Climate activist arrested in India over farmers’ protest ‘toolbox’

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Delhi police confirmed the arrest of Disha Ravi, who is in her early 20s, in a tweet on Sunday, accusing her of being a “key conspirator in (document formulation and dissemination”).

That document, unsigned and publicly available on an encrypted sharing site, provides a list of ways that supporters can help the ongoing protests.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for months against new agricultural laws that they say will ruin their livelihoods.

Makeshift protest camps have erupted around the capital, New Delhi, and workers have gone on strike in several states. Violence has erupted occasionally – especially on January 26thWhen police and demonstrators clashed in the streets.

The toolkit instructs people to call government officials, share solidarity hashtags on social media, attend rallies, and sign petitions. It gained visibility after Thunberg tweeted a link to Feb. 4, crediting “people on earth in India.”

The move seemed to anger the Indian authorities. On the same day, Delhi police announced that they had launched a criminal investigation into the creators of the toolkit and would look to charge them with sedition, provoking or inciting a rebellion and criminal conspiracy.

The document “precedes and indicates a copycat execution of a conspiracy behind the violence on January 26”, police tweeted. “The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India.”

“In this document, there is an action plan (there) on January 26 or above, there will be a digital strike and a tweetstorm and also physical action on January 26,” Special Commissioner Praveer Ranjan said at a news conference on February 4. . “Using this toolkit, people were informed (on how to get in and out of Delhi).”

On Sunday, the police accused Ravi about starting a WhatsApp group that collaborated on the document. “She worked closely with them to draft Doc … She was the one who shared Toolkit Doc with Greta Thunberg,” police said, adding that Ravi had helped “spread discontent against the Indian state.”
Indian farmers storm New Delhi & # 39;  s Red Fort during tractor protest

It is not yet clear whether Ravi has been charged, what sentence she may be subjected to, or when her next hearing will be. There are no publicly available court documents on her case. CNN has reached out to Delhi police to provide more information.

Ravi’s company profile arrest provoked anger from high-profile figures, including author Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris. Many Indian politicians, including members of the main opposition party, expressed anger and disbelief, calling for Ravi’s arrest.shocking“and a clear show of”harassment and intimidation. ”
Ravi’s arrest is “an unprecedented attack on democracy,” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi. “Supporting our farmers is not a crime.”
Thousands have signed one online petition urges her to be liberated.

“Disha is a dedicated climate activist,” said a volunteer in the India chapter of Fridays For Future, a global climate activism group founded by Thunberg. “It was difficult to pack my head yesterday when I was told about (her arrest) I was shocked.”

Volunteers refused to be named due to security concerns. “This leads to great caution,” she said. “We pray for a viable future … That’s our right.”

Farmers’ protests

The protests are about three new agricultural laws that farmers say could harm their income.

Under the previous legislation, farmers had to sell their goods at auction in their state’s agricultural product market committee, where they were guaranteed to receive at least the agreed minimum price. There were restrictions on who could buy and prices were limited to essential items.

The new laws dismantled this committee structure and instead allowed farmers to sell their goods at any cost.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has argued that the reforms will modernize the agricultural industry, while giving farmers greater freedom to do things like sell directly to buyers or other states without an intermediary.

Rihanna's call to support Indian farmers who are quickly embraced by other celebrities

But many farmers say the changes will allow large companies to lower prices. While farmers could sell crops at higher prices if demand is there, they could conversely struggle to meet the minimum price this year where there is too much supply.

Thunberg is not the only recognizable name talking about the protests – international celebrities including singer Rihanna and NBA player Kyle Kuzma have also expressed support for the farmers.

The Indian government has busted the celebrity’s attention and sharply criticized those who express support for farmers online.

“Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be established and that a proper understanding of the current issues be made,” a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs said on February 3. hashtags and comments to Social media, especially when celebrities and others use them, are neither accurate nor responsible. “

Some activists see Ravi’s arrest as an extension of the authorities’ tough stance on those who support the protests.

Ravi was arrested for “educating people to the farmers’ protest and how best to support – in a democratic, peaceful way,” tweeted Trisha Shetty, an Indian activist for human rights and gender equality. “Shame on our government for trying to silence the best of our youth.”

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