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This Truth Will Never Be Televised: Saiyed Danish

December 28, 2012

Guest post by SAIYED DANISH

The death of the police constable Subhash Tomar in the middle of the anti-rape protests at India Gate is eerily reminiscent of the controversial death of Inspector Mohan Chandra during the infamous Batla House encounter in 2008.

 The post-mortem report of Constable Subhash Tomar says that he died of a heart attack which was triggered by internal injuries. The police say those injuries were the result of fatal blows given to him by the angry protestors. However, a protestor named Yogendra had earlier said on national TV that he “saw him running towards the protestors and then collapsing suddenly on his own.” Yet another controversy over the death of a police man,  with a familiar  clash of State vs People’s versions has now begun.

 With this development, the debate on different police and protestors’ versions of how Constable Subhash Tomar died, when he was posted with hundreds of security personnel to control the anti-rape protest from going haywire, has again raised a lot of questions on the credibility of the police side of the argument be it during a raid, an encounter or the controlling of protests such as the one at Raisina Hill.

Significantly, Tomar’s funeral was given full military honours with big wreaths being laid over his body, something which should cause raised eyebrows, as such distinguished honours to police personnel, especially constables, are only given for showing indomitable valour in extraordinary circumstances such as 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, 2008. Does such a funeral for Tomar suggest that the protestors are enemies of the State? What next? Gallantry award? A road in his name, like the road leading to Jamia Millia Islamia was hastily renamed Shaheed Mohan Sharma Road after the Batla House ‘encounter’?

Such unusual exercises carry the potential, as we have seen in the past, of sabotaging people’s movements, and offer legitimacy to crush and label people’s struggles as unconstitutional. Home Minister Shinde has already termed the protests as Maoist-inspired.

Often it has been proved that police or broadly the security apparatus, come up with fictitious narratives to cover up their own blunders in connection with an incident, which, either serves their own vendetta or personal interests or those of the  residents of the North and South Blocks of the capital city. From Kashmir to Manipur, Jharkhand, U.P, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, it is always the police version vs the people’s version and it is no secret which one wins in the end.

The same colonial ways of tackling an unarmed crowd: lathi blows, tear gas, rubber bullets; only ‘Bloody Indians’ gets replaced with the verbal expletives referring to the wombs and vaginas of womenfolk.

More interestingly, these guards of honour of the establishment can put the likes of Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth and Joseph Kanon to shame when it comes to blending facts with fiction. They grow truth from the seed of falsehood as smoothly as a cube of butter cube dissolves in kadhai chicken. In the case of Subhash Tomar’s death in a place full of protestors running towards and stepping back when threatened by tear gas, all day at Raisina Hill, it is  undeniable that there was a possibility of all of them becoming uncontrollable, especially with the lack of leadership. Then of course, circulating rumours of  stone pelting, police-people skirmishes, arson and vandalism in some parts of the city already abuzz: the ingredients seem ready for the attribution of an injury to or death of a policeman in the centre of the storm, to “obvious” factors.

The parallel is undeniable, with the case of Inspector Mohan Sharma, whose injuries to which he succumbed, are still in search of a widely accepted ’cause’ within the L-18 apartment of Batla House.

It is an irony that the ones professionally entitled to inflict physical pain are provided with bullet-proof jackets, helmets, hard laced-boots and guns,not to mention columns of barricades, curfews and roadblocks to help them ‘restore’ law and order. Nine metro stations remained unoperational for two consecutive days. Electricity in some parts of the city was cut-off for some time in the afternoon to prevent TV viewers from relating to the simmering anger outside. Roads best known for traffic jams were turned into checkpoints which only a person possessing an I-card could cross. Lastly, if the fear of people’s power was still not compensated by para-militarily fortifying the heart of the Indian capital, the government still changed the venue of the visiting Russian President from Hyderabad House to 7 Race Course Road.

 Already sounding like a state in the northern-most part of India?

Saiyed Danish is a freelance journalist, soon to join HARDNEWS magazine.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Nivedita Menon permalink*
    December 28, 2012 1:42 PM

    Kalpana Mehta and Veena Shatrughna wrote on an e-list about about Constable Tomar’s post-mortem report. I’m summarizing below what they said:

    The doctors had in their initial statement said that he had a heart attack and no signs of external injuries were visible. Yet the post mortem report said that before death he had suffered fractures in the ribs due to injuries from a blunt instrument and that probably was what led to the heart attack and his death.

    But multiple rib fractures are common in artificial resuscitation (CPR or cardio pulmonary resuscitation). The TV pictures show someone pressing the chest of the constable. It must be an attempt to revive him with CPR.

