Disha Ravi, 22-year-old Bengaluru climate activist, was sent to 5 days police custody by a Delhi court on Sunday

Bengaluru climate activist Disha Ravi posing with her dog
news Controversy Sunday, February 14, 2021 - 18:45

The arrest of Disha Ravi, the 22-year-old climate activist from Bengaluru, by Delhi Police on Saturday night has triggered outrage among academics and activists across the country who have called for her immediate release. In a joint statement, more than 50 academics, artists and activists have voiced support for Disha and called the arrest “disturbing,” “illegal in nature" and an "over-reaction of the State.” The statement says that instead of arresting her, the Union government should be proud of her. They said this act by the Delhi Police is also an attempt to "delegitimize the ongoing farmers' protest" which have been going on for more than two months against the three contentious farm laws.

Disha was picked up from her Bengaluru residence on Saturday afternoon by a team of police officers and taken to Delhi, where she was subsequently arrested that night. According to the police, she has been arrested for allegedly editing a Google document shared on farmers’ protests by international climate activist Greta Thunberg. She was sent to five days' police custody on Sunday afternoon by a Delhi court.

Read; Disha Ravi sent to 5-day police custody, she breaks down in court

Also read: Youth-based environmental collectives condemn Disha Ravi’s arrest in ‘toolkit’ case

Toolkits are inventories, usually in the form of Google Docs, that are shared online used to educate and promote online campaigns containing basic information on any issue, tweet suggestions and information on what hashtags to use and whom to tag on social media. These are regularly used for streamlining protests and are also used by social media teams of political parties to plan a social media campaign. While the Delhi police have alleged a larger conspiracy behind the toolkit Greta had tweeted, Disha has denied these claims in court and said she had just voiced her support for the farmers.

The statement issued on Sunday terms Disha's arrest as "extra-judicial abduction" and calls for her immediate release. The statement has been carried in full (see below) and along with the endorsees.

Focus on real issues: India's environmental and social justice crises

Stop targeting India's youth and environmental activists 

News that Disha Ravi, a young woman and climate activist from Bengaluru, has been “picked up” - in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police - is highly disturbing both for what appears to be its illegal nature and for the over-reaction of the State that it represents. Earlier today, Disha has been remanded to police custody for five days. 

Young environmental activists, that the country should be proud of, are the latest victims of the Centre’s continuing efforts to deligitimise the ongoing farmers protest and the nationwide solidarity it has generated. Disha has reportedly been picked up for sharing an advocacy toolkit inviting solidarity with the farmers’ protests outside Delhi, which was shared by noted teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

Delhi Police’s actions are all the more sinister because the 21-year old was taken to Delhi from Bengaluru with no disclosure about her whereabouts, not even to her parents, an action that can be termed extra-judicial abduction. 

Delhi Police’s disregard for the rule of law is no secret. However, this action against an individual without following the due process of law, and in clear violation of norms for arrests and detentions laid down by the Supreme Court, reflects absolute contempt for constitutional principles. The act of criminalising young people for extending solidarity to a struggle that resonates with their own aspirations for a healthy and secure future, strikes as a new low. 

From the controversial Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Notification 2020 and in advancing laws that has drawn farmers’ across India to protest, the wider public is becoming increasingly aware of the Union Government’s tendency to put corporate interests over the well-being and future of the nation. 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, the widespread unemployment and distress caused due to the lockdown without a plan, and the alarming state of the environment.. 

The grave state of India's environment is evident from the recent Uttarakhand disasters and the floods across Western Ghats, the Ganges and Brahmaputra. In attending to this disastrous state of affairs, the Government needs to reach out to India’s youth, not attack them.

India should count itself fortunate that conscientious young Indians are actively engaged with shaping their futures in the face of ecological catastrophes. Aware that the government policies are hurting millions and harming the environment, these youngsters are exercising their constitutional rights and performing their fundamental duties by systematically holding the government accountable. 

The Government’s heavy-handedness are clearly focused on terrorising and traumatising these brave young people for speaking truth to power, and amounts to teaching them a lesson. A confident Government must appreciate this resilience of our youth and hold open dialogues with them across the country. The current actions of the Indian Government, instead, amount to gagging democracy itself.

As people involved in various campaigns for environmental and social justice, and as citizens who believe it is our sacred responsibility to hold governments to account, we invite the government to treat multiple serious ecological/climate, economic and social crises we now suffer from with the full attention they deserve. 

