In a move that has taken all and sundry by surprise and shock, the Delhi Police have arrested 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi from her north Bengaluru residence over a protest ‘toolkit’ she allegedly shared online with international climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The Delhi police suspect that the "toolkit" was a Khalistani conspiracy to wage war against India and have accused Disha of being a key conspirator in the document's formulation and dissemination and alleged that she is trying to revive a Khalistani group.
Disha was flown to Delhi where a local court sent her to police custody for five days even as she broke down when the sentence was pronounced.
Disha was arrested Saturday evening for allegedly “editing” the Google document which was shared as a “toolkit” for the protests and flown to Delhi by a late evening flight.
Her arrest is the first in the case registered by the Delhi police over the controversial Khalistani ‘toolkit.’
In Delhi, the Public Prosecutor alleged that the Bengaluru activist was part of a larger conspiracy against the Indian government, with links to Khalistani separatists. Disha stoutly denied the links with Khalistani separatists and said she does not know any such group.
"I was just supporting the farmers. I supported them because they are our future and we all need to eat, "she told the court, adding that she did not create the toolkit. She, however, admitted that she edited two lines in the documents.
Civil rights activists have questioned the manner in which she was arrested by the Delhi police and have dubbed it an extra-judicial abduction.
Later, in a statement, the Delhi police said that Disha was “one of the Editors of the Toolkit Google Doc and a key conspirator in the document's formulation and dissemination.”
Though the ‘toolkit’ shared by Greta has triggered a big row, it has documents that contain basic information on any issue, tweet suggestions and information on what hashtags to use and whom to tag on social media, and are a regular inventory while organising protests online. Various forms of toolkits are also used by social media teams of political parties as well when they need to plan a particular social media campaign.
The police's contention was that in Disha’s case, the document was made with an intention to malign India.
In a series of tweets, the Delhi police said: "Disha Ravi, arrested by CyPAD Delhi Police, is an Editor of the Toolkit Google Doc & key conspirator in document's formulation & dissemination. She started WhatsApp Group & collaborated to make the Toolkit doc. 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 line editing that she claims to have done."
Disha Ravi is a co-founder of ‘Fridays For Future’ campaign which was inspired by Greta Thunberg’s campaign for the environment. She graduated from Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru and is currently working as a culinary experience manager with a company that produces plant-based food.
Meanwhile, in a joint statement, over 50 academics, artists and activists voiced their support for Disha and called the arrest “disturbing,” “illegal in nature" and an "over-reaction of the State.” The statement says that instead of arresting her, the Union government should be proud of her. They said this act by the Delhi Police is also an attempt to "delegitimize the ongoing farmers' protests" which have been going on for more than two months against the three contentious farm laws.
On February 3, Greta Thunberg had tweeted the "toolkit" to show support for the farmers' protest against the Centre's farm laws. She deleted the tweet soon, posting an updated one. The police claim the toolkit contained the blueprint of the conspiracy behind the events of January 26. "If you go by the unfolding of events of January 26, it reveals a copycat execution of the action plan," the Delhi Police had said.