Scores protest in India against arrest of climate activist

Tuesday, 16 Feb, 2021

Several activists and politicians have expressed concerns over the arrest of activist Disha Ravi.

Nath said Nikita and Shantanu had on January 11 "attended a Zoom meeting organised by the Poetic Justice Foundation where the modalities of the (agitating farmers' and their supporters') Global Day of Action were worked out".

The farmers' protests have become a controversial topic in India after the farmers became violent in January and broke into the Red Fort complex.

Before the Republic Day violence, that left 500 police personnel injured and a protestor dead, Nikita and Shantanu had on 11 January attended a Zoom meeting organized by PFJ in which modalities were made a decision to create the "toolkit" titled "Global Farmer Strike" and "Global Day of Action, 26 January", Nath said.

According to the Delhi Police officials, Disha is a key lead in the "toolkit" case as she had admitted during the initial interrogation to editing, adding some things in the "toolkit" and spreading it further.

Jairam Ramesh, a former minister and lawmaker for the opposition Congress party, called her arrest and detention "completely atrocious" and "unwarranted harassment and intimidation".

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the move by the Delhi Police was an 'unprecedented attack on democracy'. The two other activists - Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk - are wanted by the police in the case.

The data was also deleted, police said, adding that Disha's Telegram account shows many links related to the "toolkit" were removed.

On Sunday (local time) a court ordered Ms Ravi into custody for questioning for five days, prompting outrage on social media and among the farm unions. Unusually, the FIR in the case has also still not been uploaded by the police though more than a week has passed since it was filed. "I edited two lines on Feb 3", she told the magistrate.

The document or "toolkit" - a common term used by social activists for campaign material - was first tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in support of India's protesting farmers on February 4.

"From the controversial Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2020, and in advancing laws that has drawn farmers' across India to protest, the wider public is becoming increasingly aware of the government's tendency to put corporate interests over the well-being and future of the nation", the statement said.

Earlier this year, a 23-year-old Dalit labour activist Nodeep Kaur, who was a part of the farmer's protest, was also arrested and has been kept under the police custody.

Greta later deleted the tweet, posting an updated one.

But pro-government media highlighted phrases like "urgent action", "organise on-ground action", "Twitter storm", "expose fascist responses to dissent", and "disrupt yoga and chai image of India", to allege that its makers meant to damage India's reputation. Thunberg, a teen climate activist, had shared the "toolkit" to lend her support to the farmers' agitation against the three farm laws. She was the one who shared the Toolkit Doc with Greta Thunberg. Around the same time, about hundred people gathered at protest in Bangalore, demanding Ms Ravi's release. Nervous about police action, she asked to be written about anonymously. "This sends a message to all young people out there that, you know, shut up and stay at home or this is what is going to happen to you". She was arrested on Saturday.