New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday condemned the arrest of a 21-year-old climate activist for allegedly editing the Greta Thunberg "toolkit" related to the farmer's protest against the Centre's three agri laws.
Disha Ravi was arrested from Bengaluru and sent to 5-day police custody by a Delhi court on Sunday. The Delhi Police has claimed that Ravi, who was arrested by a Cyber Cell team of the force on Saturday, was an editor of the "toolkit Google doc" and "key conspirator" in the document's formulation and dissemination.
Condemning the arrest, Kejriwal tweeted, "Arrest of 21 yr old Disha Ravi is an unprecedented attack on Democracy. Supporting our farmers is not a crime."
Opposition leaders across the party lines have expressed solidarity with the young activists and have condemned her arrest.
Commenting on the issue, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said, "Our young have informed opinions on issues they associate with. Social Media platforms give them the space to speak their mind. Unfortunately it is considered seditious by the GoI. Our young are our future not our weakness. They need to be heard not silenced."
Earlier on Sunday, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member P Chidambaram in a series of tweets condemned the arrest and urged students to demand the release of Disha.
"The Indian state must be standing on very shaky foundations if Disha Ravi, a 22-year-old student of Mount Carmel College and a climate activist, has become a threat to the nation," he said.
"A 'tool kit' to support the farmers' protest is more dangerous than the intrusion by Chinese troops into Indian territory! India is becoming the theatre of the absurd and it is sad that the Delhi Police has become a tool of the oppressors," he added.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, a former union minister termed the arrest as "completely atrocious". "This is unwarranted harassment and intimidation. I express my full solidarity with Disha Ravi," he tweeted.
Rajya Sabha MP and Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "Arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi is most unfortunate and shocking. Custodial interrogation of a young woman without any criminal antecedents cannot be justified. Police should recognise her right to liberty and courts must respect the Supreme Court Judgement which says bail is the rule and Jail an exception."
Congress' Lok Sabha MP and former union minister Shashi Tharoor termed her arrest as the latest escalation in India's crackdown on free expression and political dissent "Disha Ravi's arrest is the latest escalation in India's crackdown on free expression and political dissent as it seeks2stifle the farmers' mass protests, says the @dailytelegraph UK. Doesn't GoI care about the damage it is doing to its own global image?" he said.
Police has alleged that Ravi and others "collaborated with pro-khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State." "She was the one who shared the toolkit doc with Greta Thunberg," the Delhi Police claimed in a tweet.
Thunberg, a teen climate activist, had shared the "toolkit" to lend her support to the farmers' agitation against the three farm reform laws. In the document, various urgent actions, including creating a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies, were listed which were needed to be taken to support the farmers' protest.
The Cyber Cell unit of the Delhi Police had on February 4 lodged an FIR against "pro-Khalistan" creators of the "toolkit" for waging a "social, cultural and economic war against the Government of India". The case against unnamed persons have been registered on charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition and various other sections of the Indian Penal Code, police said.
Later, the Delhi Police asked Google and some social media giants to provide information about email ids, URLs and certain social media accounts related to the creators of a "toolkit".
Two e-mail IDs, one Instagram account, and one Uniform Resource Locator (URL) were mentioned in the toolkit and police asked for details from the respective platforms.
The toolkit has been cited by some critics as a "proof" of her conspiracy to fuel protests in India.
Ravi was picked up from her house for questioning and later arrested, a senior police officer said, adding that this was the first arrest in connection with the "toolkit case".
A graduate in Bachelor of Business Administration from a private college in Bengaluru, Ravi is also one of the founding members of a group named 'Fridays For Future India', police said.
"In connection with a case regarding the investigation into the criminal conspiracy related to the toolkit document, Disha Ravi has been arrested from Bengaluru.
"She was one of the editors of the toolkit Google doc and a key conspirator in the document's formulation and dissemination," said Anil Mittal, Additional Public Relations Officer (Delhi Police) in a statement.
She was produced before a Delhi court here on Sunday and remanded to police custody for five days, he said, adding that further investigation is in progress.
The police told the court that her custody was required to probe an alleged larger conspiracy against the Government of India and to ascertain her alleged role relating to the Khalistan movement.
(With PTI inputs)