India activist arrested over circulating Greta Thunberg 'toolkit'

Members of various social organisation display placards during a protest against the arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi in Bangalore on Monday Feb. 15 2021

Activists from United Hindu Front hold a portrait of climate change activist Greta Thunberg before burning it, to protest against the celebrities for commenting in support of protesting farmers, in New Delhi, India, Feb. 4, 2021.

Police did not say what Ravi had been charged with but accused her of being "a key conspirator in the document's formulation and dissemination".

The move was quickly met with protests and criticism.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which is leading the agitation against new agri laws, on Monday again demanded the release of 21-year-old environmental activist Disha Ravi.

A coalition of activist groups demanded Ms Ravi's release and said it was "extremely anxious for her safety and wellbeing".

Not being provided with a lawyer, Disha, arguing her case on her own, told the court, "I did not make Toolkit". We wanted to support the farmers.

While responding to queries relating to toolkit document during a press conference at the Delhi Police headquarters, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell) Anyesh Roy said that it is not a static document.

The farmer protests have been mainly peaceful.

Bhavreen Kandhari, a member of Thunberg's movement in India, said it was awaiting clarity from the police before making any statement.

In July past year, the Delhi police had invoked a counter-terrorism law to block three websites of student climate activists after the groups campaigned against the government's attempt to dilute in forest protections during the Covid-19 pandemic. "Supporting our farmers is not a crime", tweeted Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi. "When the farmers' movement is asking for policies that increase viability in farming, prevent exploitation of farmers by big capital and local traders and guaranteed minimum prices for crops, these are policy directions that will lead to greater crop diversification and allow farmers to adopt sustainable practices", said Kavita Kuruganti, founder of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture.

Ms Ravi was a founder of Fridays For Future India, part of an worldwide protest network established by Thunberg to highlight climate change. Overseas, the niece of U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, Meena Harris, criticized the government on Twitter for silencing activists.

According to the police, the "toolkit" has a particular section that mentions "digital strike through hashtags on or before January 26, tweet storms on January 23 onwards, physical action on January 26 and watch-out or join farmers march into Delhi and back to borders".

Delhi police said on Twitter that Ms Ravi's group had collaborated with those wanting to create a separate country in the northern state of Punjab. "We would also take pride in acknowledging her efforts in raising her voice for the issues of North East India". Moreover, since it speaks of solidarity protests at or near Indian embassies, it suggests that the toolkit was designed primarily for foreigners or people living outside India. The activist has been put in five-day remand custody in connection to the farmer "toolkit" case that Delhi Police had been probing since it was tweeted by Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg earlier in February. She later deleted it to share an updated version. Around the same time, about hundred people gathered at protest in Bangalore, demanding Ms Ravi's release.

A protest was planned later in the day in the city against her arrest.

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