Over the last few days, a social media post by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been creating waves in India. After lending support to the ongoing farmers' agitation against the three farm bills, the climate change activist had shared a toolkit for protesters, only to delete it soon after. Later, she shared an "updated" and somewhat different toolkit document, triggering speculation that the first had been released inadvertently.
And as furious netizens tweeted about an "international conspiracy" against India, the Delhi Police launched an investigation.
The Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police had lodged an FIR against "pro-Khalistan" creators of the "toolkit" for waging a "social, cultural and economic war against the Government of India". And now, they have made their first arrest in the case.
On Saturday, 21-year-old activist Disha Ravi was arrested from Bengaluru for being allegedly involved in sharing the "toolkit" related to the farmer's protest on social media. According to reports, Ravi had said during the hearing that she had edited only two lines and that she wanted to support the farmers' protest. The police however maintain that she had played a far greater role in the case. Duty Magistrate Dev Saroha has allowed the Delhi Police to quiz Ravi for five days.
What exactly is a toolkit?
Over the last day or so, countless social media users have come forward to insist that a toolkit is "not a deadly secret weapon" as being made out by some. And as news anchors held debates about the concept of a toolkit and others waxed poetic about the idea, many bewildered social media users began asking what exactly a toolkit was and what people meant when they spoke about the "toolkit case".
Put simply, a toolkit is a plan of action for getting something done. They are not hard and fast rules or instructions per se. Rather, a toolkit explains the topic at hand and offers a set of adaptable suggestions that can be followed to achieve the desired goal. According to the Collins Dictionary, a 'tool kit' is 'the set of skills, abilities, knowledge, or other things needed in order to do a particular task or job'.
A social media toolkit pertains to relevant information to promote the campaign or movement in question via social media platforms.
Who uses a toolkit?
A toolkit by itself is not a symbol of dissent or something used by unsavoury elements. It has found itself being used by the government as well as social organisations and more. the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade of the Government of India for example has toolkits uploaded to its official website. But the Indian government's 'IPR Enforcement Toolkit for Police' is just one example.
Toolkits are also present on the website of the US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and on the official Public Health England website. According to details provided with the latter site, that particular Social Media Toolkit contains "information to help local authorities and other partners promote the campaign through social media to help reach as many families as possible". The document also contains template posts for social media.
Why then is the toolkit shared by Greta Thunberg a problem?
While many may insist that making a toolkit is "not a crime", the fact remains that the matter is under investigation by the Indian authorities. According to the Delhi Police, the toolkit "predates and indicates a copycat execution of a conspiracy" behind Republic Day clashes. "The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India," the Delhi Police Tweeted on February 4th.
They contend that the "toolkit" has a particular section that mentions "digital strike through hashtags on or before January 26, tweet storms on January 23 onwards, physical action on January 26 and watch-out or join farmers march into Delhi and back to borders". According to the police, the "toolkit" was aimed at spreading disaffection and ill-will against the government of India and creating disharmony among various social, religious and cultural groups.
A case had been registered against unnamed persons on charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition and various other sections of the IPC. Reportedly the Police have also indicated that the toolkit is the creation of a pro-Khalistan group named "Poetic Justice Foundation".