Updated: February 21, 2021 8:29:58 am
“I am proud of Nodeep. She did nothing wrong.” That’s how Swaranjeet Kaur, a farm labourer in her 50s and mother of arrested labour activist Nodeep Kaur, begins talking about her daughter inside the family’s modest, semi-pucca house in Muktsar’s Gandhar village.
The two bedroom house does not have a proper kitchen, there is hardly any furniture and construction of an additional room and a bathroom that was underway prior to Nodeep’s arrest has now been halted. But despite the odds stacked against them, the family is unwavering in their support for Nodeep and her cause.
“I am proud of Nodeep for standing up for a cause. She did nothing wrong but is being targeted. I am thankful to people from all walks of life for supporting her. I appeal that more and more people should support her. Our entire family believes in doing struggle against injustice and Nodeep also did the same,” said Swaranjeet, her tone stern and unwavering.
Swaranjeet, a mother of six children – four daughters and two sons, added: “My eldest daughter has been married and she has a 7-year-old boy. Rajveer is at number 2 who is pursing Ph.D from DU and Nodeep is younger than Rajveer Kaur. Harveer Kaur, the youngest of all my daughters, has completed her BSc (Nursing) from Fairdkot Medical College and is yet to find a job. My two sons are Jaipal Singh and Rampal Singh.”
While Jaipal is set to appear in Class 12 exams this year, Rampal who completed Class 12 about 2 years ago had discontinued his studies. “Rampal went with farmers to Delhi borders on November 26 and he never came back even for a day.
He calls us on a regular basis and is doing fine. Nodeep went for work in Haryana last year itself and I had no idea whether she will fall into this trouble for standing up for the rights of workers and later for supporting farmers,” said Swaranjeet, adding: “Our entire family is a member of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union(PKMU) since 2006. We are landless farm labourers. We used to work in the fields of landlords in the fields earlier but for the past 3-4 years, my husband Sukhdeep Singh has started going to Telangana as a labourer. He was in Punjab during the entire lockdown period, had gone to Tikri and Singhu borders on January 7 along with PKMU. He stayed there for a week and later had to go to Telangana for work as already he was sitting idle at home for almost a year. I had taken loan worth Rs 70,000 during lockdown period to run various expenses which I am yet to return,” she added.
As of now, Harveer Kaur and Jaipal Singh live with their mother Swarnjeet in the village house. Natha Singh, elder brother of Sukhdeep Singh also lives in the same house and is handicapped.
Swarnjeet said, “The entire village is supporting us. They even organised a protest dharna in Nodeep’s support. So many people are helping us and I just pray that she comes out of jail soon. I went to meet her but was not even allowed. Rajveer has, however, spoken with her via video call twice.”
On Thursday, members Bahujan Samaj Front, an NGO, went to meet Nodeep’s family at their village house where they donated Rs 1 lakh to them. Kulwant Singh Tibba from Mehal Kalan area of Barnala who is a member of the front said, “On our appeal few NRIs of Wolverhampton, England donated money which we gave to the family. The donors include singers Khushwinder Billa, Jaswinder Talhan, Jagnandhan Ghera, and few others. The family is very poor and hence we went to help them a bit.”
Sukhwinder Kotli, another member from the front, said, “Atrocities on Dalit families are rising and hence we need to protect them. Here both the parents are illiterate, but their daughters dreamt of studying and standing up for their rights.”
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh had also flagged the case of Nodeep Kaur recently.
Congress leader Jaijeet Singh Johal, brother-in-law of Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal hails from the same village. On Saturday, he went to meet the family and said, “I have been helping Natha Singh for the past many years and I will continue to do so.
Now I am here for the family. It is really sad that the girl has been booked under so many non-bailable offences just for fighting for her rights and also for extending support to farmers. The family is extremely poor. I will help them the maximum I can.”
Lachman Singh Sewewala, general secretary of PKMU, who had even organised a rally in Muktsar in support of Nodeep in the past, said,” The entire family was part of PKMU, they are landless labourers and hence we all need to get united to highlight her case and demand justice.”
Swarnjeet Kaur, meanwhile said, “My husband had to go for work otherwise he would have lost his job…Who can understand struggles of poor! We keep on struggling to get food.”
Nodeep was arrested on January 12 by the Sonipat police. She had been going to farmers’ protest rallies apart from fighting for wages of factory workers at the Kundli factory as well.
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