Bengaluru: Support poured in from several actors, celebrities and environmentalists from across Bengaluru and the country for 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi who was arrested by the Delhi police for editing the controversial toolkit.
Climate activists visited the police station near Disha’s house and presented saplings to the police. However, sources said that the local police had no role in the arrest and did not know that a police team from Delhi had reached Bengaluru on Saturday to arrest Disha.
Meanwhile, actor Siddharth extended his “unconditional support” to Disha on Twitter. Actor and politician Prakash Raj urged people to raise their voice against the arrest and demanded immediate release of Disha.
Carnatic singer and activist TM Krishna said the arrest was a cause for concern and questioned whether “we have descended into police state territory”.
While playback singer Chinmayi said she was “heartbroken,” actor Swara Bhasker extended her support for the 22-year-old.
Kannada actor Chetan Kumar tweeted saying, “Centre that values profits over people & its violent appendage Delhi Police decimate our democratic ethos by tormenting fighters like Disha.”
Hashtags such as #DishaRavi, #DishaRaviArrested, #ReleaseDishaRavi #IndiaBeingSilenced and #FreeDishaRavi are being used by celebrities and others.
Various politicians too slammed Disha’s arrest. Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Arvind Kejriwal, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, P Chidambaram and Sitaram Yechury were some of the prominent politicians who have stood in solidarity with Disha.
Facing flak, the Delhi Police accused the 22-year-old activist of “sharing” and “spreading” a ‘toolkit’ related to the farmers’ protest that was posted by international climate activist Greta Thunberg. An FIR was filed by the cybercrime unit of the Delhi Police against the creators of the toolkit on February 4. Though toolkits are Google documents used to prepare a social media campaign or plan protests, the Delhi Police have registered an FIR under sedition and conspiracy, alleging that this toolkit was being used to malign India.
Meanwhile, media reports said that Disha was under the radar for long. In July 2020, her website Friday for Future was taken down by the Delhi police. It was said that the Delhi Police Cyber Crime Unit Deputy Commissioner had cited the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act to block the site, reportedly at the behest of Union Environment Minister Prakash Javedkar. The site was back up in a day, and the notice was taken back; the Delhi police called it an ‘error’. But one thing was clear: FFF, a students’ movement, had come under the police radar, media reports said.
FFF is a global movement inspired by Greta Thunberg. But FFF members admitted to the media that a Canadian organisation had contacted their activists. “We communicate with a lot of international organisations. FFF is an organic movement that has no real parallel in India, and therefore we also proactively reach out to international organisations. During the pandemic, most of FFF’s work has been online. I assume that this Canadian organisation would have met FFF colleagues online as FFF social media pages had made it clear that they were supporting the protesting farmers,” a FFF activist was quoted in the media.
In 2020, FFF had got a UAPA notice for protesting against the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification by the Union government. An activist was quoted as saying, “When we received a UAPA notice for the EIA notification protest, I told my colleagues that we are under watch. They wanted to send us a message, which they did with the notice.”