A Delhi court on Sunday remanded 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi in five-day police custody of the Special Cell, following her arrest in connection with a "toolkit" related to the farmers' protest, circulated by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Disha was arrested by the Delhi Police from the Soladevanahalli area of Bengaluru on Saturday. She is one of the founders of the 'Friday for Future' campaign and allegedly edited and disseminated the 'toolkit' and forwarded it on social media.
She was produced before the Patiala House Court in Delhi, earlier on the day. While seeking her custody, the Delhi Police told the court, "It is a larger conspiracy against the Government of India."
Climate activism in India
Climate activism in India, albeit in its infancy, has picked up steam after 2018, when Swedish pupil Greta Thunberg staged a protest outside the country's Riksdag (parliament), in the backdrop of the broader 'school strike for climate' movement.
Thunberg went on receive global publicity and internet fame, following which widespread organising began in different parts of the world. Three years later, here in India, Licypriya Kangujam, Ridhima Pandey, and several other youth activists are leading the public fight against climate change and arguing for climate action.
Who is Disha Ravi?
She is a 21-year-old climate activist in Bengaluru and one of the founders of Fridays For Future (FFF) India, the home branch of the international movement of school students who skip Friday's classes to participate in demonstrations demanding action from political leaders to mitigate the effects of climate change, and from the fossil fuel industry to transition to renewable energy.
Disha graduated from Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru. She featured in an article by the British Vogue magazine on four activists of colour who highlight the climate crisis.
Disha started her activism following the water crisis, which affected her family, and her house even flooded. She has been demanding political accountability from the government over alleged "lax measures" that lead to millions of people in the country being displaced due to heavy rains and the subsequent floods.
She has been regularly penning columns on leading news portals on climate action and is a known name in the relevant climate forums frequented by youth activists.
Why was she arrested by the Delhi Police?
She was arrested by the cops on the charge of editing the 'toolkit' shared by Thunberg on Twitter and forwarding it on social media.
She was presented before a Delhi Court by the Delhi Police. The police sought seven days of custody to probe an alleged larger conspiracy against the Government of India and ascertain the alleged role relating to the Khalistan movement.
The police told the court that the activist allegedly edited the toolkit on 3 February, and that many other people are involved in the matter. The police informed the court that they have recovered her mobile phone.
According to the Delhi Police, Disha is a key lead in the "toolkit" case as she had admitted during the initial interrogation to editing, adding some things to it, and spreading it further.
The accused broke down in the courtroom and told Duty Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha that she did not make the toolkit but only "edited two on February 3." She said she edited only two lines and wanted to support the farmers' protest.
Police investigating 'toolkit'
Last week, the Delhi Police sent a communication to Google seeking registration details and activity log of the account through which a "toolkit" related to the farmers' protest was created and uploaded on the social media platform.
Two e-mail IDs, one Instagram account, and one URL were mentioned in the toolkit, and the police have asked for details from the respective platforms.
The Delhi Police had registered an FIR on 4 February on charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting hatred among groups under Sections 124-A, 120-A, and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code against the "creators" of the toolkit, which was shared by Thunberg.
According to the police, the unfolding of events during the farmers' protest around 26 January, including violence near Red Fort, allegedly revealed copycat execution of the "action plan" detailed in the toolkit.
The police said that the intention of the creators appeared to be to create disharmony among various social, religious, and cultural groups, encourage disaffection and ill-will against the Centre, and wage social, cultural, and economic war against India.
Farmers have been protesting at different borders of the national capital since 26 November last year against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act, 2020; and Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
(With inputs from agencies)