By Pritha Nag
On February 14 2021, Disha Ravi a 22-year-old activist got arrested for sedition (the act of inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch) and has been accused of creating and sharing a google document that incites and encourages violence. The Google document was a toolkit that helped and supported the farmers, in the ongoing protests taking place in India. The case has several different names but is commonly being referred to as the “toolkit case”. Many believe that the international community and “anti-nationalists” are plotting a conspiracy against India.
The Google document was a toolkit where the aim was to help with the current farmer’s protests that have been going on in India for the past couple of months. Farmers (and others) have been protesting out on the streets in Delhi in retaliation to the three new farm bills that the government had announced and passed. Farmers are furious over these three new bills as they believe they will be exploited and cheated. The government has offered to put the bills on hold, but the farmers want the bills gone altogether.
Disha Ravi is a 22-year-old climate change activist, who lives in Bengaluru, India. She is the founder of Fridays For Future India, which is a strike that is held every Friday for students to skip school and protest against the lack of climate action. She was arrested on February 14th 2021, on the charges of “Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting hatred amongst various communities on social/cultural/religious grounds) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.” She has also been accused of having pro-Khalistani connections. A connection that is looked down upon having, due to the large amounts of controversy surrounding the topic. Pro Khalistani is (in simplest terms) a Sikh movement wanting to create a separate land for Sikhs by making a sovereign state. The state would have both Indian and Pakistani land.
Ravi is being accused of being a key conspirator in the making of the document and sharing it with 18-year-old climate change activist, Greta Thunberg. Thunberg is yet to comment on the situation. Ravi said in court that she only edited two lines of the document, and “I was just supporting the farmers. I supported the farmers because they are our future and we all need to eat.” She said before breaking down in the courtroom and then was sent to five days in police custody. Many have taken to social media to express how they feel with one volunteer of Fridays for Future saying in a tweet “Can anyone please let me know what is seditious in that toolkit?” With others saying that it was just a toolkit, and to imply that it was a conspiracy is baseless.
On February 23rd Ravi was granted bail by the Delhi court. The court granted bail but expressed that there was “scanty” and “sketchy” proof to back the sedition charges. The judge concluded that Ravi had no Pro-Khalistani connections and there was no evidence linking her to the violence that occurred on Republic Day. The judge added that one cannot be put behind bars for simply disagreeing with the government. The court turned down the policies that claimed that Ravi supported violence and secession. Ravi was granted bail by Article 19 (the right of freedom), and added on saying freedom of speech and expressing one’s self includes the right to branch out to a global audience.
Ravi’s arrest has sparked national and international talk about youth activism, democracy, the farmers’ protest and India’s government. The ongoing farmer’s protests have sparked and started many conversations amongst the youth, and Ravi was not an exception. Many want Ravi freed immediately, with Jairam Ramesh, a former minister saying Ravi’s arrest is “completely atrocious”. The world is watching to see what will happen next to India, and we just like the others are left wondering, what’s next to come?