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Shubh Karan Singh death case: FSL report reveals death by shotgun pellet, Punjab and Haryana HC orders further investigation. Read how it was politicised by ‘farmer leaders’

Addressing Senior Advocate RS Bains appearing for Kisan Union, the court said, "it shows that the pellete was shot by one of your men and you people created so much of hue and cry about it".

On 10th July, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that farmer Shubh Karan Singh, who died at the Khanuri border during farmer protests in February 2024, got shot with a shotgun, a weapon that Haryana police or the other security forces stationed at the site do not possess.

The observation came after the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report was submitted in the court by the Haryana Government. Following the report, the High Court ordered further investigation into the matter to determine who fired the shot and suggested reviewing the video footage of the incident to identify the culprit.

Details of High Court orders in Shubh Karan Singh’s death

OpIndia accessed multiple orders in the matter. In a 28th May order, the Punjab and Haryana High Court noted that Shubh Karan Singh was hit by pellets when he was standing next to the electric pole situation in Village Data Singh Wala of district Jind. Hence, the investigation falls under the jurisdiction of the State of Haryana and nowhere else.

Notably, a committee was constituted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that opined that it would be appropriate to direct the investigating agency to get a report from the Central Forensic Laboratory, Chandigarh to answer the question posed about the weapon used.

Subsequently, the court ordered the Punjab police to submit the record regarding the post-mortem report and the pellets collected from the body of Shubh Karan Singh to CFL Chandigarh.

On 10th July, Haryana police filed an affidavit as directed by the court nominating three high-ranking police officials from ADGP to the rank of Commissioner of Police for investigation into the matter. The court was also informed that the autopsy report and pellets were handed over by the Punjab police for the investigation to CFSL Laboratory, Sector 36, Chandigarh.

The FSL report dated 28th June 2024 authored by Pankaj Verma, Scientist (Ballistics) of CFSL noted that the pellets that killed Shubh Karan Singh were fired through shotgun and correspond to size “1” pellets of shotgun cartridges. The court order read, “The piece of skin and hair strands under reference have been examined chemically for the presence of firing discharge residues which were duly detected.” Furthermore, the court nominated IPS Satish Balan, Commissioner of Police, Jhajjar to investigate the matter.

Though it was not mentioned in the court order, the court observed that “Shotgun is not carried by police officers”. Addressing Senior Advocate RS Bains appearing for Kisan Union, the court said, “it shows that the pellete was shot by one of your men and you people created so much of hue and cry about it”.

Death of Shubh Karan Singh

On 21st February, Shubh Karan Singh reportedly died after he got shot in the head during a clash with the police at Khanuri border. Shubh Karan was rushed to the Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala where doctors found out that the injury was due to a bullet wound. The protestors did not waste any time and accused Haryana police of the incident which was categorically denied by the police.

CM Bhagwant Mann announced Rs 1 crore compensation and a job for sister

Two days after the incident, Chief Minister of Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, announced Rs 1 crore compensation for the family of Shubh Karan Singh. He also promised a government job for the sister of the deceased. In a post on X, he wrote, “Financial assistance of Rs 1 crore will be given by the Punjab Government to the family of Shubhakaran Singh, who was martyred during the farmers’ protest at Khanauri border, and his younger sister will be given a government job. Appropriate legal action will be taken against the culprits. They are performing their duty.” The compensation was paid to the family by CM Mann on 10th July, the same day FSL report revealed he was shot by a shotgun and not a police gun.

Details of the autopsy report

On 29th February, an autopsy was performed on the dead body of Shubh Karan Singh by the doctors at Patiala Hospital. The medico-legal report issued by the hospital noted that metal pellets were found inside Shubh Karan’s skull. He died of a firearm injury on the back of his head. Furthermore, the report pointed out that similar metal pellets were present in the torso of many protesting farmers who were injured during the clashes.

CT scan of his body was done before sending it for post-mortem. The scans revealed that metal pellets pierced on the occipital region which is the rearmost region of the skull. The autopsy report was handed over to the police. Speaking to Hindustan Times, people aware of the development said that metal pellets recovered from the body were also handed over to the police and the same would likely be sent to ballistic experts to understand what firearm was used.

Notably, an autopsy was done only after the family allowed it following a Zero FIR registered in the matter.

FIR in Shubh Karan’s death

Following the death of Shubh Karan Singh, his family members and Kisan Union leaders did not allow an autopsy to happen. They demanded to register an FIR first in the case and said only then they would allow the doctors to perform an autopsy. The dead body of the deceased farmer was placed in the mortuary of Rajindra Medica College and Hospital in Patiala.

Eight days after the death, Punjab police registered a Zero FIR in the matter against unknown people. Inspector General of Punjab Police (Headquarters) Sukhchain Singh Gill said, “A zero FIR was registered into Shubhkaran’s death following legal advice. The Chief Minister has announced ₹1 crore compensation for his family and a police constable job for his sister as per the family’s wish. We stand by his family and will do everything to support them.”

Source: Punjab Police

The FIR was registered at the Patran Police Station in district Patiala under Sections 302 and 114 of the Indian Penal Code. It was filed on the complaint of Shubh Karan Singh’s father, Charanjeet Singh.

