Disha Ravi accused of ‘sedition’ over allegedly creating online ‘toolkit’ intended to help protesting farmers in India.
A Delhi court has granted a police request to extend the detention of climate activist Disha Ravi whom they accuse of sedition for her alleged role in the creation of an online “toolkit” intended to help farmers protesting reforms in India.
The 22-year-old Ravi, who is part of an organisation founded by Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, appeared in court on Friday following her arrest in Bengaluru last weekend in a case that has raised concerns about a crackdown on dissent.
Police allege that Ravi was involved in creating and sharing an online document containing advice for protesters. Police say this document stoked the violence that took place on India’s Republic Day last month when farmers stormed the famous Red Fort in the old quarter of Delhi.
“This court remands the accused, Disha Ravi, to judicial custody for three days,” judge Akash Jain said.
Ravi did not speak herself during the hearing but denied the accusations against her through her lawyer Siddharth Agarwal, arguing in court that police had no evidence to back them up.
“There is nothing against me, please consider this,” Agarwal told the court on her behalf.
On Saturday, a court in Delhi is scheduled to hear Ravi’s bail application.
Some senior lawyers and lawmakers have criticised the sedition case, disputing the allegation by police that the document in question incited violence.
Human rights lawyer Colin Gonsalves told Al Jazeera that a sedition charge – which carriers a life sentence – should relate to actions aimed at overthrowing the state.
“She has done nothing of this sort,” Gonsalves said.
“The sedition charge is bizarre, free speech is not sedition.”
Late on Friday, Thunberg sent out two tweets with a hashtag supporting Disha.
“Freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest and assembly are non-negotiable human rights. These must be a fundamental part of any democracy. #StandWithDishaRavi,” Thunberg said in one of her tweets.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 19, 2021
Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha told Al Jazeera that the Google document is being perceived by the police as “a nuclear code of sorts” when it is just a document that “tells people what hashtag to use, and what is the problem that Indian farmers are actually facing”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been trying to get farmers to back down from their months-long protest on the outskirts of New Delhi against three new laws to deregulate the vast and antiquated farm produce market.
It has offered to hold the laws in abeyance and water down some of the provisions.
But the farmers want Modi to repeal the laws altogether and provide legal backing for minimum price support for their produce.
SOURCE : AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES