22-yr-old activist, Disha Ravi, held for ‘protest toolkit’
Delhi Police’s cyber crime unit has arrested 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi from her house in North Bengaluru for allegedly sharing on social media the toolkit related to the farmers’ protests against the laws aimed at opening up trade in agriculture, police said on Sunday.
Delhi police on Sunday said in a tweet that it was Ravi who had shared the toolkit document with Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and later asked the latter to remove the document after its incriminating details accidentally became public knowledge.
Ravi was arrested on Saturday night. Ravi, who was booked for sedition, promoting enmity and criminal conspiracy, among other offences, was produced at a city court on Sunday after which she was sent to five days in police custody.
Delhi police’s additional spokesperson Anil Mittal confirmed that Ravi had been arrested from Bengaluru by a team of the special cell that is probing a conspiracy angle related to the toolkit document.
“Investigation has revealed that she was one of the editors of the Google toolkit document and a key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination,” Mittal said, adding that further investigations in the case were in progress. Police have not ruled out a possibility of more arrests in the case.
Delhi police on February 4 registered a first information report (FIR) under sections 124A (sedition), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after Thunberg tweeted the toolkit while expressing her support to the farmers’ protest in India.
The police have claimed that the toolkit was put together by a “pro-Khalistani group” named Poetic Justice Foundation. Thunberg later deleted the original tweet. The FIR was registered against the people who created and spread the toolkit.
On Sunday, Delhi police, in a series of tweets, said that Ravi had started a WhatsApp group and collaborated in the effort to prepare the toolkit document.
One of the tweets read, “Disha Ravi, arrested by CyPAD Delhi Police, is an Editor of the Toolkit Google Doc & key conspirator in document’s formulation & dissemination. She started WhatsApp Group & collaborated to make the Toolkit doc. She worked closely with them to draft the Doc.”
One tweet said Delhi Police had taken cognizance of a ‘Toolkit Document’ found on a social media platform that predates and indicates a copycat execution of a conspiracy behind the January 26 violence in the capital during a tractors rally organised by protesting farmers.
The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India, the tweet said.
Another tweet said, “In this process, they all 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 police also said that “she (Ravi) asked Greta to remove the main Doc after its incriminating details accidentally got into public domain. This is many times more than the 2 lines editing that she claims.”
Ravi is founder of a group named Fridays For Future (FFF) and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
According to the Delhi Police officials, Ravi is a key lead in the “toolkit” case as she had admitted during the initial interrogation to editing, adding some things in the toolkit and spreading it further.
Last week, 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 platforms.
Two e-mail IDs, one Instagram account, and one Uniform Resource Locator (URL) were mentioned in the toolkit and police had sought details from the respective platforms.
Farmers have been protesting at different border points of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws: Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
They claim that the laws would weaken their bargaining power, leave them at the mercy of powerful agribusinesses and potentially lead to the dismantling of government-run farm produce markets and the system of minimum support prices for agricultural commodities.
The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India said in a statement signed by at least 78 activists from across the country on Sunday: “Delhi Police’s actions are all the more sinister because the 21-year old was taken to Delhi from Bengaluru with no disclosure about her whereabouts, not even to her parents, an action that can be termed extra-judicial abduction.”
Ravi sent to five days of police custody
A city court on Sunday allowed the police five days of custody to interrogate the 22-year-old.
Metropolitan magistrate Dev Saroha remanded Ravi to custody of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police following her arrest from Bengaluru. The police had sought a remand of seven days to “unearth her connections with the organization, Sikhs for Justice and its founder Patwant Singh Pannu.”
Ravi was not represented by any private counsel during the hearing, following which the city court provided her a Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) lawyer.
During the hearing, she broke down and refuted allegations that she was conspiring against the government. She said she edited “just two lines” as she supported the farmers.