Karnal Jail cites Covid-protocol, prevents Nodeep from meeting family 

Lawyers to move Punjab and Haryana High Court for bail next week for the Dalit labour rights activist


Nodeep Kaur’s lawyers are expected to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court today seeking bail for the Dalit labour rights activist who has now been in jail for a month. A lawyer was finally allowed to meet her four days ago, even as jail authorities have now allowed her sister to meet her. “I have only met her once, the day she was sent to jail. I was not allowed to meet her yesterday, I shall try again today,” her sister Rajveer Kaur told SabrangIndia on her way to Karnal jail. The jail authorities had earlier told her that as Covid protocols were in place family meetings were not allowed anymore. “I managed to speak to her whenever she was allowed a short phone call, every 4-5 days, today (friday February 12,) is a meeting day so I am going to try again,” said Rajveer. 

Lawyer  Harinder Singh Bains, who is among the scores who have volunteered legal help to the activists arrested from Singhu border, said he managed to meet Nodeep, a few days ago for around 20 minutes, “Nodeep said she had confidence in the judicial system, and answered my questions related to the case and signed the vakalatnama,” Bains told SabrangIndia, adding that the jail authorities have been citing Covid protocols as issued by the government a reason to keep jail inmates from meeting their lawyers and families. “Shiv Kumar (a co accused with Nodeep Kaur) is now kept in Covid quarantine under judicial custody and has not been allowed to meet even a lawyer,” added a lawyer who is trying to still get a vakalatnama signed. “The vakalatnama can be signed even without meeting the inmate, so it is not clear why they have not been done yet. Jail authorities it seems are using the Covid-19 procol at their own convenience,” he added.

According to Nodeep’s lawyer Bains, it was surprising when they were recently informed that there was a third FIR against Nodeep filed on December 28, 2020 at Kundli. “She did not know of this older FIR, till her arrest on January 12, and informed me when we recently met in jail,” said the lawyer. Now she has three FIRs filed against her, Fir No. 25, 26, (filed in January 2021) and FIR number 649 (filed in December 2020). 

Nodeep’s bail plea has been rejected in FIR 25 and 26, by Sessions Court, Sonepat, Haryana on February 2 and she continues to be lodged in Karnal jail while her family claims that she is being tortured, sexually assaulted in custody. She has been charged under sections 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 332 (causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault on public servant), 186 (Obstructing public servant), 384 (extortion), 379-B (snatching and use of force), and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC. According to a lawyer, the “bruises and wounds” she may have suffered when allegedly assaulted in jail will have “healed and vanished by the time her family is allowed to meet her, whenever the covid rules allow.” 

However, her legal team has said they will approach the Punjab and Haryana High court on Friday, February 12, appealing for bail to be granted. Nodeep has already been granted bail in most sections mentioned in Fir Number 649. “We got the bail order yesterday from Sonipat court,” said her lawyer, “we will apply for bail today in the sections mentioned in FIR number 25, and are hopeful it will be heard soon.”  

“We have finally got the copy of the three FIRs against Nodeep,” added her sister Rajveer, who had recently approached the group of lawyers volunteering legal help for farmers, and labour rights activists who have been named in FIRs, arrested, or are being questioned, in various matters. Another bail application filed by Nodeep’s lawyer is likely to be taken up by Sonipat district court on Saturday, February 13, said a lawyer. “The FIRs number 25, and 26 are related to the same incident, but splitting them into multiple sections in two separate complaints adds complications and slows down the process, as separate bail applications have to be filed,” said a lawyer. 

Activist Shiv Kumar’s case is similar. He is a labour rights activist, who was arrested around the same time as Nodeep Kaur was also named under the same FIRs. His family has alleged that they were not notified of this arrest, and they too have not met him yet. According to the Telegraph, the Sonepat police had arrested Kisan Adhikar Sangathan activist Shiv Kumar, on January 16. However, stated the report, neither his lawyers nor is next of kin were informed that he had been arrested. Kumar’s family has alleged that they have also not been given a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) filed in the case.

The Telegraph detailed that Shiv Kumar, who hails from Devru village of Sonepat, was picked up by the police for allegedly trying to “break into a factory in Kundli for illegal extortion under the garb of unpaid salaries of workers”. The lawyers and family claim that both Shiv and Nodeep were picked up due to their active association with the farmers’ protest. According to sources, Shiv Kumar too may have been beaten up, and was sent to police remand, and once that ended is now in judicial custody. His family and lawyers too have been told that he is under ‘quarantine’ as per the government’s Covid-19 rules. 

The Telegraph report quoted Vasu Kukreja, who is a part of the legal cell constituted by the farmer unions, “Shiv too has been arrested by the Haryana Police with Nodeep but he has not been allowed to see either his advocates or family. A close relative has alleged that he was being tortured in police custody. He is currently lodged in Sonepat jail. We are trying to reach out to him and get a ‘vakalatnama’ signed so that we can proceed.” 

Sahil, Shiv’s cousin, said Shiv was detained illegally and was sent on remand without the knowledge of the family, stated the news report, “As per information, he was picked up on January 16 and has been kept in custody since then. The family got to know about his arrest only on January 30.” However, Sonepat SP JS Randhawa refuted the allegations saying Shiv Kumar was picked up for violence at the Kundli factory, “It has been clearly stated (in the FIR) that there were around 40 to 50 so-called activists, who I will like to call as anti-social elements. They were harassing the local industrial unit’s management,” Randhawa told The Tribune, adding, “the local police were called, who were then attacked, and Shiv was arrested in the same case. We have the CCTV footage of the incident as well.”



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