The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) is deeply concerned by the denial of bail, once again, to 23 year old Dalit activist Nodeep Kaur by a Sessions Court of Sonipat after almost a month of detention in Karnal jail, Haryana. During the hearing on Feb 10, the judge has cited the grave offences included in the two FIRs filed against her, in turning down the appeal. This is yet another instance of the legal system lending itself to presuming the accused of being guilty as charged, without taking into account the circumstances and context in which the penal action has occurred.
Nodeep Kaur was arrested by the Sonipat police on January 12, 2021, and charged under a whole range of sections, which included attempt to murder, extortion, rioting with deadly weapons, criminal intimidation etc, for being part of a labour protest near a factory in Kundli. Her family was not kept informed of her arrest. Her sister, who went to meet her the next day, has stated that she saw evidence of Nodeep having been beaten up, and noted that she had wounds on her body and genitals. The lawyers attending the case have also reported that the medical examination carried out subsequently, on their insistence, has revealed such injuries. The strong indication of custodial violence and possible sexual assault by the Sonipat police points to a shocking violation of rights on which immediate intervention is called for.
The defending lawyer has also expressed misgivings (as reported in the press) that Nodeep Kaur was targeted because she raised the issues of workers, and also because she stood in support of the farmer’s agitation at the Singhu border. It was in the aftermath of her participation in this struggle that the management fired her without settling her wages. In that case, the protest by employees for non- payment of pending wages is a justifiable and legitimate struggle.
Under these circumstances, AIDWA asserts that the arrest and continued detention of Nodeep Kaur without bail is a human rights violation that cannot be countenanced. Hence, we demand a swift enquiry into the allegations of custodial torture, and stringent action against those responsible for this torture. The Court must ensure bail to the accused without any delay.