Spotlight

Shocking detention of climate change activist by Delhi police for sharing an advocacy ‘toolkit’!

In an absolutely shocking and patently excessive move, Delhi police has picked up and detained a young climate change activist Disha Ravi from Bengaluru. According to reports, she was flown to Delhi last night. Her alleged crime: that she shared an advocacy toolkit put out by a website associated with the globally renowned climate change student activist Greta Thurberg.

While more details are awaited, this report says Disha Ravi was picked up from her residence in Soladevanahalli in Bengaluru. She is a co-founder of ‘Fridays for Future’, a global climate strike movement.

(An update: Disha Ravi was produced at the Patiala court on Sunday. According to an order by Metropolitan Magistrate Dev Saroha, the investigating officer said that police custody of Disha Ravi was necessary to locate the deleted WhatsApp group and other vital information in her devices and to interrogate her on the ‘pro-Khalistani group’ Poetic Justice Foundation and their active members’.

Anil Mittal, Additional PRO Delhi Police said, “ Ravi has been remanded to police custody for 5 days. The Special Cell is investigating the conspiracy behind the google document- Toolkit. They found that Ravi was one of the editors of the toolkit and also a key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination.”

Expressing her outrage at the manner in which the magistrate abdicated his ‘judicial duties’ by granting a police remand in the absence of her lawyer, senior advocate Rebecca Mammen John wrote on her Facebook page:

“Deeply disappointed by the conduct of the duty magistrate, Patiala House court, who remanded a young woman to five days police custody , without first ensuring that she was being represented by counsel . Magistrates must take their duties of Remand seriously and ensure that the mandate of Article 22 of the constitution is scrupulously followed . If the accused was not being represented by counsel at the time of the hearing , the magistrate should have waited till her counsel arrived or in the alternate, provided her with legal aid . Were the case diaries and the arrest memo examined ? Did the magistrate ask the Special cell why she was being produced directly from Bangalore without a transit remand from Bangalore courts? All in all , shocking abdication of judicial duties.”)

Here is a Press Release from the Youth based Environmental Collectives:

Youth based Environmental Collectives Condemn the arrest of young climate change advocate by the Delhi Police

We have learnt that yesterday, 13th February 2021, a 22 year old Climate Change Advocate, Disha Ravi from South India, was arrested by Delhi Police on false and clearly fabricated charges in connection to the Greta Thunberg Toolkit controversy trying to make her a target. Ms Disha is a young advocate for climate change and has been actively particiating in awareness initiatives with different youth based environment groups. Ms Ravi has been advocating for environmental causes as she, like many other young people, is suffering from immense anxiety about the future because of the alarming scale of environmental degradation being carried out throughout the country. Young as she is, Ms Disha has already made pivotal contributions in advocacy of marginalized groups who are most affected by climate change.

We are all of us part of a large network of voluntary, non funded youth based collectives. We work on various awareness initiatives on climate change and environmental degradation that is happening all around India. As part of this collective, we have been actively supporting the farmers protests – because it is our belief that agriculture and environment are deeply interlinked issues. Environmental justice is not unconnected from social justice and thus must be viewed from the perspective of communities and groups that are most affected by policies like the farm laws that have recently been passed by the central government. 

As volunteer based collectives with no formal organizational setups, our members are scattered far and wide and often work independently. Since we do not work in office like set ups, we depend on different technological tools that help people situated in different geographical locations to work together. Tool*kits are one such *tool of the many that is used often. They are also used by various different groups, companies, institutes etc to systematize their work. And that is all that a toolkit is.

To imply that toolkits are some conspiracy gizmos used by foreign forces to destabilize India is as stupid as the ‘Cow was abducted by aliens’ rubbish that was aired by the same mainstream media channels that are now airing this nonsense. This controversy is baseless and has no merit. TO imply that climate change activists are a danger to the peace and harmony of this country in a political climate that is highly polarized is to play fast and loose with their safety and security, especially when there is absolutely no proof to back up this claim. If anything, the recent Uttarakhand disaster makes it clear how important the work groups like ours are doing.

Seeing the kind of treatment being metted out to some of the youngest of members of our collectives, There is no doubt in our minds that the intent of the government is to target and silence voices of dissent amongst the youth of this country.

We know Ms Disha to be a member of this vast collective network. We know her to be a person of immense integrity who has nothing but the country’s best interests at heart. She, like us, is invested in this work that we do because she knows and understands the severity and seriousness of the climate crisis all of us find ourselves in. Like all other volunteers, she also has been particiating in various different campaigns to draw attention to this climate crisis. We are sure that her Social media and personal equipments that have been confiscated will reflect nothing other than the immense concern that she, like us, has for this world. We are therefore, needless to say, extremely worried about her safety and well being.

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. There are very important issues that need urgent attention. The Climate crisis is upon our heads and we have made no headway in terms of becoming renewable energy efficient, creating carbon sinks, generating green jobs and by extension a green economy. We sincerely request the government to stop this witch hunt and start treating citizens of this country with greater humility and respect. AT the same time, we demand that the young activist arrested by this administration be released immediately, her records expunged and she be escorted safely back to her home and to her family.

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