Dalit woman and labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested by Haryana Police from the Singhu Border protest site on January 12, two weeks before the Republic Day tractor rally. Her sister Rajveer Kaur, who visited her at the Karnal jail said that Nodeep has been brutally assaulted in custody by male police officers and has injuries on her private parts. Their family lawyer said that the medical reports confirmed the same.
Nodeep Kaur, 24, is a labour rights activist who is a part of Mazdoor Adhikar Sanghatan (MAS). MAS mobilized several industrial labourers of the Kundli industrial area to join protests against the farm laws at the Singhu border. They have been protesting alongside the farmers since early December.
Nodeep passed class 12 a few years ago and started working at a bulb making factory in Kundli. Rajveer Kaur who is pursuing Ph.D. at Delhi University said that Nodeep was saving up to pursue higher studies. As a member of MAS, Nodeep has been working to build farmers and labourer solidarities.
In a video interview at the Singhu protest site, Nodeep said, “The media and other people are saying that these are farmers’ protests. But you should see that farmers and labourers are tied to each other. They are both producers.” She has also raised her voice against the exploitation of women labourers in agriculture.
Alongside protesting the farm laws, MAS activists have also been fighting against the factories in the Kundli area over industrial exploitation of labourers. They have clashed with the Harayana Police twice – on December 28 and January 12 – while protesting the non-payment of wages to industrial workers. These took place meters away from the Singhu protest site. Nodeep Kaur was arrested on January 12 from the MAS tent at the Singhu border and taken to Karnal Jail. Two FIRs have been filed against her under Sections 148, 149, 323, 384, 506 of the Indian Penal Code. The Wire reported that Section 307 attempt to murder has also been filed against her.
Rajvir Kaur told The Quint that her family is full of fierce, politically active women. “Our caste status and our economic deprivation taught us how to fight for our rights since our childhood. Nodeep is no different, she is a fighter,” she added.
Several Dalit, Ambedkarite activists, and people covering protests against the farm laws have been trying to bring attention to Nodeep Kaur’s arrest and the brutal custodial violence committed by the Haryana Police, with little to no attention from the mainstream media. A press meet was held at The Delhi Press Club on January 23 demanding the release of Nodeep Kaur.
Nodeep’s case started garnering significant media attention after poet Rupi Kaur tweeted in support on January 30.
Many people on social media have now come out in support of Nodeep Kaur using the hashtag #ReleaseNodeepKaur.
Nodeep’s bail has been rejected twice and her family said that they will continue the fight and take the case to the Delhi High Court.