According to the FIR, Shubh Karan was an active participant in the farmer protests. He travelled to Khanuri border with other villagers to join the protests. On the day of his death, the protesters were met with heavy blockage and tear gas shelling by Haryana police. Charanjit Singh said that he was also present at the protest site. He said when the tear gas shelling happened, the protesting farmers ran to the nearby fields to take cover on the instructions of the union leaders. Though they moved to a safer distance, he accused Haryana police of continuing to fire tear gas shells into the fields.

Source: Punjab Police

He added that the protesters began to retreat towards their tractors and at that time, Shubh Karan Singh, who was walking a few steps ahead of his father, was stuck by a bullet at the back of his head. Following the incident, he collapsed immediately. He was picked up by fellow protesters and bystanders and transported to Khanuri Hospital where he was declared dead.

Accusations against Haryana police

Haryana police came under heavy backlash due to the action it took against protesting farmers. It has to be noted that the so-called farmers came equipped with modified tractors and machines to break the barricades. Many of them were armed with swords and other weapons.

After Zero FIR was registered in the case, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia accused the Punjab government of playing in the hands of Haryana. He said, “Zero FIR means zero results. After registering a zero FIR, it has been sent to Haryana for investigation. Will the Haryana government take action against their people? Bhagwant Mann is playing into the hands of Haryana. He is working as per the directions of the Haryana Police and the Haryana government. More than 250 farmers suffered injuries and five lost eyesight…how will they ensure justice for Shubhkaran?” Majithia openly accused Haryana government and police of the injuries farmers suffered but conviniently ignored the fact that it was the farmers who came with weapons and modified machines.

In a report published by propaganda portal The Wire, family members and farmer union leaders were quoted blaming Haryana police for Shubh Karan’s death. His uncle Buta Singh told The Wire that Shubh Karan died only because Haryana police used excessive force against the protesting farmers. He said, “They were the ones who created chaos by halting farmers from marching to Delhi. Shubh would have been alive if farmers were allowed to march peacefully.”

In Shubh Karan’s village, villagers and farmer unions put up boards that read, “The Haryana government killed Shubhkaran as he was protesting at the Khanauri border to march towards Delhi demanding MSP. We will continue our struggle to get our demands fulfilled to pay tribute to him”.

Not only Haryana Police, Punjab government and police were also blamed for the death. SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann’s conspiratorial double game is responsible for the loss of this young life, the only brother of two sisters. The police of another state are allowed to assault and kill Punjabis on Punjab soil, with Bhagwant Mann collaborating with Haryana against Punjab farmers. Peaceful protest is being met with bullets unheard of in a democracy. The innocent blood of Shubhkaran Singh is in Bhagwant Mann’s hands.”

Despite FSL report, new conspiracy theories are being spinned

Following the FSL report, a narrative is being constructed that Haryana Police officials were in plain clothes and anyone could have fired the shot.

Another narrative is getting traction on social media that police lie about the weapons they use. A social media user Parmjeet SIngh wrote that in 2012, a man named Jaspal Singh was shot by police allegedly using AK-47. Initially, the police denied using AK-47 but a court-ordered orensic examination eventually linked the bullet to a police-issued AK-47. The police later claimed the shot was fired in the air and ricocheted to fatally hit Jaspal Singh. Using that incident, Paramjeet asserted that it was indicative of a “prevailing implied policy of impunity in cases where police are accused of lethal use of force.”

Source: X

Farmer leader Jagjit Singh Dallewal also expressed disbelief over the report and questioned why farmers would possess weapons to harm their own. Maybe he forgot the concept of “friendly fire”. He criticised the Haryana police over the investigation and called for an inquiry led by a retired judge of the high Court to ensure impartiality and justice. He said, “Farmers had no such weapons with them. Though policemen in uniform do not carry shotguns, a number of cops in civil clothes without nameplates were present then. They were having pellet-firing weapons as police fired teargas shells. Some of them in plain clothes damaged tractors and provoked the farmers. We will release video clips of that provocation. It seems that some of them in plain clothes might have fired from the shotgun and now, the Haryana police might be trying to twist the facts in light of the FSL report. How can a shotgun be fired from the farmers’ side? It seems the Haryana govt wants to conceal its ruthless action. We will go through the report and act accordingly.”

Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered Haryana government to remove barricades

On 10th July, Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered Haryana government to remove barricades from Shambhu border considering the number of protesting farmers has come down to 400-500 from 13,000-15,000 earlier. The court said that there were no orders to remove barricades in earlier orders as the situation was tense. The orders to remove the barricades were passed in the interest of general public. The court also directed all Kisan Unions to maintain law and order. Punjab government was also ordered to ensure the protesters gathered on their side are duly controlled.

The narrative at the time about police atrocities on so-called farmers was heavily influenced by the immediate accusations from farmer unions and protestors against the Haryana police. Shubh Karan Singh’s death led to allegations of excessive force used by the police. Several political leaders asserted that the police were responsible for his fatal injury. This narrative was fueled by the initial claims that he was shot by the police, which has now been proven false by the forensic report indicating the use of a shotgun, a weapon not used by the police at the protest site.

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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