An American doctor has told how he and his team were ‘brutally beaten’ by police as they tried to tend to those injured in violent clashes during protests against farming reforms in India.
Dr Swaiman Singh from New Jersey said they were set upon by stick-wielding officers – leaving three doctors with broken arms and a volunteer with a cracked skull.
In disturbing footage of the attack one of the medics in a first aid high visibility vest is chased by officers in full riot gear before being viciously battered as he falls to the floor.
Horrified onlookers can be heard screaming ‘Don’t hit the doctors’ as they watched batons rain down on the men.
Footage showed the medic being ‘brutally beaten’ by police during protests against farming reforms in India
Dr Swaiman Singh from New Jersey said the volunteer medics had been helping an injured policeman when they were attacked
Another clip showed volunteers forming a human chain in an effort to protect the medic
Ironically, the American College of Cardiology fellow said the volunteer medics had been helping an injured policeman when they were attacked by 10 to 15 officers.
‘They hit us brutally….They fractured the arms of three doctors, hit a guy in the skull, nearly opened up his skull,’ he said in a video message detailing the violence.
‘Hit guys in the leg who have bruises all over their legs, one of them was actually holding an IV pole as we were suturing up a police officer at the time.’
Dr Singh, who completed his medical residency at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said the attack only came to an end when another group of police officers intervened and apologised for the violent unprovoked assault.
Another video showed the volunteers forming a human chain in their efforts to protect a doctor treating a badly injured farmer as officers beat people around them moments before.
The shocking images were recorded on Thursday when thousands of farmers in a convoy of tractors were met with tear gas and police with batons at barricades in the capital New Delhi.
At least one farmer was killed while many police officers and protestors were left injured in a series of demonstrations in which the city’s historic Red Fort was also stormed.
Dr Singh has been providing aid on the borders of Delhi where tens of thousands of farmers from all over the country have been camping peacefully at the capital’s outskirts for two months.
The American had travelled to India for a family emergency in November but upon seeing the mass protest felt unable to return to his home on the East Coast and was instead compelled to stay on to help.
Dr Singh (left and right) had travelled to India for a family emergency but upon seeing the protest felt compelled to stay on to help
The doctor said the attack came to an end when another group of police officers intervened
His charity the 5 Rivers Heart Association – which normally helps underserved communities in Punjab – set up 32 ambulances and 220 volunteers to provide support at Thursday’s rally.
He said things went wrong when a flare was fired at the face of a farmer who was driving a tractor causing him to lose control and crash into a barrier injuring many officers and protestors.
‘Next thing we know we had to set up a field hospital there, we were treating police officers, injured farmers…’ he said adding that none of the state’s emergency services were on standby.
‘Our team was suturing up these people, putting IV lines in and giving injections.
‘Farmer, police officers or CRPF (the armed Central Reserve Police Force)….We didn’t see any difference to us they were all humans and as doctors it was our duty to serve.
‘But after about an hour…next thing you know a group of about 10 to 15 police officers rushed towards where we were and starting hitting these two guys (nearby) with sticks.
‘And in hitting them they started hitting us, hitting us brutally. The images are shocking, you can see in the videos from bystanders,’ he added.
The assault on medics has been condemned by the NGO Indian Doctors for Peace and Development.
Mr Singh said the aggressive behaviour appeared to be an attempt to provoke protestors and derail the demo which is proving to be the biggest challenge Narendra Modi’s government has faced.
The scenes saw thousands of farmers met with tear gas and police with batons at barricades in the capital New Delhi
Delhi police arrested 200 people on Thursday and accused those who breached barricades at the rally of ‘violence and destruction’.
The farmers are demanding the withdrawal of new laws which they say will favour large, private buyers over producers and will destroy their livelihoods.
Up until this week the protests have been largely peaceful and cheerful– with locals showering flower petals on the farmers who in turn have been feeding the homeless.
But the situation has grown tense since Thursday’s violence with the government cutting the internet connection at the main sites.
Protestors have also complained that their electricity has been cut off and their food and water supplies blocked by the police.
Criminal charges have also been filed against journalists, activists and opposition politicians speaking out against police brutality accusing them of ‘sedition’ and inciting violence ahead of the clashes.
Today Labour MP for Slough Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi said he was ‘shocked and saddened’ to see footage of mobs and police officers trying to clear the farmers protest.
Taking to Facebook he wrote: ‘Shocked and saddened to see footage of mobs and police trying to intimidate and clear Delhi #FarmersProtest, having first stopped their supply of water, electricity and internet.
‘Perpetrators of violence cannot be condoned, but if people in power abuse the human rights of peaceful protesters, it’ll merely make their movement stronger. #TheWorldIsWatching.’
Yesterday tensions escalated at Singhu Border after a group of 200 men – believed to be from Hindu nationalist groups – descended on the farmers.
Local TV news reports showed the men throwing stones at the protestors and pulling down their tents as Delhi Police watched on.
The disturbing video report also showed one Sikh farmer being pulled from the site and viciously beaten and stripped of his turban and trousers before being carried off by the police.
Mr Singh fears that the increasingly volatile situation will results in the deaths of many more protestors – many of whom are elderly men and woman – in the coming days.
Appealing for action from the international community, the doctor who had provided aid at the Black Lives Matter protests in the US said: ‘People are going to die here, we are being squeezed, food lines are
being cut, water is being cut and internets connections are being cut.
‘This is devastating. People are going to start to die in one, two or three days if not today….These farmers are literally dying.’
Eleven rounds of talks between the farm unions and the government have so far failed to break the deadlock.