Centre draws flak for activist Disha’s arrest

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 15, 2021

Social organisations protesting against the arrest of Disha Ravi, in Bengaluru   -  PTI

Even as the Opposition criticised the arrest of 22-year-old environment activist Disha Ravi, the Delhi Police said on Monday that they have issued non-bailable warrants against two more activists — Nikita Jacob and Shantanu.

According to the Police, Jacob and Shantanu allegedly shared a “toolkit” on social media for instigating violence. They also organised a “zoom meeting” with an allegedly pro-khalistani group called Poetic Justice Foundation (PJF).

Joint Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Prem Nath told reporters that Disha, Shantanu and Jacob are believed to have created and edited the toolkit. “Disha sent the toolkit to Greta Thunberg through the Telegram app. Disha deleted a WhatsApp group which she created to spread the toolkit. Due procedure was followed during Disha’s arrest,” he said.

According to information shared by the police, initial investigation of the toolkit revealed that a woman named Puneet, who is based in Canada, connected these people to the PJF. Based on the information gathered from searches at Nikita’s house, separate teams were sent to Maharashtra’s Beed district and Bengaluru, for investigation regarding Shantanu and Disha.

‘Norms followed’

Refuting the charges that due process was not followed in Disha’s arrest, the Delhi police said Disha’s mother and the local police were present at the time of her arrest and her lawyer was informed. She was produced before the court as per established procedures.

“In the court, Disha was represented by a lawyer and the same finds mention in the court’s order,” the police said.

A group of environmental activists claimed the Delhi Police’s actions are “sinister” because Ravi was taken to Delhi from Bengaluru with no disclosure about her whereabouts, not even to her parents, an action that can be termed “extra-judicial abduction”. This action against an individual without following norms for arrests and detentions laid down by the Supreme Court, reflects absolute contempt for constitutional principles. The act of criminalising young people for extending solidarity to a struggle that resonates with their own aspirations for a healthy and secure future, strikes as a new low, they charged.

Opposition condemns

The AAP said the Centre has imposed a state of emergency in the country. Party spokesman Raghav Chadha charged, “The BJP government is allergic to the youth of the country. The arrest of Disha shows this. Her arrest was an extra-judicial abduction,” he alleged.

The CPI(M) demanded her immediate release. “The 22 year-old activist has been charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy on the absurd grounds that she had forwarded a ‘tool-kit’ in support of the farmers’ struggle. The paranoid Modi government has to forthwith end this persecution of young activists. The charges against Disha Ravi should be withdrawn and she has to be released from custody,” the party’s Polit Bureau said in a statement.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the Centre will not be able to silence the country. “Your lips are free to speak. Say that the truth is still alive. They are scared, not the country,” he said.

The Samyukta Kisan Morcha said it is deeply concerned and anguished about the misuse of police power.

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Published on February 15, 2021
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