The Kisan Andolan has brought many new faces, young and dynamic activists full of ideological commitments as well as active on the ground which is a positive sign. When the movement started, many people asked me the question about the agricultural workers, Dalit, Adivasis. I was very clear that farmers have now realised that corporate culture is anti-farmer, which is good. But they still have not identified the other dominant force which divides the movement and it is the brahmanical varna system.
Our revolutionary icon Jyotiba Phule mentions this in his famous Ghulamgiri about the collaboration of Sethji-Bhatji. Capitalism and priesthood both are dangerous to Bahujan masses in India. It is therefore wonderful to hear that farm workers and industrial labourers and many of their unions which work for the informal sector too, have joined the protest in the Singhu border. That is important.
At the Singhu Border, Haryana police arrested Nodeep Kaur for ‘alleged’ extortion from the factory workers. The fact is that she works for Majdoor Adhikar Sangthan mostly focussing in the Kundali Industrial area. Many of the factories in Haryana had not paid wages to the workers and they had been demanding payment for the same. The Facebook page of Majdoor Adhikar Sanghthan has posted videos of January 12th protest against the metal company in Kundali Industrial Area, which had not paid wages to the workers. There had been some success stories during this period and workers found this the right opportunity to demand for their rights. Nodeep Kaur is 21 years old who has been persistently working for the rights of the workers and being part of the farmers movement at Singhu Border. According to her sister Rajveer Kaur, who is pursuing her Ph.D from Delhi University, Nodeep was picked up by Haryana police and tortured in police custody. Police filed charges of attempt to murder and extortion on her. Her bail pleas have been dismissed twice.
World over, people are now seeking questions as why Nodeep is arrested and if she is why is she being denied bail. I dont know Nodeep but whatever I have gathered from watching her videos, interviews and about the incident, I can say, she is a committed Ambedkarite who is sensitive to the issues of her community. She is articulate and feels that the mazdoor-kisan should join hands together. I think she knows much better than many of those who are giving their ‘expert’ opinion every day.
It is not whether you are part of the protest or not but what matters is whether you have the capacity to go along with it till the goal is achieved. We all have our solidarities with the farmers movement. Many of us have some ideological problems too, about the issue of landless people and marginalised, but broadly we understand the power and importance of this movement.
Secondly, we must also respect the autonomy of the movement. It is always good that the leadership emerge from the communities and classes who are victims of it. Many ‘experts’ with their connections in the media dream of leading the movement but it is good that the whole protest and movement remain in the hands of farmers and their unions who have been working there for years and who know the issue.
Nodeep Kaur deserved to be heard seriously. The issues raised by her, that related to industrial workers and agricultural workers are extremely important and the farmers movement must extend its solidarity with her. It is sad that she did not get bail from the lower court but we hope higher courts will #ReleaseNoDeepKaur. Important for courts to also ask to investigate the accusation that her sister and mothers have made against the Haryana police, related to custodial torture. The National Human Rights Commission as well as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes can act suo moto on the issue and seek details.
We sincerely hope that Nodeep Kaur will be released and the demands of her workers will be fulfilled. She has a right to speak for the rights of the people guaranteed under our constitution. Nodeep is the symbol of Ambedkarite resistance against injustice and our constitution must come to protect her honour and dignity