Delhi HC asks cops for status report on farmer’s death during R-Day tractor rally

Plea filed by grandfather of the deceased challenges the police claim that Navreet died in accident

Farmers
Farmers' unions while expressing regret over the violence at Red Fort on Republic Day had said that they would continue their protest at Delhi borders| File photo: PTI

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought a status report from Delhi Police on a petition seeking constitution of a Special Investigation Team to conduct a court-monitored probe into the death of protesting farmer Navreet Singh on January 26 during the tractor rally.

A single-judge bench of Justice Yogesh Khanna also issued notice to Chief Medical Officer, District Hospital, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh and Station House Officer, P.S. Bilaspur Rampur, UP in the petition.

The petitioner before the High Court is Hardeep Singh, grandfather of the deceased farmer, Navreet Singh. The Delhi Police claims the cause of death in the present case was a motor accident.

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The petitioner was represented by advocate Vrinda Grover, who has cited eyewitness testimony and medical opinion to assert that Navreet Singh was shot by policemen, and the Delhi Police had failed to conduct any enquiry or investigation before making a hasty proclamation that the death was caused by an accident.

The state represented by standing counsel Rahul Mehra has stated that the state will share all relevant documents and electronic evidence with the family of the deceased farmer. The case is now listed for February 26.

Hardeep Singh said, “I have lost my grandson. I have a right to know how he died. I am seeking a fair, independent and time-bound investigation. The Delhi Police at every step of the way inspired not a shred of confidence in me.”

In the writ petition filed by Advocate Vrinda, she said, “on 26th January, Navreet Singh was participating in the farmer protests in New Delhi. At around 1:30-2:00 pm near the Andhra Education Society in ITO area of New Delhi, the petitioner’s grandson was driving his tractor when he suffered fatal ante mortem injuries which caused his death.”

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The petition said the eyewitness accounts reported in the media, Navreet was driving his tractor past the Andhra Education Society in New Delhi, he was shot by policemen, due to which he lost control of his tractor which thereafter collided with some barricades and overturned.

Navreet was lying in a critically injured condition under the overturned tractor. However, despite the presence of a large number of policemen, including senior police officers in the vicinity, no attempts were made by Delhi Police to provide immediate critical medical intervention to save his life and no efforts were made by the Delhi Police to cordon off the site of the incident and to collect time-sensitive material evidence from the site, which was allowed to be erased and destroyed, the petition added.

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The petition further alleged that the entire incident on 26th January was captured on multiple CCTV cameras including those installed by the Andhra Education Society near ITO in New Delhi. Around 4:30 pm the same day, about 20 policemen in riot gear stormed into the CCTV room of Andhra Education Society and removed the DVR from the CCTV storage and took it in their custody.

The petition accuses Delhi Police of wrongly declaring Navreet Singh dead due to an accident and not because of any firing by policemen. On January 27, the postmortem of Navreet Singh was carried out at District Hospital, Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, under the jurisdiction of P.S. Bilaspur.

As per the petition, the postmortem records that the deceased had a “lacerated wound of size 2x1cm, bone-deep, over medial end of the (right) eyebrow” and another lacerated wound of “2x1cm over the left side of the chin, below the left angle of mouth.” For the first wound, the “margins are inverted” and for the second, the “margins are inverted and bone-deep,” the report states.

The fourth wound is stated to be a “lacerated wound of 6cmx3cm size over the right ear, margins are irregular and everted and ear ossicles and brain material is coming out from the wound.”

The cause of death as per the report is “shock and haemorrhage as a result of ante mortem head injury.” The postmortem was video graphed, but was not shared with the petitioner or his family, the petition added.

The petitioner sought that this is the right to justice of deceased’s family and right to know the truth through a fair and independent investigation about how, and in what circumstances, his 25-year-old young grandson died, be protected, enforced and upheld.

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