In India and Abroad, Disha Ravi's 'Atrocious' Arrest Sparks Outrage

From politicians to rights activists, a large number of people have questioned Ravi's arrest.

New Delhi: The arrest of young climate activist Disha Ravi by the Delhi Police on Sunday has triggered widespread outrage. While the police have claimed that she was part of a ‘conspiracy’, all she had done was edit the protest ‘toolkit’ on the farmers’ agitation that was shared online by several people including teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Several Congress leaders condemned the arrest on Twitter, calling it “atrocious” and a form of “harassment”.

Leaders from other opposition parties, including CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury and Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav, too voiced their support for Ravi and demanded her release.

“The question is when will those people be arrested who continue to issue a literal ‘toolkit’ to break the national and social unity of India morning and evening, giving rise to hatred and division among the masses,” Akhilesh tweeted in Hindi.

Ravi was produced before a magistrate in Delhi on Sunday, who remanded her to five days police custody. Till late Sunday night, neither the remand application nor order was made available to the media. Unusually, the FIR in the case has also still not been uploaded by the police though more than a week has passed since it was filed.

Several lawyers questioned the procedure of arrest as well. The court proceedings, for instance, allegedly took place place without Ravi’s lawyer present.

Facebook post by lawyer Rebecca John.

Advocate Karuna Nundy too criticised the arrest and said the law was being misused. “To accuse a young climate activist of sedition — even if it’s true that she had some part in a social media ‘toolkit’ — is deeply egregious,” she told the Financial Times. “This comes at a time when those who disagree with government policy are being systematically targeted for saying so.”

Internationally too, several rights activists, politicians, authors and others spoke up in solidarity with Ravi, saying that supporting farmers’ protests was no reason to arrest anyone.

When produced before the court on Sunday, Ravi said she had edited two lines on the protest toolkit aimed at organising peaceful protests in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement in India. The police had filed an FIR against unnamed persons involved in creating and sharing this toolkit – but have not explained why this was a legal breach. Toolkits are used across the world to spread messages relating to peaceful protests.

In a tweet, Delhi Police claimed Ravi was a “key conspirator” in the “formulation and dissemination” of the ‘Toolkit’ and had started a WhatsApp group for that purpose. This “toolkit” – which the police claims is part of a seditious conspiracy – was in fact a collection of articles, social media handles and information on the farmers’ protest, for anyone wanting to learn about the issue and spread the message.

Ravi has been involved in a number of climate-related movements in the past, including Fridays for Future, conservation of the Aarey forest and more.