Arrested amid ongoing farmers protest in the national capital, allegedly beaten up severely by male police officers and thrashed in private parts, 'but not broken'. Dalit activist Nodeep Kaur was finally granted bail by Punjab and Haryana High Court, on Friday, 26 February. Later in the day, she was released from Karnal jail after 46 days, following massive outrage. Here's the curious case of Nodeep Kaur.
24-year-old Nodeep, a resident of Punjab’s Muktsar, is a Dalit labour rights activist and a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan – one of the workers’ unions who joined the farmers in their ongoing protest.
In a video shared by poet Rupi Kaur, of an earlier interview of Nodeep, she could be heard saying, “The fight is against privatisation and corporatisation of our lands and our factories.
'Government is Selling Farmers and Workers to Feed Itself'
Nodeep was working part-time in a factory in Haryana's Kundli industrial area to arrange funds for her future education. Soon she joined the labour union there and actively fought for workers' rights and their unduly withheld wages.
"You see farmers and labourers are linked. They are both producers. Farmers produce in fields. Labourers produce in factories. We are falling backwards constantly. Government is selling farmers and workers to feed itself. Labourers and farmers have to join hands, if they want to win this fight.”" - Nodeep Kaur said in an interviewWhen it All Started
Nodeep was reportedly asked to resign from the factory she worked in for joining the protests. On 28 December 2020, she and some other members of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan had gathered to demand unpaid wages.
However, she was accused of 'gheraoing' the industrial area and charged for extortion.
Kaur was granted bail on 11 February, in the first case against her in connection with the 28 December protests when she and the others had sought to raise awareness about the plight of workers at farms and in industrial areas like Kundli and demanded that their pending wages be paid. But she continued to be in jail, awaiting bail in other cases.
Claim: 'Dragged by the Hair, Arrested by Male Officers'
On 12 January, Kaur and other members of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, took part in another protest for workers' pay, outside the home of a factory owner. The protests turned violent after clashes broke out between protesters and police. Police officers who arrived on the scene were reportedly injured by the crowd.
Members of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan were stopped by the police and Nodeep was accused of leading the group of 50-60 men in the FIR.(Graphics: Aroop Mishra)
The same day, Kaur was arrested from Delhi’s Singhu border by Haryana police and taken to Karnal jail. Two more cases were filed against her for offences under Section 307 (attempt to murder), Section 146 (rioting), and Section 353 (assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) of IPC, among other charges.
A sessions court in Sonepat, on 15 February, granted bail to Kaur, in the second of the three cases registered against her, subject to furnishing of bail bonds of Rs 50,000.
Claim: 'Illegally Confined, Beaten Severely by Male Officers, Thrashed in Private Parts'
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, on 12 February, took suo motu cognisance of the alleged illegal confinement of Nodeep Kaur by the Haryana Police.
Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi, in an order, stated that complaints dated 6 February and 8 February were received through e-mails regarding the illegal confinement of Kaur, treated as criminal writ petitions and ordered to be listed on judicial side. A notice was issued to the state of Haryana.(Graphics: Aroop Mishra)
Meanwhile, in her bail plea before the Punjab and Haryana High Court Nodeep said she was severely beaten up at a police station by male officers at the time of her arrest. She alleged that she was sexually abused and thrashed in private parts, while in custody and reportedly claimed that her medical examination was not conducted – a violation of section 54 of CrPC.
Nodeep's sister Rajvir said she was shocked to hear of the injury marks in her sisters private parts and asked for medical examination to be conducted at the earliest.
SP Jashandeep Singh Randhawa, however, denied Rajvir’s allegations of sexual assault on her sister and called the accusations “baseless.”(Graphics: Aroop Mishra)
Bail At Last, After 46 Days in Prison
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday, 26 February, granted bail to Kaur in the third case against her, the only one awaiting bail.
In its order, the court declined to go into the merits of the police’s case against Kaur. It has also not made any observations on the medical reports, and will continue to hear the suo motu case on illegal detention at a later date.
"The petitioner is in custody since 12.1.2021. Albeit the matter is under investigation, but that itself would not be reasons to deny personal liberty to the petitioner." - Justice Avneesh Jhingan in order granting bail to Nodeep Kaur
Kaur has been directed to maintain restraint while on bail “to ensure that no law and order issue arises due to her actions.” She is to be released subject to furnishing surety bonds.
'From a Family of Fiercely Politically Active Women, Nodeep is a Fighter'
Nodeep’s elder sister, Rajvir Kaur, who is pursuing her PhD from Delhi University, is herself involved in activism. Rajvir has been fighting for her sister's release and attention of human rights organisations on the matter, for the past 46 days, since Kaur's arrest on 12 January.
Their mother Swarnjit also works actively as part of Punjab Khet Union in Muktsar and was jailed once when she fought for women who were exploited by upper caste land owners.(Graphics: Aroop Mishra)
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