On Feb. 13, 22-year old activist Disha Ravi from Bengalaru, India, was arrested by Delhi police due to her alleged involvement in the creation and circulation of a digital “toolkit” containing information on how to support the ongoing farmers’ protest in that country. The toolkit included petitions to sign, hashtags to share, and encouraged people to contact their representatives to condemn state violence and give ear to the farmers’ demands.
Ravi is a founder of India’s chapter of Fridays for Future, a youth-led organization dedicated to demand action against climate change. FFF India had previously been targeted by the government in July of 2020, when their website was blocked due to their criticism of a policy allowing corporations to ‘self-report” pollution.
Since her detention on Feb. 13, Ravi has been charged with both sedition and conspiracy. Police claim her toolkit was inciting people to violence. (View toolkit here. ) The charges against her have been termed “absurd … [attempts] to criminalize dissent” by the NGO Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms. (Telegraph India)
Throughout this ordeal, the government has also refused to disclose her location to her family. When presented in court, she was denied the opportunity to access legal counsel. CJAR charges that many elements of her arrest and detainment violate the Constitution and procedures prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure. (Telegraph India).
The Delhi Commission for Women has sought a report from the Delhi Police on the Ravi’s asking why she was not provided a lawyer of her choice when brought before the court. (NewsClick)
The arrest of Disha Ravi comes in the wake of intense civil unrest following a strike of 250 million people against recent anti-worker laws passed by the Indian parliament in September 2020. Her arrest is characteristic of increasing repression by the Indian government, which recently raided the progressive media outlet, NewsClick, and has begun revoking passports from supporters of the farmers’ movement.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has stated: “The paranoid Modi government [must] forthwith end this persecution of young activists. The charges against Disha Ravi should be withdrawn and she has to be released from custody.” Many other organizations in India have expressed their outrage and solidarity with Ravi, including organizations of farmers, students, women and tech workers.