New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Non-bailable warrants have been issued against a Mumbai lawyer and a Pune engineer for allegedly creating a protest toolkit backing the farmers’ agitation along with arrested climate activist Disha Ravi and collaborating with pro-Khalistani elements, Delhi Police officials said on Monday.
Lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu, who are absconding, also attended a Zoom meeting organised by 'pro-Khalistani' group Poetic Justice Foundation, Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Prem Nath said at a press conference. The three had created the toolkit and sent it to others, officials said as a fierce political debate broke out between the opposition and the ruling BJP over the action against 21-year-old Ravi in the case related to the “toolkit Google doc” that came to light when it was shared by global climate campaigner Greta Thunberg.
'Disha, Shantanu and Nikita created and edited the toolkit. Disha sent the toolkit to Greta Thunberg through Telegram. Disha deleted a Whatsapp group which she created to spread the toolkit. Due procedure was followed when Disha was arrested,' Nath said.
Ravi was arrested from Bengaluru on Saturday and sent to police remand for five days by a Delhi court on Sunday with officials claiming she was an editor of the 'toolkit Google doc' and 'key conspirator' in its formulation and dissemination.
A day later, Delhi Police officials said they were conducting raids in Mumbai and other places to nab Jacob and Shantanu, known so far only by one name.
Jacob approached the Bombay High Court seeking transit anticipatory bail for four weeks so she can approach the concerned court in Delhi to apply for pre-arrest bail. The high court will hear the plea on Tuesday.
She said in her plea she is unaware if she is named as an accused or witness in the case. 'However, the applicant (Jacob) fears that she may be arrested due to political vendetta and media trial,' her application said.
'Non-bailable warrants have been issued against Nikita Jacob and Shantanu. The two are wanted in connection with the toolkit case. They are suspected to be involved in preparing the documents and were also in direct interaction with pro-Khalistani elements,' a senior Delhi Police official said earlier in the morning.
Police also allege that Ravi and others 'collaborated with pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State'.
Thunberg had shared the 'toolkit' in early February to lend her support to the farmers' agitation against the Centre’s three new agri laws.
The document listed a series of actions, including creating a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies, to be taken to support the farmers' protest.
The toolkit has been cited by some critics as 'proof' of a conspiracy to fuel protests in India.
While many in the BJP defended the Delhi Police, several opposition leaders accused the government of 'murdering democracy' by using force against a 21-year-old.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led the opposition offensive following Ravi’s arrest and said the country will not be silenced.
'Your lips are free to speak. Say that the truth is still alive. They are scared, not the country,' he said in a tweet in Hindi.
His party colleague Jairam Ramesh said, 'Delhi Police on the rampage. After Disha Ravi, it is now the turn of another young woman, Nikita Jacob. More will no doubt follow....' In a tweet in Hindi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra added that those with guns are afraid of an unarmed girl.
'… The flames of courage from an unarmed girl have spread.' She also used hashtags 'ReleaseDishaRavi' and 'IndiaBeingSilenced”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described Ravi’s arrest as an “unprecedented attack on democracy” and said supporting farmers is not a crime.
The Samukuta Kisan Morcha, which is spearheading the farmers’ protests, also condemned the arrest and demanded her immediate release Defending the action, Union minister and BJP leader Gajendra Singh Shekhawat tweeted: 'If age is the criteria then Param Veer Chakra Second Lt Arun Khetarpal, martyred at 21 is who I am proud of. Not some toolkit propagandists.' His party colleague B L Santosh asked whether '21 year old...environment activist...student...” are credentials for becoming a part of “breaking India forces”.
'Bengaluru, Greta Thunberg, Vegan, sole bread winner, student, 21 year old, passionate activist...so many attempts to white wash a sin...!! Not one anarchist ready to answer the question...How 21 year old student got access to edit Toolkit,' he asked.
As the debate got more polarised, Haryana's Home Minister Anil Vij stepped in to say that whoever harbours the seed of anti-nationalism in their mind should be “completely destroyed”.
BJP's IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya brought in Delhi’s JNU and Jamia Miliia Islamia into the debate.
'The Left has been using young impressionable minds as cannon fodder for their deranged politics for a long time. From JNU to Jamia, AMU to Nadwa and now Disha Ravi, are all part of their sinister plot...Unfortunately they are abandoned soon after they have served their purpose.' Delhi Police had earlier asked Google and other social media giants to provide information about e-mail id, URLs and social media accounts related to the creators of the 'toolkit' shared by Thunberg and others on Twitter in connection with the farmers' protest.
This was following the clashes on January 26 during the farmers’ tractor parade on January 26 in the national capital. Over 500 police security personnel were injured while one protestors died during the Republic Day violence.
Pop star Rihanna started the global chorus of support for India’s farmers. 'Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest,' she had tweeted, linking a CNN news article on the internet shutdown around New Delhi as protesters clashed with the police. PTI AMP BUN SKC SP MIN MIN MIN