New Delhi: Two people who identified themselves as personnel of the Delhi Police raided the Maharashtra house of activist Shantanu Muluk – against whom Delhi Police has issued a non-bailable warrant – and took away a computer hard disk and other items.
The Bombay high court has granted transit anticipatory bail to Shantanu for 10 days.
The activist has been named in the ‘toolkit’ case registered by Delhi police, over which it has already arrested 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi. The Delhi Police has attached great importance to the ‘toolkit‘ – an online document supporting farmers, initially shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg – positing it as tell-all evidence that proves a conspiracy behind the farmers’ protest.
The Delhi Police has said that Shantanu Muluk, Disha Ravi and lawyer Nikita Jacob were involved in creating the toolkit. It is not known why police found the easily accessible collection of articles, social media resources and information on one of India’s largest peaceful protests capable of “tarnishing India’s image” as it has claimed.
The Delhi Police raid occurred on February 12, according to reports, but came to light when Shantanu’s father Shivlal Muluk made a representation to police on Tuesday, February 16.
Shivlal said the two ‘personnel’ told the Muluk family that Delhi Police wanted to know about Shantanu, saying he had committed treason and he had been in contact with ‘pro-Khalistan people’, PTI reported.
They then searched all rooms in the house and took away a hard disk, an environment-related poster, a book, and a mobile phone cover from Shantanu’s room.
According to Shivlal, the police officials did not show any search warrant, did not obtain any permission from the family before taking away these items, and also did not prepare any ‘panchnama‘ of the seized material.
The latter is a record of witness testimony, usually prepared by the police, during the investigation of a crime or after a death.
The police officials also told the Muluk family that the seized material will be returned to them later, as per Shivlal’s representation.
Beed superintendent of police Raja Ramaswami has told PTI that it will probe and take needful action.
Now, a UK connection
While Delhi Police has not addressed Shantanu’s father’s complaint, it said on Wednesday, February 18, that a UK-based woman had allegedly drafted the content of a “Twitter storm” campaign in support of the farmers’ protest. It is, again, unclear as to why a plan to amplify the farmers’ protest through Twitter hashtags would be illegal, let alone conspiratorial.
Police claimed that the woman, who is a member of the UK chapter of Extinction Rebellion (XR), along with Nikita and Shantanu drafted the content between February 1 and 2 for next Twitter storm planned for February 4 and 5.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, a senior police officer said the UK-based woman joined Nikita and Shantanu and “made a package and added to the document” through hyperlink.
While examining the WhatsApp chats, another name Thilaka, also a member of XR, emerged and during investigation, police found that Thilaka also helped them in drafting the document and was in contact with Nikita and Disha, police claimed.
However, police did not divulge more information on Thilaka and said it is part of investigation.
Police have offered a timeline on when and how the activists met online in support of the movement and have alleged that “pro-Khalistani” groups were also part of those meetings and added hyperlinks to the document.
(With PTI inputs)