‘Attack on Democracy’: Support Pours in for Activist Disha Ravi

A Delhi court has remanded the 21-year-old climate activist to five-day Delhi Police Special Cell custody.

6 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Video Producer: Hera Khan

Politicians, activists, and international public figures have poured in support for 21-year-old climate activist, Disha Ravi, who was arrested by the Delhi Police's cyber crime cell on Saturday, 13 February, from Bengaluru on charges of ‘sharing and spreading’ a toolkit on the farmers’ protest that was posted by international green activist Greta Thunberg.

The arrest is reportedly based on an FIR filed by the cybercrime unit of the Delhi Police, which was registered against the creators of the ‘toolkit’ on 4 February.

The Delhi Police’s statement claimed that Ravi was a ‘co-conspirator’ in the document's formulation and ‘in this process’ collaborated with ‘pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian state’.


Breaking down in a Delhi court, before which she was produced on Sunday, 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.

Ravi was sent to five-day police custody on Sunday.

Politicians Condemn Arrest

Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to condemn Disha’s arrest, which the AAP leader compared to an unprecedented attack on democracy.

CPI leader, Sitaram Yechury said the arrest will only strengthen India’s struggle for democracy.

Congress leaders like Chidambaram, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Shashi Tharoor, Jairam Ramesh, Surpriya Shrinate, and Kapil Sibal have registered their protest against Disha’s arrest on Twitter and have asked for her release.

Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi also condemned Disha’s arrest, and said that the nation is stronger than the ‘toolkit’ the young activist has been arrested for.

International Figures Condemn Arrest

Celebrated poet Rupi Kaur has been actively sharing tweets condemning the arrest of Disha as well as dalit activist Navdeep Kaur. Rupi’s thread has been shared by many activists, including Meena Harris, the niece of Kamala Harris who has seen widespread trolling for speaking out in support of the farmers’ protests.


Lawyers Condemn Arrest

Advocate Rebecca John posted on facebook about the abdication of judicial duties when Disha was produced without representation, calling it a violation of Article 22 of the Constitution. Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nandy also tweeted condemning the arrest.

Activists, Artists and Journalists Condemn Arrest

Several artists, journalists and activists such as TM Krishna, Kavita Krishnan, Aishe Ghosh, and others have tweeted asking for the release of the 21-year-old climate activist, Disha, saying that the toolkit was not a conspiracy, but a routine part of planning peaceful protests and digital activism.

A student of Mount Carmel college, Disha Ravi is one of the co-founders of Fridays For Future (FFF), an offshoot of the climate movement kickstarted by Thunberg that mostly comprises school children and young college students.

Youth-Based Collectives Issue Statement

Several youth-based environmental collectives on Sunday issued a statement condemning Ravi’s arrest.

The collectives said that the controversy over the ‘toolkit’ is ‘baseless and has no merit’. They demanded that Ravi be released immediately, her records expunged and she be escorted back to her home, reported The News Minute.

“It is our firm opinion that the government needs to stop viewing everyone who disagrees with its policies as enemies and rather learn to work with the people who have elected them to power. Using words and phrases like ‘international conspiracy’, ‘defame the country’, ‘waging social, cultural, and economic war against India’ to describe young environmental groups is highly unbecoming of people sitting in the highest corridors of power,” the statement read.

Coalition for Environmental Justice in India Issues Statement

The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India and other civil society groups on Sunday also issued a statement against Ravi’s arrest, stating that young environmental activists are ‘the latest victims of the Centre’s continuing efforts to deligitimise the ongoing farmers’ protest and the nationwide solidarity it has generated’.

The statement further read that given the recent environment disasters in Uttarakhand and the floods across western ghats, the government ‘needs to reach out to India’s youth, not attack them’.

“We call on the Indian Government to take India’s youth into confidence, understand their concerns about their future, and work with them to safeguard our environment and strengthen institutions of democratic decision making. We demand that Disha Ravi be immediately released and assisted to get back home to resume her life,” the statement added.


Magisterial Abdication: CJAR

The Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) called the arrest of climate activist Disha Ravi from her home in Bengaluru ‘illegal.’

“Delhi Police Special Cell has violated all norms and procedures of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Constitution in doing so. The allegations against her are absurd to say the least and are an attempt to criminalize dissent and protest,” CJAR said in a statement.

  • CJAR states that since Ravi was arrested in Bengaluru, she should have been produced before the competent authority in Bengaluru for securing transit remand. She was instead produced before the Duty Magistrate in Patiala House Court in Delhi - by no means the “nearest magistrate” as required by clause (2) of Article 22.
  • CJAR also expressed disappointment with the “complete abdication of duty by the Duty Magistrate in Patiala House Court.” It asserted that the Magistrate worked in “mechanical manner that has resulted in a serious violation of human rights.”

(With inputs from The News Minute)

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