Crime & Justice

Anger mounts over arrest of young environmentalist in India

New Delhi, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- Anger continued to mount in India on Tuesday over the arrest of a 21-year-old environmental activist, with capital New Delhi witnessing protests demanding the release of the woman, who has been charged with sedition for taking part in a digital campaign in support of the ongoing farmers’ protests in the country.

Dozens of protesters from the left-wing All India Students’ Association gathered at the Delhi Police headquarters to voice support for student-activist Disha Ravi, and condemned her arrest by the police body from the southern state of Karnataka on Saturday.

AISA said it had organized the protest “against the wrongful and politically motivated incarceration of Disha Ravi and against the rising suppression of dissent.”

“Delhi Police intimidated the activists. They were hounded and harassed. But our resolve and support for Disha Ravi didn’t diminish!” the group tweeted.

The young woman’s arrest in Karnataka by Delhi police has raised questions of alleged procedural violations as the activist was apparently transferred without a judicial warrant.

The Delhi Commission for Women on Tuesday sought explanation from authorities over the manner in which the arrest was carried out andover the steps taken to bring Ravi to capital and presenting her in a court in the absence of her lawyer.

“Did the arrest violate legal procedures? Was Disha not provided the facility of a lawyer? If the arrest is due to supporting the farmers’ movement, it is very unfortunate,” tweeted DCW chief Swati Maliwal.

The police has accused Ravi of participating in the creation of an online document or toolkit, shared by Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg, in support of the farmers’ protest that has been taking place in India for several months demanding the repeal of three laws liberalizing the agricultural sector.

The document, which included news and instructions for supporting the protests on social media, went viral after being shared by Thunberg.

The authorities are also on the lookout for another two activists, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk, also for allegedly taking part in the creation of the toolkit in collaboration with a separatist group.

The police has alleged that the document aimed to provoke discontent against the Indian state.

The arrest “was intended to have a chilling effect. I think they orchestrated it that way to send a message. I feel that this government tends to do these things for dramatic effect, also, in order to deflect from things that are happening,” an environmental activist told EFE on the condition of anonymity.

She said that this was also partly because the Indian authorities were “unable to reach Greta.”

After Ravi’s arrest and warrants against the other two activists “I did lose sleep over it. I am very concerned about it. (…) I think this government, they view their own citizenry as an adversary,” she signed off. EFE-EPA

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