Dalit labour rights activist, Nodeep Kaur was granted bail in the third case registered against her by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, nearly two months after her arrest. She has levelled serious allegations of sexual assault and custodial torture against the Haryana Police which will be examined by the court separately. A report by MANYA SAINI.
THE Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday granted bail to Dalit labour rights activist, Nodeep Kaur nearly two months after her arrest. Kaur had been granted bail earlier in two cases against her, this was her third plea on alleged 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 the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Kaur’s Advocate Harinder Deep Singh Bains stated that her allegations of illegal confinement and custodial torture will be considered separately by the court. She has levelled serious charges of sexual assault in custody. Police authorities have repeatedly denied them.
Earlier this week, Justice Avneesh Jinghan had called for all her medical reports before the court, which were examined today. The bail was granted upon a prima facie observation of the court that there was no substantial evidence to prove the murder charges against her.
The Haryana Police on Wednesday had told the court that Nodeep had made a “provocative” speech against the police before her arrest. Further, it added that issues of custodial assault were not raised by her when she appeared before the Medical Officer and the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The detailed affidavit submitted before the court alleged, “that Nodeep Kaur was one of the agitators and she made a provocative speech whereby she stated that they will attack and beat the police if they arrive on the spot today.”
Contradicting the police claim, Kaur in her bail plea has alleged that she was falsely implicated because she had successfully generated support for the farmers’ movement. She claims that the police arrested her illegally and at the station “in absence of any woman police official” she was “beaten black and blue by the police officials.”
Nodeep Kaur and Disha Ravi, young female activists jailed for supporting the farmer protests in India, were granted bail. I want to believe it's in part because so many people spoke out against the government's silencing dissent. Please stay loud — this fight is far from over.
— Meena Harris (@meena) February 26, 2021
Nodeep Kaur was arrested on January 12, from Kundli Industrial Area, near Singhu border during a protest demanding equal wages for factory workers. A leader of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS), she had rallied workers to assist farmers under the banner, ‘kisan mazdoor ekta zindabad (long live farmer-worker unity).’ According to reports, as many as 300 workers affiliated with the MAS joined the farmer agitation daily at the Singhu border in a show of solidarity.
The arrest and alleged illegal detention faced by Kaur has created ripples on social media drawing international support. The #ReleaseNodeepKaur campaign has been amplified by Sikh poet, Rupi Kaur and Meena Harris, niece of US vice-president Kamala Harris.
In January 2021, Campaign Against State Repression, a civil society group comprising activists and unions had jointly released a statement claiming that all charges against Nodeep were fabricated and had demanded that she be released immediately. The group had said that the police agenda against her was discriminatory based on her caste and gender identity.
(Manya Saini is a student of the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune, and is an intern with The Leaflet.)