Less than 24 hours after walking out of Karnal jail on bail, 23-year-old
on Saturday went straight to the hub of the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s Singhu border, where she said she would remain stationed to back the protest against the new farming laws as well as seek justice for fellow activist
The youth, she said, was asking questions and the government did not like it. “The government is especially targeting the youth, saying they are spreading violence through protests… However, it’s only the youth who can fight against wrong,” Kaur told TOI in the context of her incarceration and the arrest in a different case of 21-year-old climate activist
, who too got bail earlier in the week.
“It is important for people like me to stand up and fight for the rights of people who have put so much faith in us,” Nodeep added. Excerpts:
How did you become involved in the January 12 clash in Kundli (Sonipat) that led to your arrest?
We had gathered outside a factory to protest and demand the release of wages of some workers when personnel of the
private security agency
appointed by the industrial association started beating us up and fired shots in the air. In retaliation, workers also started beating up the guards. Police arrived later but the scuffle continued. While no action was taken against the security agency, I was arrested. (Nodeep was charged, among other sections, with extortion and attempt to murder).
Police and industry representatives have accused you of extortion. How do you respond to that?
People have only heard one side of the story. We also have videos from workers who were present at the protest, which could not be released so far. I will now release these videos so that people can see what the truth is.
Your arrest received global attention after the tweet by Meena Harris (US vice-president Kamala Harris’s niece). When did you become aware of it?
Since I wasn’t able to speak to my family for a while, I did not know about the kind of support I had received. I found out from my sister about Meena Harris’s tweet. While I knew friends and family would be supporting me and fighting for me, I did not know the movement had grown so much. The tweet made all that possible. I was beaten up by police at the protest site after male cops arrested me. I was then taken to a desolate spot and thrashed there as well. They took me to Sonipat police station and abused me for being a Dalit and beat me up again. While I was beaten on my private parts, I wasn’t sexually assaulted. After I was moved to Karnal women’s jail, I was not thrashed anymore.
Are you aware of Disha Ravi’s case?
The government wants to trample the voice of the youth because only they can bring about change in any country. The youth is very powerful in this country. If the youth steps back, the government will be able to implement the new (farming) laws.
Your sister Rajveer had earlier told us you would never be too far from a cause, something you picked up from your mother?
Not just my mother, I take inspiration from Rajveer, who has been continuously fighting for the oppressed, as well. I also take inspiration from
, who gave his life for the country at the age of 23. At that time, he was described as a terrorist. But today, we owe our freedom to people like Bhagat Singh. Hence, it is important that we continue to fight irrespective of the opposition we face.
Where does Nodeep Kaur go from here? Will you get back to studies?
I will continue to fight for workers and help them get their due. I wanted to study but when I now look at people with multiple degrees struggling with unemployment, I feel I am better off fighting for people using the faith people have put in me. I will continue to support the farmers’ agitation and do whatever I can to convince the government to take the three laws back.