Disha Ravi, the 21-year-old climate activist, who was arrested earlier this month in the ‘toolkit’ case, has been granted bail by a sessions court in Delhi, on the condition that she furnish two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each. She was among the three accused booked for sedition and other charges, in connection with a case involving a toolkit allegedly linked to the farmers’ protest on January 26.
On February 13, Ravi was arrested by the Cyber Cell of Delhi Police from her home in North Bengaluru. A BBA graduate of Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru, she is part of a climate activist group called ‘Fridays for Future’, which was started by Greta Thunberg in 2018. It was in 2019 that Ravi started the India wing of the group.
The Delhi Police alleged that Ravi was the “key conspirator” in formulating and disseminating the toolkit, and also accused her of collaborating with pro-Khalistani group, Poetic Justice Foundation to “spread disaffection against Indian state”. The police also claimed that she had shared the document with Thunberg through the Telegram app.
Ravi was produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Pankaj Sharma after the end of her three-day police custody on February 22 , and was remanded to one-day police custody. Although the magistrate had acknowledged that the case against the activist involved “allegations to spread hatred, disaffection” and to “undermine India’s sovereignty”, “a balance must be struck with the individual’s right”.
Furthermore, he had emphasised on how Ravi’s confrontation with her co-accused was critical, as “the role played by each of them in deletion of the original toolkit would come to light, which is very necessary for a fair investigation”.
On February 23, the climate change advocate was brought face to face with co-accused Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk. Jacob and Muluk had earlier got transit bail from the Bombay High Court.
According to the public prosecutor, Ravi had “shifted all the burden onto the co-accused” during questioning.
A series of events
During Ravi’s bail hearing last week, the Delhi Police's claim that the activists were hand in glove with secessionists, and had conspired to trigger violence during the farmers' tractor rally was dismissed, with the judge calling it a "conjecture".
"What is the evidence collected by you to show the link between her and the January 26 violence? You have argued about her role in the toolkit and she is in touch with the secessionists," Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana of Patiala House Court Complex had asked the Delhi Police.
The ‘toolkit’, which the police have claimed as seditious, was first put out on Twitter by Thunberg in support of the farmers’ protest.
The Cyber Cell of the Delhi Police had also filed an FIR against unnamed “pro-Khalistan” creators of the ‘toolkit’ for waging a “social, cultural and economic war against the Government of India”.
“(Ravi ) asked Thunberg to remove the main Toolkit Google Doc after its incriminating details accidentally got into the public domain. This is many times more than the two lines editing that she claims,” the Delhi Police added.
Ravi’s arrest by the Delhi Police has sparked massive outrage among politicians, activists and academicians across the country.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)