BENGALURU/NEW DELHI: Climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested in Bengaluru on Saturday, was remanded to five days in police custody by a Delhi court on Sunday. She was picked up from her Bengaluru residence by the special cybercrime cell of the Delhi Police, who had filed an FIR on February 4 against unknown persons for sharing a toolkit on farmer protests in Delhi on social media sites, aiming to spread ‘disaffection against the Government of India’.
The New Indian Express was the first to report Disha’s arrest from Bengaluru by the Delhi Police in its edition dated February 14, 2021. Disha (21) is accused of ‘editing’, ‘sharing’ and ‘spreading’ the toolkit, which is a Google document, on farmer protests that was shared by international climate activist Greta Thunberg. Disha’s arrest is the first in the case registered over the ‘toolkit’.
She was brought to Delhi on Saturday evening and produced before the court on Sunday morning. The Delhi Police sought seven days custody of Disha, contending that they needed to probe her on an alleged larger conspiracy against the Indian government and to ascertain her alleged links with the “pro-Khalistani” movement. Duty Magistrate Dev Saroha, however, allowed only five days of custody.
During the hearing, Disha broke down inside the courtroom and told the judge that she had edited just two lines of the document and her only aim was to support the farmers’ protest. The police argued that Disha, along with several others, edited the ‘toolkit’ on February 3. In a statement released on Sunday, the Delhi Police alleged that Disha was one of the editors of the ‘Toolkit Google Doc’ and that she was also a key conspirator in formatting and disseminating the document. In a series of tweets, the police said that Disha had started a WhatsApp group and collaborated with others to prepare the Toolkit document.
Climate activist charged with sedition
“She worked closely with them to draft the Doc. In this process, they all collaborated with the pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State. She was the one who shared the Toolkit Doc with Greta Thunberg. Later, she asked Greta to remove the main Doc after its incriminating details accidentally got into public domain. This is many times more than the 2 lines editing that she claims,” said the tweets. The police had earlier stated that the document had a detailed plan to create trouble Delhi in January and February.
Disha is a co-founder of ‘Fridays For Future’ campaign, which was inspired by Greta Thunberg’s movement on environment conservation. The police have booked her on charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting hatred among groups under Sections 124A, 120A and 153 A of the Indian Penal Code. A Bachelor of Business Administration graduate from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, Disha is working as a culinary experience manager with a Good Mylk company. Last week, the Delhi Police had approached Google, seeking registration details and activity logs of accounts through which the ‘toolkit’ was created and uploaded on social media platforms.
The toolkit mentions two e-mail IDs, one Instagram account and one Uniform Resource Locator (URL), whose details the police have sought from respective platforms. “The action plan delineated in this toolkit and the unfolding of events including the violence of January 26 reveal a copycat execution of the action plan. It is definitely the intention of the creators of this toolkit to create disharmony among various social, religious and cultural groups and create disaffection and encourage ill-will against the government.
The ‘toolkit’ exposes the conspiracy by an organised overseas network to instigate the farmer protests,” Special Commissioner (Crime Branch), Delhi Police, Praveer Ranjan said. Several social media accounts and websites are under scanner, the police said. Farmers have been protesting at Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders since November 26 against the three contentious farm laws.
Activist’s mother exploring legal options
A day after climate activist Disha Ravi was arrested, her mother said they have consulted legal experts. “We have taken our lawyer’s opinion to proceed with a legal battle, and it is too early to react to the incident,” her mother Manjula told TNIE.