Disha Ravi’s arrest meant to be a chilling warning by govt to all rights activists

The govt wanted to quell voice of young Indian activists as well as tell international celebrities supporting farmers’ agitation that they shouldn’t risk lives of their friends through their actions

Climate activist Disha Ravi (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Climate activist Disha Ravi (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)

Arun Srivastava

The Centre’s agencies including the police are known for expertise in the matter of ‘case connection’. It has earned the dubious distinction of being the most efficient force in implicating an innocent person into the worst nature of crime, in which he/she was never involved or did not even know anything about the said crime.

The same thing has been happening in the case of climate activist Disha Ravi. She has been arrested for alleged involvement in sharing a ‘toolkit’ backing the farmers' protest. This is certainly not a political move. This is a conspiracy designed by a criminal mind.

It has two dimensions; first, it would discourage young boys and girls from raising their voice against denial of basic human rights and curbing of the democratic functioning by the Modi government and make them withdraw into their shell.

It would also have a psychological impact on international celebrities and refrain them from raising these issues as doing so would endanger the lives and careers of their friends in India.

In the wake of the farmers’ movement, a significant number of young activists and intellectuals across the globe have come together to question and condemn the actions of the Modi government. These include Rasmas Nielson, Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Amanda Corny, Lily Singh, Jameela Jamil, Rupi Kaur, Meena Harris, Jay Sean, Hasan Minhaj, Jazzy B, Susan Saradon and John Cusack. Their number is consistently on the rise.

The government through its action wanted to tell these international celebrities that they should not risk the lives of their friends through their actions. How far this strategy would succeed is not yet known, but one thing is certain that this has maligned the image of Modi government and more than that of India.

The posts appearing in international media simply gives the impression that India has dictatorship where democracy has ceased to exist and people do not have basic human rights.

Sycophant police officials and bureaucrats have also formed the habit of feeding malicious information about the person arrested. The situation has come to such a stage that Disha on had to move the Delhi High Court seeking to restrain Delhi Police from leaking to the media any probe material in relation to the FIR lodged against her.

The least said the better about some TV channels. They seem to have turned into mercenaries, always on the prowl to hound an innocent person. The Delhi Police denies of leaking information to it. If so, how come these TV channel were able to access the information which was only with the police?

It is difficult to believe Delhi Police’s claim of being fair and innocent. Its entire operation, from her arrest in Bengaluru to producing her before a court in Delhi is surrounded in mystery.

There is little doubt that her arrest from Bengaluru on February 13 by the cyber cell team of Delhi Police was "wholly unlawfully and without basis". It should have produced her in a local court in Bengaluru, sough a transit order and provided her with a lawyer in Delhi while producing her before the court.

In her petition, Disha has alleged that investigative matters have been leaked to the media and the press briefings by the police are "prejudicial" and "grossly violative of her right to a fair trial and presumption of innocence". No doubt the Delhi Police’s actions and omissions have violated her fundamental right to privacy, her right to reputation, her dignity, and the consequent effect of the administration of justice and right to fair trial.

This action of police has inspired certain media outlets to publish one-sided, defamatory and half truths about the young climate activist. Delhi Police has been portraying creation of the ‘toolkit’ as the most heinous crime. Though the cyber cell had lodged an FIR against "pro-Khalistan" creators of the ‘toolkit’ for waging a "social, cultural and economic war against the government of India", it also maintains that the ‘toolkit’ aimed at spreading disaffection and ill-will against the Government of India and creating disharmony among various social, religious and cultural groups. The police does not specify the nature of the ‘war’.

BJP’s social media operators have resorted to all kind of vilification campaign against Disha. Friends and supporters of Disha lament that these people just a few days ago were describing her as a ‘Khalistani’. Today they call her a Christian. She is in fact a Lingayat from Bangaluru but the saffron vigilantes, the bhakts, have been accusing her of being ‘Disha Ravi Joseph’, a Christian from Kerala.

While Disha is languishing in judicial custody, her friend Nikita Jacob, a Mumbai-based lawyer, also an accused in the same case, has been granted bail by Bombay High Court. Evidently, the court did not find any substantive proof in the charges against her.

Meanwhile, ‘Campaign Against Hate Speech’, a Bangalore-based rights group has lodged a complaint with the city police commissioner’s office seeking legal action against Haryana minister Anil Vij for tweeting that Disha Ravi should be “eradicated”. It is extremely sad that the police in BJP-ruled Karnataka have yet not taken any action against Vij.

Incidentally, the Delhi Commission for Women has sent a notice to Delhi Police underlining that due procedure was not followed after Disha Ravi was arrested from her Bangalore home in connection with the ‘toolkit’ case. The panel asked the police to provide a copy of the FIR, reasons for allegedly not producing Disha before a local court for transit remand, “not providing the lawyer of her choice” when she was produced before the Patiala House court in Delhi on Sunday and a detailed action taken report.

(IPA Service)

(Views are personal)