Disha Ravi’s Arrest Could Silence Young Climate Activists Like Her

The Quint spoke to climate activists in Delhi and Bengaluru on future of climate movement after Disha Ravi’s arrest.

3 min read

Video Editor: Vivek Gupta

A 17-year-old youth climate activist in Delhi has been hitting the streets, calling for #ClimateJustice, since she was in Class 9. Her Facebook and Instagram were filled with posts calling for people to be environment conscious.

On Sunday, 14 February, her parents sat her down and asked her to deactivate her social media accounts for a few days, after climate activist Disha Ravi was arrested for allegedly editing a ‘toolkit’ on farmers’ protest.

“My parents have asked me to deactivate my social media accounts for a few days. They told me 'saving the earth can wait. First, focus on getting into a good college,” she told The Quint.

Several youth climate activists from across India told The Quint that they were scared and anxious for the future of the climate movement in India.


‘Parents Will Think Twice Before Sending Kids to Protest’

"Of course, India is not Europe. We can't just send our kids to protest and sit at home. I am very disturbed. Which parent can sleep peacefully? You tell me,” asks a parent who is frequently spotted with the protesting youth across Delhi.

A voice seeking environmental justice, the parent herself says that the movement will no longer have the support of schools and principals. “The protest for climate action might die for the time being at least,” she added.

Another parent, who is the father of a 15-year-old climate activist, said that while he accompanied his son to protests earlier, he will “think twice” now.

“I have a 15-year-old at home who is a climate activist. I used to go to protests and raise slogans with her. Will I do it now? Maybe. But I’ll think twice,” he told The Quint.

‘Pause, But Not the End’

A youth-based climate collective in Bengaluru released a statement saying that to imply that green activists are a danger is to play “fast and loose with their safety and security.”

"To imply that climate change activists are a danger to the peace and harmony of this country in a political climate that is highly polarised is to play fast and loose with their safety and security. Especially when there is absolutely no proof to back up this claim," the collective said.

On the other hand, a 21-year-old climate activist from Bengaluru, who claims to be Disha Ravi’s friend, said that he was angry that people mock climate activists.

“I am angry. So very angry. People mock us saying what can kids do about environment? And then, they put you behind bars, target you because you are a climate activist,” he added.

But, collectively they say that the climate movement taking a backseat, in the light of Ravi’s arrest, is a “pause and not the end.”

“We are fighting for our future. And, we will continue to. Nothing more, nothing less.” 

Activists on ‘Toolkit’ Shared By Ravi

The Delhi Police has accused Disha Ravi of having been an editor of an activist “toolkit”, which Greta Thunberg had tweeted this month as part of global support for farmers’ protest.

Ravi, the daughter of an agricultural family in Karnataka, felt rather moved by the farmers' plight. “She is the only salaried person in her family. The others, including her mother, depend on agriculture. It is only natural for her to have understood the farmers’ plight as a conscientious young activist,” a member of the Fridays For Future India team said. An alumna of Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, Ravi also supports animal rights and is vehemently against deforestation.

About the toolkit, an FFF activist explained, “A toolkit merely familiarises a reader with the subject of urgency at hand. If one wants to learn about climate crisis and farmers’ protest in India one can go through the toolkit and understand the basic information.” The toolkit is expected to help create awareness, they added.

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