Disha Ravi was arrested last Saturday on charges of sedition against the Indian government for sharing a ‘toolkit’ document on how to support the farmers’ protests in India. The document contained guidelines on how to participate in and organise protests, mainly focused on creating international awareness of the farmers’ agitation. Her arrest has been criticised as a blatant crackdown on free speech and democracy. This is being seen as an intimidation tactic perpetrated by the federal Indian government. Greta Thunberg, who shared the toolkit via Twitter, has not commented on Ravi’s arrest.
Disha Ravi is a 22-year-old Indian climate activist. She is also a local founder of Fridays for Future, a global movement for climate change begun by Greta Thunberg, 18-year-old climate activist. Ravi has a reputation of being a law-abiding activist. For example, during a recent campaign to save trees, Ravi approached her local government to seek permission before launching her protest.
Ravi was arrested last weekend for sharing a document intended to help Indian farmers protest against new agricultural laws that will be disadvantageous to them. According to the police, Ravi was a “key conspirator” in the “formation and dissemination of this ‘toolkit'”. This document suggested methods of helping the farmers in their protests and was Tweeted by Greta Thunberg. The Indian police said “The call was to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India.”
Ravi was charged with sedition – the crime of inciting hatred against the government. Her arrest has been decried as an attack on democracy and free speech. She did not have a lawyer present during her hearing, and one was not provided for her.
Ravi’s arrest is the latest in a series of crackdowns on any dissenters against the Indian government, perpetrated by the state itself.
“I did not make the toolkit. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on 3 February.” – Disha Ravi
A copy of the toolkit can be found here.