Sunday, 28 February, 2021

Indian activist detained for farmer protest guide tweeted by Greta Thunberg

Indian police arrest activist linked to Greta Thunberg's movement Indian climate activist Disha Ravi detained over farmer protest 'toolkit' shared by Greta Thunberg
Deanna Wagner | 15 February, 2021, 21:04

The "online toolkit" that prompted a police response in India was shared by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg earlier this month and called for coordinated online and offline action to support India's protesting farmers, including agitations at Indian embassies as well as at residences of prominent businessmen, among other locations.

In a move that has triggered anger and disbelief in equal parts, the Delhi Police on Sunday arrested a 21-year-old climate activist, Disha Ravi, from Bengaluru in connection with the sedition conspiracy case it has filed over a "toolkit" activists aimed at organising peaceful protests in support of the ongoing farmers' movement in India.

Why are Indian farmers protesting?

A criminal lawyer tracking the proceedings alleged that the court hearing took place despite Disha Ravi not being represented by counsel.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the opposition offensive following Ravi's arrest and said the country will not be silenced.

Meanwhile, Senior Advocate Saurabh Kirpal asked why people are arrested at the drop of a hat. This means a series of related tweets posted by a Twitter user in quick succession.

Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan called the arrest "illegal and malafide" as he shared a statement from the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform, of which he is the convener. He said that screenshots of the "toolkit", which were available on open source, were investigated by the police.

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The activists' statement castigated the Delhi police for their "secretive operation" that violated the "due process of law" and betrayed their "disregard for the rule of law". "However, the concerned Magistrate has performed their task in a mechanical manner that has resulted in a serious violation of human rights". "We have found that she made several changes in the toolkit related to farmers protest and further spread it in certain groups on social media", the officer said.

"She and her associates Shantanu and Disha had created the doc". It also provides information on what one needs to do to address the issue.

As The Wire has explained in detail, a "toolkit" is prepared for protests often, as it helps remote sympathisers access and participate in the movement, promoting strength in numbers. He claimed Disha's parents were not properly briefed about the reason for the arrest.

Earlier a year ago, in an interview with Auto Report Africa in 2020, Ravi said, "My motivation to join climate activism came from seeing my grandparents, who are farmers, struggle with the effects of the climate crisis. Supporting our farmers is not a crime", tweeted Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi.

Police did not say what Ravi had been charged with but accused her of being "a key conspirator in the document's formulation and dissemination".

Sunita Narain, head of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, also extended her support to the arrested activist.

Ravi, who is a graduate in Bachelor of Business Administration from a private college in Bengaluru, is also one of the founding members of a group named "Fridays For Future India", a movement for climate justice.