ensure that the states are doing their bit to end custodial torture.

Dalit activist Shiv Kumar, recently released on bail, is a case in point when it comes to discussions over custodial torture. According to a report in The Telegraph, Kumar is now under treatment in hospital for injuries caused allegedly by police torture in custody. Kumar is undergoing treatment at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.

Shiv Kumar, President of Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, Kumar was arrested on January 16, a few days after the arrest of Nodeep Kaur, for allegedly violently protesting the harassment of factory workers in the Kundli Industrial Area in Sonipat on January 12. He was granted bail by a local Sonipat court in all three cases registered against him. He was granted bail in two cases registered under extortion charges on March 3, and in connection with the third FIR on March 4. The  24-year-old labour rights activist told The Telegraph that he would take the police up on a threat against ever setting foot in Kundli again. “While in their custody, police warned me never to be seen in Kundli if I am released or they would pick me up again. But I shall go back. Workers have to fight for their rights because the police are a tool in the hands of the capitalists and we can’t expect justice from them,” he told TT. According to the news report, Kumar’s injuries include “broken toenail beds, fractures and symptoms of post-traumatic disorder”.

He says he “was abducted, not arrested,” and that the police “suddenly pounced on me and took me away. I remember being taken into the Criminal Investigation Agency-1 (police unit) in Sonipat’s Gur Mandi. From January 16 to 23, I was constantly hit with sticks, abused and humiliated referring to my caste. I was not allowed to sleep. They were inhuman. They were always in plainclothes. None offered me first aid.” 

He further alleged he was “beaten and then shown videos of the protest (on January 12) and asked to identify people. I asked them how I could identify people when I was not there. At the time, I was at the Singhu border protest. People have taken footage of me at Singhu border. They would keep hitting me on my toes with lathis. They did all kinds of brutality and I was constantly in pain.”

The Telegraph reports that Kumar’s statement recorded by the board says, “They tied both his feet, lay him on the ground, and hit him on the soles. His 2nd, 3rd and 5th toe nails of the right foot were torn and the nail of the big toe of the 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 also on the back of his head. He was not allowed to sleep for three days, the C.l staff took his statement and asked him to give names and when he could not do so. They tied him to a chair and poured water to his head… He was mentally and physically abused in the police remand and they also poured hot water on his feet and any blisters that formed were burst by them.”

Nodeep Kaur told SabrangIndia that she met Shiv Kumar when he was released and said, “He was in a bad shape that day, but is better today. He is still under treatment at the hospital.” According to the TT news report, Shiv Kumar has said that from January 29 to January 31, he was taken to various places. He said, “I was first taken to Samalkha police station in Panipat district, then to some other police post in that district. At night they took me to some restaurant on a highway and handcuffed me while they drank liquor and made merry. The next morning we went to Haridwar where I was kept in an ashram all day while the policemen were again drinking. I was not questioned on this trip. They were busy partying.” 

The report added that the cops, on the way back to Sonipat the next day, they stopped to see a relative of a policeman in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district. Kumar was sent to judicial custody in Sonipat’s district jail, on February 2. He alleged that he was “scared to ask anyone for help in jail after what the police had done to me. No doctor examined me nor was I offered any first aid.”


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