New Delhi: A grim headline of the recent violent protests in Delhi has been the death of constable Subhash Tomar, who fell to the ground while the police clashed on Sunday with thousands of demonstrators demanding tougher anti-rape laws and better safety for women. The national outcry for change was provoked by the monstrous gang-rape in Delhi earlier this month of a young student on a moving bus with tinted windows.
The protests have dissipated this week, but how Mr Tomar, 46, died has become the insalubrious point of dispute between the police and its critics.
The post-mortem report, a version of which was shared by the police today, finds Mr Tomar died of injuries from blunt objects. (Read details of Subhash Tomar's post-mortem report) Two eyewitnesses, both photographed as they helped Mr Tomar, offer a different account - they say he collapsed as he was chasing protesters.
The confusion was exacerbated this morning by doctors who said that Mr Tomar did not have any "major" external injuries and that only a post-mortem would determine what caused his death.
The discrepancy has prompted the Ministry of Home Affairs to ask the police for a detailed report on the circumstances in which Mr Tomar was killed; the case has been assigned to the Delhi Crime Branch.
Yogendra, a young protester, told NDTV on Sunday night that Mr Tomar collapsed during the riots, and that other policemen ignored his desperate requests to call for an ambulance. (Watch)
Another protester, Pauline, seen with Yogendra in the photos, her head bandaged, corroborated his account.
"I saw a cop suddenly fall down. We ran towards him and opened his jacket and shirt buttons to help him breathe. He vomited and fell unconscious as we asked him, 'Uncle, can you hear us? If so, please breathe'." (Watch)
Like Yogendra, Pauline alleges that policemen nearby did not offer to help. "Yogendra saw some police vans nearby, he ran and managed to get one of them," she said, explaining that is how Mr Tomar was moved to hospital.
The controversy comes as Mr Tomar's family is trying to cope with its grief. His young son, Deepak, is in Haridwar today to perform the constable's last rites. Mr Tomar died early last morning and was cremated with full state honours. His family has blamed the protesters for his death.
Critics of the police, allege that by blaming protesters for Mr Tomar's death, the police wants to combat accusations of its lack of restraint in using batons, tear-gas and water cannons to dispel the protests.