The arrest of a 22-year-old climate activist from Bengaluru, Disha Ravi, sparked widespread outrage on Sunday, with politicians, academics, activists, authors and poets among those condemning the police action over a guide to the anti-government farmer protests that was tweeted by environmentalist Greta Thunberg.
Jairam Ramesh, a former minister and lawmaker for the opposition Congress party, called her arrest and detention “completely atrocious” and “unwarranted harassment and intimidation”.
Completely atrocious! This is unwarranted harassment and intimidation. I express my full solidarity with Disha Ravi. https://t.co/bRJOeC9MnK
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) February 14, 2021
His colleagues in the Congress and those from other opposition parties also spoke out against the move.
I strongly condemn the arrest of Disha Ravi and urge all students and youth to raise their voices to protest against the authoritarian regime#ReleaseDishaRavi
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) February 14, 2021
Some serious charges applied against a 21 year old for sharing a ‘dangerous’ toolkit. As per BJP our nation is so weak that a written document about farmer agitation shared by an international celebrity will lead to its ‘breakup’
The nation is much stronger than this toolkit,BJP
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) February 14, 2021
Modi regime thinks by arresting a grand daughter of farmers, under Sedition, it can weaken the farmers’ struggles.
In fact, it will awaken the youth of the country and strengthen the struggles for democracy. #DishaRavihttps://t.co/xRIK1BrU9s
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) February 14, 2021
Arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi is most unfortunate & shocking. Custodial interrogation of a young woman without any criminal antecedents cannot be justified.
— Anand Sharma (@AnandSharmaINC) February 14, 2021
DishaRavi’s arrest is the latest escalation in India’s crackdown on free expression&political dissent as it seeks2stifle the farmers’ mass protests, says the @dailytelegraph UK. Doesn’t GoI care about the damage it’s doing to its own global image? https://t.co/TILH9XKYkg
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) February 14, 2021
“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,” Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav posted in Hindi.
A coalition of activist groups demanded Ms Ravi’s release and said it was “extremely worried for her safety and wellbeing”.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the umbrella body spearheading the farmers’ protests that Disha Ravi supported, demanded her immediate release.
Condemning Ravi’s arrest, the group said she “stood in support of the farmers”. “We demand her immediate unconditional release,” it said in the statement.
The tweets also triggered an outpouring of solidarity from prominent individuals on social media, both within and outside India.
Indian officials have arrested another young female activist, 21 yo Disha Ravi, because she posted a social media toolkit on how to support the farmers’ protest. Read this thread about the sequence of events and ask why activists are being targeted and silenced by the government. https://t.co/ycUgDEqwdF
— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) February 14, 2021
— Siddharth (@Actor_Siddharth) February 14, 2021
Disha Ravi is 21 yrs
A climate activist from India she campaigns for clean air, clean water and a liveable planet
She is now facing state sanctioned violence for peacefully supporting farmers
Silence is not an option we must all condemn this act of suppression#FarmersProtest
— Claudia Webbe MP (@ClaudiaWebbe) February 14, 2021
Delhi police arrest young climate activist @Disha__Ravi on ridiculous charges. “Only a government that puts profit over people would consider asking for clean air, clean water and a livable planet, an act of terrorism.” https://t.co/fguS3SQ0L3
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) February 14, 2021
— lucy siegle (@lucysiegle) February 14, 2021
Delhi police is making a mockery of itself . I wish they would show as much efficient and promptness in identifying the police who tortured and murdered man while forcing him to sing the anthems or the arrest of the real culprits behind JNU attack like #komalSharnahttps://t.co/1eHhob5SqA
— অনির Onir اونیر ओनिर (@IamOnir) February 14, 2021
— Tribal Army (@TribalArmy) February 14, 2021
In @BJP4India‘s India terror-accused PragyaThakur gets a ticket. Anurag Thakur who leads “Goli maron” is a Minister & a 21 year ol’ climate activist gets jailed.
BJP is anti-India,anti-Constitution & anti-human rights. #KisaanMajdoorEktaZindabad
Free Disha Ravi, you cowards! https://t.co/Otv6yiLGEo
— Trisha Shetty (@TrishaBShetty) February 14, 2021
— rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) February 14, 2021
21 year old climate activist, Disha Ravi, has been arrested for sharing a social media toolkit in support of the Farmer’s Protest.
Disha’s the daughter of a single mother. Allegations of criminality are ludicrous, to arrest in such a case more so. https://t.co/EkJ65GCbYP
— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) February 14, 2021
Ok now we’re arresting 21-year old climate activists. Well done India, you big superpower you
— Mihir Sharma (@mihirssharma) February 14, 2021
Social media platforms have become a major battleground in India with the government calling on Twitter to block hundreds of accounts that had commented on the recent farmers’ rallies opposing new agriculture laws.
Disha Ravi was arrested on Saturday because, police alleged, she edited an online “toolkit” containing information on the protests that was put out by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in early February on Twitter.
A police statement said Ravi, from southern Bangalore, was a “key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination”.
The toolkit had basic information on the farmers’ demonstrations, as well as how to join the rallies and support the movement online.
Delhi police said Ravi and her group had “shared” the toolkit with Ms Thunberg.
Disha Ravi was a founder of Fridays For Future India, part of an international protest network established by Thunberg to highlight climate change.
Since late November farmers have camped on roads leading into the capital calling for new agriculture laws to be repealed, in one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government since it came to power in 2014.
The government has reacted with fury to tweets about the protests by celebrities — among them Rihanna and US Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris — calling them “sensationalist”.
Following those posts, on February 5 police launched an investigation into those stirring “disaffection and ill will” against the government.
Delhi police said on Twitter that Disha Ravi’s group had collaborated with those wanting to create a separate country for Sikhs.
Presented a court in Delhi on Sunday, she wasn’t accompanied by any of her lawyers and spoke in the courtroom on her own.
(With inputs from agencies)