24-year-old labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur was released on bail on Friday, said she will back at the farmers protest at the Singhu border, from where she was arrested in January. She told NDTV soon after her release that she will return to sit in solidarity with the protesting farmers who have been seeking a repeal of agricultural laws for three months now. “I will discuss with my family what to do next. I will definitely go to Singhu, sit with farmers. I have not done anything illegal in the past and will not do anything illegal in the future and will always stand for the people,” she told NDTV.
Kaur, had also spoken about Shiv Kumar, the Dalit activist who was arrested soon after she was, “Shiv Kumar’s condition is very bad. He wasn’t even there on the 12th (January). Yet he was arrested and thrashed brutally. He has not been shifted to a hospital despite orders.”
Shiv Kumar, the 24-year-old president of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan (MAS), who was arrested on January 16, has multiple injuries, including at least two fractures, a court ordered medical examination has revealed. He was arrested just four days after co-accused, fellow activist Nodeep Kaur was picked up from the Singhu Border farmers protest site. According to a report in the Indian Express, the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Chandigarh, has submitted its findings to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday. The GMCH has put on record that Shiv Kumar’s medical examination “showed multiple injuries, including at least two fractures on his left hand and right foot, caused by blunt object / weapon”. The injuries are noted to be “more than two weeks old”, in the report.
Nodeep Kaur’s case got international attention on February 6 when Meena Harris, niece of US Vice-President Kamala Harris, tweeted, “23-year-old labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested, tortured and sexually assaulted in police custody.”
Kaur spent her birthday in jail, not allowed to meet family. She was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in relation to the third FIR registered against her in January this year. Taking up complaints about her alleged illegal detention on its own, the Punjab and Haryana High Court also issued notice to the Haryana government.
The Single-judge Bench of Justice Avneesh Jhingan granted her bail while hearing her application clubbed with the suo motu case registered in connection with her alleged illegal confinement. The High Court will continue to hear the matter about her illegal detention and alleged custodial torture.
Her bail plea was to be taken up by the court on February 24 but the Single-judge Bench had observed that the State failed to disclose her medical reports. The court recorded in the order: “In this case, vide order dated 18.1.2021, Duty Magistrate/ Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, Sonipat ordered that Nodeep Kaur be medically examined. She was medically examined but the said report has not been placed on record by the State, rather only a medico-legal report under Section 54 Cr.PC. is placed on record.” The court had adjourned the matter to February 26 where it granted bail to Kaur on the charges under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 146 (rioting), and 353 (assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty) of the Indian Penal Code.
Bar & Bench reported that upon a prima facie observation, there was nothing to substantiate the allegations of attempt to murder levelled against Kaur, among other reasons, that compelled the court to grant her bail. According to a report in LiveLaw, Senior Advocate RS Cheema argued that she is not a flight risk and that ‘Bail is Rule, Jail is Exception’.
On February 15, Kaur was granted bail in connection with other charges of extortion, obstructing a public servant on work, use of force under the relevant Indian Penal Code sections by a Sessions Court but she continued to remain in jail for other serious offences of attempt to murder and rioting. In her bail plea before the High Court, the 24-year-old Dalit activist claimed that she was “severely beaten up at a police station after her arrest by the Sonipat police last month.” Kaur was also taken to the police station allegedly in the absence of any woman police official and was beaten up by police officials.
On February 12, Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken suo motu cognisance on the basis of emails received by him related to her alleged ‘illegal confinement’ and issued a notice to the State of Haryana over the matter.
On February 5, CJP had started an online petition to highlight the arbitrary arrest and assault of the young activist in Karnal jail. The petition demanded her immediate release and dropping of all trumped up charges against her. The CJP had also urged those who signed the petition, to write to the Karnal jail the petition may be viewed here.