By Asia Samachar Team | INDIA |
A climate activist is the latest to be arrested by the Indian authorities in what may be a dragnet to those who want to express support to farmers protesting against new agricultural laws.
Disha Ravi, a 22-year old student and one of the founders of the Indian branch of the Fridays for Future climate strike, was picked up by Delhi police for questioning yesterday (Feb 13).
She is accused of sedition and criminal conspiracy. The document she shared – a “toolkit” which suggests ways of helping the farmers – was first posted by the prominent campaigner Greta Thunberg, according to media reports.
Police said the toolkit suggested a conspiracy in the run up to a huge #tractorparade rally on 26 January.
In an immediate response, Karuna Nundy, an Indian supreme court lawyer, tweeted: “Disha’s the daughter of a single mother. Allegations of criminality are ludicrous, to arrest in such a case more so.”
She also told the Financial Times: “To accuse a young climate activist of sedition — even if it’s true that she had some part in a social media ‘toolkit’ — is deeply egregious. This comes at a time when those who disagree with government policy are being systematically targeted for saying so.
“Going after perhaps the youngest and most vulnerable of the activists sends out a chilling message.”
The Indian farmers, who have camped out at a number of Delhi border points in chilling winter since Nov 26, received a huge boost to their campaign when pop star Rihanna and Thunberg tweeted their plight last week.
On Feb 2, Rihanna tweeted the following terse message to her more than 100 million followers: “Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest.” It was linked to a news story about the internet blockade at the protest sites.
The next day, environmental activist Thunberg weighed in on the issue when she shared the same report picked up by Rihanna, with a terse statement “We stand in solidarity with farmers protests in India.”
This was then followed by a surprise response from India’s external affairs ministry. Hitting out at the pop star and the Swedish activist, it said: “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”
First ever mahapanchayat in Panjab (Asia Samachar, 11 Feb 2021)