Adding a new twist to the controversy surrounding the death of constable Subhash Chand Tomar, who was found unconscious during the protests on Sunday and later died in hospital, another “eyewitness” surfaced on Thursday claiming he had seen some people beating up and kicking the policeman. His version contradicts the statement of two other eyewitnesses who had earlier said they had seen the constable collapse on his own.
The Crime Branch on Thursday quizzed journalism student Yogendra, who along with another eyewitness Pauline, had extended help to the constable after he fell on the road. They also questioned 30-year-old Salim Alvi from Bulandshahr in U.P., who has backed the police version that the constable was attacked by a group of protesters. While Pauline did not turn up, Yogendra was asked to narrate the sequence of events after he left his residence on the fateful day during the four-and-a-half-hour session. “No pressure was mounted to change my statement,” he said, coming out of the Crime Branch office around 7.30 p.m.
For their part, the police said they had not yet recorded the statement of any of the eyewitnesses.
Stating that he was at India Gate on Sunday, Salim earlier told the media: “I was there when I heard some people talking about hijacking the protest… when the police were retreating after the lathi charge, I saw that someone from the crowd hurled a stone at constable Tomar, whose name I came to know later. He fell down, after which some people kicked him with spiked shoes and sticks. Some of them were wearing Aam Aadmi Party [AAP] caps. I tried to stop them, but they did not pay any heed.”
“I ran after them. It was only after that the other two witnesses [Yogendra and Pauline] arrived there. Everything happened within 20-25 seconds,” said Salim, a contractor, who claimed that he came forward to tell the truth after he heard that Tomar’s death was being attributed to a heart attack.
The police said Salim’s phone records confirmed that he was at India Gate around the time of the incident.
Incidentally, he is said to be the same person who had appeared before the media on two previous occasions. Earlier in August, after Anuradha Bali — the estranged second wife of former Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana Chander Mohan — was found dead at her Mohali residence in Punjab, he claimed that he was close to her and that she faced a threat to her life which she was to reveal to the media. Then in June, Salim had allegedly threatened self-immolation at the fast venue of Baba Ramdev on Parliament Street, claiming that he wanted to lodge a protest against the yoga guru and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. He had then told the police that he was earlier a passionate supporter of the anti-corruption movement, but lost faith in Baba Ramdev after he fled Ramlila Maidan last year when the police came to arrest him.
“Earlier this year, Salim had met Arvind Kejriwal in Ghaziabad and sat on a fast demanding reduction in petrol/diesel prices. Mr. Kejriwal had then persuaded him to break his fast. He had also created a ruckus during a public meeting at Bulandshahr attended by Manish Sisodia,” said AAP member Aswathi Muralidharan.
While Lohia Hospital doctors who treated Tomar said there were no major external injuries on his body, the police, on the basis of the post-mortem report, have said he died of a heart attack and its complications that could be precipitated by multiple ante-mortem (pre-death) injuries to neck and chest produced by blunt force impact.
The report, according to the police, said the constable had sustained fractures in his third, fourth and fifth ribs on the left side. The police, who have sought details of the treatment administered to Tomar, said multiple injuries on his neck and chest caused the heart attack.