Jailed labour rights activist Nodeep Kaur in her bail plea before the Punjab and Haryana High Court has alleged that she was severely beaten and tortured at a police station, PTI reported on Tuesday. Kaur was arrested in Sonipat, Haryana, last month.
Kaur, a member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, was arrested on January 12 for mobilising workers near the Singhu border, the epicentre of the farmer protest against the three new agricultural laws. The activist and her colleagues staged a demonstration in the Kundli industrial area, near Singhu, outside a factory that had not paid wages to its workers.
Currently lodged in a jail in Haryana, Kaur is facing three separate cases that include charges of attempt to murder and extortion. While she was granted bail in two cases on February 12 and February 15, respectively, her third bail plea is set be heard on Wednesday.
In her third bail plea, filed through her counsels Arshdeep Singh Cheema and Harinder Deep Singh Bains, Kaur stated that she was “targeted and falsely implicated” because she had been successful in generating support for the farmers’ movement against the Centre’s new agricultural laws.
The plea alleged that the mobilisation of local labourers in support of farmers “annoyed the administration”, which then devised a plan to stifle the demonstrations that have persisted for over two months.
Recounting the events of the day of her arrest, the plea said that on January 12, Kaur and other members of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan marched towards a factory, demanding the payment of pending wages of some workers. Upon reaching there, the activists were manhandled by a group formed by the Kundli Industrial Area, an association of industrial owners, the plea alleged.
In the meantime, a team from Kundli police station led by the station house officer reached the spot, and “immediately on their arrival, they grabbed the petitioner [Kaur] by her hair and dragged to the side”.
Kaur said that this angered the protestors. The situation escalated when the police began to baton charge Kaur’s colleagues and other protestors, the plea said. “A scuffle ensued and the petitioner tried to pacify the situation but to no avail,” it added. “The petitioner alone was caught and arrested by police officials. She was beaten, tortured and suffered multiple injuries.”
The plea said that Kaur was then taken to the police station in the absence of any woman police personnel, and was beaten up by police officials. Kaur also alleged that her medical examination was not conducted in violation of Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Earlier this month, Kaur’s family had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the police. However, the police refuted it.
The arrest and the alleged torture of Kaur had gained attention after Meena Harris, the niece of United States Vice President Kamala Harris, tweeted about her. “Weird to see a photo of yourself burned by an extremist mob but imagine what they would do if we lived in India,” Meena Harris had tweeted. “I’ll tell you—23 year labor rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested, tortured and sexually assaulted in police custody. She’s been detained without bail for over 20 days.”