We call on the Indian Government to take India’s youth into confidence, understand their concerns about their future, and work with them to safeguard our environment and strengthen institutions of democratic decision making.

We demand that Disha Ravi be immediately released and assisted to get back home to resume her life. 

Endorsed by:

Ashish Kothari, Kalpavrish, Pune

Nityanand Jayaraman, Write and Activist, Chennai

Leo F. Saldanha, Environment Support Group, Bangalore

M. J. Vijayan, New Delhi

Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM)

Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha (BJVJ)

Arundhati Dhuru

Sandeep Pandey

Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA

Ramnarayan K., Munsiari, Uttarakhand

A C Michael, Former Member of Delhi Minorities Commission

Evita Das, PIPFPD and NAPM (Delhi)

Veena Padmanabhan, Gurgaon

Nisha Biswas

Shripad Dharmadhikary, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Pune

Sahana Subramanian, Bangalore

Simar Kohla, Founder, Lifetide - Collective for water sustainability and Justice

Anuradha Banerji, Independent Researcher, New Delhi.

Benny Kuruvilla, Researcher, New Delhi

K. Sajaya, Independent journalist, Social Activist, Hyderabad

Amani Ponnaganti, Researcher, Bengaluru

G. Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal

T. M. Krishna, Singer, Writer, Activist

S.P. Udayakumaran, Pachai Thamizhagam Katchi, Green Tamil Nadu Party

Richa Singh, Sangtin kisan majdoor sangthan Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh

Joe Athialy, Centre for Financial Accountability, New Delhi

Karthik G, Chennai Climate Action Group, Chennai

Adv Purnima Upadhyay, Amaravati, Maharashtra

Shalini Gera, Advocate, High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur

Khalida Parveen, Social activist, Hyderabad

Dr. Bittu K R, Associate Professor of Biology and Psychology, Ashoka University

Narasimha Reddy Dhonti, Hyderabad

Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, West Bengal

Shramajivi Mahila Samity, West Bengal

Dr Akhileshwari Ramagoud, Academic and Independent Journalist

M.Yuvan - Writer, Naturalist, Activist - Chennai Climate Action Group

Sushmita, Mumbai

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Feminist and Human Rights Activist

Rinchin, Writer, Chattisgarh

Punjab Womens Collective

Padmaja Shaw, Rtd. Professor, Osmania University

Karthik Ranganathan, Engineer, Bangalore

Amit Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group, New Delhi

Suma Josson, Film maker

Siddharth K J, Independent Researcher, Bengaluru

Nikita Naidu, Hyderabad

Arundhati Ghosh, Cultural Professional, Bangalore

Manoj Pande

Abhayraj Naik, Visiting Faculty, Azim Premji University, Bangalore 

Mari Marcel Thekaekara, Gudalar, TN

Sujatha Padmanabhan, Chennai

Anil Varghese, Delhi Solidarity Group

Ramanand Wangheilakpa, Secy, Chingmeirong Maning leikai Singlup and Exe.Dir, Indigenous Perspectives,Manipur

Chirag Dhara, Mumbai, India

Ashik Krishnan, Co-Creator, Travellers' University

Sridhar Radhakrishnanm Environmentalist, Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedhi

Tara Murali, Architect, Chennai

Akshay Chettri, Pune

Om Prakash Singh, Chennai

Jaya Iyer Delhi, bhumi ka

Rajeswari S Raina

Madhu Sarin, Chandigarh

Shalmali Guttal, Karnataka

Eric Pinto

Cassandra Nazareth/ Mumbai

Neelam Ahluwalia, (NCR resident)

Ammu Abraham

Terence Fernandes 

Aysha, Right to Food Campaign

Dr.G.Vijay, School of Economics, University of Hyderabad

Sheila Kapur

Manasi Pingle, Bangalore

Nishant Bangera, Thane, Muse Foundation

Dunu Roy, Hazards Centre, New Delhi

Yash Marwah, Let India Breathe

Amrita Bhattacharjee

Nachiket Udupa, Delhi

Smruthi Ananth, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru

Dr.S.G.Vombatkere

Anand Kulkarni, Development professional, ex Gandhi Fellow and IIT Guwahati 

Nisha Shetty, 

Sushant Bali, Mumbai

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