Teachers Against Climate Change demand release of Disha Ravi, ask govt to ‘stop victimising eco activists’

TACC also said that the attempts by the Central Government to cast youth-led climate organisations, or their members, as a threat to national security 'defies sanity'

FP Staff February 19, 2021 20:28:40 IST
Teachers Against Climate Change demand release of Disha Ravi, ask govt to ‘stop victimising eco activists’

File Image of Disha Ravi. News18

A teachers' body on Friday criticised the Delhi Police's action against climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested on 13 February for allegedly helping to create a document to plan out a sustained protest strategy for farmers.

"We demand that Disha Ravi be immediately and unconditionally released, and that the government stops victimising environmental activists," said the Teachers Against Climate Change (TACC), a body that describes itself as a group of teachers, writers, and researchers from across the country engaged with the climate crises and other environmental challenges.

"We are shocked by the arrest by the Delhi Police of Disha Ravi," said the group in a statement, adding that "mobilising support for the farmers’ protests is their basic political and constitutional right."

"In addition, the manner in which Disha Ravi was arrested and taken to Delhi violates detention norms laid down by the Supreme Court, and reflects a disregard for basic democratic rights," the group added.

Teachers Against Climate Change said that attempts by the Central Government to cast youth-led climate organisations, or their members, as a threat to national security "defies sanity".

"These organisations have been raising issues regarding the climate and other environmental crises, which, in fact, constitute the gravest threat to the security of the people of this country."

They also said that the climate activists were being targetted in a different context to silence their voice.

"The government has weakened environmental protection by diluting Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) measures, potentially damaging carbon sinks, the forests on which millions depend. To support forest-dependent and agrarian communities in their struggles is simply an extension of the movements for environmental justice. Youth-led movements have campaigned against dilutions of the EIA, have spoken out against the destruction of ecosystems, and the expansion of coal use. This is the context in which they are now being targeted."

"Our young activists have stood up for issues that will affect millions of today’s youth in the decades to come. They must be celebrated for the courage of their convictions and for speaking truth to power, not persecuted, intimidated, and criminalised," they said about Ravi.

Condemning the attempt to "forcefully" and "unlawfully" target climate activists, the body said, "We forcefully condemn the Indian government's unlawful and misguided attempts to criminalise the youth and environmental activists of the country."

In their statement, they also put forward four demands: "the immediate release of Disha Ravi; that all charges be immediately dropped against Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob, and Shantanu Muluk; an unconditional apology by the Indian government to these young activists for the trauma to which they have been subjected; that the government stop criminalising dissent of all kinds, including environmental struggles and groups, and instead (start a) dialogue with them about the future of this country."

Ravi was arrested by a Cyber Cell team of the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on 13 February on charges of creating a "toolkit" in support of the farmers' protest. The Delhi Police was given five-day custody of the activist for interrogation. Upon the expiry of the custodial interrogation on Friday, the climate activist was remanded to three-day judicial custody by a Delhi court.

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 Cyber Cell had lodged an FIR against "pro-Khalistan" creators of the "toolkit" for waging a "social, cultural and economic war against the government of India".

The case, initially registered against unnamed persons, mentioned charges of criminal conspiracy, sedition and various other sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The "toolkit" was aimed at spreading disaffection and ill-will against the government of India and creating disharmony among various social, religious, and cultural groups, the police had claimed.

While seeking her custody, the police had told the court that the activist had allegedly edited the "toolkit" on 3 February and many other people were involved in the matter.

With inputs from PTI

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