Why Everyone is Talking About Nodeep Kaur

The Dalit labor rights activist, who protested alongside farmers, was arrested on January 12. Allegations of her torture and sexual assault at the hands of police have garnered international attention.

February 11, 2021

Why Everyone is Talking About Nodeep Kaur
Labor rights activist Nodeep Kaur. (Opia Films)

On February 5, entrepreneur Meena Harris, also U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece, tweeted about the imprisonment of a woman named Nodeep Kaur: “Weird to see a photo of yourself burned by an extremist mob, but imagine what they would do if we lived in India. I’ll tell you — 23[-year-old] labor rights activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested, tortured, & sexually assaulted in police custody. She’s been detained without bail for over 20 days.” On January 31, Canadian poet Rupi Kaur had also tweeted about Nodeep Kaur, who turns 24 today.

Their tweets about Kaur have garnered a total of 55,700 retweets as of publishing, drawing international attention to the Sikh Dalit labor rights activist, whom police arrested while she was protesting alongside farmers. Police are charging Kaur with attempted murder, extortion, and theft. Her lawyer says that police have lodged additional charges of rioting, unlawful assembly, and criminal intimidation. Kaur’s family members — who have a background in laborer rights activism — have alleged that police have tortured and sexually assaulted her, which the police have denied.

“She was holding back her tears but burst out, saying that she was beaten and tortured by male police,” said Kaur’s sister, Rajveer, who visited her in jail. According to the family, police did not provide Kaur with female police escorts — required for female detainees under Indian law — when they arrested her on January 12; police have denied these allegations. Dalit women face a significantly higher rate of sexual assault and violence.