Activists of United Hindu Front (UHF) hold pictures of Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and Barbadian singer Rihanna during a demonstration in New Delhi on February 4, 2021, after they made comments on social media about mass farmers’ protests in India. (Photo by MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)
An Indian climate activist has been arrested after she allegedly helped create a guide to the anti-government farmer protests that was tweeted by environmentalist Greta Thunberg.
Social media platforms have become a major battleground in India with Delhi calling on Twitter to block hundreds of accounts that had commented on the recent farmers’ rallies opposing new agriculture laws.
Disha Ravi, 22, was arrested on Saturday. Police alleged she edited an online “toolkit” containing information on the protests that was put out by Swedish activist Thunberg in early February on Twitter.
A police statement said Ravi, from southern Bangalore, was a “key conspirator in the document’s formulation and dissemination”.
The toolkit had basic information on the farmers’ demonstrations, as well as how to join the rallies and support the movement online.
Delhi police said Ravi and her group had “shared” the toolkit with Thunberg.
Ravi was a founder of Fridays For Future India, part of an international protest network established by Thunberg to highlight climate change.
Jairam Ramesh, a former minister and lawmaker for the opposition Congress party, called her arrest and detention “completely atrocious” and “unwarranted harassment and intimidation”.
A coalition of activist groups demanded Ravi’s release and said it was “extremely worried for her safety and wellbeing”.
Since late November farmers have camped on roads leading into the capital calling for new agriculture laws to be repealed, in one of the biggest challenges to prime minister Narendra Modi’s government since it came to power in 2014.
Delhi has reacted with fury to tweets about the protests by celebrities — among them Rihanna and US vice president Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris — calling them “sensationalist”.
Following those posts, on February 5 police launched an investigation into those stirring “disaffection and ill will” against the government.
Delhi police said on Twitter that Ravi’s group had collaborated with those wanting to create a separate country in the northern state of Punjab.