On February 6, a tweet by U.S.-based lawyer Meena Harris in support of labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur sparked a social media debate on her arrest. Ms. Harris shared media reports alleging sexual assault on Ms. Kaur, who was arrested on January 12 and is still in custody. The local court had on February 2 denied bail to her in the case.
The Haryana Police, meanwhile, has denied the allegations as “arbitrary” and released two videos to substantiate its claims.
Who is Nodeep Kaur?
Nodeep Kaur is a 23-year-old Dalit woman who hails from a family of activists in Punjab. Her parents are associated with a farmers’ union. Her sister Rajveer Kaur is a Ph.D student at Delhi University’s Department of Punjabi and a member of Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch.
Post lockdown, Ms. Nodeep started working at a factory in Haryana’s Sonipat to financially support her family. She had also joined the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, which works for the workers’ rights in the Kundli Industrial Area. She was also supportive of the farmers’ agitation.
Her sister Ms. Rajveer, in a tweet, said that Ms. Nodeep has a vision for complete equality and a society free from all sorts of oppression and exploitation, and this was the reason why she, and many others were arrested and put behind bars.
Circumstances of arrest
Ms. Nodeep was arrested by the Sonipat Police on January 12 on charges of attempt to murder, rioting, and assault to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty under the Indian Penal Code, among others.
The Sonipat Police said that a police team had gone to Kundli Industrial Area that day after they received information about the alleged manhandling of management and staff of an industrial unit, and attempts to extort money from them. According to police, Ms. Nodeep and her associates attacked the police with sticks, causing injuries to seven personnel. Following the incident, she was arrested, but her associates managed to escape.