'Toolkit' Case: Non-Bailable Warrants Issued Against Activists Nikita Jacob, Shantanu

Lawyer-activist Nikita Jacob moved Bombay high court for anticipatory bail.

New Delhi: A day after the arrest of 21-year-old climate activist, Disha Ravi, the Delhi Police on Monday procured a non-bailable warrant from a local court here against lawyer-activist Nikita Jacob and activist Shantanu in connection with the protest “toolkit” shared by Greta Thunberg to support farmers’ protests, NDTV has reported.

The Delhi Police claims that Poetic Justice Foundation, the organisation allegedly behind Thunberg’s “toolkit”, had contacted Mumbai-based Jacob to organise a “tweet storm” ahead of the Republic Day protests by farmers. The organisation in question is believed to be working for the separatist Khalistani cause, according to the Delhi Police.

On February 11, Delhi cyber cell police went to Jacob’s residence in Mumbai to carry out searches. However, the investigating officials could not question her as it was already evening by then. Jacob had promised to cooperate with the investigation.

An India Today report, however, attributing it to the sources in the Delhi Police, has claimed that Jacob has been absconding since the investigating officials visited her residence on February 11.

Meanwhile, the Mumbai-based lawyer moved the Bombay high court seeking anticipatory bail on Monday, February 15, and the matter will be heard on Tuesday, February 16.

Also read: Delhi Police Arrests Climate Activist Disha Ravi, 21, for Editing Toolkit for Peaceful Protest

In her application to the Bombay high court, Jacob stated that she is not working to incite violence as part of farmers’ protests, as is being claimed by the Delhi Police. She said she has not received any copy of the complaint or the FIR.

She said she has been a lawyer practicing at the Bombay high court since 2014, and has been volunteering for the environmental cause under Extinction Rebellion.

She said she is worried by the fact that trollers and bots have been circulating her personal information, like contact numbers, email ids, among others, on social media undermining her privacy. She rubbished the allegations that she is associated with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and has been working with it to incite violence.

The non-bailable warrants against Jacob and Shantanu come close on the heels of the Delhi Police taking into custody 21-year-old environmental activist, Disha Ravi, on Sunday, which triggered anger across India and abroad. Many rights’ activists and politicians from the opposition parties hit out at the “authoritarian” regime of Narendra Modi.

The arrest and non-bailable warrants issued by the Delhi Police are in connection with an alleged sedition conspiracy case being investigated by the police following a “toolkit” shared by climate activist Greta Thunberg in the run-up to farmers’ tractors parade on Republic Day.

The “toolkit” is a document that suggests peaceful actions such as holding a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies and the offices of the Adani and Ambani corporate groups to mobilise support for the farmers’ protest in India. The police has not been able to explain why this protest toolkit – which only lists peaceful action – is being called a conspiracy.

As The Wire has explained in detail, a ‘toolkit’ is prepared for protests often, as it helps remote sympathisers access and participate in the movement, promoting strength in numbers. In a long-term movement, it can be assumed to be a successor of the pamphlet that delineates the ethos of the protest.

The fact that the government – including external affairs minister S. Jaishankar – is painting this toolkit as some sort of proof of conspiracy has been questioned by several experts. Retired IPS officer N.C. Asthana has written for The Wire about why the police’s claims are not made out, and its investigations into the matter do not make sense:

“Beyond the official hysteria and the media’s hype, the toolkit merely calls for mobilising opinion through social media, sharing solidarity photo/video messages, signing petitions and emails, etc. It also calls for a tweetstorm. This means a series of related tweets posted by a Twitter user in quick succession. None of these steps is an offence. 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.

As far as the January 26 farmers’ march is concerned, it calls to ‘watch out for or join it’. Given the fact that the rally was permitted by the police, there is no offence here even if the call of the toolkit’s authors were aimed at some Indian citizens.”