Why Everyone is Talking About Disha Ravi

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg tweeted out a toolkit to help mobilize allies of India’s protesting farmers. Here’s how it led to the arrest of a student in Bangalore.

Imaan Sheikh

February 15, 2021

Why Everyone is Talking About Disha Ravi
Disha Ravi, a climate activist from Bangalore, was arrested at her home on February 13 (Image courtesy of Disha Ravi's Facebook page)

The arrest of 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi has sparked outrage in India.

Police arrested Ravi, a graduate of Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, who worked for animal welfare organizations, volunteered for city cleanup drives, and spoke up for human rights, at her home on Saturday, February 13. Authorities have said they will hold her in custody for five days, charging her with a number of offenses, including conspiracy and sedition. Ravi is the founder of the India chapter of Fridays For Future, an environmental initiative launched by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

The reason for Ravi’s arrest was her vocal support for Indian farmers amid protests, and her involvement in helping develop and circulate a two-page toolkit to help mobilize allies in support of the protesters. After Thunberg tweeted out the toolkit on February 3, people shared it widely. Thunberg showed support for the Indian farmers’ movement, despite backlash from the Indian right for “meddling in state affairs.” Thunberg’s tweet about the toolkit has been retweeted almost 18,000 times, and her collective tweets about the farmers’ protest have garnered over 216,400 retweets.

Both Ravi and Thunberg have also been accused of being paid to collaborate with “anti-India forces" to taint the country’s integrity. Delhi police maintains that the toolkit is part of a larger conspiracy against the Indian government and pre-dates the farmers’ protest that disrupted India’s Republic Day parade on January 26. In a press conference on Monday, February 15, Delhi police said: “On the fourth of February, while monitoring social media, we came across a Google document titled 'Toolkit' on Twitter. The initial investigation of this toolkit document revealed that it was created by a pro-Khalistani group named Poetic Justice Foundation and people associated with it.”