'If highlighting farmers' protest is sedition, I'm better in jail,' activist Disha Ravi tells Delhi court

The Delhi court, which is hearing the climate activist's bail plea in a sedition case filed over a toolkit on the ongoing farmers' protest, will pass an order on 23 February

FP Staff February 20, 2021 19:41:45 IST
'If highlighting farmers' protest is sedition, I'm better in jail,' activist Disha Ravi tells Delhi court

File Image of Disha Ravi. News18

A Delhi court hearing arguments on climate activist Disha Ravi's bail plea on Saturday reserved its order for 23 February. Ravi has been booked on charges of sedition for sharing a 'toolkit' supporting the farmers' protest.

The police alleged that Ravi was the “editor” of a toolkit, which was a guide sheet to stoke "economic, cultural, social and regional tensions" in India.

However, the stated aim of the toolkit was reportedly “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".

A toolkit is a document created to explain any issue. It also provides information on what one needs to do to address the issue. This might include information about petitions, details about protests, and mass movements. The controversial document, in this case, came to light after global climate change activist Greta Thunberg tweeted a version of the document in a tweet supporting the farmers' cause.

Presenting arguments in the court on Saturday, Ravi's lawyer said that there is no evidence to show that the toolkit was responsible for the violence on Republic Day, 26 January, when a group of farmers deviated from a pre-decided tractor rally route and entered the Red Fort, among other areas.

"If highlighting farmers' protest globally is sedition, I'm better in jail," Ravi said through her counsel.

"I am 22, from Karnataka. I have no connection with the Khalistan movement, whatsoever. There is no single chat or conversation between me and the (banned organisation) Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) produced by the Delhi police," her lawyer was quoted as saying by NDTV.

Ravi's counsel was submitting arguments after the Delhi Police opposed her bail plea, alleging she was preparing the toolkit with those advocating Khalistan and was part of a global conspiracy to "defame India and create unrest" in the country in the garb of the farmers' protest.

"This was not just a toolkit. The real plan was to defame India and create unrest here," the police said before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana.

It alleged that Ravi deleted WhatsApp chats, emails and other evidence and was aware of the legal actions she could face.

"Why did Disha Ravi cover her track and delete evidence if she did not commit wrong," the police said, alleging that this was evidence of a "guilty mind and sinister design".

Ravi "was part of the Indian chapter of the global conspiracy to defame India and create unrest in the garb of farmers' protest," it alleged, adding she was in touch and preparing and sharing toolkit with those advocating Khalistan.

"It shows there was a sinister design behind this toolkit," the police told the court.

However, Ravi's lawyer rejected the allegations.

"There is no evidence to link me with Sikhs For Justice, a banned organisation. And even if I (Ravi) meet someone, there is no symbol on him that he is a secessionist," the defence counsel said.

"The Delhi Police gave permission for the farmers' march, which they're claiming that I (Ravi) asked people to join, so how did I become seditious," the lawyer said in the court.

"There's nobody arrested in connection with the violence at the Red Fort who states that he was inspired because of the toolkit," Ravi's counsel added. The counsel also questioned the contents of the FIR and asserted that people can have a different point of view on a subject.

"There is an allegation in the FIR that 'yoga' and 'chai' (tea) are being targeted. Is it an offence? We are now reducing the bar that somebody can't have a different point of view," Ravi's lawyer said.

"The talk about alleged genocide in Kashmir has been going on for years. How does talking about it suddenly become sedition?" the lawyer questioned.

A trial court had on Friday sent Ravi to judicial custody for three days after her five-day police custody expired.

On Friday, the Delhi High Court also heard Ravi's plea to restrain police from leaking to the media any probe material concerning the FIR lodged against her.

The high court, in its order, asked media houses to ensure that no leaked investigation material is broadcast as it could affect the probe and directed Delhi Police to abide by its stand on affidavit that it has not leaked nor intends to leak any probe details to the press.

Ravi was arrested by a Cyber Cell team of the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on Saturday and brought to Delhi. She was booked on sedition and other charges.

With inputs from PTI

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