As the farmers’ protests grabbed international attention, a toolkit tweeted by 18-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg stirred up another controversy. This led to the arrest of Disha Ravi by the Delhi police, who described the toolkit as an ‘action plan’ resulting in the farmer-police clashes on January 26. Here’s how it all played out:
What is a Toolkit?
A toolkit is a set of guidelines that suggests how a particular goal can be accomplished. Toolkits chart out a plan of action that explains the topic at hand and offers a set of suggestions that can be followed to achieve this particular goal.
Typically, toolkits are made for social media campaigns. These toolkits include information on how to promote the campaign through different social media websites. For protests, it is typically used to provide a list of reading materials, news articles and methods of protest — including the hashtags to use, for example.
In modern-day protest movements, toolkits have served as the digital equivalent of pamphlets and fliers. Toolkit is a document created on an issue as a guide to everybody who is associated with the campaign. It provides a Roadmap of how to take forward the campaign explaining what needs to be done, when and how?
Greta Thunberg & Toolkit
On 4 February 2021, Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg extended her support to the ongoing farmers' protest in India and shared a toolkit via her official Twitter handle. However, shortly after the tweet of toolkit, she deleted it and shared an updated version of the document.
The toolkit shared by Greta Thunberg guides people on how to stand in solidarity with the ongoing farmers' protest in India. However, the original toolkit called for a digital strike on or before 26 January 2021 (Republic Day) and underscored 'carrying out protests outside Indian embassies' as one of the actions to support the cause.
It also highlighted a list of previous actions that were taken to amplify the farmers' voices online. The document also mentioned various hashtags for Twitter Storm such as #AskIndiaWhy, #FarmersProtest, and #TheWorldIsWatching.
The Cyber Cell of Delhi Police filed an FIR against unknown people for creating and spreading the toolkit. The Police also claimed the Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF) as a key conspirator. (Poetic Justice Foundation is responsible for pro-Khalistani activities). The police also accused the PJF of waging a “social, economical and cultural war against India”.
The Delhi Police claimed a Climate Activist in India as the editor of “toolkit Google doc” and a “key conspirator” in the toolkit formulation and distribution. The Delhi Police arrested the activist and issued a non-bailable warrant against two other persons.
Arrest of Disha Ravi
An environmentalist, a lawyer and an engineer came on Delhi Police radar after a toolkit was shared by Greta Thunberg in support of the ongoing farmer’s protests on the capital's outskirts. Delhi Police arrested Disha Ravi on February 13 for creating and editing the toolkit which it said used to instigate the tractor violence during January 26 Protests.
While Nikhil Jacob and Shantanu Muluk were granted pre-arrest bail by the Bombay High Court, Disha Ravi was taken into custody by Delhi Police.
Delhi Police alleged that Disha Ravi along with lawyer Nikita Jacob and engineer Shantanu Muluk created a toolkit and shared it with others to tarnish the image of India. The accused people were booked under IPC Section 124 (A) for sedition, Section 153 (A) for promoting enmity between different sections of the society and Section 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy. The police also said that she collaborated with pro-Khalistani outfit Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF).
Several leaders of the opposition criticised Delhi Police for the 'illegal' arrest of environmentalist Disha Ravi in the toolkit case. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, amongst others tweeted against Disha Ravi's arrest by the Delhi Police.
Bail of Disha Ravi
While granting her bail on Tuesday, 23 February, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana made several seminal observations on not just the merits of Ravi’s bail application, but also on the law on sedition.
The primary reason behind the grant of bail appears to be the complete lack of evidence connecting Disha Ravi to the violence that took place in the national capital on 26 January. Commenting on the “ornamental opposition” of the Delhi Police to the bail plea, the court said:
“Considering the scanty and sketchy evidence available on record, I do not find any palpable reasons to breach the general rule of ‘Bail’ against a 22-year-old young lady, with absolutely blemish-free criminal antecedents and having firm roots in the society, and send her to jail.”
The bail order also read, there is nothing on record to suggest that there was any call, incitement, instigation or exhortation on the part of the accused and the organisations and its associates to foment violence on January 26”.
Read the complete bail judgement: https://images.mbarendezvous.com/pdf/bail-judgment.pdf
The judge also said that there is absolutely no link established on record between Disha Ravi and banned outfit Sikhs for Justice. Further, the court rejected the police’s argument for the arrest and said the creation of a WhatsApp group or being editor of an innocuous toolkit is not an offence. Meanwhile, as a condition to granting bail to Disha Ravi, the court instructed her to continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation and join the probe as and when summoned. The court also said that she shall not leave the country without its permission.
Stating that “this 5000 years old civilization of ours has never been averse to ideas from varied quarters”, he quoted a couplet from the Rig Veda which “embodies our cultural ethos expressing our respect for divergent opinions” – it broadly translates to ‘Let noble thoughts come to me from all directions’.
“Even our founding fathers accorded due respect to the divergence of opinion by recognising the freedom of speech and expression as an inviolable fundamental right. The right to dissent is firmly enshrined under Article 19 of The Constitution of India. In my considered opinion, the freedom of speech and expression includes the right to seek a global audience. There are no geographical barriers on communication. A Citizen has the fundamental rights to use the best means of imparting and receiving communication, as long as the same is permissible under the four corners of law and as such have access to audience abroad,” he said.
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