Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist from Bengaluru, was arrested by Delhi Police on Sunday in relation to the “toolkit” case involving Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg’s tweets about the farmers’ protests in India. The arrest has invited an outcry from politicians, activists, and academics across India, who have termed it an “unprecedented attack on democracy.”
Ravi was arrested from her house in Bengaluru and brought to Delhi, where she was charged with “sedition” and “conspiracy.” The young activist was not provided any legal counsel when she was produced in court, and then sent for five days in police custody. Lawyer Rebecca John, in a post on Twitter, termed this a “shocking abdication of judicial duties.”
Disha Ravi is the co-founder of Fridays for Future India, which is the Indian chapter of a climate activism initiative by Greta Thunberg. Ravi has been accused of providing Greta Thunberg with the “toolkit” that Thunberg shared with her Twitter followers in a now-deleted tweet.
A “toolkit,” in activist circles, refers to a document detailing a cause and the methods to support it. Delhi Police termed Ravi a “key conspirator” in the document’s formulation and dissemination, and accused her of collaborating with “pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State.”
Ravi claims that while she was an Editor of the Google Document, she edited “just two lines” and is not part of any conspiracy.
“I was just supporting farmers,” she said before the court on Sunday, before being sent to police custody.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday condemned the young activist’s arrest, saying on Twitter that “supporting our farmers is not a crime.
Former Union minister and veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram said that India is becoming a “theatre of the absurd” and Delhi Police has become the “tool of the oppressors.”
“I strongly condemn the arrest of Disha Ravi and urge all students and youth to raise their voices to protest against the authoritarian regime,” he added.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi also condemned the arrest in a tweet, alongside the hashtag “#IndiaBeingSilenced.”
Veteran actor-turned-politican Shatrughan Sinha also posted in support of Disha Ravi, saying: “Here is one girl, who seems to be committed to the environment and the nation.”
“Hope, wish and pray, that it isn’t being done to divert the attention from main issues and the farmers most justified demands?” he questioned.
Member of Congress Kapil Sibal raised more questions, asking: “Is the state so weak that a tweet threatens its security?”
“Is the state so paranoid that a 22 year is a national security threat? Is the state so intolerant that it cannot tolerate youth standing with farmers?” He asked. “Is this the “badlav” [change] Modi ji wanted?”