    Some information about CPR –

    Complications
    Whilst CPR is a last resort intervention, without which a patient without a pulse will certainly die, the physical nature of how CPR is performed does lead to complications that may need to be rectified. Common complications due to CPR include rib fractures, sternal fractures, bleeding in the anterior mediastinum, heart contusion...

  2. Pheroze permalink
    December 28, 2012 4:12 PM

    Any personnel, killed during an operation, gets a state funeral- especially if he dies during a charge, whether by heart attack or snake bite… And, would you rather have riot police not wearing flak jackets (not bullet proof vests as you have stated) or helmets? Are you trying to say that all those bleeding cops in RML had tomato ketchup smeared on their faces for some play rehearsal in Akshara Theatre? If the protest had been peaceful, then the lathi charge wouldn’t have happened. If you want a spontaneous violent protest against a department that arrested all those accused of the gangrape within a week, they please also accept the lathi charge. If you were there you may have noticed the cartridges in the magazines were rubber tipped. No such niceties are offered in J&K, Central India or the North East.

    • Sunalini Kumar permalink*
      December 29, 2012 7:03 PM

      “If the protest had been peaceful, then the lathi charge wouldn’t have happened.” Wake up and read some of the accounts on Kafila and other sites.

  3. Saiyed danish permalink
    December 28, 2012 6:42 PM

    But police seems to be in no mood to plunge itself into the complexities of administering CPR to a patient now. For them, it is sufficient that there are internal injuries and as if they were waiting for such results, Delhi Police was quick to opine that the postmortem said, “Tomar died of myocardial infarction (heart attack) which was precipitated by multiple injuries caused by ‘BLUNT OBJECTS’ as reported by IBN, Economic Times, Indian Express etc.

    Was the report, or the hospital preparing the report under some latent pressure from the police or did they necessarily try to walk the middle path by stating the ‘blunt object’ point indicating that the wound was the result of a blow inflicted upon him by an external force?

  4. seeta permalink
    December 29, 2012 12:27 PM

    also interesting to see how the times of india in spite of noting on several occasions the peaceful nature of the protests and unwarranted lathi charges, etc on behalf of the police, has nevertheless changed to a logic of governance (we should not let the protestors get out of hand, etc etc.) and has been pitting protestors as against public good- defined mostly as traffic jam free roads and ‘peace’ at what was seen as the then-impending possibility of the rape victim’s death. what peace, one is forced to ask? an eerie calm where even public mourning and anger cannot be expressed. much like the sadbhavana and peace in gujarat i suppose.
    disgusting that this our free press. disgusting outright.
    and then there are semantics like calling the 23 yr old Nirbhaya.
    may her friends and family find the strength to deal with the loss caused by her demise. and may we as a people find the courage to deal with this kind of filth and brutality.

  5. seeta permalink
    December 30, 2012 2:12 PM

    as the protestors mourn and grieve, starts another episode of blame. while most other channels at least have their visuals and verbal commentaries somewhat matched, aaj tak and few others are blaming the clash between the police and protestors (the visuals show them as male, all male, snatching away barricades from the police and few of them holding abvp placards) on AAP andJNUSU while sidelining the role of abvp or nsui. if there are any banners up at all, they are ABVP ones tho aaj tak has attempted to keep them out of focus. also clearly at the fringes of the camera are other protestors, looking helpless/sheepish at the mob-ness. their own visuals narrate a diff story from the one their correspondent, a mr. gothi seems intent on narrating. while there are no aap or jnusu posters or women in sight, this mr gothi is happy to name these two grps and says that women constables are asking girls not to get agitated. in the visuals (on any channel, even aaj tak itself) there are no girls/women in question or for that matter any tell tale signs of the two grps being accused, even as abvp posters and hypermasculinity of both the protestors and police continues to be demonstrated.

    • Saiyed Danish permalink
      December 31, 2012 12:40 AM

      Indeed. But I am witness to some silver linings in regard. i heard Live India reported naming the hooligans as ABVP activists. He said ‘some have been arrested and three of them belong to ABVP’.

      ABP News, till early afternoon, falshed in bold fonts: ABVP creating ruckus but after some time it all vanished and ‘protestors’ replaced ‘abvp’, similar happened with News X.

      So, what you say it sadly true but just to share, I was lucky to have some relief of unbiased approach of media on some channels.

      • seeta permalink
        December 31, 2012 4:29 PM

        absolutely. it was heartening to see that (and perhaps because other channels as well as the people on ground were quick to respond), even aaj tak had changed its tack by about mid afternoon and was calling a spade a spade. :)
        definitely something that is an imp development in its own right and no small silver lining.

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