Disha Ravi: Indian climate activist from Greta Thunberg movement granted bail

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Stuti Mishra
·3 min read
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<p>A protester demands the release of climate activist Disha Ravi after her arrest by the Delhi police in connection with a toolkit shared by Greta Thunberg </p> (EPA)

A protester demands the release of climate activist Disha Ravi after her arrest by the Delhi police in connection with a toolkit shared by Greta Thunberg

(EPA)

A Delhi court on Tuesday granted bail to a 22-year-old climate activist who was arrested in relation to a toolkit tweeted by Greta Thunberg in support of India’s months-long farmers’ protest.

Disha Ravi, one of the founders of Fridays For Future (FFF) in India, was arrested by the Delhi police on 4 February, along with two others, for allegedly editing the ‘toolkit’ shared by the Swedish activist on Twitter.

The Delhi police allege that Ms Ravi was a “key conspirator” in creating and circulating the online document, which according to them, was compiled to defame India and spread misinformation among people. They also allege that there was a connection between the toolkit and the clashes that occurred in the national capital on Republic Day.

The police also claimed that Ms Ravi had sent the toolkit to Ms Thunberg through the Telegram app, and also “coaxed her to act on it.”

The judge in his order granting bail said the decision was taken “considering the scanty and sketchy investigation,” according to Indian media reports.

“I do not find any palpable reason to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedents,”Indian Express quoted the Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana as saying.

The charges levied by Delhi police against Ms Ravi include sedition, criminal conspiracy, spreading disaffection against the Indian state, and promoting enmity.

On February 21, the Delhi court heard the arguments from both sides before securing its judgement, where the Delhi police claimed that the toolkit“seemed innocuous” but intended to "instigate people” and create “public disorder." The police also raised questions over the hyperlinks included in the toolkit which they said took users to websites which “defamed the Indian Army”.

The lawyer representing Ms Ravi told the court that there was no evidence against her and “having a difference of opinion does not amount to sedition.”

The publicly available toolkit, however, also did not include any mention of pro-Khalistan (Sikh separatist) groups that Delhi police is linking Ms Ravi with, along with numerous other charges, but contained reading material about why Indian farmers have been protesting against the new farm laws. It includes a call to action for steps to support farmers, including creating a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies.

Her arrest was criticised by several rights groups as baseless and an attempt to intimidate activists speaking against the government. Ms Ravi is one in a long list of activists arrested by the police under the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, which has been slapping stringent laws such as the one pertaining to sedition more often than other governments in the past.

According to Article 14‘s database, at least six sedition cases have been filed by the Indian government during the ongoing farmer’s protest. Sweeping arrests of activists also took place last year during the protests against India’s new citizenship amendment act during which 25 sedition cases were filed.

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