Climate activist Disha Ravi arrested: 21-year-old has campaigned for Mollem forest protection, NAPCC

Delhi Police said Disha Ravi was the 'editor' of a toolkit, which was a guide sheet to stoke 'economic, cultural, social and regional tensions' in India

FP Staff February 15, 2021 11:38:33 IST
Climate activist Disha Ravi arrested: 21-year-old has campaigned for Mollem forest protection, NAPCC

Bengaluru climate activist Disha Ravi’s arrest by the Delhi Police on Saturday for her alleged involvement in the "toolkit" case invited widespread criticism.

According to the police, Ravi was the “editor” of a toolkit, which she also shared with Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, was a guide sheet to stoke "economic, cultural, social and regional tensions" in India. Thunberg tweeted the toolkit, which voicing support for the ongoing farmers’ protest. "Later, she asked Greta to remove the main Doc after its incriminating details accidentally got into public domain," the Delhi Police tweeted.

The stated aim of the toolkit was “to enable anyone unfamiliar with the ongoing farmers’ protests in India to better understand the situation and make decisions on how to support the farmers". However, the government referred to "incriminating" content in the now-deleted toolkit to file a case of sedition against unknown persons on 4 February, with Ravi’s arrest being the first in the case. The police also said that the organisation collaborated with pro Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to “spread disaffection against the Indian State”.

A former business administration student of Bengaluru’s Mount Carmel College, the 22-year-old started Fridays for Future India (FFF) in 2019, which was linked to Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement. She organised strikes to create awareness about climate change in various parts of Bengaluru every Friday. The FFF India website states, "Climate strikes or marches are peaceful, non-violent ways to let our national and state governments know of our demand to address the ongoing climate crisis and ecological breakdown.”

Ravi had told Auto Report Africa that was inspired to launch the climate change movement when she saw her grandparents, who are farmers, getting severely affected by the changing weather pattern. In September, she was featured by The Guardian for her frequent protests in Bengaluru against the alleged lack of regulations to curb environmental degradation. "We are not just fighting for our future, we are fighting for our present. We, the people from the most affected are going to change the conversation in climate negotiations and lead a just recovery plan that benefits people and not the pockets of our government," she had said.

The environmentalist was also featured in the British edition of Vogue magazine in September among four activists who emphasised the need to counter environmental racism. “The fact that you would choose to listen to a white person on the same issue rather than a person of colour, to me, is environmental racism,” she told the magazine.

A familiar face at lake clean-up and tree plantation drives in Bengaluru, Ravi is inspired by primatologist Jane Goodall and hopes to pursue a career in ecological conservation and restoration, her friends and colleagues told The NewsMinute.

Her social media profile shows she supported campaigns of Green Peace in her early college days and friends in her list of friends describe themselves as eco-feminists, campaigners against abuse of women and social activists. She works as a culinary experience manager with GoodMylk, a company involved with making plant-based food accessible and affordable to people.

FFF India’s email campaigns include a demand for “ethical implementation of the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC)”, a campaign for protection of the Mollem forest area in Goa by cancelling “clearances for projects passing through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Goa” and to save an elephant conservation zone in Uttrakhand by cancelling the “proposal for extension of the Jolly Grant runway”. Social media campaigns are also run for the protection of the Aarey forest in Mumbai, the Raika forest in Jammu and the Dumna nature park in Madhya Pradesh.

“Personally for my country, I am not very optimistic. The amount of violations and environmentally destructive projects the government has promoted – especially during the lockdown there have been huge deforestation issues. It is very scary. There are no existing political parties that can lead an environment or climate change crisis,” she said, according to The Indian Express.

Ravi and FFF India had earlier come under the police radar in July last year when the website was blocked and Delhi Police sent a notice claiming depiction of "contents and unlawful activities or terrorist act, which are dangerous for the peace, tranquility and sovereignty". The Delhi Police had invoked the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, but later decided to withdraw the notice.

Another notice was sent to the organisation under the Information Technology Act for allegedly attempting to spam Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar's inbox over the draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification. It was later withdrawn.

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