On February 4, 2021, environmental activist Greta Thunberg took to Twitter to share a toolkit related to the action people could take to show their support to the farmers in India who are protesting against the government over changes in the farm bill. The tweet contained a link to Google doc which had basic information regarding the protest and why the farmers had taken to the streets. It covered several topics including what the farmers, activists and the general public had already done to support the protest, while also making suggestions towards what can be done. The tweet was subsequently deleted.
What action did the toolkit urge people to take?
The Google Doc shared by Thunberg opened by calling it the largest protest in human history, urging readers to be a part of it. The “Prior Actions” section suggested storming Twitter on February 13 and 14 including the hashtags to be used and people to tag on social media, organise protests outside Indian embassies around the world, mail or call local civic representatives to ask their support to the protest and sign online petitions.
How did India respond to the toolkit?
Delhi police registered an FIR against unnamed people who were behind creating and sharing the document. The sections cited in the FIR were IPC section 124 A (sedition), section 153A (promoting enmity among different groups) and 120B (criminal conspiracy). Police said the document was generated by pro-Khalistani groups (those demanding a separate country called Khalistan in present-day Punjab) and was a smear campaign against India. They also linked it to the violent acts of vandalism on January 26 during a tractor rally organised by the protesting farmers.
Why did the FIR mention the January 26 violence?
The toolkit shared by Thunberg was an updated version of one she shared in a deleted tweet. The previous document urged people to send in their pictures and videos supporting the protest “preferably before January 25”. It had also suggested the physical protests outside Indian embassies to be held on January 26. This makes the police feel that the mob attack on Red Fort and the police was planned by those who created and shared this document. The violence was, they said, a “copycat execution” of the action plan detailed in the original toolkit document.
Who is held responsible?
According to Delhi Police, the document was traced back to a pro-Khalistani group Poetic Justice Foundation. They also named three people- Bangalore based environmental activist Disha Ravi, Mumbai based lawyer Nikita Jacob and activist Shantanu Muluk who were editors of the said document. Ravi was subsequently arrested as a key conspirator in the case. She was granted bail after being in police custody for ten days, with the court calling evidence against Ravi scanty and sketchy.