While the Maharashtra Police have claimed that Bhagirath Tulsiram Choudhari, the tribal youth whose death triggered protests in Harsul Tuesday, could have died due to drowning, the inquest report accessed by The Indian Express shows signs of ante-mortem “struggle” on his body.
“Abrasion on left leg on middle of 1/3 of leg, abrasion on left leg on middle of 1/3 of leg, abrasion on left upper eye lid and abrasion on pinna of left ear. All the wounds are 24 hours old,” the inquest report reads.
“These wounds are not normally found in cases of drowning,” said Medical Superintendent, Harsul Rural Hospital, Dr Arun Pawar. The preliminary post-mortem of the victim was conducted at this hospital.
The death certificate issued by Nashik Civil Hospital too does not confirm with certainty that the cause of Choudhari’s death was drowning. “The probable cause of death is due to drowning. Viscera preserved, opinion reserved (sic),” says the July 8 report.
On July 7, Choudhari’s body was found in a well belonging to another villager, Rizwan Sheikh. While the family members claimed he was murdered, the police closed the case after filing an accidental death report (ADR).
On July 14, minutes after Home Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Kumbh Mela in Trimbakeshwar, violence broke out between the two communities 30 kilometres away in Harsul.
There was heavy police deployment but the violence left 15 policemen, including three senior officers, injured. A local youth, identified as Ramdas Budhar (28), allegedly died in police firing. “His post-mortem report says he died of bullet injury on his thigh,” said Dr Pawar.
The police managed to contain the situation but more than a dozen cases of arson and loot were reported. Curfew was imposed in Harsul, which continued on Wednesday.
Around 11 am Wednesday, violence erupted again and 38 policemen were injured in the clashes. A local resident, Dyaneshwar Tabale (26), sustained a ‘bullet’ injury in his abdomen. He was shifted to the Nashik Civil Hospital Wednesday evening. District Guardian Minister Girish Mahajan, who visited the village Wednesday, told The Indian Express that it was a rubber bullet that hit the youth.
The 38 policemen admitted at the Harsul Rural Hospital have suffered ‘contused lacerated wounds’.
“The nature of injuries shows they were hit by blunt objects,” said Medical Officer Dr Virendra Gawit.