Abuse survivor who’s now the first legal port of call
Lawyer Simranjeet Kaur Gill, 34, says she chose to stay back in Mohali when her family moved to Canada a decade ago. “I’ve survived child abuse, and knew that I had to work within the community to address the problem. So I set up an NGO with my cousins to work with child abuse survivors, victims of domestic abuse, and rape victims,” she said.
For the last few months, Gill has been helping farmers, particularly women, who have gathered in the thousands at Delhi’s Singhu border to protest against three contentious farm laws that aim to liberalise the agrarian economy. While her work during the initial days of the protest site included raising awareness and mobilising women, Gill and her legal team are now providing legal aid to farmers who are facing court cases, including those filed in connection with the tractor rally on January 26.
Though she returned to Mohali in February, her group “Lawyers for Kisan”, continues to work at Singhu. She said she’d fallen ill, and is raring to get back. “While I can’t work with them physically these days, I am connected with my team on social media, tracking the bail applications, and providing legal help wherever necessary. I am waiting to recover so that I can return to the site,” Gill said.
She coordinates with 150 lawyers at the three farmer agitation spots – Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur.
“Before the violence, we were mainly working with women protesters, running awareness drives, and setting up camps at protest sites to cater to the specific needs of women protesters. We also made efforts to arrange for portable toilets for women. But after the January 26 violence, we realised that we need to focus on arranging legal aid for the protesters,” she said.
“We constantly man our helpline numbers and volunteer desks. We have also made announcements from the stage for protesting farmers to come and share any information they have on those arrested and their families. Our group is also in touch with their families,” she said.
After the tractor rally violence, Gill and her team visited the trolleys that have been converted into makeshift accommodations and collected information about the events of January 26. “Lot of rumours were floating around on the tractor march. My team spoke to thousands of farmers at the protest site, and I too spoke to at least a hundred of them to record the events of the day so that we could understand what happened that day.”