A New Delhi court granted bail on Tuesday to Disha Ravi, the 22-year-old Indian climate activist who has been arrested by the police in the case involving a “toolkit” intended to help farmers protest against new agricultural laws.
Ms. Ravi, one of the founders of Fridays For Future (FFF) in India is accused of being a “key conspirator” in the “formulation and dissemination” of a document, which according to authorities, was compiled to defame India and spread misinformation among people.
The judge in his order granting bail said the decision was taken “considering the scanty and sketchy investigation,” according to Indian media reports.
“I do not find any palpable reason to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedents,” Indian Express quoted the Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana as saying.
The charges levied by Delhi police against Ms. Ravi include sedition, criminal conspiracy, spreading disaffection against the Indian state, and promoting enmity.
Ms. Ravi, who was arrested last February 04, had “collaborated” to “spread disaffection against the Indian State” when she shared it online, including with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, said the Delhi police.
They alleged that there was a connection between the toolkit and the clashes with farmers that occurred in the nation’s capital on Republic Day.
The police claimed that Ms. Ravi had sent the toolkit to Ms. Thunberg through the Telegram app, and also “coaxed her to act on it.”
They also raised questions over the hyperlinks included in the toolkit which they said took users to websites which “defamed the Indian Army”.
On February 21, the Delhi court heard the arguments from both sides before securing its judgement, where the Delhi police claimed that the toolkit“ seemed innocuous” but intended to “instigate people” and create “public disorder.”
The lawyer representing Ms. Ravi told the court that there was no evidence against her and “having a difference of opinion does not amount to sedition.”
The publicly available toolkit, however, also did not include any mention of pro-Khalistan (Sikh separatist) groups that Delhi police is linking Ms Ravi with, along with numerous other charges, but contained reading material about why Indian farmers have been protesting against the new farm laws.
It includes a call to action for steps to support farmers, including creating a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies.
Her arrest was criticised by several rights groups as baseless and an attempt to intimidate activists speaking against the government.
Ms. Ravi is one in a long list of activists arrested by the police under the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, which has been slapping stringent laws such as the one pertaining to sedition more often than other governments in the past. (Source: The Independent)