“I was arrested because I raised the voice of other people”: Activist Nodeep Kaur

02 March 2021
Nodeep Kaur, a Dalit labour-rights activist, addresses the media at Singhu Border, during the ongoing farmer protests, on 27 February. She was released on bail the previous day.
Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto/ Getty Images
Nodeep Kaur, a Dalit labour-rights activist, addresses the media at Singhu Border, during the ongoing farmer protests, on 27 February. She was released on bail the previous day.
Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto/ Getty Images

Nodeep Kaur, a 23-year-old Dalit activist, was released from Karnal Jail in Haryana on 26 February. Nodeep, who works with the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, a labourer-rights organisation, was arrested on 12 January by the Sonipat Police. That day, two first-information reports FIRs were registered against her at the Kundli police station, with a range of offenses, including rioting and attempt to murder.

For some months before her arrest, Nodeep and other MAS members had been organising protests in the Kundli Industrial Area to urge factory owners to pay workers their due wages. In late December, based on the complaint of an employee of a security agency in the area, the police had registered an FIR against her, accusing her of extortion.

After she was arrested on 12 January, reports began to emerge that she had been beaten and tortured in custody, bringing significant social-media attention to her case and to the arrest of her colleague Shiv Kumar, a visually impaired Dalit activist. In mid February, district courts granted Kaur bail in two of the cases against her. Then, the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo moto cognisance of her detention. The court granted her bail in the final case.

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    Mandeep Punia is a farmer and a freelance journalist based in Haryana.

    Keywords: Nodeep Kaur Shiv Kumar Farmers' Protest caste violence gender violence Singhu Dalit activism
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