‘My Autonomy Was Violated’: Disha Ravi Issues Statement on Arrest
In her statement, Ravi also said that her climate activism was owed to the fact that her grandparents were farmers.
Climate activist Disha Ravi, arrested by the Delhi Police in connection with the ‘toolkit’ case, on Saturday, 13 March, took to her social media to post her personal statement on her experience, saying that her autonomy was violated and that she was pronounced guilty by TRP-seeking news channels.
Detailing her arrest and time in police and judicial custody in February, she wrote, “I had coerced myself into believing that the only way I would be able to live through this was by tricking myself into thinking that this wasn't happening to me – the police did not knock on my door on 13 February 2021; they did not take my phone and laptop, and arrest me; they did not present me at Patiala House Court; the media personnel were not trying to find a place inside the room.”
"As I stood in that courtroom, desperately searching for my lawyers, I came to terms with the fact that I would have to defend myself. I had no idea whether there was legal assistance available so when the judge asked me if I have anything to say, I decided to speak my mind. Before I knew it, I was sent to five days in police custody," she added.
She stated that in the days to follow, her autonomy was violated, her photos splashed over news and her “actions were pronounced guilty – not in the court of law, but on flat screens by seekers of TRPs.”
Recalling her time in Tihar Jail, Ravi wrote, “At the end of the five days (19 February 2021), I was shifted to Judicial Custody for three days. In Tihar, I was aware of every second of every minute of every hour of every day. Locked in my cell, I wondered when it became a crime to think the most basic elements of sustenance on this planet were as much mine as theirs.”
She spoke about how her climate activism was owed to the fact that her grandparents were farmers, saying, “I had to bear witness to how the water crisis affected them, but my work was reduced to tree plantation drives and clean-ups which are important but not the same as struggling for survival.”
“Climate Justice is about intersectional equity. It is about being radically inclusive of all groups of people, so that everyone has access to clean air, food and water," she added.
She also thanked those who had stood by her in this time, saying that she counted herself lucky to get pro bono legal assistance.
"But what of all those who do not? What of all those still in jail whose stories are not marketable? What of the marginalised that are not worthy of your screen time? What of those who face the world's brazen indifference? Although their physical forms are trapped behind bars because of our collective silence, their ideas continue to live on as will the united resistance of the people. Ideas do not die. And, truth, no matter how long it takes, always reveals itself," she added.
‘Key Conspirator,’ Says Delhi Police on Ravi
Ravi was arrested by the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on charges of “sharing and spreading” a toolkit related to the farmers’ protest, that was posted by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg.
Breaking down in the court, Ravi denied being part of any conspiracy and said, "I was just supporting farmers.” She added that she didn't create the ‘toolkit’, and just made two edits to it.
However, the Delhi Police claimed that, “Ravi was one of the editors of the toolkit Google doc and a key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination.”
Ravi was granted bail by the Patiala House Court on Tuesday, 23 February, and was released from Delhi's Tihar jail the same day.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana held that, “Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence on record, I do not find any palpable reason to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-year-old young lady, with absolutely blemish free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society, and send her to jail.”
Ravi was directed to furnish two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each for her release. Agarwal tried to argue for this to be reduced as her family is not of means and pointing out that he was handling the case pro-bono. However, the court denied this request.
She has also been directed to cooperate with the Delhi Police’s investigation, and is not to leave the country, which are standard bail conditions.
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