New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) Social activists and environmentalists called for immediate release of climate activist Disha Ravi who was arrested in the 'toolkit' document case, asking the government to stop targeting India's youth.
Ravi (22) was arrested on Saturday from Bengaluru for allegedly sharing with Greta Thunberg the toolkit related to the farmer's protest against the Centre's three new agriculture laws, police said.
The Delhi Police claimed that Ravi was an editor of the 'toolkit Google doc' and 'key conspirator' in the document's formulation and dissemination.
Activists and environmentalists have condemned the arrest.
Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association, said people like Ravi are India's best hope because they are concerned about not just themselves, but the future generations.
'We are not behaving like a democracy right now. If we are going to equate protest with conspiracy and organising protests as conspiracy, then you are not a democracy anymore,' she said.
'They should immediately drop this case based upon absolutely flimsy, ridiculous and evil pretext. A toolkit is not sedition, it is not conspiracy, toolkit is for protest,' she added.
Rights activist Shabnam Hashmi also questioned the basis of Ravi's arrest, saying anybody even doing a local campaign prepares a toolkit.
'We should look at the prime minister's campaign toolkit. We are crossing the limits of absurdity. We will become a laughing stock internationally,' she said. Sunita Narain, head of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, also extended her support to the arrested activist.
'We know #climatechange is an existential threat. World desperately needs the passion and commitment of the youth and their loud and strong voice to shake it to more action #FreeDishaRavi,' she tweeted.
Nine-year-old climate activist Licypriya Kangujam called it an attempt to silence the voices of young girls and women in the country.
'This is an attempt to silence the voices of young girls and women in this country. But this will not stop us from fighting for our planet and future,' Kangujam tweeted.
In a joint statement, more than 50 academics, artists and activists voiced support for Ravi and called her arrest “disturbing,” “illegal in nature' and an 'over-reaction of the State”. The statement issued under the banner of 'Coalition for Environmental Justice in India' also called it an attempt to distract the public.
'It is also becoming increasingly clear that the current actions of the central government are diversionary tactics to distract people from real issues like the ever-rising cost of fuel and essential items, widespread unemployment and distress caused due to the lockdown without a plan, and the alarming state of the environment,' it said.
An online petition has also been started by the group demanding the immediate release of the climate activist.
Environmentalist Vikrant Tongad said the incident will be demotivational for climate activists.
'We cannot go on the merit of the case as the probe is ongoing, but the incident will be demotivational for climate activists...,' he said. Thunberg, a teen climate activist, had shared the 'toolkit' to lend her support to the farmers agitation against the three farm reform laws. In the document, various urgent actions, including creating a Twitter storm and protesting outside Indian embassies, were listed which were needed to be taken to support the farmers protest.
A graduate in Bachelor of Business Administration, Ravi is also one of the founding members of a group named 'Fridays For Future India', police added.
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