A group of people gathered at the city’s Necklace Road with posters and banners, demanding Disha Ravi’s release.

Hyderabad citizens gather in solidarity with Disha Ravi
news Protest Saturday, February 20, 2021 - 19:23

A group of about 30 people gathered at Hyderabad’s People's Plaza on Saturday, expressing solidarity with Disha Ravi and demanding that she be immediately released. The demonstration was organized by Swecha, an NGO that was formerly called the Free Software Foundation of Andhra Pradesh. The meet was planned against the backdrop of the arrest of Disha Ravi, the 22-year-old climate change who was taken into the custody of the Delhi police on February 13. The citizens who gathered in Hyderabad expressed their concern about the shrinking democratic space and condemned tech companies for aiding the government in clamping down citizens’ rights to organise and protest.

"There is fear among the youth, parents are telling their children to not speak their mind about politics on social media and WhatsApp groups", said Kiran Chandra, a member of Swecha who organised the demonstration demanded.

"Disha was arrested for merely asking people to read an article on farmers by the People's Archive of Rural India (PARI). This is not a good direction for democracy. Disha should be released and all charges against her should be dropped”, Kiran added.

The demonstration took place at the city’s Necklace Road, and people had come prepared with banners and posters. While several posters demanded that Disha be released, some others also explained what exactly a toolkit is and why they felt Disha Ravi’s arrest was wrong.

The banner about the toolkit explained how it is something widely used to organise social media campaigns and protests. Some posters also urged people to delete WhatsApp and install the messenger app Signal instead. The group, who had first gathered at People’s Plaza, later moved to the Love Hyderabad sculpture located close by.

“She is a good individual, who fights for climate change. Having someone like her charged against her is absurd," said Adithya, a student who had earlier worked with Disha on environmental issues in Bengaluru. "The claim that she is working with terror groups is absurd. These conspiracy theories that are being floated is something we should speak up about”, he added.

Five days after Disha Ravi was arrested by the Delhi Police, she was produced in front of the Patiala House Court in Delhi on Friday. The Delhi Police informed the court about how Disha chose to be evasive during questioning. The police sought three days judicial custody which the court granted.

The climate activist, according to the FIR filed by the Delhi police, edited the toolkit or the document for Fridays for Future India, where she worked. She has been accused of criminal conspiracy and sedition. The FIR says that the toolkit “contains a detailed plan of a large conspiracy to wage an economic, social, cultural, and regional war against India.”

It must be noted that a toolkit is a document that contains basic information on any issue, tweet suggestions and information on what hashtags to use, whom to tag on social media, etc. They are circulated by groups, including political parties, to organise social media campaigns and mobilise crowds.

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