Indian police arrests activist Disha Ravi over farmers’ protest ‘toolkit’


A 22-year-old Indian climate activist has been arrested by the Delhi police in the case involving a “toolkit” intended to help farmers protest against new agricultural laws.

In a statement posted on social media on Sunday, police said Disha Ravi was a “key conspirator” in the “formulation and dissemination” and was an editor of the document.

The police also said that Ms. Ravi had “collaborated” to “spread disaffection against the Indian State” when she shared it online, including with Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The “toolkit”, which suggests ways of helping the farmers, was tweeted by prominent activist Ms. Thunberg.

Ms. Ravi is one of the founders of the Indian branch of the Fridays for Future climate strike, an international climate movement active in most countries and was started by Ms. Thunberg.

Activists say Ms. Ravi’s arrest is a clear warning to those who want to show support to anti-government protests.

Police officials said Ms. Ravi would be held in custody for five days, although no formal charges have been announced.

Police have said the toolkit suggested a conspiracy in the run up to a huge rally on 26 January, which saw protesting farmers clash with police.

Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting for more than two months over the laws, which they say benefit only big corporations.

The new legislation loosens rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce which have protected India’s farmers from the free market for decades.

The farmers’ protests mark the biggest challenge India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has faced. His government has offered to suspend the laws but the farmers want them repealed altogether.

“The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India,” Delhi Police Special Commissioner Praveer Ranjan said earlier this month.

“We have registered a case for spreading disaffection against the government of India – it’s regarding sedition – and disharmony between groups on religious, social and cultural grounds, and criminal conspiracy to give shape to such a plan,” he added.

Jairam Ramesh, a former minister and lawmaker for the opposition Congress party, called Ms Ravi’s arrest and detention “completely atrocious”. (Source: BBC)