A former soldier of the Indian Army, Resham Singh, said that he was tortured by the Uttar Pradesh police, on 3 May, after the police stopped his car at a barricade in Puranpur town of Pilibhit district. The cops abused him on his Sikh identity, tied him up, tore out his turban, pulled his hair, beat him with lathis—causing grave injuries on his backside and hips—and anally penetrated him with a baton, Resham said. The police also manhandled his sisters, according to the first-information report lodged at the Puranpur Sadar police station. Despite the accusations of grave torture and brutality, the FIR accuses the cops of minor bailable offences.
The forty-year-old Resham was travelling with his mother and two sisters to Lakhimpur Kheri to attend his brother-in-law’s funeral rites when they were stopped at the barricade near Sadar police station. The sub-inspector Ram Naresh Singh asked to see their vehicle documents. While Resham was looking for them, the FIR states, Ram Naresh began abusing him for taking too long. When the army veteran asked him to be mindful of his language since his mother and sisters were present, the sub-inspector and other police present at the site started beating him. Resham’s sisters tried to intervene, but the sub-inspector pushed and slapped them too, according to the FIR.
At the time, there were several men gathered at a vote counting centre for the UP panchayat elections set up near the barricade. Many of them came running to see the commotion. Satinder Singh and Harjinder Singh were among these men and they began to take videos of the incident. “We were surprised that they behaved like that with the fauji,” Satinder told me. The police began objecting to their recording of the incident. “The police argued that we wrongly took the videos, and I countered that we have a right to record the incident,” he said. The cops snatched the mobile phones of the two men and tried to delete the videos. “They were able to delete two videos but one was preserved as the phone suddenly got locked while they were fiddling with it,” Satinder said. The video shows ten policemen surrounding Resham Singh, herding him away across the barricade towards the police vehicle. One policeman hits Resham with a Lathi while others push him.
As the police tried to force the army veteran into the car, Resham’s turban was pulled off. “My turban fell on the road when they were forcing me into the vehicle, and they prevented me from picking it up,” Resham told me. “On the way to the station, when I asked them why they stopped me from pricking up my turban, Ram Naresh said ‘yeh pagri toh kya, hum toh baal bhi kaat denge’”—this was merely a turban, we will cut your hair as well.
Resham’s mother and two sisters were taken to the station in a different car, and Satinder and Harjinder were also brought there in another vehicle.
“Ram Naresh and his colleagues tied me to a cot, two cops stood on me and the rest began raining the lathi blows on me,” Resham wrote in the FIR. “Ram Naresh Singh then shouted and asked for oil and pierced the place of my latrine with the baton … I was shrieking in pain. The SHO kept inserting his oiled baton again and again, and only when I fell unconscious was I was handed over to my sisters and mother.”
The police fined them Rs 18,500, despite the fact that they were carrying all required documents, Resham said. The police had also lodged an FIR against the two sisters, along with Resham, stating that the they had jumped out of the car, forcibly tried to remove the barrier, and started abusing and hitting the police. “The policemen set us free only after some men showed up at the police station and warned the policemen that they would release a video of how I was being beaten and my sisters manhandled by the police,” Resham told me. The men who came to the station were from the counting centre and had come once they saw Harjinder and Satinder being taken away, Satinder said. “We were made to sit on the floor for three hours” at the station. Satinder said he got his phone back after three days. Harjinder got his phone back a day after that. Their names were included in Naresh Singh’s FIR.