The Ministry of External Affairs has issued a notice that states criminal proceedings are no bar to obtaining a passport. But the rule remains only on paper, Disha alleged.

Disha Ravi
news Sedition Saturday, November 13, 2021 - 18:27

“Why is our idea of freedom limited to not being encased in the physical wall of prison?” wrote an angry Disha Ravi in the British online newspaper The Independent. The Bengaluru-based climate activist was all set to go to Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit that is currently in session, and to report for Grist, a non-profit news organisation that reports on climate change and the environment. However, she did not expect the sedition and criminal cases against her, for which she is currently out on bail, to continue being a roadblock for her.

“To be at COP26, I would have to pass through two hurdles — one was to get a passport and the other was to file for an exception with the court that was in charge of my case. My leaving the court would be at the discretion of the court. But I never even got to stage two, because I am still stuck in stage one,” the 22-year-old said.

According to Disha, she did not have a passport earlier, as she “never dreamed” of leaving the country. She applied for one to attend the COP26 and report for Grist, and disclosed the details of her ongoing court case. However, her application was greeted by unnecessary red tape and moral policing. The Ministry of External Affairs has issued a notice that states criminal proceedings are no bar to obtaining a passport. But the rule remains only on paper, Disha alleged.

“Two court hearings, 60 days (more by the time this is published), two police visits, and two passport office visits for a passport that isn’t here yet… The state offers relief on paper but crushes people’s grain-sized freedom at every stage,” she wrote in The Independent.

Disha Ravi, who works for the Bengaluru chapter of Greta Thunberg’s anti-climate change organisation Fridays For Future, was arrested in February 2021. The Delhi police charged her with sedition and criminal conspiracy in connection with the ‘toolkit’ on the farmers’ protests. She was let out on bail nine days after her arrest. 

Read- Fridays for Future was on govt radar long before Disha Ravi's arrest: An inside view

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