Disha Ravi's bail plea: Court to pronounce order on Tuesday; Activist says if highlighting farmers’ protest is sedition, it is better to be in jail

·7-min read

New Delhi, Feb 20 (PTI) If highlighting farmers' protest globally is sedition, then she is 'better in jail', activist Disha Ravi told a Delhi court which on Saturday reserved for February 23 its order on her bail plea in the toolkit case after police alleged that she was part of a plan to instigate violence in India and had deleted 'evidence' like emails.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana posed some scathing questions to the probe agency during the hearing on Ravi's plea, asking it if it was only acting on 'surmises, inferences, and conjectures' and questioned how the toolkit was connected to the violence during the farmers' march.

'...Unless I satisfy my conscience, I don't move ahead,” the judge said.

Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the Delhi Police, told the court that the hyperlinks in the toolkit connected people to Khalistani websites that propagate hatred towards India.

'This was not just a toolkit. The real plan was to defame India and create unrest here,' he said.

Ravi's counsel, however, claimed there is no evidence linking the toolkit to the violence during the farmers' march on January 26. He also questioned the contents of the FIR.

“We all have different opinions. You may have a problem with farmers’ protest, I may not. If highlighting protest globally is sedition, I (Ravi) am better in jail. I (defence counsel) also support farmers. But if that’s an offence, let’s all go to jail,” defence counsel Sidharth Agarwal said.

“There is an allegation in FIR that Yoga and Chai are being targeted. Is it an offence? We are now reducing the bar that somebody can’t have a point of view different,” the counsel said.

Ravi was arrested in Bengaluru on Saturday by a Cyber Cell team of the Delhi Police for allegedly creating the toolkit and was brought to Delhi. She was booked on sedition and other charges.

Opposing Ravi's bail plea, the police alleged that she was preparing the toolkit with those advocating Khalistan. It alleged that Ravi deleted WhatsApp chats, emails and other evidence and was aware of legal action that she could face.

Why did Disha Ravi cover her track and delete evidence if she did not commit wrong, the police said, alleging that his shows her guilty mind and sinister design.

“My part is that I sought support from Greta Thunberg, that too for farmers' protest and not for Khalistan,' the defence counsel countered, and claimed that Ravi acted due to fear of being wrongly prosecuted.

“A person may run for two reasons - either he is guilty or to save himself from wrong persecution. A person may have fears of wrong prosecution, unfortunately, for this girl, her fears have come true...' During the hearing, the judge asked the prosecution how the toolkit was linked to violence.

“Is there any evidence or we are only acting on surmises, inferences, and conjectures... How is the toolkit connected to the violence? What is the evidence? What is the evidence to show the connection between conspiracy and the violence?” the judge asked.

Raju said the very act of putting things on social media and disseminating the document with an intention to instigate is sufficient, 'but yes no physical presence was there'.

He said that the first evidence was the hyperlinks in the toolkit connecting people to Khalistani websites.

“Second, you (accused) are showing people content which shows hatred for India. It's not a simple toolkit prepared by NGO, it's a toolkit created in light of the Khalistani movement,” Raju said.

On the point of conspiracy, the judge said, “If I approach a dacoit for temple donation, how do you say that I'm privy to dacoity? What is the material against her?“ “What's do this and that? What is the link? Unless I satisfy my conscience, I don't move ahead,” the judge said.

At this, Raju replied, “It is not that simple. The court must look at the conduct. She is constantly in touch.” “On plain look, it seems normal. But if you click on the hyperlink given on the cheat sheet, it takes you to another website that defames the Indian army, how the Indian Army committed genocide in Kashmir.

“Those articles make an impact on the minds of the reader. This is the purpose, which is why Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF) is brought. In the garb of farmers' protest, they are carrying anti-national activities,” he said.

He added, “It's not just where a plan was made but also it was followed by violence. You asked the people to come to Delhi, you asked people to protest, you showed the people that India is a bad country that kills Muslims. Shantanu was sent to Delhi to ensure that plan in the toolkit is carried out.” He further alleged that there was a well-planned conspiracy to defame India globally and create violence inside the country.

“In a simple toolkit, you don't prepare what's to be in future as they've written which has to be circulated as soon as any violence took place.

“There was an effort so that violence takes place. It's a well planned, well designed, where PJF were taking care of protest outside India and these persons, Ravi and others, were roped in India,” he said.

He further alleged that 'Sikhs For Justice', a banned organisation, had announced money USD 2,50,000 for anyone holding the Khalistani flag.

“That organisation is also involved in this matter,” he said.

Police alleged that Ravi 'was part of the Indian chapter of the global conspiracy to defame India and create unrest in the garb of farmers' protest'.

'It shows there was a sinister design behind this toolkit,' the police told the court.

However, the defence lawyer said, 'There is no evidence to link me (Ravi) with Sikhs For Justice, a banned organisation. And even if I (Ravi) meet someone, there is no symbol on him that he is a secessionist.' 'The Delhi police gave permission for the farmers' march, which they're claiming that I (Ravi) asked people to join, so how did I become seditious,' the lawyer said in court.

There's nobody arrested in connection with violence at Red Fort who says he was inspired for same because of the toolkit, Ravi's counsel claimed “The talks about alleged genocide in Kashmir has been going on for years; how suddenly talking about it becomes sedition. If this is sedition, then we should shut down the internet, go back to the era when there was only one Doordarshan TV,” the counsel said.

“Prosecution's argument shows that toolkit is not seditious. I'll have to apply my mind, draw an inference to show that you're seditious,” he said.

Ravi's counsel submitted that the people who have to be confronted with her are already granted protection and she can also join the probe 'post-bail”.

He said the government has the power to block the websites it mentioned but these are not blocked.

“I (Ravi) am ready to abide by any condition imposed while granting bail,” he said.

A trial court had on Friday sent Ravi to judicial custody for three days after her five-day police custody expired.

The Delhi high court on Friday heard Ravi's plea to restrain police from leaking to the media any probe material concerning the FIR lodged against her.

The high court, in its order, asked media houses to ensure that no leaked investigation material is broadcast as it could affect the probe and directed Delhi Police to abide by its stand on affidavit that it has not leaked nor intends to leak any probe details to the press.

The police have alleged that the toolkit was aimed at spreading disaffection and ill-will against the government of India and creating disharmony among various social, religious and cultural groups It cited sections like digital strike through hashtags on or before January 26, tweetstorms on January 23 onwards, physical action on January 26 and watch-out or join farmers march into Delhi and back to borders. PTI UK RT RT RT