21-Year-Old Indian Activist Arrested Over a Protest Toolkit Shared by Greta Thunberg

Last week, Greta Thunberg tweeted in support of the farmers' protests in India.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
disha ravi
Photo courtesy of Disha Ravi / Facebook

The Delhi police arrested Disha Ravi, a 21-year-old climate activist from her residence in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Feb. 13 for allegedly editing a protest toolkit used by Greta Thunberg to support India's ongoing farmers’ protests. 

“It is an intimidation tactic to term all dissenters as ‘anti-national’,” an environmentalist close to Ravi, told VICE World News, requesting anonymity for their protection. 

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Last week, tweets by Thunberg, a Swedish climate activist, along with Rihanna and other celebrities, drew global attention to the protests on New Delhi’s borders which have been ongoing for over two months. 

Responding to these tweets, the Indian government issued a statement saying that groups with “vested interests” were trying to mobilise international support against India. 

Previously, Twitter blocked more than 200 accounts that criticised the Indian government’s handling of the protest.

In this case, Delhi police alleged that the toolkit Ravi edited is linked to a larger criminal conspiracy to “to wage economic, social, cultural and regional war against India.”

A toolkit is a document that contains information about online campaigns including the topic, what hashtags to use, and who to tag. 

According to police, Ravi, founder of a local chapter of Thunberg’s environmental advocacy organisation, Fridays For Future, is the “key conspirator” in making the toolkit. Delhi police tweeted that Ravi made a WhatsApp group and collaborated with the creators of the document. 

According to police, the creators of this toolkit collaborated with the international advocacy organisation, Poetic Justice Foundation, which they claim is linked to groups that are pushing for Khalistan, a sovereign nation for Sikhs. 

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Police are also trying to establish that the toolkit is linked to the violence that broke out on Jan. 26, India’s Republic Day, when thousands of protesters stormed the Red Fort, during a protest rally.

Earlier this month, leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) said the toolkit was “evidence of international plans for attacks against India”.

Ravi is currently in police custody. 

Her legal team said they were not made aware of which court she would appear in, compelling the young activist to argue her own case. "I did not make the Toolkit. We wanted to support the farmers. I edited two lines on February 3," Ravi told the court. 

In a Facebook post, senior criminal lawyer Rebecca John called the proceedings against Ravi a "shocking abdication of judicial duties".

In a joint statement, more than 50 academics, artists and activists expressed support for Ravi, calling her arrest “disturbing”, “illegal in nature", and an “overreaction of the State.” 

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Meena Harris, the niece of American Vice President Kamala Harris, also tweeted her support for Ravi.

Critics of the Narendra Modi government have said the arrests come as a blow to freedom of expression in India, and are a way to silence young activists from expressing their solidarity with causes they care about on social media. 


Police have now issued arrest warrants of arrest against two more climate activists, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu, in relation to the case. 

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