10:37 GMT27 February 2021
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    At least nine Indian journalists and a federal parliamentarian from the opposition Congress party have been charged with sedition for claiming that the 26-year-old farmer who died was killed by a bullet fired by cops on 26 January, when thousands of tractor-bound farmers stormed Delhi to protest against the new farm laws.

    British newspaper The Guardian has reported that the Indian farmer killed during a protest in New Delhi on 26 January died from a gunshot wound, challenging New Delhi's version that the protester died after his tractor overturned.

    “To me this is one gunshot wound, possibly two, unless proved otherwise,” the British daily quoted Dr Basil Purdue, a pathologist recognised by the United Kingdom (UK) Home Office, as saying.

    Dr Purdue was reportedly asked to examine the video footage and the autopsy report before making his observations on the death of young farmer Navneet Singh.

    The Guardian also cites Singh’s grandfather Hardeep Singh Dibdiba who has claimed that the police post-mortem “covered-up” the gunshot wound and made no mention of it in the autopsy findings.

    Singh’s post-mortem was conducted at a hospital in Rampur District in India's Uttar Pradesh state, some 200km from Delhi, where he died while protesting against the central government's new farm laws.

    Further, the London-headquartered newspaper quotes several of Singh’s family who say that they have been denied access to their kin’s X-ray scans taken during the post-mortem.

    The report also cites several eyewitness accounts at the time of the incident on 26 January, all of them claiming that Singh had been “shot” by a bullet.

    ​The article in the British daily is at odds with India’s official version of the events that took place on 26 January, the country's 72nd Republic Day, when a big section of farmers taking part in a Tractor Rally in Delhi clashed with police.

    Delhi Police released video footage to prove that the protester died after his tractor overturned and police in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh corroborated the claim after conducting an autopsy on Singh’s body.

    The autopsy says that Singh died because of “shock and a haemorrhage” from a head injury.

    Singh was part of a group of protesting farmers who stormed the heart of the Indian capital, New Delhi, on 26 January, which is a day of national celebration, to demonstrate against three newly passed federal farm laws, which have triggered massive protests. Nearly 400 cops were injured during the clashes on that day.  

    At least nine Indian journalists and Congress parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor have been charged with sedition and spreading fake news under the Indian law in five Indian states for backing the farmers' claim that Singh was hit by a bullet wound before the accident.

    The sedition charges against the journalists have been condemned by the organisation Editors Guild of India, which has described the police complaints as an attempt to "intimidate, harass and stifle" the media.

    The Delhi Police, meanwhile, on Tuesday retweeted one of its earlier tweets which repeats that the farmer was killed in an accident, as his autopsy report made clear.

    ​Sputnik has approached Delhi Police for a comment on The Guardian's report.


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