Gurmukh Singh, 82, Joginder Singh, 63: Wrongfully Held in Tihar?
“When I asked what’s my crime, police beat me up,” said 80-yr-old Gurmukh Singh arrested by Delhi Police.
Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
The 26 January farmers’ tractor rally turned violent in Delhi, leading to the arrest of over 150 people including some senior citizens. The Quint spoke to two senior citizens who got bail after spending 16 days in jail.
The first thing that comes to mind on meeting 82 year old Subedar Gurmukh Singh and 63 year old Joginder Singh, is whether their age would have permitted them to participate in violence?
Yet, both were arrested by Delhi Police on charges of assault and disobeying public servants in connection with the Republic Day violence.
They claim that they were protesting peacefully at Burari ground in Delhi with other farmers on that day.
“Around 7.30pm on 28 January, when we all were resting, I got out of the tent. Suddenly, policemen held my arms from both sides. When I asked them what the matter was, they said ’batate hain’ (we will tell you) and started hitting and pushing me. I fell down. They said I’m under arrest. When I asked what crime have I committed, they beat me again.”Subedar Gurmukh Singh, Indian Army, Retd
‘Police Started Beating & Pulling Me’
Gurmukh Singh served in the Indian Army for 22 years and retired as a Subedar. He is a farmer and lives in Punjab's Fatehgarh Sahib district. He got a grand welcome from fellow residents when he returned home after getting bail.
Joginder Singh is also a farmer from Punjab's Mansa district. He told The Quint how he was arrested by Delhi Police at Burari ground.
“We were protesting peacefully (at Burari ground), there was no (violent) activity at all. Suddenly, CISF and Delhi Police came in a big van. They forced us into a bus and took us away. Two ex-armymen who were with us, one of them a subedar, were brutally beaten by the police. They kept saying ‘we have served the nation’, to no avail.”Joginder Singh, farmer protestor
“Around 20-30 people started beating and pulling me. I told them that I will not leave farmers protest ground. I told them, kill me, but I will not leave,” said Gurmukh to The Quint.
‘Neither Age, Arrest nor Jail can stop Us’
After being allegedly beaten up by Delhi Police, both senior citizens were sent to Tihar jail with other farmers. Though they did get medical attention, Gurmukh says he is still on medication because of the police beating.
Joginder Singh says their lives were worse inside the jail.
“If we complained of illness, the doctor would see us only after 2-3 days. Our cell in Tihar jail was just an 8 feet by 10 feet room. There was a small dirty bathroom just a few feet away. Four people were stuffed into such a small cell. We were kept like animals.”Joginder Singh, farmer protestor
Though the conditions were pathetic, Gurmukh Singh says jail inmates ‘respected’ them.
Both senior citizens say that the alleged police atrocities they faced have not broken them. They say they will go back to Delhi and rejoin the farmers’ protests till the new farm laws are not withdrawn.
“My mother is 80 years old. I will take her blessings and go back to the protest. We will continue to protest until the new farm law is withdrawn.”Joginder Singh, farmer protestor
“I will definitely go back to Delhi to join protest after taking care of my crops.”Subedar Gurmukh Singh, Indian Army, Retd
Gurmukh and Joginder’s claims raise serious questions about Delhi Police’s probe into the Republic Day violence in Delhi.
Did the police wrongly implicate those who were peacefully participating in the protest just to pad up the numbers of those arrested?
Though both of them are now out on bail after over 2 weeks behind bars, their ordeal is not over. They still have a long legal battle to fight ahead.
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