Well known international figures on Sunday came down heavily on the Indian government, launching a scathing attack over the recent arrest and detention of Indian climate change activist Disha Ravi. The list includes US VP Kamala Harris' niece Meena, Canadian poet Rupi Kaur, UK lawmaker Claudia Webbe and many others.
Over the last few months, a slew of international personalities have lent their voices to the ongoing farmers' protest in India. From pop star and businesswoman Rihanna to politicians and activists such as Greta Thunberg -- they made headlines for their criticism of the Indian government and support for the agitating farmers. But as the critics highlighted the issue and counter-protesters burnt their images what drew a sharp reaction from the administration was a protest 'toolkit shared by Thunberg.
For the uninitiated, Greta had tweeted out a 'toolkit' of sorts that outlined a plan of action from January itself. The post was soon deleted and replaced with an "updated" version. Nonetheless, this was enough to spark off debate about an international conspiracy against India. Many others alleged that the makers of the toolkit were those associated with the Khalistani ideology. 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".
Disha Ravi came into the picture only recently. The 21-year-old climate change activist is believed to have co-founded the Indian chapter of the Fridays For Future movement first made famous by Greta Thunberg. According to the police, Disha is one of the editors of the toolkit and a key conspirator in the creation of the document.
The young activist's arrest has triggered a furious debate as Opposition parties, activists, journalists and many others criticise the Indian government. While some such as Congress MP Shashi Tharoor called it an extension of India's crackdown on "free expression and political dissent" others emphasised that this was a young woman without any criminal antecedents who was facing a slew of serious charges and had been remanded in custody.
Globally, the reaction was not very different. Author and activist Meena Harris noted that Indian officials had "arrested another young female activist", attaching details shared by others online. "Read this thread about the sequence of events and ask why activists are being targeted and silenced by the government," she urged.
Harris also linked the crackdown against Disha to the arrest and detention of Nodeep Kaur earlier this year.
"Disha’s arrest is alarming and the world needs to pay attention," opined Rupi Kaur. In a lengthy thread the well known poet elaborated on the events that had led up to Disha's arrest.
"We demand India free Disha Ravi. We demand they free Nodeep Kaur and all the other women in jail with her. We demand they free Shiv Kumar and the hundreds of innocent farmers they’ve illegally arrested for practicing their democratic right to protest," Kaur added.
Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Claudia Webbe also brought up the topic, reiterating that silence was "not an option".
"A climate activist from India she campaigns for clean air, clean water and a liveable planet. She is now facing state sanctioned violence for peacefully supporting farmers. Silence is not an option we must all condemn this act of suppression," she tweeted.
Many others including fellow activists and media personalities from across the world have also expressed their concern for Disha.
Take a look at some of the posts: