Disha; govt attempt to silence all activists.

Disha; govt attempt to silence all activists.

From climate activist to ‘Toolkit Editor’, who is Disha Ravi?

Disha featured in publications as a young activist voicing strong opinions on climate

Agency Report | Bengaluru/New Delhi | 15 February, 2021 | 11:20 PM

Disha Ravi, the 22-year-old environment activist now in police custody, is known to be very knowledgeable in her field - climate change - she was well versed with the subject, according to those who knew her well.

The Delhi Police arrested Ravi late on Saturday from Bengaluru and now she had been remanded to police custody by a court in Delhi, for five days. She is part of ‘Friday For Future’ (FFF) worldwide climate change activism network and the co-founder of the FFF movement in the country.

An activist who used to take part in most of her campaigns said on condition of anonymity that when it came to campaigning for climate change, she used to be the first one to arrive and last one to leave from the venue. “She is one of the very rare breed of dedicated activists in the city who wore her heart on her sleeve,” the activist explained.

The activist categorically ruled out giving his name as he feared that police might come after him for speaking in favour of Disha.

He added that most of Disha’s friends have put their phones on silent mode or they are not picking any calls since the news broke. “All Whatsapp groups have become silent, in which she and her friends were active,” the activist said.

Another activist claimed that she was raised by a single parent, her mother, Manjula, but other than this many of her friends not know much about her personal life. “As she became popular in activism circles only around 2019 and due to metropolitan culture, many do not speak or reveal much about their personal life, unless they are close friends,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mukund Gowda, a citizen activist, said he came in contact with her activism only in late 2019 when he was part of the Save Tree campaign and since then he remained in touch with her till mid-2020, when Covid hit the world. “Since corona days, activism more or less shifted to social media sites due to Covid norms. Therefore, we remained in touch with each other through Whatsapp Groups, where it was discussed only about save tree campaigns,” he said.

According to him, she was more interested in teaching schoolchildren about the impact of climate change. “She used to come well prepared to school functions to deliver her lecture and she used simple language to convey her thoughts to young minds,” he said.

Disha Ravi has been featured in publications across the world as a young activist voicing her strong opinions about the environmental crisis in India. However, the 21-year-old climate activist from Soladevanahalli area of Bengaluru was arrested by Delhi Police’s Special Cell on Saturday for her alleged role in the infamous “toolkit” which, according to police, was behind the January 26 violence in the capital.

Graduating from Mount Carmel College in Bengaluru, she has been regularly writing columns and articles in leading news portals on climate action and is a familiar name in important climate forums frequented by youth activists across the globe.

Disha describes herself as co-founder of Fridays For Future, India.

In an interview to Auto Report Africa in 2020, she is quoted as saying: “My motivation to join climate activism came from seeing my grandparents, who are farmers, struggle with the effects of the climate crisis. At the time, I wasn’t aware that what they were experiencing was the climate crisis because climate education is non-existent where I’m from. Only when I did my research, did I find out about it.”

However, Disha’s role came under the lens of the Delhi Police after Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted a toolkit document which the police say had led to the January 26 violence in New Delhi. Though the Delhi Police did not name Thunberg in the FIR, it went ahead to register the case against the authors of the toolkit.

The police later described Disha Ravi as key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination and said that she started a WhatsApp group and collaborated to draft the document.

“In this process, they all collaborated with pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian state. She was the one who shared the Toolkit doc with Greta Thunberg,” said a senior police officer.

The “toolkit” is a term activists use for a campaign information document.

However, the Delhi Police also said that she asked Greta to remove the main document after its incriminating details accidentally leaked into the public domain. This is many times more than the two lines editing that she claims, they said.

The Delhi Police had registered an FIR on February 4 on charges of sedition, criminal conspiracy and promoting hatred among groups under Sections 124-A, 120-A and 153-A of the Indian Penal Code against the “creators” of the ‘toolkit’, which was shared by Thunberg.

After Disha Ravi has been sent to police remand for five days, sources in Delhi Police said that more arrests are likely, based on the investigation of the arrested accused. (IANS)