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Why farmers' movement should seriously address #ReleaseNodeepKaur campaign

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
The farmers’ movement has brought in many new faces, young and dynamic, full of ideological commitment, active on the ground – which is a positive sign. When the movement started, many people wondered whether agricultural workers, Dalits, and Adivasis were part of it. I think at that point of time while the farmers had realised that corporate culture is anti-farmer, they still did not identify other forces which could be part of the movement.
One of our top revolutionary icons, Jyotiba Phule, in his famous book “Ghulamgiri” had talked about the collaboration of Sethji-Bhatji – of capitalism and priesthood – which he said are dangerous for the Bahujan masses. The movement appears to have realised about this danger. Indeed, it is wonderful that farm workers and industrial labourers as also those in the informal sector have joined hands with the farmers’ protest at the Singhu border.
The state power is resorting to every means to fight the new unity that has come about. At the Singhu border, Haryana police recently arrested Nodeep Kaur for alleged extortion from factory workers. The fact is that, she works for the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan, mostly focusing in the Kundali industrial area. Many of the factories in Haryana have not paid wages to workers, who have been demanding immediate release of their dues.
The Facebook page of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan has posted videos of protest against the non-payment of wages. There have been several success stories. Workers at some places have forced the industry owners to pay their dues. Nodeep Kaur, 21, has been working for the rights of the workers and is also part of the farmers’ movement at the Singhu border.
According to her sister Rajveer Kaur, who is pursuing her PhD in Delhi University, Nodeep was picked up by Haryana police and tortured in police custody. Police filed charges of attempt to murder and extortion on her. Her bail pleas have been dismissed twice. World over, people are seeking her release, wondering why Nodeep has been arrested and why is she being denied bail.
I don’t know Nodeep, but whatever information I have gathered from different sources about her suggests that she is a committed Ambedkarite, who is sensitive to people’s issues. She is articulate and feels that farmers and workers should join hands. I think she knows much better than many others who are giving their “expert” opinion about the ground situation.
Whatever ideological differences between different streams, there is a need to respect the autonomy of the movement. It is good that new leadership is emerge from different communities and classes, who are the victims. Many “experts” with their connections with the media, meanwhile, dream of leading the movement. Yet, the protest and the movement have remained in the hands of farmers and unions, who have several years of experience of struggle.
Nodeep Kaur deserves to be heard seriously. The issues raised by her, especially those related to industrial and agricultural workers, are extremely important, and the farmers’ movement must extend its solidarity with her. It is sad that she did not get bail from the lower court, but one hopes higher courts will help support her release.
It is important for courts to seek investigation into the accusations that her sister and mother have made against the Haryana police about her custodial torture. The National Human Rights Commission as well as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes should act suo moto on the issue and seek details. One hopes she will be released and the demands of workers will be met.
Nodeep has the right to speak for the rights of the people guaranteed under our Constitution. She is the symbol of Ambedkarite resistance against injustice, and our constitutionally formed institutions must come to protect her honour and dignity. The #ReleaseNodeepKaur needs to pick up.
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*Human rights defender

Comments

Anonymous said…
what a sir jee kal strike by haryana government under instructions from ?

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