A Little Less Melodrama and a Lot More Forensics
Yesterday’s Hindustan TImes published an interesting photograph of the late Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, who was killed, allegedly during the course of the recent ‘encounter’ at Jamia Nagar on the morning of Friday, the 19th of September.
[ See 'Braveheart Falls', Page 3, Sunday Hindustan Times, 21 September, 2008 ]
The page is headlined ‘The Hunt for Terror’ and while the other photographs on the page (of the deceased policeman’s grieving relatives) are credited, this particular one is not.
A number of disturbing questions about this ‘encounter’ are gradually beginning to make themselves known. I do not wish to repeat or reiterate them in this posting (though I feel that they need to be carefully thought about). I just want to share my doubts about particular thing that I can’t but help noticing while looking at the photograph.
The photograph shows an injured Mohan Chand Sharma walking, helped by two men, presumably towards a vehicle that would be taking him to hospital.
The man on his left is bulky, wears a black T Shirt with a red figure of 8 on it. One of Sharma’s arms is slung around his shoulder. The man on his right is tall, balding, wears a blue patterned necktie and a white shirt (he is also seen on the TV footage from Holy Family Hospital, where Sharma was taken). His shirt appears stained with fresh blood on his left arm and in the chest area. He wears a bag slung across his body.
Sharma seems to have lost one shoe, appears to be in some pain, and clearly needs support as he walks. He is wearing an off white bush shirt, over a white vest and has what looks like some strong blood stains on his right arm (just below where the man on his right is holding him) and some faint stains, (which could be small quantities of blood, or could be stains from having brushed against a surface on which there is blood) on his right abdomen area.
Since he is not on a stretcher of any kind, he appears to be in a position where it is plausible that he walked down the four floors from the site of the encounter at L-18 and is seen continuing to walk. He is in pain, but his injuries, at least in this photograph, do not appear to be life-threatening, at least not as yet.
Crucially, there do not seem to be any visible signs of excessive blood loss. In serious bullet injuries, especially when they have occurred at close range, there is every chance of immediate and large scale blood loss. If he came down the stairs as he must have, we would have seen a lot of blood on the stairs, had there been a lot of bleeding. Having watched the video footage of the staircase repeatedly and carefully on the day of the ‘encounter’ I clearly recall that while the staircase was indeed ‘spotted’ with small patches, skid marks and spots of what looked like blood, the amount of blood did not suggest that a person who was bleeding heavily had walked down, (or even had been carried down) four flights of stairs.
Reports of the autopsy conducted on Mohan Chand Sharma’s body indicate that he sustained two injuries - in his right arm and in his adbomen. [See Autopsy Suggests Sharma died of ‘excessive bleeding’ by Teena Thacker, Indian Express, Posted Online, September 21, 2008 at 0017 hours.]
But no bullets were found, either in X Ray or during the autopsy. Suggesting that the bullets would have exited the body. This occurs when a high velocity firearm is used at close range, such that the force of the impact tears right through the body, causing the bullet to be ejected out of the body through an ‘exit wound’. If there are exit wounds, they tend to be larger than entrance wounds, and they are accompanied by profuse bleeding.
[For a discussion of how bullet injuries impact on soft tissue in human bodies see How a high speed bullet damages an organ – from Gun Shot Wounds (CRC Press, 1985) by Dr. Vincent J.M. DiMaio, Chief Medical Examiner and Director of the Regional Crime Laboratory, County of Vexar, San Antonio, Texas.]
Sharma died of excessive bleeding. The excessive bleeding seems not to have begun at least till the time that this photograph was taken. The photograph in the Hindustan Times is consistent with the possibility of an injured arm, and the blood stains on his escorts shirt also seem to be in consonance with what would happen if you were helping a person who has been injured on his arm (or if the blood has sprayed on to your shirt at close range from another injured person).
The ground which the three figures are walking on is clearly visible in the photograph, again, here too, we do not see the kind of marks that should be visible if a severely injured and bleeding person were to be walking.
If this is so, then some rather disturbing questions seem to begin to raise their heads.
Was Sharma shot (at least one more time) after this photograph was taken, and before he reached hospital? If so, who shot him?
The only people who can be said to be with him as he travelled from the site of the encounter to the hospital were his other security personnel. There were no armed ‘terrorists’ with him, around him, or facing him, at this time.
While Mohan Chand Sharma’s career may have been illuminated by several decorations, there is no doubt that not unlike his deceased mentor and colleauge, Rajbir Singh, he had, of late come under a bit of a cloud. The decision to transfer him out of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police to the Police Training College at Jharoda Kalan (which has been interpreted as a punishment posting by some) is well known. He was asked to stay on, or perhaps himself asked to stay on, for this particular operation. It could have been a last attempt at another touch of glory in a career that was beginning to lose its shine.
We may do well to remember that Mohan Chand Sharma’s erstwhile mentor and colleague,the late Rajbir Singh, too died in somewhat mysterious circumstances, apparently to do with his somewhat unsavoury sideline as an extortionist and part of a real estate mafia racket (after having a distinguished list of ‘encounters’ and ‘investigations’, including the 13 December case, to his name).
WIth Rajbir Singh’s and now Mohan Chand Sharma’s deaths, two more people who possibly knew a lot about say, the 13 December case are no longer in the reckoning, and with a steady chorus mounting for the execution of Afzal Guru, the day may not be far when no footsoldier will be left alive to bear witness to what exactly happened on and around the 13th of December, 2001 and several other less than transparent episodes in the recent history of what passes as ‘anti-terrorist operations’.
While today, Mohan Chand Sharma may be commemorated as a ‘hero’, as ‘braveheart’, as a ‘martyr’ a dispassionate look at his rise may actually reveal different shades. The possibility, that for many people within the deep structures of the security establishment, his ‘neutralization’ may not be an altogether inconvenient thing, cannot be ruled out.
Incidentally, Mohan Chand Sharma’s funeral was attended amongst others by Sachin Vaze and Pradeep Sharma, both top encounter killings of the Mumbai police, M.C. Sharma’s friends, and both currently undergoing suspension, Vaze because of a case of custodiald death involving him, and Pradeep Sharma, because of suspected links to the Mumbai underworld. [See Tarnished Cops Seek Meaning in Sharma’s Death by Vikas Shrivastav and Vivek Sinha, Mumbai Mirror, Posted on September 21, 2008.]
Mohan Chand Sharma may have died a violent death, and every violent death (including possibly many of those that he may himself have authored in his career) is tragic and must be mourned. However, much of what he did, or was made to do, or became habituated to doing, and all that he represented, still needs to be accounted for. His last few hours need accounting for. The ‘Jamia Encounter’ and its link to the Delhi, Gujarat, Jaipur, Bangalore and Varanasi bomb blasts doesn’t quite look like the open and shut case it is being made out to be on prime time television. By Sunday evening, a channel called India TV, (famous for predicting apocalypse on a daily basis) ran a dramatized ‘reconstruction’ with the theme of a 13 headed monster terrorist cell, within two days of Friday’s events. Times Now, another channel, kept saying that they had ‘Exclusive’ Photographs of the so called ‘Terrorists’ at the sites in which they had planted the bombs. What they showed us were black and white close ups of smiling young men. The photographs did not in any way indicate ‘where’ these men happened to be located.
Perhaps we need a little less melodrama, and a lot more forensics. That could help us understand what exactly happened at Jamia Nagar last Friday, and what is actually going on in the name of the ‘war on terror’ in this country today.